Getting convicted for a DUI in the state of California is a serious crime, and the judges are not hesitant on giving severe penalties. The jail time and penalties increase with each additional DUIs you get from the first. It is also a costly charge with many fines to pay with other additional costs you may incur for special DUI programs. Some of these laws are implemented by the DMV to deter drunk driving including the installation of new ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders. As much as most of these cases seem hopeless, some involve many mistakes when arrests are made such as faulty equipment that may be prone to error.

If you ever find yourself facing a DUI charge in California, consider seeking the professional services of an experienced DUI defense firm such as the Orange County DUI attorney. We are well-equipped to handle your case considering the complexity and costs involved in a DUI case. The Orange County DUI Attorney is a prominent law firm operating in and around Fountain Valley, CA. Our team of attorneys is well-versed in California’s DUI laws, and we dedicate ourselves to providing the best services to our clients for the best possible outcome.

Explanation of DUI

There are usually two instances that may lead to prosecution for a DUI in Fountain Valley, CA. They include; a) either drugs or alcohol intoxicated the driver and, b) having blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% and higher. These conditions are under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC. The term ‘under the influence’ describes a driver impaired by alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two substances. The California vehicle code has zero tolerance laws on minors and prohibits them from driving with a BAC of 0.01%. Note, BAC of 0.01% is equivalent to one beer but BAC levels may vary depending on the size of the individual.

The DUI Arrest

The first stage of the process starts when the officer suspects you are committing a DUI and proceeds to pull you over or if you were involved in an accident. Either way, the officer will ask you to come out from your vehicle and perform a series of field sobriety tests. The arresting officer will also request you to blow into a handheld Breathalyzer twice within an interval of 15 minutes. They will then proceed to arrest you if you fail any of the tests and book you at the station or check you into a hospital, where they will again request for both blood and breath tests. In custody, It is vital that you agree to take the blood test since the law requires it. The consequence of declining the blood or breath test will result in penalties by the California criminal court and DMV for an automatic license suspension up to 1 year.

If the arrest was a misdemeanor, you are released after spending several hours in custody and booking or until you sober up. If, however, the arrest was a felony DUI, there is a possibility of having to post bail, or you will be held in custody until your arraignment and request for a bail hearing. The suspect under custody will be arraigned in court after forty-eight (48) to ninety-six (96) hours, depending on the day of the week. For example, if the day of the arrest was a Friday night, your arraignment will be on Monday which is a ninety-six (96) hour wait.

The officer will then hand you two (2) documents, where one of them is a court order indicating when you are to appear before a judge, and the other is a temporary license that is pink in color. You will not get your driving license back because the arresting officer will mail it to the California DMV. If you do not hold a California driver’s license, the officer will not send your driver's license to the DMV, but instead, return it to you. Upon release, it is wise to talk to your Fountain Valley DUI attorney about the incident so that they can prepare the case in advance.

The results of the arrest will trigger two hearings;

  1. The DMV administrative hearing and;

  2. The DUI criminal court case.

The two are different hearings. In the criminal court, you will be facing criminal charges which will result in incarceration, legal fees, probation and probable suspension of your driving license. Additionally, the court hearing is a mandatory procedure. The DMV hearing is, however, quite different. Unlike the court, it is an administrative procedure that deals with your driving privileges.

Moreover, the DMV hearing is not a requirement or a conditional process. The suspect can challenge the automatic suspension of their driver’s license if they request a DMV hearing. The officer who made the arrest will discuss the consequences of the arrest. One of the requirements is that the suspect has ten (10) days after the arrest to request for a hearing with the DMV. At this point, it necessary that you get a Fountain Valley DUI attorney for their experience in handling DMV cases. If you do not request for a hearing within the ten (10) days, the DMV will suspend the driver’s license for six (6) months. Note that if you are not found guilty in the Fountain Valley court, the DMV will reverse the suspension of your driver’s license. For this process to occur, the DMV office concludes that the decisions of the courts summed to an acquittal.

Court Case Hearing

Regardless of your success at the DMV, the state of California will still require you to face the Fountain Valley court. Unlike the DMV, the judge will advise you on your constitutional rights and the pending charges that are against you. The public prosecutor proceeds with giving you an offer, where you choose to plead either guilty, not guilty or no contest to the DUI charges. In case you plead guilty, the case will be closed, and the judge will make a verdict.

