In California, DUI is treated as a severe offense, and when arrested for such charges, it is always important to seek services of a professional attorney to avoid conviction or hefty fines. Orange County DUI Attorney is a team of professionals knowledgeable in California criminal laws relating to DUI offenses. We offer our services to clients in and around Fullerton area in Orange County, California. There are several legal defenses against a DUI charge which can help reduce your charges when used by a competent defense lawyer. Our team is well educated, trained and experienced; thus, you can rest assure that your DUI case in the capable hands of our specialized attorneys.

What is a DUI under California Law?

According to California Vehicle Code 23152(f), driving under the influence is considered a severe crime. Driving under the influence means your mental and physical abilities are impaired to the extent that you are not able to drive a vehicle like a cautious sober person due to poor judgment. You are charged with this crime if you cannot drive a car like a sober person due to the influence of any type of drugs; whether illegal or prescribed. It can also be due to a combination of both alcohol and any other drugs. DUI laws vary with every state; California however, has the strictest laws some of which that lead to imprisonment. If you are arrested driving with an alcohol content of 0.08% or greater, you will be charged with violating California Vehicle code 23152(a) or 23152(b) respectively if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol.

When Does a DUI Arrest Happen?

DUI arrests happen if you are pulled over by a traffic police officer for displaying symptoms of being intoxicated while driving. Conviction, however, cannot occur without some prior investigation to prove that you actually were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The officer begins an investigation immediately, and if they find you impaired to a level that is risky to drive, only then you will be arrested. During the examination, the arresting police officer might carry out the following test procedures.

  • Ask you questions about alcohol drinking or drug use.

  • Ask you to blow in a breathalyzer for a preliminary alcohol screening test.

  • Look in your vehicle to check if you are in possession of any drugs.

  • Look out for physical symptoms in your appearance such as dilated or constricted pupils.

  • They can also ask you to perform Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) such as standing on one leg, walking or turning. Poor performance in any of the field sobriety tests creates grounds for police arrest.

Field sobriety tests are usually completely optional for drivers. No officer should arrest you for declining to take the tests since even sober people can fail the test without any influence of drugs or whatsoever. Furthermore, if the police officer cannot prove that you are driving under the influence due to an alteration of test equipment, drug recognition expertise is needed which can only be conducted by a licensed professional Drug Recognition Expert (DRE).

What is a Drug Recognition Expert?

If the police officer cannot determine whether you are under the influence or not, a drug recognition expert is called upon to help with specific toxicity tests. These are not simple tests that can be carried out anywhere, for instance, on the road where you are arrested. These kinds of tests require a well-lit room for proper analysis and assessment, for example, a police station. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) will conduct the following evaluations on you to confirm if you are intoxicated:

  1. Confirming your BAC is indicative of alcohol impairment.

  2. Interviewing the arresting officer.

  3. Checking your physical symptoms such as;

    • Pupil size,

    • Pulse rate,

    • Traces of drug use in your nostrils or mouth,

    • Muscle tone (some drugs cause muscles to become flaccid or rigid) and;

    • Tracks marks on the common areas of the body used for drug injections.

  4. Ask you to conduct an eye tracking exam to check for involuntary jerking of the eye which can indicate that one is intoxicated.

  5. The DRE might also ask to re-administer field sobriety tests.

  6. They will also ask you questions while observing your behavior as you respond to the questions.

  7. You will be requested to submit a DUI urine or blood test.

Usually, when the traffic officer arrests you, you are given a choice of either taking a blood test or breath test which is conducted at the location of the pull-over. However, blood tests are optional under certain conditions under California law but you might be required to take the test even if you have already taken a post-arrest breath test, that is;

  • If the police officer has a reasonable cause to prove or ascertain that you were driving under the influence of drugs.

  • If the officer is sure that the blood test will reveal that you were driving under the influence due to the clear evidence that they have.

