The state of California will charge you with intoxicated driving if you are found operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs or alcohol. When impaired by alcohol, a BAC exam is carried out to determine the level of alcohol in your blood. Drug impairment, on the other hand, requires a blood test to determine if you are intoxicated. When intoxication is determined, charges on intoxicated driving are brought up against the motorist. This creates the need to have an attorney represent you during the trial. A conviction for the crime of drunk or drugged driving, results in various consequences for a motorist. When charged in Valley Center, find a lawyer at San Diego DUI Attorney who is committed to fighting the allegations against you.

Understanding Intoxicated Driving and the Process of Arrest

When you get charged with this offense, it means you are driving impaired by an intoxicant. Typically, one gets intoxicated by narcotics, medicine, or alcohol. When your impairment is due to alcohol, it is easier to establish and get prosecuted for it.

The state of California in establishing your level of intoxication, it carries out chemical tests to determine impairment. To start with, the arresting officer must have a reason to stop you. A basis can be reckless driving, a traffic violation, or any other legal reason. After stopping, the police officer will look in the car or engage you in a conversation. If they suspect you of impaired driving, you will get ordered outside the vehicle.

The officer will request you to perform field sobriety tests or take a field breathalyzer test. If you fail any of these tests, the officer will arrest you and conduct further tests. It is important to note that field sobriety tests are not a must, and you do not have to do them. However, this will not stop the officer from arresting you if they are convinced of your state. On the other hand, if you are currently serving probation for a prior DUI crime, you must submit to field sobriety tests as part of your probation conditions. Persons under 21 years must also submit to FSTs as a requirement by the law.

Once legally detained for this offense, the law expects you to agree to a chemical test that shows your level of impairment. Based on the implied consent rule, you must agree to a breathalyzer test to determine your BAC. It is imperative to know that you cannot be forced to take the test, but not taking it has legal consequences, with some being an enhancement of your punishment.

If the BAC levels do not register with a breath sample and you are still displaying signs of intoxication, a court order to draw blood gets obtained. If this test comes back showing that drugs intoxicate you, you get charged with a DUI. Unfortunately, no measure indicates the level of drugs in your system to constitute intoxication. As long as you display signs of intoxication and have a level of drugs in your blood, you face DUI prosecution.

Challenging these results may not be easy for an ordinary person, but with an experienced Valley Center DUI Attorney, you can challenge the results. Typically, you face DUI charges when:

  • Your BAC levels are at 0.08% or over for a regular driver.

  • You register 0.04% or over in your BAC results as a commercial vehicle driver or

  • Your BAC shows your level of intoxication is 0.01% when below 21 years.

After the legal arrest and getting charged with the offense, your arresting officer will take your driver’s license and issue you with a temporary one for thirty days. Your license is then forwarded to the DMV for administrative action.

The Department of Motor Vehicles in California (DMV)

The DMV is the administrative body in California that issues driver’s licenses and punishes license holders by either suspending, revoking, or refusing to renew a license. When the DMV receives your license from the officer that arrested you, they will send you a notice indicating their intention to suspend your license.

Fortunately, the law allows you to challenge the impending suspension by requesting a DMV hearing ten days from the notice date. If you do not ask for the hearing, your license will get an automatic suspension. If you get a hearing date, your Valley Center DUI Attorney can represent you during the interview to increase your chances of winning against the suspension.

When you decline to take a chemical breathalyzer test once legally arrested for the offense, your license gets automatically suspended. This means that the DMV will not notify you of the planned suspension but of the actual suspension.

The length of suspension differs. When you have never committed the offense before, the suspension is less than when it is a subsequent offense.

After a certain period, you can apply to get a restricted license from the DMV. This license allows you to drive to specific places only, such as to work or school. However, the DMV issues another type of license that will enable you to drive anywhere you please. But, to get this license, your vehicle must be installed with an IID device. This license is known as the IID restricted license.

It is important to note that restricted, and IID restricted licenses are only available to persons driving regular vehicles and not to commercial vehicle drivers.

