In addition to serving time in prison/jail and paying hefty fines, it might be difficult for you to get employment as long as a DUI charge is on your record. When facing these charges, having the best attorney by your side is one of the important decisions you have to make. At Orange County DUI Attorney, we try as much as possible to get our clients acquitted or their charges reduced. Our La Habra DUI attorneys specialize in DUI-related cases, including DMV License suspension hearings, and expungement of your DUI records. This article takes you through the different types of cases our attorneys handle.

An Overview of California DUI Laws

California is one of the states that have strict laws on DUI. If you arrested on this allegation, you could face two charges; that is, for violating Vehicle Code (VC) 231529 (a) and VC 23152(b). VC 23152(a) prohibits a driver from operating a motor vehicle while drunk or while on drugs. Common intoxication symptoms that prosecutors look out for include poor results of sobriety tests, alcoholic breath, unstable posture, and red and watery eyes. Records of your driving patterns are also factored in as well.

Under VC 23152(b), you will be charged for driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or high in your blood system. This is typically proven after chemical test results have been analyzed. You will be required to submit to a breath, urine and/or blood tests. For cases involving drugs only (not alcohol), you will only be charged with violating VC (23152 (a).

Cases We Handle

When you get arrested for DUI, you may face different charges depending on the factors that were in play. In most cases, the charges depend on whether or not you have been previously convicted and if your action caused an injury. Most charges are misdemeanors. However, it is always a felony if another person got injured or if you have been previously convicted four times or more for DUI. The common DUI charges you are likely to face in La Habra include;

  • First offense DUI
  • Second offense DUI
  • Third Offense DUI
  • Fourth Offense DUI
  • DUI causing injury/ great bodily injury
  • DUI/ Watson Murder
  • Aggravated DUI
  • Underage DUI
  • Non-immigrant visa DUI

First Offense DUI

You will be charged with first offense DUI if you are arrested for drunk driving for the first time. As long as your criminal record has no prior charges of DUI, the crime is prosecuted as a first offense DUI. The consequences for this offense include a fine of not less than $390 and not more than $1,000 and not more than 6 months of jail time. Your La Habra DUI attorney may be able to get you up to 5 years’ probation term instead of serving jail time. During probation, you have to agree to all roadside alcohol tests as an officer would request, and you shouldn’t operate a vehicle with a measurable content of alcohol in your blood system. Other penalties would include a DUI school program and a driver’s license revocation for 6 months.

Second Offense DUI

When you get arrested for drunk driving for the second time in a period of 10 years since the first conviction, you face second offense driving under the influence charge. Second offense punishments are harsher than in the first offense. For starters, your license will be suspended for one year if you agree to chemical tests. If you refuse, the license will be revoked for 2 years. You will also be subjected to up to a one-year jail sentence or up to 5 years’ summary probation, a maximum of $1,000 in fines, and up to 18 months DUI school program. Your La Habra attorney can negotiate for more lenient charges like house arrest instead of serving jail time.

Third Offense DUI

A third DUI offense is charged when you get arrested for driving under the influence for the third time within a 10 year period since the first and the second conviction. The offense attracts a penalty of up to one year jail time or up to 5 years informal probation, a maximum of $1,000 fine, and a 30-month DUI school program. In addition, your license gets suspended for a year, or 3 years if you fail to submit to chemical tests. You will be labeled a habitual traffic offender and will have a mandatory IID installation in your car for two years.

Fourth Offense DUI

Fourth and subsequent DUI offenses are felonies. You will be charged with this crime if, within 10 years, you get arrested for the fourth time for driving under the influence. The penalties include 16 months, 2 or three years state prison sentence or formal probation, up to $1,000 fine, and a DUI school program for 30 months. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for up to five years.

DUI Causing Injury/ Great Bodily Injury

This is inflicting an injury to someone else while driving under the influence. It is one of the severe and overwhelming cases of DUI. The offense can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the case and your criminal history (VC 23153). Misdemeanor offenses attract a penalty of up to 5 years informal probation or up to one year jail time, a fine of up to $5,000, up to 30 months DUI school program, mandatory IID installation for 6 months, a one-year suspension on your license, and compensating the victim.