During most DUI misdemeanor arrests, the police officer will release you a few hours later, and you will give two (2) documents. One document confirms that you will appear in court once called upon and the other is a pink temporary driving license. The cops will also take your California Driving license and mail it to DMV to check your driving certification in California. If you, however, are from a different state other than California and get arrested by the police for a DUI offense, they cannot take your physical license. After DMV receives your license, they can either suspend it for a few months to a year.

The DMV Process

The DMV is a state agency that is responsible for registering motor vehicles and boats as well as issuing driving licenses in the United States. After being arrested, you are required to schedule a hearing before or within ten (10) days. If you do not do this before the set days, you forfeit your right to the hearing process, and you will not get a chance to do this again. If you do not schedule a DMV hearing, the DMV automatically suspends your driver’s license. A Fullerton DUI attorney will come in handy during these stressful moments to negotiate with the DMV to not suspend your driving license. A Fullerton DUI attorney can also negotiate with the DMV to schedule the hearing further from the required hearing dates. Our lawyers can also use this opportunity to collect concrete evidence that may be useful in court. Note that; if the court finds you innocent of the crime, The DMV will have no reason to suspend your California driving license.

What Must be Proven for you to be Convicted of a DUI Offense?

For you to be convicted, the prosecutor must provide some tangible evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence, i.e., you were not in the right physical and mental state to drive. According to California Vehicle Code 23152(a), DUI is referred to as a “subjective” offense hence the entire prosecution team must be available, that is;

  • The arresting officer,

  • The prosecutor and;

  • The prosecutor’s expert witnesses (these are typically forensic toxicologist hired from a nearby law enforcement agency).

These entities will try to prove that you are guilty of DUI but will be relying more on the arresting officer’s testimony. The testimonies provided must show detailed observations about your physical appearance, driving pattern and performance on the California DUI Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs).

Arresting Officer’s Testimony

As per California Vehicle Code 23152(a), the arresting officer must testify the following traffic offenses were observed:

  • Swerving or weaving,

  • Driving erratically and;

  • Unable to drive with caution like that of a sober person.

In most of Vehicle Code 23152(a) cases, the arresting officer will always testify that you displayed the following types of “objective signs of intoxication”:

  • Slurred speech,

  • Watery and red eyes,

  • The smell of alcohol emanating from your breath,

  • Wobbliness in your feet,

  • Marijuana odor in your car or;

  • Poor performance of field DUI sobriety tests.

Blood and Breath Tests

Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b) VC are usually very much related but also happen to be very different. The charges may be different because you might be found guilty of driving under the influence even if your BAC is found to be less than 0.08%. The criminal charge is according to VC 23152(a) which is an unlawful threshold set by the VC 23152(b). Similarly, you might have a BAC at 0.08% or above even though you are not under the influence of alcohol naturally.

That being said, the prosecutor must be able to provide some evidence that you were actually driving under the influence as required by the VC 23152(a). The judge then will or may (but not required to) conclude that you were driving under the influence even if your BAC was tested to be at 0.08% or lower.

Most California law enforcement will likely testify that your BAC was above 0.08% hence you were impaired to the extent you cannot drive like a sober person. Therefore, to avoid being convicted, you should never hesitate calling our number, and our Fullerton DUI attorney will discuss with you how to protect your interests as well as educate you on your driver’s rights.

Penalties for DUI Charges

The consequences or rather penalties for breaking VC 23152(a) in California law depend on various circumstances such as; whether you were convicted for your first, second, third or fourth offense. Most, of the time, first, second and third offenses are usually treated as misdemeanors while the fourth and subsequent offense can be very serious since it will be filed as a felony drunk driving offense. The case can become more serious if you were involved in a DUI causing injury to a person due to your reckless driving.

There are various penalties one can be given for misdemeanor violation of VC 23152(a). They include (but not limited) to the following:

  • Up to one (1) year in the county jail depending on whether it is your first, second or third DUI offense.

