Usually, DUI arrests in California begin with a traffic stop or at a DUI checkpoint. If the officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, he/she may ask you to undergo several field sobriety tests. The officer may also require you to blow into a hand-held breathalyzer machine. The officer may request you to take a blood or breath test, depending on the facts of your case. DUI charges in California vary depending on the severity of the crime, the presence of aggravating factors, and your credit history. If you are facing DUI charges in California, the penalties can be detrimental. Possible penalties include suspension of your driver's license, imprisonment or jail time, and payment of hefty fines. The Orange County DUI Attorney assists people facing DUI charges to fight the charges in court. For instance, an experienced Coto de Caza DUI attorney can help you fight the charges in court.
Understanding California DUI
When you commit a DUI offense for the first time in California, the potential penalties for the offense may include summary probation. Also known as informal probation, it may range from three years to five years. You may also serve jail time of up to six months in a California county jail. The court may impose fines for a first-time DUI offense. The penalties may range from $390 to $1000. You may also have to serve a court-approved alcohol or drug education program. The period of the program may be three months or nine months, depending on the recommendation of the court.
For you to continue operating your vehicle without license restrictions, the court may order you to install an ignition interlock device. You have to remain with the device for six months for the first time DUI offense. If you are not willing to install the ignition interlock device, the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) may suspend your license for six to ten months. During the license suspension period, you may apply for a restricted license. The restricted license will allow you to drive to various places like to and from work, school, and California DUI School.
Second DUI Offense
If you commit a subsequent DUI offense within ten years from committing the first offense, you become a second offender. The consequences of committing a second DUI offense are more severe than the consequences for a first offense. The penalties may include summary probation ranging from three years to five years. The court may also impose minimum jail time of 96 hours and maximum jail time of one year in a California county jail. The applicable fines for a second DUI offense range between $390- and $1000. Other consequences include completing California DUI School lasting for 18 months or 30 months.
The California Department of Motor Vehicle may suspend your driver's license for a period of two years. However, you may seek a restricted license after serving the license suspension for one year. The restricted license will allow you to operate your vehicle to limited places. If you wish to continue operating your vehicle everywhere, you may opt for the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for one year.
Third DUI Offense
If you commit a third DUI offense within a period of ten years, you become a third DUI offender in California. The applicable penalties for a third DUI offense include informal probation ranging from three years to five years. You also have to serve jail time for a minimum of 120 days and a maximum of 1 year. The court may order you to complete a 30-month court-approved DUI School. The applicable fines for the offense range between $390 and $1,000.
After committing a third DUI offense, you would have to install an ignition interlock device for a minimum of two years to continue operating your vehicle freely in California. If you are not willing to install an IID, the DMV suspends your driver's license for three years. After 18 months of license suspension, you may apply for a restricted license, which will allow you to operate your vehicle to limited places.
You should contact your Coto de Caza DUI attorney immediately after your DUI offense. The attorney can advise you on the steps to take and also find ways of fighting the charges. A third time DUI offense may also attract more severe penalties like designation as a habitual traffic offender by the DMV.
Conditions of Probation
If the court recommends probation as punishment for a DUI offense, you have to abide by several conditions of probation. For instance, while on probation, you should not operate your vehicle with measurable alcohol content in your blood. You should also not refuse to submit to a chemical test of your blood or your breath if the police suspect you are under the influence.
You should not commit an additional offense while you are on probation. The court may also add other conditions like attending Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. You may also have to participate in the Mothers against Drunk Driving program.
In some instances, you may have to pay restitution to the victim as a condition of probation. Payment of restitution entails reimbursing the victim any costs he or she may have incurred due to the accident.
The DUI Process in California
Upon a DUI arrest in California, you may not be sure about what to expect. It is important to understand the DUI procedures your case is likely to follow. By knowing what to expect, you will know how to prepare a proper defense. Due to handling many similar cases in the past, your Coto de Caza will know what to expect and how to navigate the best outcome for your case. The DUI process in California includes:
The DUI arrest
For a misdemeanor DUI offense, the police are likely to release you a few hours after the arrest and booking. However, if you commit a felony DUI offense, the police may hold you until you post bail. The police will give you a temporary license upon your release and a citation to appear in court. Normally, the police will take your driver's license and send it to the California DMV. The police cannot take your physical license after a DUI arrest if you hold an out of state driver's license. However, after the DMV hearing, you may still lose your out of state driver's license, and the penalty will apply even when you go back to your home state.
As of 2019, it is possible for a person arrested for DUI to immediately acquire an ignition interlock device (IID) restricted a license. The IID is a breathalyzer machine that will prevent your vehicle from starting if it detects the presence of alcohol in your blood. The IID restricted driver's license will allow you to drive freely without any restrictions. The length of time the law will require you to stay with an ignition interlock device will depend on your DUI history. If you are a repeat DUI offender, you may have to stay with the IID device for an extended period.
California DMV Process
The second step after a DUI arrest in California is the DMV process. Within ten days of your DUI arrest, you should seek a DMV hearing. If you fail to seek a DMV hearing and ten days pass, the DMV automatically suspends your driver's license. Your Coto de Caza DUI attorney can request a DMV hearing on your behalf. You do not have to attend the hearing in person; your DUI attorney may attend the hearing on your behalf.