DUI causing injury can be a felony if you inflicted a great bodily injury. Whether or not an injury qualifies to be a great bodily injury depends on the seriousness of the harm you inflicted, the degree of pain suffered by the victim, and what medical treatment the victim would need. The punishments for this offense include up to 10 years sentence in state prison, up to $5,000 in fines, up to 30-months DUI school program, a mandatory one year IID installation, driver’s license suspension for 4 years, a 3-year DMV habitual traffic offender title, three strikes on your criminal history, compensating the victim, and up to 5 years formal probation.

Depending on the number of the victims and the severity of the injuries or damages you caused, a sentence enhancement of up to 6 years’ time in state prison will apply. The sentence is to be served consecutively with the original one.

A La Habra DUI attorney may be able to mitigate the above-mentioned felony penalties to more lenient ones. With a strong defense, your charges may be reduced from felony to misdemeanor.

DUI Manslaughter/ Watson Murder

California Penal Code (PC) 191.5 would otherwise refer to this offense as vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated. You will only be charged with this offense if, as a result of driving under the influence, another person died. Watson murder is a felony crime prosecuted under second-degree murder. The consequences include up to 10 years sentence in state prison, a fine not exceeding $10,000, formal probation, three strikes on your criminal record. If you have any past convictions, you will face an additional 15 years to life imprisonment sentence enhancement. Your license also gets suspended for 3 years.

For you to be convicted of Watson murder, the prosecutor has to prove beyond doubt the following;

  • Your actions showed intentional disregard for human life
  • The results of your actions were dangerous to human life
  • Your actions directly led to the victim’s death

Aggravated DUI

We have certain factors a judge looks at which may have an adverse effect on your sentencing. The factors may indicate that the DUI offense was more serious than an ordinary DUI case. These factors are called aggravating factors, and the more aggravating factors you have may increase penalties leveled against you. These factors include, among others, DUI with a minor, refusal to take chemical tests, driving with a BAC of over .20%, and DUI causing an accident. Let us look at how these factors are penalized.

DUI causing an accident: In most cases, driving under the influence results in a mishap with another vehicle or an accident causing damage to property. If your DUI caused an accident, then you might be charged differently depending on the court that has legal jurisdiction to preside over your case. Generally, this factor will have your charges carrying severe punishments, e.g. more community service work and higher fines. An experienced La Habra DUI attorney is familiar with how courts in the region will handle this case. The attorney will handle your case with the utmost knowledge and expertise for you to get the best possible results.

DUI with a minor: You may face more severe penalties if you are found guilty of driving under the influence with a child below 14 years of age. You could face a higher jail sentence (from 2 to 90 days) contingent on your past DUI conviction. In addition, you could face additional charges of child endangerment as stipulated in the law. A child endangerment offense can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor. It can result in a maximum of 6 years of state prison sentence enhancement.

Refusal take chemical tests after an arrest: Most drivers in California do not know that once they acquire their driver’s licenses, they have indirectly consented to take chemical tests when arrested on an allegation of DUI. Regardless, it’s within his/her rights for a person detained for DUI to decline to do chemical tests. Thus, an individual might assume that it is in his/her best interest when they refuse to do these tests, but it is worth noting that doing so may result in harsher penalties. The penalties may include 48 hours of jail time or a compulsory 9 months alcohol program. In addition, the DMV may suspend your license for one year. If, for any reason, you choose not to take the tests, ensure you have a lawyer who understands the law so that he can defend your rights.

