When arrested and charged with a DUI, especially when it is your first time, it is an experience that will leave you shaken and sometimes confused. Most people think they drank little alcohol that cannot impair them or nonintoxicant drugs. Unfortunately, people get impaired differently by alcohol and drugs, and the state will prosecute you if found driving while impaired.
Some of the most stringent penalties, when charged with a DUI, are found in California. Even when it is your first offense, you risk jail time, hefty fines, and also the suspension of your license. Defending yourself against the charges is critical in avoiding these harsh penalties. When faced with the allegations in Scissors Crossing, the local San Diego DUI Attorney can protect you and assist in preventing steep punishment.
California DUI Laws
California has made DUI offenses priorable. This means that when a judge is sentencing you for the crime, he or she considers your DUI criminal record for the last ten years since your first offense. If in ten years you have a conviction on another DUI, the penalties you receive for a subsequent DUI crime are harsher.
DUI offenses are typically misdemeanors in the absence of aggravating elements. However, if the offense is repeated a fourth time within the given time frame of ten years, it becomes a felony with felony penalties. The first three offenses can become felonies at any time if aggravating elements such as causing significant injuries or death are present.
When you drive high on alcohol or drugs, you face DUI charges depending on your intoxication. The penalties for drug or alcohol impairment are the same in California. The state also measures your blood alcohol concentration before charging you. This is usually done at the station after getting arrested. If you are found with the following BAC, you will trigger a per se charge aside from the other charges. These are:
Having a BAC of 0.08% for a regular vehicle driver
Having a BAC of 0.04% for a commercial vehicle driver
Having 0.01% BAC when below 21 years.
When your alcohol content is measured, and you are found with the above BAC levels, you automatically trigger a DMV administrative hearing. This is an independent hearing aside from the criminal court, one where you defend your license against the suspension.
Penalties in DUI Crimes
As earlier stated, the penalties when found guilty of a DUI in California are harsh. This makes it essential to engage a local Scissors Crossing DUI Attorney to defend you and avoid a conviction. The first three standard offenses attract misdemeanor penalties as follows:
A two-day minimum jail sentence to a maximum of 365 days in a county prison
Cash fines of $390, and not above $1,000. Additionally, a defendant will pay other court assessment charges that can raise the amount to $18,000
Joining a DUI school for a minimum of three months and up to thirty months
Having both the court and DMV suspend your driver's license
Getting sentenced to fit an IID gadget in your vehicle
Getting sentenced to misdemeanor probation for five years or less but not below three years
When you get charged with a DUI as a commercial vehicle driver, although the offense is a misdemeanor, you face harsher penalties. Compared to regular drivers, you will not put an IID gadget in your vehicle and continue driving. This means that for the period your license will be under suspension, you will not work as a commercial driver.
When a commercial driver repeats the offense a second time, the penalties are even harsher. Instead of having your license suspended for a period, it will get permanently revoked. This means you will never work as a commercial driver in your life again. If, when you got arrested for DUI, you were transporting hazardous or dangerous material, you are likely to be jailed for life.
As earlier discussed, when a DUI offense becomes a felony, the punishments are harsher. For instance, if because of your DUI, you caused significant injuries and faced felony charges, the penalties include:
State imprisonment for three years that includes additional jail sentences for each person injured in the accident
You may get sentenced to formal probation for not less than three years or above five years
You risk having your license permanently revoked
You will be ordered to attend a DUI school for thirty months
You will pay hefty fines that include penalty assessment costs
You will be asked to pay the injured victim's restitution
All these penalties are harsh and can alter your life for a long time. Fighting against a conviction becomes your primary focus with the help of a Scissors Crossing DUI Attorney.
Other Consequences of a Conviction
Aside from the criminal penalties one faces, there are other far-reaching consequences you will face. Some of these consequences include:
Losing your gun rights – When you are a convicted felon in California, you are prohibited from owning or having a firearm. This means, if you get convicted on a felony DUI offense, you must surrender your guns and will not be licensed to own one again.