During the DMV hearing, the primary objective of your DUI attorney is to convince the Department of Motor Vehicle not to suspend your driver's license. The attorney may also use the DMV hearing as an opportunity to gather useful information and then use the information in court. Upon concluding the hearing, the DMV officer is responsible for considering the matter before issuing a written finding. The DMV officer mails the outcome of the DMV hearing via mail within 30 days. The DMV will not impose a license suspension if you prevail at the hearing. However, your DUI case may proceed to court, and a conviction in court may trigger a separate license suspension. If you do not win the DMV hearing, the license suspension takes effect a few days after receiving the notice.
It is important to note that DMV hearings are only applicable to cases involving driving under the influence of alcohol. This means operating your vehicle with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more. If the police arrest you for driving under the influence of drugs, including being under the influence of marijuana, Ambien, or Vicodin, you cannot apply for a DMV hearing. It is also important to note that a conviction of DUI of drugs in court will trigger a suspension of your driver's license.
You have to heed the suspension of your driver's license immediately; it takes effect. You will face distinct and additional charges if you operate your vehicle on a suspended license. Driving on a suspended license may have adverse penalties, including serving jail time and a longer license suspension. At times, your DUI attorney may arrange for you to get a restricted license immediately. At other times, you may apply for a restricted license within 30 days of the suspension of your license.
In addition to representing you at the DMV hearing, your Coto de Caza may also represent you in the court procedures when your DUI case proceeds to court. If you drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more, you may face charges for two misdemeanor offenses in California. You may face charges under California VC 23152 (a) for driving under the influence. You may also face charges under California VC 23152 (b) for driving with excessive blood alcohol concentration. The objective of your DUI attorney will be to avoid a conviction for the two offenses.
The DUI attorney may attend the court proceedings on your behalf. However, if you need to testify or if your DUI case proceeds to trial, you have to appear in court in person. The DUI court proceedings may spread over several months and involve several court dates. During the court procedures, your attorney negotiates with the judge and collects evidence. The aim of the attorney is to seek a reduction or dismissal of your DUI charges.
You may opt to plead to a DUI or a lesser offense. You can achieve this in two ways; you may appear in court in person and plead before the judge. Your DUI attorney may also have you sign notarized documents. The attorney will then present the signed documents to the court and execute the plea on your behalf.
If you still cannot reach a settlement for your DUI case, your DUI case will go to a jury trial. It is common for judges and prosecutors to give better deals when cases proceed to a jury trial. This is mainly because, in California, available courtrooms are often less than the trials on the docket. In addition, when a District Attorney critically examines the case, he/she often identifies issues in the state's evidence.
In California, every conviction for DUI carries a license suspension. However, you may continue operating your vehicle on an IID restricted license. You may also apply for a restricted license that will allow you to drive to restricted places.
California DUI with Injury
Upon operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, you may end up inflicting injuries on another person. Causing injuries on another person while under the influence is an aggravating factor that will attract more severe DUI charges. The California Penal Code 23153 VC outlines the offense of DUI with an injury. DUI with injury is a wobbler offense meaning that the prosecutor may choose to charge the offense as a misdemeanor or as a felony. When assigning charges, the prosecutor considers your criminal history and the circumstances of your arrest.
If the prosecutor charges you with misdemeanor DUI causing injuries, the applicable consequences may include serving informal probation. The probation period will range between three years and five years. You may also serve up to five days in a California county jail. You may also have to pay fines ranging between $390 and $1,000 and attend an 18-month or a 30-month alcohol program.
To continue operating your vehicle, you may have to install an ignition interlock device for a period of six months. If you are not willing to install the IID device, you may have to serve a license suspension for one year. Other penalties for DUI with injury include paying restitution to the victim. This entails reimbursing the victim for all the losses he/she suffers due to the accident.
You will face enhanced charges if the prosecutor charges you with felony DUI with an injury. The charges will include imprisonment of sixteen months to ten years in a California state prison. You may also have to serve an additional and consecutive one year to six years imprisonment. The imprisonment enhancement will depend on the number of people who suffer injuries during the accident and the extent of the injuries. You may have to pay severe penalties ranging from $1015 to $5,000. The court may require you to attend an 18-month or a 30-month alcohol and drug program.
You may get a designation of an HTO (Habitual traffic offender) and retain the status for up to three years. To continue driving your vehicle to any place you desire, you may have to install an ignition interlock device for two to three years. The DMV may suspend your license if you are not willing to install the device. The court may also order you to pay restitution to the injured victims. According to the California Three Strikes Law, you may earn a strike on your record if you commit a felony DUI causing injury offense.
Four or More DUI Convictions in California
If you commit four or more DUI offenses in California within a period of ten years, you will automatically face felony DUI charges. The penalties for felony DUI in California include imprisonment ranging from sixteen months, two years, or three years. You will serve the imprisonment in a California state prison. The court may also charge you fines ranging between $390 and $ 1,000. To avoid a suspension of your driver's license, you would have to install an ignition interlock device for a period of one year. The department of a motor vehicle may give a designation of the Habitual Traffic Offender.
It is important to note that there is a distinct treatment for DUI offenses that lead to death in California. The penalties for DUI offenses leading to the death of another person may include life imprisonment. The penalties may also include a strike on your criminal record as provided by California's Three Strikes Law.
Contact a Coto de Caza DUI Attorney Near Me
If you are facing DUI charges in California, the consequences may be detrimental. You may face harsh penalties, especially due to the presence of aggravating factors. Common aggravating factors include high levels of BAC, engaging in reckless driving, DUI with a minor, and causing injuries or death to another person. You should contact your Coto de Caza DUI attorney immediately after your DUI arrest. Contact the Orange County DUI Attorney at 949-377-2280 and speak to one of our attorneys today.