California is one of the strictest states when it comes to DUI. The penalties are stringent, even for first-time offenders. The consequences of a DUI are almost instant. Within the first thirty days, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license. The prosecution might also press charges against you.

The worst consequence of a DUI is that it stays on your record for ten years. You stand a better chance at avoiding these consequences if you have a Suncrest DUI attorney by your side. An attorney will provide the necessary legal support throughout the process.

At the San Diego DUI Attorney, we offer you competent DUI defense services. We will walk with you from the time of your arrest to the conclusion of the case against you. We also provide additional services, including DUI defense, DUI expungement, and license protection and reinstatement.

Understanding the Basics of a DUI

A DUI is a serious offense in California. It is the crime of driving while intoxicated or when on drugs. DUI laws are based on the fact that alcohol or drugs (including prescription drugs) can affect your judgment while on the road.

Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents and fatalities in California. These accidents increase the severity with which the state prosecutes and punishes DUI offenders.

California has established various laws dealing with DUI offenses. These laws include:

  • VC 23152 (a) — The statute prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When prosecuting you for a violation of this law, the prosecution will have to prove that the drugs or alcohol affected your physical capacities. The prosecution must also prove that under those circumstances, you could not have exercised the caution that a sober person would.

  • VC 23152 (b) — This law is also known as the Per Se law. It prohibits driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. BAC is the measure of alcohol in your breath or blood. BAC limit of .08% is also the legal limit for California, meaning that you can be charged for a DUI offense, even if you were not actually under the influence.

  • VC 23152 (d) — This law prohibits driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04% or higher. The law applies to commercial drivers when they are on commercial vehicles. However, if a commercial driver drives a non-commercial vehicle, the Per Se DUI laws apply.

  • VC 23153 is the law that punishes offenders who cause an injury to another person while driving under the influence. A DUI causing injury is usually a wobbler offense depending on the severity of the injuries, your driving habits at the time of the injury, and your criminal history.

  • VC 23612 is the law that punishes drivers who refuse to submit a chemical breath or blood test. While the offense does not consider your BAC limits, it can lead to the suspension of your license for at least a year.

These laws form the basis of all DUI prosecutions and convictions. In addition to the laws, the court considers the circumstances of the case and your criminal history. A critical aspect of a DUI is that each offense counts as a prior up to ten years from the first offense. Therefore, the penalties become steeper with every subsequent offense.

DUI offenses can also draw from other laws depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, if someone dies due to a DUI accident, you can be charged with vehicular manslaughter or murder. You should, therefore, never attempt to face DUI charges alone. Instead, hire a Suncrest DUI Attorney who understands the local DUI laws and can provide targeted defense services.

DUI Defense

A DUI can be a life-changing experience, especially if you are convicted. Fortunately, the law cannot punish you without providing you with a chance to defend yourself. DUI defense services aim at providing legal defenses to fight the charges you are facing.

A Suncrest DUI attorney will approach DUI defense based on the type of trial. The first trial is the DMV hearing, where your attorney helps you defend your driver's license from suspension.

The DMV suspends drivers’ licenses after thirty days of a DUI arrest. However, it allows you ten days after the arrest to request a hearing where you defend your license. During this hearing, your attorney will provide evidence to show that:

  • You were not driving under the influence

  • The arrest was unlawful

  • You were stopped at an illegal sobriety checkpoint

  • The arresting officer failed to inform you about the consequences of a test refusal

  • You did not refuse to submit a breath or blood sample

The next hearing is usually a criminal hearing. The goal of a criminal trial is to determine whether you are guilty of a DUI. Criminal proceedings are usually lengthy and more formal than DMV hearings. A trial may take several months to complete and involves many procedures along the way.

Some of the activities your lawyer engages in during the defense process include:

  • Discovery of evidence after the arraignment which allows your attorney to identify the evidence against you

  • Once your attorney has the evidence of the prosecution, he or she can investigate to prepare the defense

  • The preparation of the defense involves a consideration of the evidence against you and the circumstances of the offense. Your attorney will then choose the best defenses that are more likely to work for you.

