Getting arrested under the charges of driving under the influence (DUI) is just as disturbing as any other arrest. DUI charges in California may not only present hefty fines but also jail time and suspension or revocation of one's driver's license. Also, other requirements may accompany whatever sentence the court issues. This may include going through a drug rehabilitation program and counseling, community work, house arrest, among others. Thus, you will need a competent DUI attorney to represent you. If you are in The Willows, get in touch with us at the San Diego DUI Attorney for help.

DUI and Blood Alcohol Concentration

An arrest will be made under the California DUI laws if the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than the legal BAC limit that is put in place by the state. The limits will then determine the type of offense that you are likely to face.

DUI under the California vehicle code 23152 VC that can be counted as misdemeanor offenses are:

  • 23152(a) VC - Here, tests are not required to measure your BAC levels

  • 23152(b) VC - Driving a vehicle that is not a commercial vehicle or a passenger for-hire vehicle with BAC levels at or higher than 0.08%. This is the only thing required to prove impairment

  • 23152(c) VC - Driving while you are an addict to a drug

  • 23152(d) VC - Driving a commercial vehicle with BAC levels of or higher than 0.04%

  • 23152(e) VC - Driving in the presence of a passenger in a passenger for hire vehicle like an Uber with BAC levels of or higher than 0.04%

  • 23152(f) VC - Driving under intoxication by any drug

  • 23152(g) VC - Driving under intoxication by a combination of alcohol and other drugs

There are two no tolerance DUI laws in California:

  • 23136 VC - “Zero tolerance” law for underage driving under the influence with a BAC level of 0.01%

  • 23154 VC - “Zero tolerance” law for persons under probation driving under the influence at or above BAC levels of 0.01%

How is Blood Alcohol Concentration Tested?

Blood alcohol concentration is the amount of alcohol found in your blood. There are two ways in which BAC levels are measured:

  • The grams of alcohol per 100ml of blood

  • The grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath

BAC is expressed in terms of percentage. In California, the standard BAC levels that can earn you a DUI charge is 0.08%. This is also dependent on the driver's age and car type. 0.08% applies for of-age drivers handling a regular vehicle. This changes if the driver is, say, of a truck.

Factors Considered when Measuring BAC Levels

People have a different reaction to alcohol. As much as the more alcohol one consumes, the higher the BAC levels, a few other things contribute to the outcome of a BAC test:

  • Age of the driver

  • The driver’s weight and height

  • General body metabolism

  • Sex

  • The alcohol type consumed

  • Duration of alcohol consumption

  • Food consumption

  • Consumption of other kinds of drugs, including medication

Breath BAC Testing

Breath tests are of two kinds in California: pre-arrest preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) and post-arrest tests.

The PAS test is administered at the roadside after a driver is stopped at a DUI checkpoint or by a traffic officer. A driver that is not yet arrested under DUI charges can refuse to get the PAS test done unless they are under the age of 21, or he/she is on probation for a previous DUI offense.

The post-arrest tests are mandatory for the arrested party. This can happen either at the scene of the arrest or the police station after the defendant is brought in. The test is given regardless of whether the PAS test was taken or not.

A breath test aims to measure the amount of alcohol deep in the lungs near the blood supply. One is required to breathe lung air into a Breathalyzer machine that will then approximate the amount of alcohol in the blood. The formula used equates 2100 milliliters of lung breath to 1 milliliter of alcohol in the blood.

Breath tests are the most preferred by people in these cases since it does not invade anyone’s privacy.

Blood BAC Testing

Blood tests are done to measure the alcohol content in one's blood directly. They are more accurate than breath tests as long as the test is done correctly. Blood samples and the test results are available in the future, if required, for blood tests, unlike the breath tests.

Someone certified by the state handles the procedure. After a sample is taken, some of it is sent for lab analysis. The results will be available to the attorney on your case after a few weeks.

Urine BAC Tests

Urine tests are not performed in California unless under these circumstances:

  • If the other standard tests are not available

  • If the arrested party is unable to take one of the tests while the other is not available

A person is ranked as unable to take the blood and breath tests if:

  • The party has a pre-existing medical condition that hinders them, for example, blood or respiratory disorder

  • The arrested party is too intoxicated for the tests to be given

Types of DUI under the California Law and Penalties

Most of the arrests made under DUI California laws are treated as a misdemeanor unless it is an aggravated case. That is, DUI that causes injury or a fourth-time arrest within ten years.

