If you have been charged with driving under the influence in California, you may be looking at severe consequences that potentially affect you throughout your life. When facing a DUI charge in Orange County, Los Angeles, or Riverside, many people tend to assume that they can deal with it by paying fines and/or taking an alcohol education class. While that may be applicable in certain instances, it is important to remember here that not all DUI cases are the same.
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the incident that led to the arrest and the charges, you may be facing jail times, hefty fines, loss of driver’s license and the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle. The cost of a DUI conviction may add up to thousands of dollars when you factor in court fees, fines, attorney fees and auto insurance hikes.
If you are in such a situation, you quickly need the experience and resources of a California DUI defense lawyer who will help fight the charges against you, build a strong defense and lessen the severity of the penalties you potentially face. Please contact the Law Office of Ashley Daniel at (949) 264-2114 to find out how we can help you successfully defend your DUI charge.
California DUI Laws
California DUI laws prohibit all motorists from driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The law also states that it is illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration or BAC of 0.08 percent or more. The state also has similar laws, which prohibit individuals from operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
While the legal BAC limit for drivers of passenger vehicles is 0.08 percent, the standards are stricter for commercial drivers who can be arrested for driving with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more. As far as underage drivers (under 21) are concerned, California has “zero tolerance” laws. This means, if you are under 21 and are found to have any amount of alcohol in your system while driving (BAC of 0.01 percent or more), you may be looking at DUI charges.
Blood alcohol concentration refers to the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. This is measured using a Breathalyzer or through a blood test. The amount of alcohol a person must drink to reach the legal limit depends on a variety of factors including gender, body size/weight, number of drinks consumed, strength of the drinks, whether the person has consumed food, and certain medical conditions that may have an impact on how his or her body processes alcohol.
Penalties for a DUI in California
Each DUI case in California is unique. The penalties you face in a DUI case may depend on a number of factors such as the severity of the crash, if any of your passengers or others suffered injuries, if there were any fatalities as a result of the crash and your prior criminal record including prior DUI convictions. Under California law, a DUI conviction may stay on your record and count as a “prior” for 10 years. A DUI may also be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case.
Here are the penalties you may face under California law for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs:
First-time DUI: If you are convicted of a DUI for the first time, providing there are no other aggravating factors such as injuries, fatalities or prior criminal convictions, you may be looking at three years of probation, fines, enrollment in an alcohol/drug program, community service and installation of an ignition interlock device.
Second-time DUI: A second-time DUI conviction may result in three to five years of probation, heftier fines, up to 30 months in DUI school, jail time and suspension of driver’s license.
Third-time offense: You may be looking at up to five years of probation, fines of up to $2,500, jail time up to a year, suspension of driver’s license and other additional penalties.
In addition to DUI charges, motorists may also face other charges such as vehicular manslaughter or even murder, particularly if he or she has prior DUI convictions involving injuries. Repeat DUI offenders and those convicted of vehicular manslaughter or murder are highly likely to face incarceration in state prison.
You can learn more about the DUI process by clicking here.
Common Defenses in DUI Cases
Our experienced California DUI defense lawyers can help you mount a credible and convincing defense by choosing from a number of strategies that are appropriate to your DUI case, depending on the facts and evidence such as:
Improper police stop: Under the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement officials are prohibited from stopping or pulling over private citizens without “reasonable suspicion.” This means that police should have a proper reason or “probably cause” for a vehicle stop that goes beyond just “a gut feeling” that the person is committing or has committed a crime. For example, if you were not driving recklessly and following all traffic laws, you may be able to mount a defense that the police improperly stopped you. If there was no probable cause to pull you over, your DUI case might be dismissed.
Improper field sobriety testing: During a DUI investigation, field sobriety tests are one of the ways by which officers determine if a driver was impaired or intoxicated. This is a series of tests including the horizontal nystagmus test, walk and turn and the single leg stand. Your lawyer may be able to show that you did not pass these tests because you were ill, tired or otherwise disabled. There may also be other causes such as inclement weather and uneven pavement.
Blood and breath tests: If the Breathalyzer that was used to determine your impairment was not properly calibrated, the evidence against you must be dismissed. Similarly, if the blood alcohol test was not conducted by a trained and licensed medical professional or if the blood samples taken from you were contaminated, the evidence must be thrown out.
Contacting an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, it is important that you do not give any specific information to the police. Any statements you make can and often will be used against you. Please contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. The stakes are extremely high in DUI cases. You need a California defense attorney on your side who will fight for your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome.