Driving under the influence is an everyday offense and the state of California tries many DUI cases every year. In 2013 alone, there were a total of 160,388 charges related to drunk driving, and in 2016 the California Department of Motor Vehicles had to suspend 134,595 driver's licenses. This stance is by the Admin Per Se law which stipulates suspending the driver's license of anyone who is apprehended for a DUI (VC 23152). It is apparent that such offenses are prevalent and the state authorities must do better to safeguard everyone. On the other hand, experienced law firms including the Orange County DUI Attorney in Brea, CA, are playing a critical role of ensuring everyone gets proper legal representation whenever they are charged with DUI-related offenses.
An Overview of DUI Cases in Brea, California
DUI is a serious crime because it can cause accidents that severely affect the driver, passengers and others on the road. California residents heavily rely on personal vehicles to get around especially in residential areas like Brea. This over-reliance coupled with stringent DUI enforcement to combat drunk drivers contributes to the high number of cases per year. Resources dedicated to this cause are not scarce as evidenced by the 2016 generous traffic safety grants that amounted to an impressive $21,834,357. With this kind of funding, the state ramped up a crackdown on DUI offenses, and it presently conducts 2,000 sobriety checks per year.
Brea is a city within Orange County, and it has a population of just over 42,000 residents. DUI charges are rather common here just as they are in the broader state of California but fret not; there are a host of seasoned Brea DUI attorneys to help you navigate the system. These charges are normalized, and the system has implemented balances to ensure offenders resume their lives. Nevertheless, the high prevalence of DUIs also means that the system is armed and ready to apprehend and punish offenders in hopes of deterring them. More so, the Admin Per Se law has empowered the California DMV to take matters into their hands even before the relevant courts convict offenders.
We understand that many people get the short end of the stick when legal troubles come knocking because they are under-represented by public defenders. These court-assigned defenders are overwhelmed with mounting workloads and barely have time to prepare for cases. At the close 2016, Time Magazine reported that 39% of 2.2 million prisoners are wrongfully incarcerated and, then-candidate Trump called the most prominent "moral and racial injustice of our time." In this article, we delve into the various kinds of DUI charges that most people encounter and see their corresponding penalties. What's more, we provide guidelines on how to acquire the best legal representation to ensure that your life is not turned upside down when you find yourself in this predicament.
- Vehicular Manslaughter
Under the California penal code 192(c), a charge of manslaughter is defined as the killing of another human being without intending to do so. When a vehicle is used to perpetrate this crime, it is classified as vehicular manslaughter, but when the conduct is deemed as "gross negligence" then it escalates to vehicular homicide. Usually, gross negligence happens due to intoxication with alcohol and other chemical substances before getting behind the wheel. The driver's thinking capacity is severely impaired, and they are highly likely to drive recklessly and the presumption that the driver disregards human life surfaces. When impaired malice is involved, vehicular manslaughter is taken off the table and replaced with a more severe charge: vehicular homicide.
If the offender has a previous DUI charge – and subsequently advised against the dangers of drunk driving – the prosecutor is more inclined to present a murder charge. The groundbreaking case People v. Watson (1981) 30 Cal.3d 290 set precedence that if the jury finds that disregard of human life, the driver can be convicted of murder. At this point, you are walking atop a dangerous cliff and hiring the best legal representative is the next move. Vehicular manslaughter carries a prison sentence of 2 to 4 years, and sometimes, the offender may get only probation for a stipulated period.
Your Brea DUI attorney will examine the specifics of your case to determine the most plausible defense to mount. They could argue self-defense or defending another person (e.g., motorist, or pedestrian), dispute witness statements, dispute the speed of driving and even challenge the level of drunkenness. When fielding various defense options, DUI attorneys will also consider how the accident happened and if it was inevitable for it to happen. For instance, intervening negligence from another driver unsafely switching lanes may have caused the accident which means the client's drinking – or lack thereof – is immaterial in this case.
