Driving under influence is one of the most serious offenses in Orange County. Being convicted of such an offense can have a great impact on one's life. A DUI sentence in one’s criminal record is capable of affecting so many aspects of his/her life for a very long time. That is why it is important to seek the help of Anaheim DUI attorney if you happen to be arrested for drunk driving within the city or its surrounding areas. Immediate legal support is necessary if you do not want to lose your freedom. Also, it is your legal right to have a lawyer to represent you in court.
Driving Under Influence
Driving under Influence (DUI) or Drunk Driving happens when one operates a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drugs, in this case, may include recreational drugs as well as drugs that have been prescribed by a physician. If the use of any drugs impairs a driver to the point of not being able to operate a motor vehicle safely, the driver can be charged with driving while intoxicated.
In the United States, there is a legal limit of blood alcohol level which a driver is not allowed to exceed. For drivers of the age of 21 years and older, for instance, a BAC level of 0.08% or higher is illegal. For drivers below the age of 21 years, a lower legal limit is imposed on them, which vary from state to state and could range between 0.00 to 0.02%.
Even with all these statutes in place, statistics show that approximately 1.5 million DUI cases were reported in the entire country in 1996. In 2012, about 29.1 million people were found guilty of driving while intoxicated.
The main reason why DUI is categorized as a high-risk crime is that driving under influence increases one's risk of getting into a traffic accident. The higher the BAC level, the higher this risk gets.
What happens when you drive while intoxicated?
The most likely thing is that police will pull you over, but only if they see you driving erratically or dangerously. If indeed they get a clue that you are driving while intoxicated, you will be arrested on the spot.
Also, there are Sobriety Checkpoints that are set up by the police for random inspections on a motorist. You may be stopped in one of these checkpoints, questioned and observed for any signs of drunkenness.
If in any of the above cases a police officer sees signs of intoxication and therefore believes that you are driving under influence, he/she will conduct a sobriety test on you to establish your BAC level, if there is any alcohol in your blood.
The driver does not have to agree to the test and the police officer has a right to make arrests if there is a probable cause for him/her to do so. After an arrest, you will be taken to the police station, where you will be required to take a BAC test which accurately measures your blood alcohol level. In California, one is believed to have automatically agreed to the test when they get arrested for DUI under the State's Implied Consent law. If at this point you fail to take the chemical test, they may revoke or suspend your driver license.
DUI Laws in California
California, just the same as other states, has a BAC limit of 0.08% for all adult drivers and 0.04% for drivers holding commercial driving licenses, as provided by Section 23152(b) if the state’s Vehicle Code. The state has also provided a BAC limit if 0.01% for drivers who are 21 years of age and below and those who are on probation for DUI-related offenses according to Sections 23140 and 23136 of California’s Vehicle Code.
People who are on probation for a DUI sentence in California are not allowed to drive with a BAC of 0.01% or more. While such a low blood alcohol concentration may not call for prosecution, it is enough to earn the drivers a suspension of one or two years through administrative actions by the Motor vehicles Department.
In addition to that, the law makes it illegal for any motorist to drive a vehicle while under drugs intoxication. This applies to all those drugs that are able to cause mental disabilities and impairment to the point that the driver is unable to drive carefully and safely as a sober person.
Thus, prosecutors usually rely on the fact that you were driving a vehicle, you were intoxicated, and you couldn’t drive with the required care because of the intoxication.
Consequences of a Drunk Driving Sentence in California
Just like other states in the United States, drunk driving is an offense that is severely punished in Orange County and the aftermath of its conviction can have long-lasting effects on the offender's life. A lot of people do not take the matter seriously because, at a glance, DUI looks like a minor offense. However, a DUI offender in Anaheim or Orange County, in general, may face life-changing consequences for a long period of their life. DUI in this state can attract both administrative and criminal punishments, which could include loss of one’s driving privileges, considerable amounts of money in fines and even jail time.
According to Section 23152 (a) of California Vehicle Code, many first and some 2nd and 3rd DUI crimes are treated as misdemeanors in California. However, all fourth DUIs and others that follow will be prosecuted as felonies, as long as they occur within a period of ten years. There are more severe forms of DUI too, which could have certain aggravating factors. These also will be treated as felonies and they are for instance a drunk driver who causes an accident which results in serious bodily injury on another person or serious property damage.
Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI
The general penalties allowed by law for misdemeanor DUI in the state are:
- Time in a county jail for a period not exceeding one year
- Informal probation that could go up to three or five years
- A requirement to participate in a DUI school that is approved by the court
- Fines that can range from $390 to $5,000
- Suspension of your driver license for a minimum period of six months
In addition to these, a DUI convict can face more serious penalties if they refuse to give in to the BAC test requested after one is arrested for drunk driving. In most cases, these enhancement punishments can be used in addition to the normal DUI punishments. Some of these enhancement penalties include:
- One year suspension for one's driver license with a possibility of jail time of at least two days and mandatory alcohol education programs that can go on for nine months for first time DUI offenders
- A two-year suspension of the offender's driver license, with a possibility of being jailed for not over 96 hours for the second time DUI offenders
- Three-year suspension of offender's driver license and a possibility of being jailed for 10 days for third-time offenders
When one fails to consent to the chemical test requested after a DUI arrest, the refusal can cause two charges for the offender; one for DUI and the other for the refusal.
