A DUI charge can be scary and frustrating, especially when facing it for the first time. The act of driving when impaired by drugs or alcohol is reckless and dangerous. Your ability to make decisions when faced with emergencies on the road is slower and can be detrimental to yourself and others. If an officer suspects you of drunk driving and you get arrested, you are likely to face DUI charges for the offense.

The penalties upon a conviction are harsh, and the eventual consequences equally severe. Getting a DUI defense lawyer when faced with the allegation increases your chances of acquittal or receiving fewer penalties. If charged in San Felipe, find a local San Diego DUI Attorney to guide and fight for you.

Overview of DUI Offenses

As stated earlier, DUI offenses carry steep penalties for those found guilty. In California, the crime is a priorable one. This means, the more you repeat the offense from your first one, the harsher the penalties become over a ten-year time frame. When you commit the crime three times in the given time frame, you will face misdemeanor charges. If you repeat the same offense a fourth time over the same period, the crime becomes a felony.

Although the offense is typically a misdemeanor, it can become a felony attracting harsher penalties. Aside from repeating it for the fourth time in ten years, causing significant injuries makes the offense a felony.

The penalties though relatively similar, differ depending on the particular driver that has violated the law. For instance, the punishments received by a driver below 21 are less than those faced by a commercial driver.

The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include:

  • County jail sentence lasting between two days to 365

  • Cash fines from $390 to $ 1,000. Additionally, you will pay further penalty assessment costs that may raise the total amount to $18,000

  • Informal probation instead of imprisonment for between three and five years

  • Suspension of your license by both the DMV and the court

  • Getting ordered to fit your vehicle with an IID. This is important, especially when you need to continue driving with a restricted license as you wait for the suspension period to end

  • Enrolling and attending a DUI school for three months to a maximum of thirty months

Looking at these penalties, they are harsh and can alter your life for a long time. You can avoid the harsh penalties by having an experienced San Felipe DUI Attorney defend you. Commercial drivers often receive even harsher penalties because of the responsibilities given to them.

A commercial driver drives common carrier vehicles to earn a living or as a form of employment. When a driver of these vehicles gets arrested on a DUI charge for the first time, they will face misdemeanor charges just like a regular driver. However, a commercial driver will lose their job with the first conviction. This is because the DMV will suspend their license and will not issue them a restricted one to continue with their driving job. A repeat of the offense will result in even harsher consequences. The driver will lose their license ever to drive commercial vehicles again and must look for employment in another sector.

When a commercial driver is stopped and charged with this offense, getting a local San Felipe DUI Attorney to represent them is critical, especially when their job is on the line.

The state of California has a Zero-tolerance policy on underage drinking. This means, when you are below 21, you are prohibited from drinking and driving. When one is convicted of a DUI when below 21, it is usually an infraction. This gets punished with the suspension of your license.

The state in giving guidelines on intoxication, they give an indication of how much alcohol when found in your system is unlawful. These guidelines are referred to as BAC levels and are measured through drawing blood or a sample of breath.

The BAC levels, according to the law that result in legal offenses are:

  • When arrested driving with a BAC of 0.08% when you are a regular vehicle driver

  • When you are a commercial driver operating your vehicle with a BAC of 0.04%

  • When below the age of 21 operating your car with a BAC of 0.01%

When you get arrested on suspension of impaired driving, the officers will measure the alcohol intoxication in your system if it falls under the above guidelines. Equally, a chemical test is carried out to determine your intoxication with drugs and charge you with a DUI offense.

What you Need to Know and Do when Faced with a DUI

From the moment you are stopped and arrested on a DUI offense to when you are charged and facing a trial, there are a few things that you need to know and do. These are critical because they often help with your case. These are:

  • When you get pulled over by an officer, you may not know why, but you need to cooperate. The officer will proceed to ask you if you know why you have been asked to stop. If not, he or she will let you know the reason and cite you for the offense. If your driving pattern was erratic, suggesting impairment, the officer will inform you of the same and proceed to investigate if you are intoxicated. The officer may ask you to submit to some field exams that help determine impairment. Even when you believe you are sober, do not argue with the officer, instead, cooperate and do as asked. However, through it all, you must be keen on the process and any challenges you may face. This is important because you must relate the same information to your San Felipe DUI Attorney to prepare your defense.