If your lawyers decide to pursue this line of defense, your attorney will hire an accident reconstructionist to autonomously evaluate the length of skid marks, the black boxes of affected vehicles, crash damage, etc. Such is the rigorous nature of great legal representation, and if they play their cards right, you could be walking away with a slap on the wrist.
- Misdemeanor DUI (VC 23152)
Political correctness notwithstanding, the best DUI you want to be charged with (if at all) is misdemeanor DUI, and the vast majority of such cases are categorized as such. Most people accused of a first-DUI or a second and third within ten years fall under this category. If you are charged with misdemeanor DUI, you are likely to incur the following penalties: suspension of driver's license for six months or less; pay a fine of $1000; serve a jail sentence of 48 hours to 6 months; probationary sentence of 3 – 5 years, among other punishment requirements.
As you can imagine, a second, third, and subsequent DUI charges within ten years attract much stiffer penalties. The particular charges are outlined below:
- Second DUI charge
You will be required to pay fines in the range of $390 - $1000 inclusive of other penalties like jail time of 96 hours to one year; probation of 3 – 5 years; suspension of license for two years or less; and attending DUI education program. The judge may also recommend other forms of punishment depending on the intricacies of the case.
- Third DUI charge
You will be required to pay fines in the range of $390 - $1000 inclusive of other penalties like jail time of 120 days to one year; probation of 3 – 5 years; suspension of license for ten years or less; and attending DUI education program. The judge may also recommend other forms of punishment based on case to case basis.
- Fourth DUI charge
You will be required to pay fines in the range of $390 - $1000 inclusive of other penalties like jail time of 180 days to one year; probation of 3 – 5 years; suspension of license for ten years or less; and attending DUI education program. The judge may also recommend other forms of punishment based on case to case basis. Please note, a fourth strike is deemed as felony DUI if the subsequent arrests occurred within ten years.
- DUI with Injury (VC 23153)
Similar to DUI misdemeanor discussed above, drunk driving that result in injury on other parties brings with it a host of penalties of varying degree. If this is your first rodeo, things are fairly smoother – all things considered – as compared to repeat offenders within a decade. You will need to find a Brea DUI attorney to represent you and keep you from being given the harshest of penalties that can derail your life significantly.
- First DUI with Injury
You will pay fines ranging from $390 - $ 1000 in addition to penalties assigned by the respective court in Brea city. You could serve up to one year or more in a California prison and have your license suspended for one year. Probation for 3 – 5 years is also likely as well as attending a DUI education program. The court will further determine if other penalties are necessary.
- Second DUI with Injury
You will pay fines ranging from $390 - $ 1000 in addition to penalties assigned by the respective court in Brea city. You could serve up to one year or more in a California prison and have your license suspended for three years. Probation for 3 – 5 years is also likely as well as attending a DUI education program. The court will further determine if other penalties are necessary.
- Third or subsequent DUI with Injury
You will pay fines ranging from $390 - $ 1000 in addition to penalties assigned by the respective court in Brea city. You could serve at least one year and up to four years in state prison, and more prison time after a fourth and subsequent DUI apprehensions. Moreover, California DMV will suspend your license for up to ten years as stipulated by AB 1601. Probation for 3 – 5 years is also likely as well as attending a DUI education program. Seeing the gravity of a third DUI offense and beyond, you will now be designated as a habitual traffic lawbreaker who is not a good look by any standard. The court will further determine if other penalties are necessary.
- Felony DUI (VC 23153)
Some people can't seem to shake off bad choices from their lives despite their best efforts to live on the straight and narrow. After accumulating a fourth DUI charge with injury within a decade, you are now looking at felony charges. The stakes are very high, and the first move is hiring an experienced Brea DUI attorney to be by your side. A hands-on lawyer will understand the charges being leveled against you and find the apt solution, so you are not punished too severely.
You should be aware, drunk driving coupled with felony charges means that negotiations are not as viable as misdemeanor charges. On the upside, a seasoned DUI attorney will plead your case in the best possible manner to save you from imprisonment or at the very least keep the jail term short. Your lawyer will call the arresting officer to the stand for a cross-examination and try to find loopholes that can demerit the charges filed against you. For instance, failure to uphold due process, inaccurate statements, and oversight are all red flags that need challenging. A great DUI attorney will see right through them and act accordingly.