  • Once your attorney prepares the defense strategy, he or she might negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution. Plea bargains are arrangements between the prosecution and defense with the approval of the judge. The parties reach a plea agreement after consideration of the evidence from both sides. A plea bargain is a safer route to avoid the uncertainty of a trial.

  • In case you proceed to trial, your attorney will present various legal defenses, witnesses, and expert testimony. He or she will also cross-examine witnesses from the prosecution.

  • If you are sentenced, your attorney could negotiate lesser or alternative sentencing depending on the nature of your offense and your criminal history

Some of the common defenses attorney use to fight DUI charges include:

  • You were not under the influence, just driving badly

  • You have other legitimate reasons for a high BAC level. The common reasons include using an alcohol-based mouthwash or having medical conditions such as GERD.

  • The breath testing equipment was faulty or inaccurate

  • Your attorney could also question the reliability of field sobriety tests

  • The officer did not have probable cause to stop you, investigate a DUI or arrest you

  • Rising alcohol levels

  • The officer failed to observe Title 17 regulations

  • The officer conducted a DUI investigation at an unlawful checkpoint

DUI Sentencing and Penalties

The penalties of a DUI depend on several factors, including:

  • Your DUI criminal history

  • The circumstances of the current case

  • The evidence against you

The penalties for DUI offenses vary depending on the offense as follows:

The first DUI offense is a misdemeanor in California. The penalties will include six-month jail time, fines of up to $1000, and license suspension for up to ten months. You can recover your driving privileges immediately by installing an IID.

The second DUI offense is also a misdemeanor with a maximum jail term of one year with a fine of up to $1000. The DMV will also suspend your license for two years. You can continue driving immediately by installing an IID. The court also requires you to attend a DUI school for between 18 and 30 months.

The third DUI offense is also a misdemeanor punishable by a jail term of at least 120 days and one year. You will also pay fines of up to $1000 and attend DUI School for 30 months. The DMV will also suspend your license for two years, but you can avoid the suspension by driving with an IID for two years.

The fourth DUI offense is a felony punishable by a state prison term of 16 months, two or three years. You must also pay a fine not exceeding $1000 and attend an 18-30-months DUI school program. The DMV will also suspend your license for up to five years.

You can also be charged with DUI causing injury, which is a California wobbler. The misdemeanor charge will attract a jail sentence of up to one year, up to five thousand in fines and restitution to the injured parties. The DMV will also suspend your license for up to three years. The court will also require you to attend DUI School for 3, 18, or 30 months.

If you are charged with felony DUI causing injury, you face a state prison sentence of between 16 months and 16 years. You must also pay fines of between $1000 and $5000 and restitution to victims. Your license will also be suspended for one year and attend DUI school.

Your Suncrest DUI attorney can negotiate for lesser charges, including:

  • Wet reckless

  • Dry reckless

DUI License Suspension

A DUI can result in license suspension either as an administrative or criminal penalty. The DMV suspends your license as an administrative action after a DUI arrest. You, however, have the chance to prevent the suspension by requesting a DMV hearing.

During the hearing, you must present evidence to justify the restoration of your driving rights. The hearing officer will make a decision based on the evidence you present.

If the DMV officer rules in your favor, you will have your full driving privileges. An adverse decision will result in the suspension of your license for four months for the first offense.

The court can also order the DMV to suspend your license if it (the court) finds you guilty of a DUI offense. The suspension period varies depending on the facts of your case, as discussed in the previous section.

If you are a commercial driver, the consequences of a DUI are even severe. Any DUI you committed even when driving a non-commercial vehicle will affect your driving record. The first offense will result in a one-year suspension on your commercial driver’s license.

