In California, a DUI is deemed to be a priorable offense. This means that its penalties increase with each subsequent charge. Some of the most common penalties for DUI include jail or state prison sentences, probation, participation in DUI educational programs, and court fines, among others. Also, a DUI conviction may make you lose out on jobs and other opportunities such as scholarships and university admissions, as well as become unable to access affordable housing. Due to these grievous consequences, you should try your level best to avoid a DUI conviction.
If you or your loved one has been charged for a DUI in Anaheim Island, you can reach out to us at the Orange County DUI Attorney. We have a well-experienced and highly dedicated team of Anaheim Island DUI attorneys who can help you avoid being convicted. If that isn’t possible, we will attempt to convince the judge to sentence you to less grievous penalties, as well as utilize alternative sentencing options.
The Legal Definition of DUI
The California Department of Prosecution will charge you with DUI if you drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both. Vehicle Code 23152(a) is California’s primary law that criminalizes intoxicated driving.
Just like other states, California has a prescribed BAC limit that all motorists should not exceed. This limit is 0.08%, and it is enlisted under Vehicle Code 23152(b).
Also, different categories of motorists have different BAC limits, which they shouldn't exceed. Holders of commercial driver’s licenses should not exceed a BAC of 0.04% or higher, and individuals who are below 21 years old and those on probation for DUI should not have a measurable amount of alcoholic content in their blood, or their BAC should not be 0.01% or higher.
How you can be Arrested for DUI
A law enforcement officer will motion you to pull over if he/she notices that you are violating a particular traffic law or driving carelessly. When you stop, the police officer may approach you. The officer may suspect you of DUI if he/she notices certain signs, such as:
- Slurred speech
- Flushed face
- Alcoholic odor
- A bottle of alcohol inside your vehicle
- Red eyes
- Giving incoherent responses to questions
Also, you may unknowingly incriminate yourself by telling the police officer that you have just taken some drugs or drank several bottles of alcohol.
Furthermore, there are several DUI checkpoints within Anaheim Island. A police officer may flag you down at one of these checkpoints and subject you to a field sobriety test or BAC chemical breath test. You will be put under arrest for DUI if you fail any of these tests.
After you have been arrested, you will be taken into police custody. A law enforcement officer will first book you before you are permitted to post bail and arrange for your release. You can pay the full bail amount in cash, or reach out to a bail bonds agent to assist you in raising the amount.
Immediately you have been released; you should contact a DUI defense attorney. Don't just look for any DUI defense attorney; you should find a local DUI attorney who has extensive experience in helping DUI defendants within the area where your charges have been filed. For instance, if your DUI charges are filed in Anaheim Island, you should hire an Anaheim Island DUI Attorney. Such an attorney has deep familiarity with all the local court processes in this area, as well as the technical know-how to enter into plea bargaining agreements with the prosecutors. Undoubtedly, you will have a higher chance of a more favorable outcome if you have such an attorney by your side.
The Role of the Prosecution in DUI Cases
The prosecution represents the government in any criminal court trial. When a criminal suspect is arrested, it is the role of the state government to investigate, charge, and hold the offender accountable for his/her actions.
Prosecutors are qualified lawyers who are employed by the government. Their principal duty is to develop and present the case of the government against criminal defendants. Generally, the prosecution is the ‘adversary’ or ‘opponent’ of the defendant.
Most prosecutors are well versed in criminal law and criminal court processes. Due to this, it can be hard for a defendant who isn’t an attorney to get a favorable outcome by speaking out for himself/herself. This is why you must hire an experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense attorney to help you win your case.
A prosecutor will become involved in a DUI case if he/she gets a referral from a law enforcement officer who investigated, arrested, or booked a drunk driving suspect. Then, the prosecutor will decide whether he/she can institute charges against you. When deciding, he/she will consider three aspects. These aspects include relevant policy considerations, if the case can be sufficiently proved, and whether it is legally sound. The case will be considered to be over if the prosecutor decides not to file charges.
