If convicted of a DUI charge in California, you can face some very serious consequences in the criminal setting and have your license revoked or suspended by the DMV.
DUI charges are governed by Penal Code sections 23152 (standard DUI offense) and 23153 (DUI with injuries).
In order for you to be convicted of a DUI in California, the prosecutor must prove the following the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you were driving a vehicle; and
- That while you were driving a vehicle you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
The Stakes in Any DUI Case Are High
If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs in Orange County, you probably have a number of questions. Will you go to jail? Will you lose your driving privilege? How will you get to and from work? Would you have to pay a lot of money in court costs and fines? While these are all valid questions, the answers could vary from case to case.
Drunk driving may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony crime. The type of charges you face will often depend on the nature and circumstances of the incident, whether any property damage or injuries occurred and if someone other than the drunk driver died in the incident. Drunk drivers may even face manslaughter or murder charges in fatal DUI cases. DUI charges are extremely serious and could have lifelong consequences for the individual facing them.
Since the stakes in any DUI case are high, it would be in your best interest to seek the guidance and counsel of an experienced Orange County defense attorney who will fight the charges and help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
What Are the Penalties in a DUI Case?
A DUI conviction could result in a number of potential penalties including but not limited to suspension of driving privilege, jail time, and fines. Some of the other penalties and consequences may not be apparent right away. But, a DUI could eventually cost you thousands of dollars. You might be looking at fines, possible fees for an ignition interlock device, alcohol education classes, increased insurance rates, etc.
A DUI conviction could also have an adverse impact on your job, especially if you drive for a living. If you are a commercial driver who is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be looking at losing your job and possibly, your livelihood. The consequences of a DUI arrest get more serious if you have prior drunk driving convictions.
A first DUI conviction in California is typically charged as a misdemeanor, even though there are exceptions. A first DUI could result in up to $1,000 in fines, jail time, a six-month license suspension in addition to a fourth-month administrative suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles if you had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or higher.
If you refused BAC testing, you could be looking at a one-year administrative suspension. First-time DUI offenders also usually get a three-year term of informal probation. As conditions to fulfill your probation successfully, the court might order you to complete up to 30 hours of classes. The number of hours could be higher if your BAC was 0.20 percent or more at the time of arrest. Also, as of January 1, 2019, first-time DUI offenders are required to install and maintain ignition interlock devices in their vehicles.
A second DUI conviction could result in up to $1,000 in fines, jail time, house arrest, a two-year driver’s license suspension and 12-month DMV administrative suspension, probation, DUI school and installation of an ignition interlock device for up to three years. A third DUI could result in up to $1,000 in fines, jail time, license suspension for three years, up to five years of informal probation, 30 months of DUI school and installation of an ignition interlock device.
The nature and extent of the DUI charges are likely to change if your accident involved injuries to others. These cases may be charged as misdemeanors or felonies. If you are charged with the felony, you could be looking at up to four years in prison. If your DUI incident causes the death of another person, you may face vehicular manslaughter charges. In such cases, defendants might be looking at 15 years to life in state prison.
Defending DUI Charges
There are a number of potential defenses to fight DUI charges and avoid the serious consequences that come with a conviction. The applicability of a defense in your DUI case will depend on the circumstances of your case, your prior criminal record and a number of other factors. Here are some common DUI defenses that could prove successful:
Illegal stop: A law enforcement officer should at least have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed or that criminal activity is afoot. Before police stop a driver on suspicion of DUI, they tend to look for signs of intoxication such as weaving between lanes or even speeding. In some cases, officers may start a DUI investigation after stopping a driver for some other infraction such as an expired tag or broken tail lights and for example, smelling alcohol in his or her breath. However, officers don’t have the right to stop drivers without reasonable suspicion. If it is determined that the officer made an illegal traffic stop, your case could be dismissed.
Faulty Breathalyzer test:Breathalyzers are often used in the field by law enforcement officials to determine whether a driver is intoxicated. It is possible to challenge the accuracy of the machine that is used particularly if it’s been malfunctioning or hasn’t been calibrated recently. You can also challenge the results of a Breathalyzer test if the officer who administered your test was ill-qualified to do so or failed to administer the test properly.
Faulty field sobriety tests: These are a set of tests that are meant to determine a person’s impairment. However, there are a number of basic issues with these field sobriety tests that lead us to question their accuracy and efficacy when it comes to determining impairment. A standardized field sobriety test typically includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus test that measures an individual’s involuntary eye movements. The walk-and-turn test requires the person to walk heel to toe and turn around and walk back in the opposite direction. The one-leg stand test requires the person to keep one leg off the ground and maintain balance. However, many individuals may not be able to perform one or more of these tests successfully even if they are sober due to a number of reasons ranging from fatigue, sickness, body type, use of medications, uncomfortable clothing, uneven ground, etc.
Evidence contamination: If blood samples are determined to have been handled improperly, contaminated or mixed up, that is a valid defense to fight your DUI charge.
Contact an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, please contact an experienced Orange County DUI defense attorney at the Law Office of Ashley Daniel to find out how we can help you fight your DUI charges and avoid serious consequences that could potentially follow you for the rest of your life. Call us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and case evaluation.