Losing your right to vote – Convicted felons still serving their sentence lose their civic right to vote. If this is a necessary right to you, it is vital to avoid drunk driving that may result in a felony conviction.
College admission – Most institutions ran a background check on those that apply to join them. Typically, they want upright citizens with high levels of discipline to join their institution. Because of this, when you have a criminal conviction, you are likely to be denied entry into the college.
Inflated insurance premiums – Insurance companies have a primary objective of making profits. The only way of doing this is when they have few claims from their customers. When found guilty of a DUI, you become a threat to their profits. This means they consider you a high-risk client due to your habit of intoxicated driving. For them to continue giving you an auto cover, they will inflate your premiums over and above the standard rate. When you repeat the offense, you risk losing your protection all together or any other insurance company from covering you.
Employment – Most employers are skeptical about employing a person with a criminal record. When one gets convicted, history is accessible to the public. Most potential employers ran a background check on prospective employees. If you have a criminal record due to your DUI, you will probably get denied an opportunity to work with a particular employer.
Finding housing – Just like employers, landlords are skeptical about who to trust with their property. Even when you have the potential to pay for an apartment, a prospective landlord will be skeptical when they discover your criminal record. Most landlords deny persons convicted of a crime an opportunity to find housing with them.
All these consequences can, however, be avoided if one is not convicted of the offense. However, after serving your sentence, you can have your Scissors Crossing DUI Attorney assist you in having an expungement of your criminal record. This is critical if you want to avoid some of the consequences of DUI convictions that deny you equal opportunities.
Probation as a DUI Sentence
Probation is one of the best outcomes following a DUI trial. The primary goal of any person charged with a DUI is to avoid conviction or to get the best result possible. If your case proceeds to trial, your attorney will fight to get you the least harsh penalties likely. One of the best outcomes would be a probation sentence. However, this sentence comes with specific conditions that must be adhered to. These conditions include:
Enrolling in a DUI school for the period, you are sentenced to and completing it
Installing an IID in the vehicles, you drive if you are to continue operating
You are never committing another crime while serving your probation
Avoiding driving with any detectable alcohol or drugs in your system
You must agree to random chemical checks and any other checks for intoxication or impairment
You must pay restitution to the victims injured due to your DUI
You must attend any meetings you are ordered to such as the alcoholics anonymous or narcotics anonymous
You must complete your hours in community service as ordered by the court
You must make regular visits to your probation officer who will be checking on your progress and generate a progress report as ordered by the court
These conditions, among others, must be adhered to at all times. A probation sentence is an excellent outcome because it lets you continue doing the things you were doing before compared to if you were incarcerated.
When you violate your probation terms, your probation officer will report to the court, and a hearing is instituted. During the trial, the prosecutor will be arguing that you should be incarcerated instead of probation while your Scissors Crossing DUI Attorney will defend you against this suggestion. At the end of the trial, the judge will decide if you continue with probation and modify the terms or revoke it and sentence you to jail.
Plea Bargains as DUI Outcomes
When faced with a DUI charge, especially your first one, your attorney can help by negotiating against a trial, but you're getting less severe punishments. This means, instead of going through the typical criminal proceedings, your attorney will hold discussions with the prosecutor in your favor. These discussions are to get you a better outcome as opposed to the one you may get when convicted on a DUI.
Plea bargains come in two ways, and you can get a plea deal as:
A charge reduction or
A sentence reduction means you plead guilty to the DUI offense, but you receive a reduced penalty as a result. This is common with first-time offenders where the preferred sentence is misdemeanor probation. The advantage of taking a sentence reduction as a plea deal is that you eliminate the anxiety of waiting for a sentence you do not know, and you are likely to get a better punishment.
A charge reduction involves you pleading guilty to a lesser charge than that of a DUI. When an offense is lower, it means the penalties are also less. This is also common to persons that have committed this offense for the first time, although repeat offenders can also benefit.