DUI Offenses

DUI offenses are typically punished according to the level of the offense. This means, the more you repeat the crime, the steeper your penalties get. The state uses your record for ten years to determine the punishment you get for each offense. When you get arrested for the first time, your charges and penalties will be less compared to those of a person that faces prosecution for the third time.

Typically the first up to the third offense gets prosecuted as misdemeanors while a fourth offense is an automatic felony. The penalties nevertheless are impactful and the consequences of a conviction far-reaching.

First DUI Crime

When facing these allegations, misdemeanor charges will be brought against you. If you get convicted on the allegations, some of the penalties you may suffer are:

  • Summary probation for three years or more

  • Imprisonment in the county jail for six months or less

  • Paying fines of fines and other penalty fees totaling $3,600 or less

  • A suspension on your driver’s license for 6 months by the court and four months by the DMV

  • Attending a DUI school program for three months. If your BAC was at 0.2% or more, the period for the DUI school increases to 9 months or sixty hours.

  • To obtain an IID driver’s license, you must fit your vehicle with an IID device

Second DUI Crime

As earlier stated, a subsequent offense from the first one attracts steeper penalties. Getting a Valley Center DUI Attorney to fight these charges will save you from the steep penalties. When you get convicted of the misdemeanor offense, the following are the likely penalties you will face:

  • Paying of fines and assessment fees that can amount to not over $4,000

  • A county jail prison time for twelve months or less

  • A suspension on your driver’s license for 2 years and a year of suspension by the DMV. This is especially so when your BAC was at 0.08% or over. After the first three months, you can apply to get a restricted license or an IID restricted license if you install an IID gadget in your car.

  • You can get sentenced to a more extended probation period than for a first offense.

  • When you are a commercial vehicle driver, your license gets permanently revoked when you get convicted.

Third DUI Crime

This offense is also a misdemeanor. The penalties are harsher compared to those of a second-time offender. When you get a misdemeanor conviction, it will mean you face the below sentences:

  • Payment of fines together with penalty assessment fees totaling to not more than $18,000

  • County imprisonment for twelve months or state imprisonment for sixteen months

  • You will get a suspension of your driver’s license by the court for 3 years and the DMV will impose a suspension for twelve months. After six months, you will be eligible to get a restricted or an IID restricted license to continue operating a vehicle. You must, however, fit your vehicle with an IID for two years to continue driving as well.

Fourth DUI Crime

When prosecuted for this violation in ten years from your first one, the crime is an automatic felony. Penalties for a felony offense are typically more stringent. This makes it even more imperative to get a local Valley Center DUI Attorney to fight the allegations on your behalf. A conviction on these charges will see you face the below penalties:

  • Payment of fines and other penalty assessment fees amounting to not more than $18,000

  • Incarceration in the state facility for sixteen months to three years

  • The court will suspend your license for 4 years with a possible permanent revocation by the DMV

DUI Crimes with Injuries

When charged with intoxicated driving, it is already a crime. However, when another person gets hurt due to your behavior, the penalties get more stringent. Drunk or drugged drivers often get into accidents. When the accidents involve other vehicles or a pedestrian, the third party can sustain injuries. Negligence or recklessness of the driver will cause them to pay damages to the injured party.

When you face these kinds of charges, the penalties are different even when it is your first time to face the offense. This offense is a wobbler in California, meaning the prosecutor will choose to press misdemeanor or felony charges against you. Your criminal background and the facts of the violation or crime guide how you get charged for the offense.

If misdemeanor allegations are brought against you, a conviction will lead to the below punishments:

  • Summary probation that will not exceed five years nor go below three years

  • Imprisonment in the county jail for a minimum of 5 days and a maximum of 365 days

  • Payment of fines and other penalties that will amount to $18,000

  • Attending a DUI school education program that will last 3 or 18 or 30 months

  • For you to continue driving with an IID license, you must fit your vehicle with an IID

  • You will get ordered to pay the injured victims damages

A felony conviction, on the other hand, carries steeper penalties. These include:

  • State imprisonment for a minimum of 16 months and a maximum of ten years. However, you will receive an additional sentence that you will serve consecutively for a year to six years. The other sentence, however, depends on how many got injured and how substantial were their injuries.