Depending on the charges, penalties may range from a fine of 390$ to 5,000$ plus assessments. Fees may total up to $18,000, payment of damages or injury caused to the injured party, a jail term of up to 16 years, license suspension of up to 5 years, among other consequences such as enrolling for a rehabilitation program, increased insurance fees, etc.

However, The Willows DUI attorney will advise you accordingly regarding your case and help minimize hefty penalties that may otherwise come along with it.

Here are the types of DUI in California and their probable penalties:

  1. First Offense DUI

The first arrest of drunk driving is treated as a misdemeanor first offense DUI. Penalties that could arise from such a charge include:

  • A first time DUI offense will get you a fine of 360$ to $1,000. An addition of mandatory penalty assessment and fees can raise the amount from $2,000 to $3,600

  • In terms of jail time, one can get up to six months for a first offense

  • One's license can be suspended for six months by the court. An additional license suspension from the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) of up to 4 months. However, this can increase to 1 year if the driver in question refused to get a BAC test done. The law allows for the suspension time to overlap for multiple suspensions, allowing the driver to take the longest suspension time. Also, a driver may be able to get a restricted license. This way, he/she can drive to work or school

  • Other penalties might include probation of up to 5 years, attending a DUI school for three months, or nine months if the BAC levels were above 0.20%. You may also face the installation of an ignition interlock device for up to 6 months

  1. Second Offense DUI

A second offense DUI is also treated as a misdemeanor in California. This is if you are arrested for a second time within ten years since the last arrest. Penalties may be:

  • A jail term of up to 1 year

  • An accumulation of fines up to $4,000, including mandatory penalty assessments and fees

  • License suspension of up to 2 years. An additional 1-year suspension by the DMV if the BAC levels were above 0.08%. You may be able to get a restricted license after three months, but this may increase to 1 year if the driver was under the influence of drugs

  • Probation of 3 to 5 years, with mandatory attendance of DUI School for 18 to 30 months

  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device for one year

  1. Third Offense DUI

The third arrest within ten years of the first is a third DUI. It is still treated as a misdemeanor, and the possible penalties include:

  • An accumulation of fines, mandatory penalty assessment, and fees up to $18,000

  • A jail term of 4 months up to 1 year in county jail

  • 3 years of license suspension for having BAC levels at 0.08% or above. One may earn a restricted license after six months of suspension

  • A DUI probation of 3 to 5 years

  • Mandatory attendance of DUI School for 18 to 30 months

  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device to your vehicle for up to 2 years

  • DMV states one as a "Habitual Traffic Offender"

  1. Felony DUI

A DUI is considered a felony in California if:

  • You have been arrested more than three times in 10 years since the first DUI arrest

  • If intoxicated driving causes injury or death to another party, and

  • If an arrested party has been previously charged with felony DUI

It is advisable to contact The Willows DUI attorney if you face these charges since a felony DUI carries more weight than a misdemeanor DUI. However, the penalties range depending on the offense that led to the arrest.

For a fourth DUI, the possible penalties include:

  • Fines, mandatory penalty assessment, and fees that may total up to $18,000

  • A jail term of up to 3 years in state prison

  • A license suspension of up to 4 years with the risk of permanent revocation

  • Up to 5 years of DUI probation with mandatory attendance to a DUI school for 30 months

  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device to your vehicle for three years and only if you are qualified for a restricted license

  • A convicted felon record status

A DUI that results in the injury of someone can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on past records. However, the penalties are the same as for a fourth DUI arrest but with possible payments to the injured party.

A DUI that leads to the death of a person may lead to the conviction of the driver with manslaughter or murder. This may lead to imprisonment ranging from 1 year up to life in state prison.

  1. Commercial DUI

Commercial DUI applies to drivers of commercial vehicles. It is treated differently from a first DUI arrest. Commercial drivers face severe charges compared to the other drivers.

For a first arrest, the driver's commercial driver's license is suspended for a minimum of 1 year. A second DUI arrest will lead to the loss of the license. The driver is not at any point viable for a restricted license.

Jail term ranges from 3 years-to-life, depending on the nature of the offense.