If you do not plead guilty, the Fountain Valley DUI attorney will have the chance to scrutinize and challenge the prosecutor’s evidence. If your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or more, you will face two charges;

  1. Driving under the influence Vehicle code 23152(a) and;

  2. Vehicle code23152 (b) which is driving with excessive BAC.

There are two ways the Fountain Valley court can settle. The first is where you plead guilty or plead to lesser charges. In this case, you need to come back to court and plead guilty before the court. Otherwise, your Fountain Valley DUI attorney will hand the suspect a waiver to sign. The waiver will be signed outside the Fountain Valley court. Finally, your attorney will return to the court with the waiver and come to an agreement or plea on your behalf. The second option is that no settlement is determined, where the DUI case will move forward to a jury trial; that is if there is room to accommodate your DUI case.

Underage DUI Court Penalties and Fines

If you are found guilty of DUI and you are underage, there will be severe restrictions and consequences which will depend on your levels of BAC. In this context, the state of California considers anyone aged twenty-one (21) and below as underage. The consequences include;

  1. Zero Tolerance

    The court finds you guilty of DUI charge when your BAC was 0.01% or more. You will not be put into custody because the violation of vehicle code 23136 is not a crime, but the judge will trigger a DMV license suspension of one (1) year. Additionally, you are required to submit a preliminary alcohol screening test in accordance with the implied consent laws. If you have a history of violating California DUI laws, the license suspension will be extended by two (2) to three (3) years.

  2. Underage driving with a BAC of 0.05% or higher

    The charge will result in an infraction as a result of violating section 23140 of the California Vehicle Code. The judge cannot sentence the suspect to jail under this law, but rather the court will hand the penalties. The penalties include;

    • Getting a twelve (12) month driving license suspension,

    • Fines of up to one hundred dollars ($100) if this was your first DUI offense and;

    • In case you are at least eighteen years of age, you are required to attend a mandatory alcohol education program, for not less than three (3) months.

  3. The minors BAC was 0.08% or more

    The judge’s final verdict will charge you under standard adult DUI if you were impaired or your BAC was 0.08% or higher. The standard DUI carries more substantial consequences compared to the other two. They include,

    • Your driver’s license being suspended for twelve (12) months,

    • You will face informal probation for at least three (3) years,

    • You will be expected to pay fines of up to one thousand dollars ($1000),

    • You will be required to attend an alcohol or drug education program for three (3) to nine (9) months,

    • In rare cases, you could be sentenced to six (6) months in Fountain Valley county jail.

DUI Court Penalties and Fines

If the events leading to pleading guilty or conviction by a jury, the Fountain Valley court will finalize the process by a sentence. The sentence will vary on whether you had previous DUI convictions within the preceding decade. Additionally, the judge will look at the facts presented in the case. For most of the cases, the judge will convict the suspect with a misdemeanor charge.

First DUI Offense

  • The sentence will be up to six (6) months in Fountain Valley county jail,

  • Suspension of your driver’s license ranging anywhere from half a year to ten months (10) and;

  • You will be required to attend a DUI school for three (3) to nine (9) months.

Second DUI Offense

  • You will receive a sentence of four (4) days to one (1) year in the Fountain Valley county jail,

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for two (2) years and;

  • You will be required to attend a thirty-month DUI School.

Third DUI Offense

  • You will spend one hundred and twenty (120) days to one (1) year in the Fountain Valley county jail,

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for up to thirty-six (36) months,

  • You will be expected to attend thirty (30) months of DUI School.

In 2019, DUI offenders for a 3rd offense can request for an ignition interlock device (IID). The gadget will allow the arrestees to drive their vehicles without any restriction but under the condition of having the device in the car within the stipulated timeframe. The gadget is a Breathalyzer which primary purpose is to detect alcohol and keep the vehicle from starting if the device detects a certain level of alcohol in your breath. The device will last for four (4) months for the first time DUI arrestees. For the second- and third-time offenders the gadget will have a twelve (12) month license.

Furthermore, any DUI case with injuries or death to a third party will result in more stringent penalties and fines. For cases involving injuries, the judge will order the accused to pay restitution to the injured individual. A DUI offense with a bodily injury can be considered as a wobbler offense, meaning the case can be arraigned either as a felony or a misdemeanor.