DUI while on probation: If you drive while under the influence of any alcohol amount during your probation period, you will be violating probation terms. It doesn’t matter whether your BAC is below the permitted limit or not. When arrested under this circumstance, a probation violation hearing will be conducted against you in which you will have to be present. DUI while on probation leads to additional jail time. Your license may also be suspended for one more year. An experienced La Habra DUI attorney may succeed in handling this type of case and will also ensure that your original probation terms are reinstated

DUI on a suspended/expired license: Driving under the influence on a revoked or expired license may have you facing additional penalties. It is equally an offense to drive under the influence if you never obtained a valid California license. If you are found guilty, you may face an additional 48 hours jail sentence.

If your driver’s license was revoked as a result of a past DUI conviction, the judge might impose harsher penalties. If your license was revoked because of a past DUI conviction and you have been charged with violating VC 14601.2, you will serve a mandatory minimum of 10 additional days in county jail, have an IID installation in your car, and face higher fines.

Reckless driving/ DUI over the speed limit: Under California VC 23582, you can be charged with reckless driving in case you were operating a vehicle under the influence at a speed of 30 mph above the stipulated speed limit of a highway and 20 mph in the case of a residential road. A judge may impose an additional 60 days jail sentence if you are found guilty since you are endangering the public and property.

DUI of over .20% BAC: Technically, the more you get drunk, the higher the chance of causing an accident. If you are driving with a BAC of more than .08%, the penalties may not be as harsh. However, driving with a BAC of .20% may attract more severe penalties. They include a 9 months alcohol program, a mandatory IID in your vehicle, and additional jail time.

DUI hit and run: Fleeing the scene of the accident without providing the necessary information to the authorities is an offense. It would be a more serious offense if you were under the influence. If you leave the accident scene, two points are added on your driving record and two for the arrest. These four points could have your driver’s license suspended for 6 months since the court will rule you a negligent driver. If you have been charged with DUI hit and run, contact an expert La Habra DUI attorney. He or she may be able to prevent the court from imposing higher fines and additional jail time.

DUI of drugs: Driving while under the influence of drugs (DUID) is an offense in California {VC 23152(f)}. A drug under these circumstances is any substance, apart from alcohol, that can distort your mental ability, nervous system, and physical ability. You can still be prosecuted for DUID even if the impairment resulted from using a legally prescribed drug. A DUID will be penalized depending on your criminal record and the facts surrounding the case. DUID would be an aggravating factor if you were driving under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. However, it is an independent offense if you were under the influence of drugs only.

Underage DUI

Driving under the influence when you are below 21 years is also known as underage DUI in California. The state prosecutes this crime under two laws. That is zero tolerance law (VC 2136) and VC 23140, under 21 DUI with 0.05% - 0.07% BAC. Also, an underage DUI offender can be charged under VC 23152. The penalties could include a one-year license suspension. Depending on the facts of the case, an underage DUI offender can be prosecuted under any California DUI laws.

Non-Immigrant Visa DUI

A DUI arrest can be an overwhelming experience to a foreigner who is visiting the US due to the consequences following a conviction. In addition to criminal punishments, a DUI conviction can have a negative effect on a person’s immigration status. Even more, a Non-Immigrant DUI convict risks inadmissibility and deportation especially if there are aggravating factors in play. Aggravating factors that can lead to harsher penalties include DUI on a suspended license, DUID, DUI causing injury, and DUI with a minor. Previous DUI convictions also play a significant role in sentencing. Criminal penalties include more than one year sentence in state prison.

Under the immigration laws of the United States, you risk being denied a US citizenship if you are guilty of multiple DUI convictions whose sentences add up to five years or more. In addition, you may even be denied entry into the country.

I Need to Find an Experienced DUI Attorney Near Me

Hiring an experienced DUI attorney to fight your DUI case is the best thing you to increase your chances at getting a better outcome. At Orange County DUI Attorney, we utilize all our resources to ensure our clients get the best possible results in their cases. We serve the residents of La Habra, CA who are seeking legal representation for any DUI case. Thanks to the knowledge and experience of our attorneys, we have received countless testimonies of satisfied clients. If you have any DUI-related issues, do not hesitate to contact our experienced DUI lawyer at 949-377-2280. Call us today!