If you are arrested for a second offense, you will lose your commercial driver’s license for life. Therefore, if you are a commercial driver, you must hire the services of a DUI attorney to fight the charges.

Since 2019, the court allows you to restore your driving privileges immediately by installing an IID. An ignition interlock device is a cell phone-sized gadget you place on your vehicle's dashboard.

The device measures your BAC levels before you start driving. If you have a detectable amount of alcohol, the engine will not start. Ignition interlock devices are very accurate devices and are effective in preventing repeat DUI offense.

The IID also monitors your breath during the drive through its rollout tests. These tests record the BAC level in your breath but cannot stop your car while you are driving.

You are required to service your IID every sixty days. The calibration process involves resetting the device and collecting a log of the results from your tests. The service provider will keep these logs to send them to the court.

If the court finds you in violation of the IID terms, it may order the DMV to suspend your license. Some of the violations include:

  • Failing to install the IID

  • Failing to service the IID

  • Attempts to bypass or tamper with the IID

  • Removing the IID before the restriction period ends

DUI Expungement

While you may serve your time and fulfill all the court-ordered requirements, the DUI conviction will remain on your record for ten years. Therefore, you will have difficulties accessing employment, education, and accommodation.

However, an expungement gives you a second chance without the burden of the conviction. The benefits of an expungement include:

  • It becomes easier to find a job

  • Getting a professional license after an expungement is easier

  • You can join professional organizations with more ease

  • You are protected from the impeachment of your credibility as a witness in court based on your criminal history

  • You gain personal satisfaction in the knowledge that you can legally say that you were never convicted

Once you expunge your record, employers, professional licensing bodies, and the public cannot use the conviction to make negative decisions against you.

Unfortunately, an expungement does not help you restore your driving privileges; the conviction will also count as a prior if you are convicted for another DUI offense within ten years.

You are eligible for an expungement if:

  • You have completed probation successfully

  • You did not serve time in state prison

  • You are not currently facing charges for another crime

You can proceed to apply for an expungement at the court in which you were convicted. You must fill in the necessary paperwork and wait for the court’s approval of the expungement.

Why You Need a DUI Attorney

Reading articles online can lead to thinking you can defend yourself. Therefore, you may be wondering why you need to pay a lawyer to represent you. Think of an attorney as a legal professional who has the theoretical and practical knowledge of DUI and related laws; he or she adds a professional touch to your case.

As an American, you have the right to legal representation. But lawyers come at a cost, which not many can afford. Therefore, the court provides public defenders who are on the government’s payroll.

While a public defender might have the experience of a private lawyer, he or she might have a heavy workload, which minimizes the attention to detail on individual clients.

Private lawyers, on the other hand, have fewer clients and more time and resources to dedicate to your case.

Whether you are working with a public defender or with a private lawyer, legal representation is crucial.

First, having an attorney gives you the confidence and peace of mind. You know that you have trusted your case to someone experienced. An attorney will also provide a fresh perspective on your case. He or she knows the common aspects of DUI cases. He or she knows the common mistakes in these cases and can investigate your case to determine whether these mistakes are present.

Having an attorney increases the chances that you will get a professional defense. By having an attorney, you leverage his or her connections and expertise in your case. An attorney understands the common practices in the profession by both prosecutors and the police.

Find a Suncrest DUI Attorney Near Me

Whatever decisions you make, the decision to hire a DUI attorney is one of the best. Nothing beats the professional services an attorney can offer. Your defense attorney is there to help you fight the charges against you, he or she understands the DUI laws, and he or she can use them to benefit you.

We at the San Diego DUI Attorney work hard to ensure that we achieve the best result in your case. The results differ depending on the circumstances. It could be a charge reduction, dismissal, or acquittal, or we could also get you lesser sentencing or probation instead of jail.

We have tailored our practice areas to cater to different issues related to a DUI, including defense, record expungement, and DUI insurance. Do you require help with your DUI case? Call us today at 619-535-7150 to discuss your case.