  • Informal probation of about three (3) to five (5) years.

  • You must agree to participate in a DUI school program chosen and approved by the court.

  • You can pay up to three hundred and ninety ($390) dollars base fine plus court assessments.

  • Your California driving license can get suspended for a minimum of six (6) months unless you win the California DMV hearing which is only possible if you had a professional attorney by your side such as a Fullerton DUI attorney. Alternatively, you can also be requested to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.

  • Restriction to travel to certain countries like Canada. According to Canadian law, if you have been convicted in California of any DUI offense, you are not permitted to enter the country of Canada.

  • There will be a repercussion on your insurance. One might not be able to get car insurance in California State after a DUI offense and also some insurance companies may charge you more for your insurance if you have DUI offenses in your record.

Aggravating Factors to a DUI Offense

It is important to note that if a traffic police officer arrests you for a DUI offense, there are aggravating factors that could increase your penalty if you are found guilty. They include:

  • A speeding enhancement. The enhancement is added on top of your DUI charge if you were driving recklessly in speeds beyond the posted speed limit in that area and with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. You will receive sixty (60) more days in jail if found guilty of the crime as per

California’s Vehicle Code 23582.

  • Having a child aged fourteen (14) years and below in the car while driving under the influence. On top of the standard California DUI penalties, you also get an additional mandatory jail term for child endangerment as per California VC 23572. The additional time you get in jail depends on whether it's your first, second, third or fourth offense.

  • If tested to have a BAC of 0.15% or above will also increase your penalty.

As per California VC 23152(a), all the above factors will increase the consequences for your DUI conviction hence the need for a reliable and professional DUI attorney to negotiate less or dismiss the charges.

How to Fight or Defend Yourself on DUI Charges

A professional DUI law firm in Fullerton will let you know that any DUI arrest will not automatically lead to a conviction. With a reliable attorney, you can fight all these charges and avoid life-changing penalties, hefty fines or losing your driving license. Below are some of the legal defenses you can use.

  • Alcohol is Not the Reason for Your Driving Issues

    If your driving skills are in question, your lawyer may be able to address the situation as non-alcohol related with reasonable explanations such as fatigue, being lost or momentary distracted. The lawyer can also argue that even sober people cause most accidents and violate traffic rules; hence there is not enough evidence to prove that you were driving under the influence.

  • Objective Visible Signs of Intoxication is Not Similar to DUI

    The prosecutor will try to argue that your physical characteristics such as red watery eyes, flushed face or slurred speech are the pieces of evidence that you were driving under the influence. However, your attorney can argue otherwise by explaining the cause of the physical characteristics noticed were as a result of other factors such as allergies, fatigue or eye irritation which are viable defenses.

  • Field Sobriety Tests Do Not Always Accurately Measure Impairment

    The prosecutor will always testify that your FSTs were poor, but your attorney can challenge the officer by asking them to testify the correct ways that they used to perform the FSTs. Your lawyer can also lawfully argue that the result of your poor FSTs performance was affected by factors such as fatigue, nerves, clothing, natural physical condition, and many other factors.

  • The Arresting Officer Did Not Follow the Correct Procedures

    A police officer is supposed to observe you for about 15 minutes before administering a DUI breath test which your lawyer can argue that the arresting officer did not follow. Contesting the incorrect procedures conducted by the police weakens the officer’s observations. The attorney might also be able to argue that the methods used to collect and store your breath and blood samples were not correct as per title 17 of California’s Code of Regulation which would likely affect the results of the tests.

Find a Orange County DUI Attorney Near Me

Due to the proliferation of DUI offenses in California, there are strict laws and harsh penalties set for those who are convicted of the crime. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is always wise to seek the services of a reliable attorney as soon as possible. Orange County DUI Attorney is the most trusted DUI defense law firm in the Fullerton Area. Do not hesitate to call us at 949-377-2280 for a free, no-obligation consultation.