When your lawyer negotiates for you to get charged with a lesser offense, the advantage of this is that you may not get a jail sentence or get your license suspended. Sometimes, the charge you get may also not be priorable offenses making it better for you should you get charged with a DUI later. The standard charges, in this case, are wet reckless, dry reckless, or exhibition of speed. All these charges are punished more leniently compared to DUI charges.
What is Expected of You as a Suspect or Defendant
Until you get sentenced for the violation, there are various things that you must do as a defendant or a suspect. These things begin from the time you get stopped or pulled over to when you appear in court. These include:
When an officer stops you for whatever reason, you must cooperate and stop. The officer may be stopping you for another purpose or suspected intoxicated driving. When the officer engages you in a conversation, it is essential to cooperate and answer the questions. When asked for a driver's license, presenting it is crucial because your refusal can get you charged with another offense of driving without a license.
If the officer finds the need to check your impairment, he or she may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests. Although there is no legal requirement for you to agree to them unless you are serving DUI probation or are below 21, it is always good to cooperate. If you pass them, the officer may assume you are not impaired beyond the legal requirement, but your refusal may lead to further tests. Irrespective of what happens at the roadside, cooperation is highly encouraged.
Submit to Chemical Tests
One of the essential things your Scissors Crossing DUI Attorney will advise you is to agree to a chemical test. California adheres to the implied consent law, and your refusal to submit to a chemical test means you are violating the law. As a consequence of your refusal, the DMV suspends your license with no opportunity for you to challenge their decision. You will also not qualify to get an IID restricted license that allows you to continue driving. Additionally, your refusal will also be reported to the court by the prosecutor, which will enhance the penalties you receive.
Request for a DMV Hearing
When arrested and charged on this offense, your driver’s license is taken automatically and presented to the department of motor vehicles. In the meantime, the officer issues you with a temporary license. This allows you to drive as you wait for the decision of the DMV. The DMV informs you that they have your license and intend to suspend or revoke it.
Additionally, they will also inform you of your right to argue against their decision by requesting to have a hearing to defend your license. This is only possible if you ask for the hearing ten days from when you get the notice. If the time given expires, you lose your opportunity to protect your license. During the trial, you are allowed to have your lawyer represent you and question the DMV witnesses. You are also entitled to have witnesses to testify on your behalf. A win following the hearing means your license is not suspended and a loss means you will not drive unless you get a restricted license.
During the trial; the prosecutor presents evidence to show that you committed the crime you are charged with. Equally, you must present evidence, on the contrary, to convince the jury that the prosecutor's case is flawed. Gathering evidence that your attorney will show in court is crucial to your defense. Most of the defense strategy your Scissors Crossing DUI Attorney will apply will be based on the information you give as well as the report from the arresting officer.
Even as you cooperate following your arrest, you must be keen to note the process followed and repeat the same to your attorney. For instance, you must tell your attorney what the officer said when you got pulled over, what they did and how you got charged. Additionally, you must narrate how the chemical tests were carried out to your attorney. Through all these, your lawyer can identify any irregularities that can be used to your benefit.
If you suffer from any medical conditions such as GERD or diabetes, let your lawyer know because these can be used in your defense. Your lifestyle, such as your diet, also matters in your defense. For instance, produce evidence that you are on a low carb diet that triggers ketosis, which is detected as alcohol in your breath.
The role of your attorney is to present you with the best defense possible and get you the best possible outcome. This is possible with your cooperation and providing all the information necessary in fighting these allegations.
Find a Defense Attorney Near Me
DUI charges, whether for the first time or as a repeat offense, are frustrating and inconveniencing. Avoiding a conviction or getting lenient punishment is always the objective of every defendant. This is possible when one presents an aggressive defense against the allegations. If in Scissors Crossing, the San Diego DUI Attorney is capable of giving you this defense. Call us at 619-535-7150, and we will offer you the best defense possible.