DUI with Injury as a Misdemeanor or Felony.

  • You will serve between five (5) days to twelve (12) months in Fountain Valley county jail.

  • For a felony, you will serve sixteen (16) months to sixteen (16) years in the California state prison.

  • You will pay fines amounting to five thousand ($5,000) dollars, excluding restitution to the injured individual.

  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for one (1) to three (3) years. For a felony, the suspension will last up to five (5) years.

  • The judge will order the convict to attend a DUI school for eighteen (18) to thirty (30) months.

  • You can apply for an IID and drive without restrictions for at least six (6) months. If convicted of the felony with an injury the IID will last up to three (3) years.

Felony DUI

In Fountain Valley, CA, if you have three (3) or more DUIs within the past decade, the conviction will be an automatic felony. The judge has lots of leg room for a felony DUI with the penalties being even harsh if you were involved in the death of another individual.

The penalties include;

  • Sixteen (16) months to three (3) years in the California state prisons,

  • Fines of up to one thousand ($1000) dollars excluding additional fees,

  • Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to four (4) years,

  • You will be expected to attend a DUI school for eighteen (18) to thirty (30) months and;

  • You can register to get an IID if you wish to retain your driving privileges but only for a predetermined period.

Common Defenses for DUI

There are many ways of defending yourself against DUI charges. In the city of Fountain Valley, if the officer suspects you of driving under the influence by identifying your driving patterns and is one of the pieces of evidence the prosecutor has in their arsenal. Various movements may indicate the driver is intoxicated including swerving, jerking and straying from your lane. An experienced Fountain Valley DUI attorney will put up a good defense by asking the police officer of the other good practices you were demonstrating, such as making safe lane changes or obeying the traffic laws. The prosecutor cannot convict you of the charges with the use of standalone driving patterns.

The Fountain Valley city officers will also rely on physical signs which include red eyes, flushed face, and your breath having odor relating to alcohol. The DUI attorney in your defense can give a couple of reasons why you were experiencing a combination of physical symptoms that relate to the signs the arresting officer witnessed. Some good examples of this include allergies whose signs include puffy watery eyes which are red in color and a flushed face which can also be a sign of high blood pressure.

The prosecutor will also use the field sobriety test to show you were indeed driving under the influence. An experienced Fountain Valley DUI attorney will indicate the many irregularities that can affect the result of this test, especially balancing and coordination. The variables include the type of shoes and clothes you were wearing and fatigue among other factors. The FST is scientifically proven to cause extreme anxiety. Thus the individual cannot perform to the best of their ability since it is difficult to be relaxed and calm.

In Fountain Valley, the arresting officer is mandated by law to wait between time intervals, while using the Breathalyzer to have accurate results. Additionally, it is necessary to observe the driver and determine whether the Breathalyzer test is vital in determining a DUI. For the officer to measure the BAC, the machine has to draw air from deep parts of the lung. However, if there is alcohol in the suspect’s mouth, the results will be skewed because the air combines with the alcohol creating a higher reading. Several factors lead to this situation including; use of mouthwash, mouth sprays, and other products containing alcohol.

Other medical conditions may attribute to having the same signs of a high BAC including hypoglycemia and diabetes. The Fountain Valley DUI attorney can subpoena for the tuning logs of the test kit before use. If the records show the test kit was not calibrated in accordance with California specifications, the Breathalyzer could have output false results.

At the first traffic stop, the officer is required to read the Miranda warnings to the suspect. Also, the officer must have probable cause that triggered the traffic stop. Failure to perform any of these actions will provide a basis for a strong defense against the DUI allegations. Initially, if you can prove that the officer had no probable reason to initiate the traffic stop, your attorney can overturn the evidence.

Find a Fountain Valley DUI Attorney Near Me

If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Fountain Valley, CA, you are likely to face severe charges and penalties. The conviction might lead to jail time for an unknown period and tarnish your name and record. Moreover, there are many complexities and several laws regarding DUIs. Fortunately, numerous defenses can be used to defend you if you are working with an experienced Fountain Valley DUI attorney. If you have been arrested in the Fountain Valley under the suspicion of a DUI, call our experienced DUI defense attorney today at 949-377-2280 and let us defend you against the DUI charges.