  • A conviction is likely to earn you a strike, meaning for any other felony you commit, you receive two times the penalties for that offense.

  • You pay fines at a minimum of $1,015 and a maximum of $5,000. However, other fees can bring the penalties to $18,000

  • You will attend a DUI education program for a minimum of eighteen months and a maximum of thirty.

  • You will attain the status of HTO in your DMV record for three years.

  • When you want to drive with an IID license, you must have your vehicle installed with an IID gadget for three years.

  • The court will also order you to pay the accident victims restitution

Probation Conditions

Whether charged with a felony or misdemeanor DUI, one of the probable sentences is to serve probation for three years or more but not beyond five years. This is often the best outcome of your conviction if your charges are not dismissed. To get this kind of a penalty, your Valley Center DUI Attorney must present a convincing argument in your defense.

A probation sentence is, however, a walk in the park. This sentence comes with conditions that must be obeyed, and a violation will lead to the suspension of the sentence and a stay of a jail sentence. The requirements for probation include and not limited to, the following:

  • If you get permitted to continue driving, you must never drive with any detectable amount of alcohol

  • You must always submit to a chemical BAC test or FSTs if stopped on suspected impaired driving

  • While serving your probation term, you are prohibited from committing other crimes

  • If during your trial it is established that you are an alcoholic, you will get asked to attend meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous

  • If you were found to be addicted to drugs causing you to drive intoxicated, you would also be asked to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings

  • If due to your offense, you caused others to sustain injuries, you will be expected to pay them for the damages.

When you violate any of these probation terms, your probation officer will report you to the court, and a hearing to discuss your conduct is set. During the trial, the prosecution may present arguments on why your probation needs to get revoked. Your attorney, on the other hand, will argue against this recommendation citing reasons why you violated the probation terms.

After your hearing, the court may order you to continue with your probation as it was, increase the conditions, or revoke it.

Factors that Increase your Punishment

Despite the standard penalties faced by regular DUI offenders, the presence of specific facts can enhance your penalties. These facts are known as aggravating factors that increase your penalties. A few of the prevalent aggravating circumstances are:

  • When your BAC was over 0.15% while you got arrested

  • When you decline to agree to chemical BAC test, your license gets automatically suspended among other penalties

  • When because of your drunk or drugged driving you cause a traffic accident

  • When arrested driving beyond the recommended speed limits

  • When arrested for a DUI and a minor is found in the car. This not only aggravates your charges but exposes you to an additional charge of child endangerment.

  • When you are below 21 years and get arrested for a DUI, the penalties are steeper

Alternative Sentencing when Convicted of a DUI

Besides the penalties discussed earlier for a person convicted on a DUI charge, the defendant can get alternative options to their sentencing. These are alternatives to imprisonment sentences, and they include:

  • Getting sentenced to community service

  • Getting ordered to do a Cal-trans roadside works

  • Being placed under house arrest with an electronic gadget to monitor your movements

  • Being asked to stay in a residence where sober-living is practiced

  • Detention in a city or private jail

These alternative sentences are available, but your Valley Center DUI Attorney must present convincing arguments why you deserve them instead.

Find a Lawyer Near Me

A DUI conviction is an inconvenience to your life and leaves lasting consequences. Because your record remains public, a potential employer or landlord may deny you employment opportunity or rental property as a result. This makes it even more critical to fight the allegations and avoid a conviction where possible. Finding a qualified and aggressive attorney is crucial to your case. If you face these charges while in Valley Center, finding the San Diego DUI Attorney will improve your chances of getting favorable results after the trial. Get in touch with us at 619-535-7150 and let us strategize your defense.