  1. Underage DUI

If any driver under 21 is arrested for DUI or possession of drugs while driving even if they are not intoxicated, they are violating a zero-tolerance policy in California. This earns them a heftier penalty than a standard DUI arrest.

Penalties for such arrests depend on the chance that there was the causation of injury during driving and BAC levels. In summary for both: one may have to pay up to $5,000 in fine, compensation to the injured party if any, up to 5 years' probation, up to 1-year jail term, suspension of license, and mandatory attendance of DUI school.

  1. Military DUI

Military DUI involves the arrest of an active serviceman due to intoxicated driving. Depending on the nature of the arrest, an active officer may face administrative action, court-martial, civilian charges, or all.

If arrested on base while driving under intoxication, one will face administrative action and court-martial. If arrested off base, one will be charged in a civilian criminal court for DUI charges. However, the administration may decide to take further action concerning the matter.

Facing your superiors will be a hard thing to do once you are facing DUI charges. Doing it alone is beside the question, and having The Willows DUI attorney by your side will be beneficial to assist with subsequent consequences.

Charges in a civilian criminal court are the same as for any other DUI arrest. Administrative action will be harsher, which may include:

  • Compulsory attendance of a substance abuse treatment program and counseling

  • Restriction of movement privileges beyond barracks

  • Additional duties

  • A formal letter of reprimand, which states your offense, the punishment received, and goes into your record and will affect future chances of promotion or contract renewal.

Court-martial penalties are worse than administrative action. They may range from pay reduction or deprivation of pay, loss of rank, imprisonment, and military separation.

  1. Other DUI Charges

Other common DUI offenses include Cycling under the influence, operating a boat under the influence, child endangerment DUI and hit-and-run DUI.

DUI Drugs in California

Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) comes in violation with the Vehicle Code 23152(f) and 23152(g) in California.

The following are considered as DUID drugs in California:

  • Legal drugs like Marijuana

  • Illegal drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, etc.

  • Prescription drugs like painkillers

  • Over-the-Counter drugs like a flu medication

If arrested under suspicion of DUID, you are required to undergo an assessment by a drug recognition expert. Also, you may be asked to give a blood sample since drugs cannot be traced from a breath test.

DUID charges can be significantly defended if you have a competent DUI attorney to present your case. The steps surrounding a complete DUID arrest are many and can be faulty in terms of handling by officers.

DUI Expungement in California

DUI expungement refers to the dismissal of a DUI record. In California, DUI expungement falls under the Penal Code 1203.4 of the law. It allows you to petition for the removal of a previous conviction from your record. Both misdemeanors and felony DUI convictions can be expunged.

For a misdemeanor, the conviction is dismissed after a petition if you qualify. A felony DUI first is reduced to a misdemeanor, then, after a while, one can be able to petition for a complete dismissal of the conviction.

You will qualify for an expungement petition if:

  • You have undergone probation and did not commit any other crimes during that period

  • You have finished all your sentence requirements and

  • If you have no additional ongoing charges in any court

It will help further with your case if you were under good behavior during the period of conviction, took personal efforts to get better during the time of sentence, and if getting employed has been a problem for you because of the conviction. The Willows DUI attorney will help present your case substantially to a judge when this time comes.

A judge will review your petition once you put it forward. If he/she grants the petition, you can retract your guilty plea to not guilty. If you were found guilty by a jury, the judge would annul the verdict. After, the judge dismisses the case. DUI expungement in California takes roughly 12 weeks to be completed.

Expungement gives you the chance to start anew without any obstacles posed by a conviction. You do not have to disclose your conviction unless you are:

  • Applying for a government job

  • Applying for professional schooling that requires licensing such as law school

  • Applying for professional licensing such as in real estate

It is wise to note that if you are arrested for DUI after expungement, the conviction will be treated as still existent. This means if your expunged conviction was a first misdemeanor offense, if arrested after expungement within ten years, you will be charged for a second misdemeanor offense. It would be correct to say that there is no real expungement in California.

Contact The Willows DUI Attorney Near Me

We at the San Diego DUI Attorney advise you to contact our local DUI attorney in The Willows if you are arrested for DUI at 619-535-7150. We will analyze your case and start the process of preparing your defense as soon as possible. We may help to get lesser penalties, negotiate a plea deal with prosecutors, or even have your charges dropped. Do not hesitate to get in touch as soon as possible.