Here are some factors that could enhance your DUI penalties:
- A higher than normal BAC level
- The presence of a minor of 14 years and below in the car at the time of the offense
- Previous DUI convictions
- Causing a serious road accident that results in severe injuries or death
- You have been convicted of a felony offense in the past
What To Do After a DUI Arrest in Anaheim
If you are driving in a manner to suggest that you are under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, the police will definitely pull you over and seek to find what the problem could be. If indeed they suspect you are under influence, you will be arrested for DUI. The most important thing up to this bit is that you are familiar with the process. The moment you are pulled over, you are at a higher risk of being arrested and charged with driving under influence. The opportunity to prove your sobriety will come afterward.
After the arrest, your effort to prove your innocence is what will determine if you will be released or convicted. So many faults have been reported with the sobriety testing kits, so there is no way to tell if they will be 100% accurate when you agree to the test or not.
For this reason, you need to contact an experienced Anaheim DUI Attorney as soon as after the arrest has been made. A smart attorney will investigate the matter thoroughly, looking into any possible loopholes that could help him/her challenge the arrest. The attorney will also ensure that your rights are not violated at any point in the process.
There are things a DUI suspect can do to avoid worsening his situation during and after arrest:
- You should never refuse to stop if you are pulled over by the police, even if you are drunk-driving
- Do not get into a fight with the police officer; be calm and polite even when you are being arrested
- Do not fight the arrest even when you are not intoxicated
- Politely decline to answer some of the questions the officer will ask you during the arrest. Some of the questions to avoid are for instance how much you have had to drink, where you have been and so on.
- You do not have to participate in the field sobriety testing. If you decide to refuse to take the test, do it politely
- Always exercise your rights to remain silent after arrest until you get to the judge. This is to avoid incriminating yourself.
Once you are taken into custody after arrest, you must be told of your Miranda Rights. The police officer may start questioning you before you call your lawyer, but you do not have to answer them. As long as you did not fight the arrest and you were not rude to the officers, you will not be seen as obstructing justice if you remain quiet.
After your Miranda rights have been read to you, you will be allowed to contact a lawyer. An experienced Anaheim DUI attorney will be your best bet at this point. Since all DUI cases are unique, you need an attorney with vast knowledge and experience in handling DUI cases as he/she will better understand the county’s DUI laws better to prepare the most effective defense.
Bring your attorney up to speed with all the details of your arrest so he can start preparing for defense sooner than later. With the right attorney, your charges could be dismissed, or the prosecutor may give you a plea bargain with lesser penalties, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Possible Defenses against DUI in Orange County
Depending on the nature of your case, your Anaheim DUI attorney will have several possible strategies that he/she can use to defend you against the DUI charges you are facing. There is a great possibility of having your charges reduced and your punishment minimized or you may have your case dropped but only if you have a smart attorney working on your case. Some of the common defenses that can be used in such a case include:
No probable cause
California DUI laws require an officer to have probable cause before pulling a driver over for DUI. If it is established that the officer did not have enough reason to worry but he/she stopped you anyway, the evidence gathered so far may not be admissible in the court.
There was a violation of your constitutional rights during or after the arrest. This could have happened if the officer arresting you did not inform you why you were being arrested. It could also happen if your Miranda rights were not read to you or you were not allowed to call your attorney on time.
If your attorney is able to prove that the officers used racial profiling in arresting you, or there was any other form of misconduct or discrimination during the arrest, you may get a lesser sentence or your case could be dropped altogether.
Inaccurate BAC Results
Some of these testing gadgets are inaccurate and so, they cannot be relied upon to give results that could be used to convict a DUI offender. If your Anaheim DUI attorney is able to prove that the breathalyzer results were inaccurate, there may be little or no evidence to convict you of the crime.
Not drunk/under drug influence
The officer may have gotten it right that you showed signs of intoxication, but from the test results, it is established that you were not drunk or under the influence of drugs. Your attorney may help prove to the court that the signs of drunkenness you showed then were because of another cause. It could have been due to an illness, prolonged exposure to the sun, fatigue or an allergy. With this kind of evidence, you cannot be charged with DUI.
What is the Role of the DUI Defense Attorney?
DUI is treated as a serious offense and so, a person arrested for DUI needs to have a proper defense to fight the serious consequences that are likely to affect his/her life, both present, and future. There are many ways through which you can benefit from the help of an attorney.
First of all, the right attorney will use all resources available to him/her in defending you against the DUI allegations. They may have to interview a few or more witnesses or even hire a private detective just to give you a win in the end. They will also take time to learn the condition of your case as well as offer lawful advice that could be useful in the fight against the DUI charges.
The attorney will ensure that you are honoring all the court deadlines and even come to an agreement with the judge in case there is a need to do so. He/she will be there at all times until the judgment is made, so you don't get to feel alone.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
Being arrested for DUI does not make you guilty of the offense. You may have been ill, fatigued, or the police could have mistaken your way of driving for reckless driving. If this ever happens, it helps to know that there are several strategies that you can utilize to fight the charges, depending on the circumstances of your arrest. An experienced Anaheim DUI Attorney will use any available resource to build a strong defense that can guarantee immediate release or lesser penalties. Call our DUI defense attorney at 949-377-2280 and let us devise a plan on how best to defend your case.