The investigating officer must assure the prosecutor that there is sufficient evidence to prove the offense of DUI. For instance, if the BAC chemical test was administered incorrectly, or the blood sample was contaminated, the prosecutor may decide not to continue with the case because of weak evidence. However, some of them may still institute charges against you even if they know that certain pieces of crucial evidence are either weak or missing.
Prosecutors also consider the public interest when filing criminal charges. For example, DUIs that lead to auto-accidents have a higher chance of being prosecuted compared to first-time DUIs, or DUIs committed by defendants who have physical or mental problems.
The prosecutor has the right to begin in a DUI court trial. A DUI case is deemed to have officially started when the prosecutor files charges. The first court hearing is customarily referred to as an 'arraignment.' During the arraignment, your charges will be read out to you, and you will be asked to take a plea. Then, the judge will rule on various pre-trial issues.
There are two elements that the prosecutor must prove for a defendant to be convicted of DUI. The standard of proof in a DUI criminal court trial is beyond a reasonable doubt, and prosecutors must reach this standard when proving each element of the DUI. Often, most of them find it challenging to achieve this high standard, resulting in an acquittal or a dismissal.
The most common key witness for the government in a DUI criminal court trial is the investigating or arresting officer. The prosecutor may summon other witnesses, too, but your attorney can discredit them if he/she finds out that they are not competent. When the trial ends, and the defendant is found to be guilty, the judge may call upon the prosecutor to defend his/her sentencing recommendation, in case there is any dispute over it.
What the Prosecution must Prove for an Individual to be Convicted of DUI
For you to be convicted of DUI, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the following two elements:
- You were intoxicated
- You were driving
Here is a detailed discussion of these two elements:
The prosecution must convince the court that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both. There are two methods in which California prosecutors prove intoxication; impairment DUI and per se DUI.
When proving per se DUI, the prosecutor must convince the court that the defendant exceeded California’s prescribed BAC limits. It isn’t necessary for him/her to prove that the defendant was actually affected or impaired by the drugs or alcohol he/she took.
On the other hand, for a DUI impairment to be proved, the prosecutor must illustrate to the court how the alleged drugs or alcohol impaired or affected the defendant. He/she must link the defendant’s conduct to intoxication for his/her case to hold water. Prosecutors normally utilize this method when proving DUIs involving drugs, or in cases where the defendant refused to take a BAC chemical breath or blood test.
In most instances, the investigating officer observes the DUI defendant driving a motor vehicle. But sometimes, the law enforcement officer may not have been able to see the defendant driving, and the prosecution may have to prove this second element using other means. Often, this happens in cases involving DUI collisions, where the arresting officer wasn’t present during the occurrence of the accident. In such cases, the prosecutor may have to depend on witness statements and the defendant’s own admission that he/she was driving.
If there are no admissions or witnesses, the prosecutor may attempt to use circumstantial evidence to convince the court that the defendant was driving. This may include the alleged driver’s position while inside the vehicle, where the vehicle keys were located, if the car’s motor had been running, and if the motorist was asleep or awake when the law enforcement officer showed up.
Note that California courts usually require the prosecutor to produce overwhelming evidence that the defendant was in physical control of the vehicle. A defendant who was sleeping or merely seated inside his/her car when the law enforcement officer approached him/her will have an excellent defense if he/she is charged with DUI.
The Penalties for DUI
There are different types of DUI charges in the state of California. These types include:
- First time DUI
- Second time DUI
- Third time DUI
- Felony DUI
- Commercial DUI
- DUI causing injury
- DUI causing death
There are no fixed penalties for DUI. The penalties for DUI vary depending on the type of charge. Because DUI is a priorable offense, the penalties for a first time DUI are less severe when compared to both second time and third time DUI.
The penalties for a first time DUI include a jail term of up to six months, a fine between $390 - $1,000, a six-month license suspension period, three years of summary probation, participation in a three-month DUI educational program, and installation of an IID in your car for six months. A second DUI conviction carries the risks of fines ranging between $390 - $1,000, a jail term of a maximum of one year, suspension of your driver’s license for two years, three years of informal probation, mandatory attendance in a DUI school for 18 or 30 months, and an order to install an IID in your car for one year. The punishment for third time DUI include fines ranging from $390 - $1,000, a one-year jail term, suspension of your driver’s license for three years, a probation period of 3 – 5 years, a 30-month DUI educational program, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for two years.