  • If the officer finds it necessary to investigate you further, he or she will ask you to get into the patrol car and accompany them to the station. Your car will, however, be towed at your cost. As you leave the station after getting charged, you will be informed where to find your car and arrange to collect it after paying the towing company.

  • After getting to the station, you are likely to take a long time as they carry out more tests and process you. When it is your first offense, the process may be longer. Your fingerprints and a mug shot are taken. The officers will proceed to perform chemical tests on you to determine your level of intoxication. In California, there is a rule of implied consent that must be followed by all drivers. This law expects that every driver arrested on intoxicated driving suspicion must agree to have a chemical test performed on them. This is either done through the drawing of blood or by giving a breath sample. It is important to know that if you refuse to submit to these tests, the punishments you receive are enhanced.

  • The officers will always allow you to get in touch with an attorney. When given this opportunity, find a San Felipe DUI Attorney that is readily available for you. You must always remember that lawyers specialize in certain fields, so not every lawyer will be suitable to advise and represent you.

  • After getting charged, the officers will take your license, which they will send to the DMV alongside a report of your arrest and tests carried out. At this time, you will also be told your bail amount that you must pay to get released. This may require you to find a bail bond agent nearby if you do not have the money on you. However, most arrestees get released without requiring paying bail. The officers will give you a temporary driver’s license and a notice on when to appear in court.

Requesting a DMV Hearing

The DMV is the department in California that regulates the issuance of licenses and their revocation. When arrested, your license is taken by the officer and passed on to the DMV. The DMV has the mandate to punish those that violate the law by driving a vehicle when intoxicated. After the officers send the DMV the report, it indicates some of the following things:

  • That you were arrested for a DUI

  • The process of arrest and field sobriety tests carried out and the findings of the officer

  • If you submitted to chemical tests or not and

  • If you took chemical tests, what were the outcomes

Based on this report, the DMV notifies you of their impending decision to suspend your license. The notification, however, informs you of your right to challenge the possible decision by the DMV. This right is exercised through having an administrative hearing that you must request for ten days upon receiving the notice. If you fail to ask for the hearing, the DMV will go ahead and suspend your license according to the regulations.

The DMV also automatically suspends the license of any person that refuses to take a chemical test. This is following the rule of implied consent in California. Failing to submit to the test is a violation of the rule that is punished by getting an automatic license suspension.

After requesting the hearing, which is an important thing to do, the DMV will communicate the date. The hearing is typically conducted at the DMV offices with an officer presiding over it. In preparing for the hearing, you are permitted to have your San Felipe DUI Attorney represent you. Additionally, you are also allowed to have witnesses, including the arresting officer to testify on your behalf. Your lawyer will prepare you to testify as well as preparing a solid defense.

If the DMV officer is convinced of your defense, your license will be returned to you. But, if you do not prevail during the hearing, your license will be suspended, but you can drive using a restricted license.

Getting Ready for Arraignment and Trial

After you receive the date to appear in court and hire a defense attorney, the next thing would be the arraignment. This is the stage in your case where you are required to take a plea. Your defense attorney will prepare you for the process. During this time, you will either plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. Once you have taken your plea, the cases proceed from there.

A guilty plea will have the judge decide on a date to issue sentencing, while a not guilty plea will mean that a date for the start of the trial is set. However, it is during this time that a prosecutor may offer you a plea deal if you agree to plead guilty to the offense or a lesser charge. When you agree to take the prosecutor’s deal, it means you had discussed it beforehand with your attorney and agreed on it. At the arraignment, it is where you decide to accept it and avoid a trial.