In extreme cases, offenders are charged with aggravated DUI, and this is determined by blood alcohol content (BAC). California has a legal BAC limit of 0.08% for persons who are 21 and older, and those below this age are subjected to a BAC limit of 0.01%. For that reason, clocking in anything above .15 or .20 which is well above the state maximum attracts much higher penalties. More so, if you didn't fare well in a sobriety or breathalyzer test or if you declined to take them, the penalties will be substantially higher. The same applies when a minor happens to be traveling with you during the apprehension, or if the driver is under 21 years.
There will be a pre-hearing conference right after filing charges, and this is where your attorney can negotiate to keep the punishment to a bare minimum, safeguard your rights as an American, or have the case dismissed entirely. Nonetheless, a felony DUI is treated with the weight it deserves and doing away with the charges is an uphill battle. Sometimes, even the most experienced Brea DUI attorney cannot perform miracles, but this must not break your spirit. They will put up an unrelenting fight on your behalf during the trial.
- Zero Tolerance – Underage DUI
The law is vehemently clear that underage drinking and driving is unlawful. In California, 16-year olds are eligible for a provisional license upon successfully finishing driver's education. At 17.5 years, one can apply for a temporary driving permit sans attending driver's training, and at 18 and above, one can apply for a license sans getting a learner's permit. Seeing that your sixteen-year-old and their peers have flooded the roads, parents could receive that horrible call informing them that their teen has a DUI charge.
Tempers may flare but you must focus on getting your teen out of this legal mess that could affect their future. Finding a reputable Brea DUI attorney sooner than later could make all the difference between having a criminal record that precedes them down the line, or resuming normalcy. Remember, most colleges conduct careful background screening on applicants, and a criminal record is a major red flag that you cannot just explain away. As well, many schools have strict laws against accepting students with criminal convictions and to add insult to injury, a DUI charge could trigger denial or detraction of scholarships.
Avoid going down this path by getting the best legal counsel money can buy and save your wayward teen from a life of ruin due to one awful night of misguided choices.
- DUI Hit and Run
Sometimes drivers panic when they cause an accident and flee the scene without sharing their documentation such as a license. However ludicrous this may sound, striking a pedestrian with your vehicle or hitting another car is very scary, and the intoxicated person is human, after all. Unfortunately, offenders typically get caught, and the first charges leveled against them are twofold: DUI and then hit and run. Other indictments are likely to ensue depending on the circumstances so you can expect more indictments like reckless driving, vehicular homicide, bodily injury, and such.
California law is abundantly clear on requirements when car accidents happen: the driver must properly identify themselves and much so when injury and other damages occur. Vehicle Code Sections 20001, 20003, and 20004 stipulate that if accidents cause injury or death, the responsible party must accord reasonable assistance to the aggrieved entities.
The maximum penalties here are a four-year prison sentence and a fine of $10,000. A great Brea DUI attorney will fight to keep these penalties down to the bare minimum. This way, you can put your bad choices behind you and resume normalcy of life soonest possible.
Other DUI charges include commercial driving, boating while intoxicated, wet reckless, drunk biking, etc. DUI-related problems include the inevitable suspension of driver's license which can adversely impact your employment and subsequently your earning capabilities. A criminal record emanating from a DUI indictment would alarm not only your employer but also your landlord. Imagine losing your right to drive (albeit temporarily), your source of income, and then your living situation? Avoid such trouble by enlisting the most talented Brea DUI attorney to tackle your legal woes before things escalate any further.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
You want the shrewdest lawyer by your side to keep you from going to prison or paying hefty fines that will hurt your finances. What's more, an attorney can get such records expunged after a two year period if the convicted is eligible. The latter benefit is particularly vital for teenagers as they are susceptible to taking wrong turns during tumultuous years. Save your child or yourself from harsh penalties by calling the Orange County DUI Lawyer at 949-377-2280 for an initial consultation if you are in Brea or surrounding cities.