Fourth and other subsequent DUIs are normally charged as felonies, and have the following punishments:
- Fines between $390 - $5,000
- A state prison sentence of a maximum of three years
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to four years
- Completion of a 30-month DUI educational program
- Probation period of 3 – 5 years
- Mandatory installation of an IID in your car for three years
- Convicted felon status
DUI causing injury is a wobbler, and it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If it is charged as a felony, it will attract the typical punishments for felony DUI upon conviction. When you kill another person while drunk driving, you may be charged with either vehicular manslaughter or Watson murder. These two offenses attract extremely grievous penalties.
Holders of commercial driver’s licenses are held in high regard by the DMV. Their BAC limit is much lower – at 0.04%. CDL holders in Anaheim Island must be cautious since it is quite easy to blow 0.04%, even when they do not feel drunk. Such holders should quickly get in touch with an Anaheim Island DUI attorney if they get arrested. The penalties for commercial DUI are quite similar to that for general DUI, but with the following enhancements:
- Automatic suspension or revocation of the CDL if the driver refused to submit to a BAC chemical blood test
- Suspension of the CDL for one year upon conviction of first DUI
- Revocation of the CDL for life upon conviction of second DUI
- The driver’s employer should be informed of the DUI arrest within 30 days
- A state prison sentence of a minimum of three years if you committed the offense while driving a commercial vehicle carrying hazardous substances, which can be lengthened to life upon conviction for subsequent offenses
- Life imprisonment if you utilized the CDL to commit any felony involving drugs and other controlled substances
Aggravating Factors that can Increase your DUI Penalties
The penalties for normal DUI charges are quite severe, but certain aggravating factors may increase them. For instance, a convict may be sentenced to an additional and consecutive jail or state prison term. Below, we discuss for you various situations that can result in DUI penalty assessments:
1. Incredibly High BAC
The prescribed BAC limit in the state of California is 0.08%. But sometimes, an alleged DUI offender may blow twice or thrice this limit, leading to charges of aggravated DUI. This may result in longer alcohol education classes and jail terms, as well as stricter probation conditions.
2. DUI with Minor Passenger under 14
The court will subject defendants who have been convicted of DUI with a minor passenger under 14 to an additional and consecutive jail term of a maximum of 180 days. This sentencing enhancement is enlisted under VC 23572. This means that you cannot avoid jail time when convicted of DUI with a minor.
Sometimes, the prosecutor may opt to charge you with the criminal offense of child endangerment, under PC 273(a), alongside or instead of aggravated DUI with a minor passenger under 14. The offense of child endangerment is a wobbler. As a misdemeanor, it attracts a county jail term of up to one year. A felony conviction of child endangerment will result in a state prison sentence of a maximum of six years.
3. Revoked or Suspended License
You will have to face aggravated DUI charges if the arresting officer caught you driving on a revoked or suspended license. In such a situation, you will be subjected to enhanced penalties because the court will hold you to have shown a blatant and conscious disregard for the law.
4. Excessive Speed
If you were speeding while intoxicated just before a law enforcement officer flagged you down, you should expect charges for aggravated DUI. The sentencing enhancement you will receive will depend on how much you exceeded the speed limit. For instance, a convict whose speed exceeded the posted limit by 30 miles per hour will receive a harsher sentence than one who was driving 10 miles per hour over the posted limit.
Alternative Sentencing Options for DUI
You can still avoid jail or state prison time if you have been convicted of DUI in Anaheim Island. If you hire a highly experienced Anaheim Island DUI Attorney, he/she can succeed in convincing the judge that you do not have to serve state prison or jail time. Some of the alternative sentencing options for DUI include community service, roadside work, and house arrest. Most attorneys who haven’t specialized in DUI defense do not know that such options exist.
Find an Anaheim Island DUI Attorney Near Me
Contact us at the Orange County DUI Attorney if you have been looking for a local DUI attorney in Anaheim Island. We will ensure that you get the most favorable outcome. Call us today at 949-377-2280 for a free case evaluation.