If you prefer a trial or your attorney advises you that under the circumstances a trial is inevitable, a not guilty plea will set the motion for the commencement of the hearing. Your lawyer will gain access to the entire prosecutor’s evidence, study the case further, and discuss with you possible defenses.

As you prepare for the trial, your attorney may question the arresting officer to understand what resulted in the arrest. Additionally, your attorney will be looking at any irregularities from the time you were pulled over to the time you got charged. If anything done deviated from the law, it can be used as a defense and may result in your acquittal.

During the trial, the prosecution will present their case and strengthen it by producing witnesses that will testify against you. Your attorney will be allowed to cross-examine them and establish inconsistencies that will create doubt in the testimony. This is crucial if reasonable doubt is necessary for ensuring your acquittal.

Your lawyer will also present a strong defense that will be supported by expert witnesses on your behalf. Your attorney will further present evidence that will show you were not impaired, and if you were, it might have been due to a medical condition. Whatever the strategies your attorney will use, they must be according to the law. The strategies are going to get the charges dismissed, or you are getting lesser penalties.

Why is an Attorney Necessary in a DUI Case

When faced with DUI charges or any other charges for that matter, an attorney is critical in your case due to multiple reasons. Some of these include:

A Skilled Lawyer Understands what is Expected

An experienced attorney understands the expectations of the law and the ways to defend you effectively. When charged with this offense, a local San Felipe DUI Attorney knows how the system works, making it possible to give you the best defense you deserve.

An Experienced Lawyer Can Negotiate for a Lesser Charge or Sentence

The outcomes in a DUI case are likely to vary from one case to the other. When it is your first offense, the prosecutor may offer a plea bargain as opposed to subsequent offenses. A skilled attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to ensure you get the best deal there is under the circumstances. In comparison, if you decide to represent yourself, you may not know how to navigate the law and negotiate a plea deal.

An Experienced Attorney can Get Your Case Dismissed

A lawyer experienced in DUI cases can get your case dismissed. This is possible through the challenging of evidence presented by the prosecution. Your lawyer will notice violations of the law or inconsistencies in the process of arresting you and charging you with the offense.

When your attorney notices that the arresting officer made some mistakes, he or she can take advantage of the officer’s mistake to get you acquitted.

For instance, if the officer failed to read you your Miranda rights, then any statements you gave will not be used against you. Your lawyer can argue to the effect that the law was violated, resulting in the dismissal of your case.

Your lawyer will also analyze how the evidence against you was obtained. For instance, were the regulations according to Title 17 followed in conducting chemical tests? If any of the regulations were violated, it might mean the results obtained are inadmissible. When your lawyer points this out and moves to petition the court to exclude the evidence, you may get your charges dropped.

Preparing Your Defense

When faced with these allegations, your main goal is to avoid getting convicted. If this is not possible, getting the least punishment becomes a better option. The hiring of an attorney to fight the allegations you face increases your chances of avoiding a guilty verdict or getting a lesser sentence.

Your lawyer will engage the prosecutor to seek a plea deal that will be beneficial to you. If this does not work, your lawyer will embark on studying the evidence against you and creating doubts in it. During the trial, he or she will create doubt in the testimony presented by the witnesses presented.

Additionally, your attorney will prepare you for your trial by going through your testimony and the possible questions from the prosecutor. There are some things that you may say that will incriminate you. Your skilled attorney will guide and advise you on what to say and how to say it. Your attorney will also defend you against an aggressive prosecution and ensure a fair trial.

Find a Lawyer Near Me

When you or a loved one is accused of a DUI, your primary objective would be overcoming the allegations. This makes it necessary to hire an experienced DUI defense lawyer to represent you during your case to attain your objective. When facing these allegations in San Felipe, you can find the San Diego DUI Attorney to take your case. Find us at 619-535-7150, and we will discuss your case exhaustively.