The crime of driving under the influence is one of the more serious offenses in Orange County. If you are convicted of driving under the influence, you may face some devastating consequences such as a jail term, hefty fines and, a criminal record. It is paramount that you get an attorney when you are arrested for a DUI in and around Dana Point, CA, to avoid these severe consequences. Furthermore, every accused person has a constitutional right to be represented by an attorney during a case hearing; and this is the legal basis as to why you should hire an attorney.
Driving Under the Influence
According to California law, a person commits the crime of driving under the influence if that person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The term ‘drugs' is used to denote both narcotics and medicine which is recommended by a physician. When a person takes these drugs or medication before and during driving; these medicines or drugs have the capability to impair his or her judgment and may cause him or her to drive recklessly, and such driving may result to an accident. Typically, many people in Dana Point are convicted of the offense of DUI because they were driving while intoxicated with alcohol. This is because alcohol is a common beverage that is easily available to any person.
In most states of the U.S, there are DUI laws which prescribe the limits of alcoholic substances in a person's bloodstream. When a person is found to have exceeded these limits while driving, the person has higher chances of being arrested by a law enforcement officer. According to the laws of most U.S. states, adults who are above 21 years of age have their blood alcohol level limits set at 0.08% or higher, while those who are between 16 – 21 years have their limits set below 0.02%.
Even with these statutes set in place, many people are still being arrested for the offense of driving under the influence within Orange County. In fact, at least 1 in 20 inhabitants of Dana Point has been charged with driving under the influence. These statistics keep on rising each passing day.
The offense of driving under the influence is categorized as a high-risk crime since persons who are prone to committing this crime have a higher probability of causing or being involved in a road accident; which may bring about the destruction of innocent lives and, loss of valuable property.
What Police Officers Do When They Suspect You of Driving Under the Influence
Naturally, law enforcement officials will make you pull over when they see you driving recklessly. When you drive carelessly, you automatically make police officers suspect you of committing some mischief. Therefore, a law enforcement official will flag you down when you drive recklessly; and if they find out that you are doing so because of being intoxicated; they will automatically arrest you for driving under the influence.
Also, within Orange County; there are several sobriety checkpoints. These sobriety checkpoints are placed randomly within the streets of Orange County; including Dana Point. When you come across these checkpoints, you will be expected to pull over. When you pull over, you will be placed under a sobriety test where a law enforcement official will scan your body and check its alcoholic blood levels. You may also be questioned or put under a thorough examination of your behavior. If the police officer asserts that you are driving while being intoxicated, you may be arrested and charged with the offense of DUI.
Under the laws of California, you are not required to consent before taking the sobriety test. Furthermore, a law enforcement official has the power to arrest you if he or she reasonably suspects you of committing the offense of driving under the influence. If you are arrested under these circumstances, you will be taken to a police station.
At the police station, you will be obliged to take a blood alcohol level test. As per California laws, you are deemed to have consented to take this test if you arrested for drunk driving. If you refuse to take this test while in a police station, then your license of driving may be suspended for a particular period or, revoked.
California’s DUI Laws
Just like any other U.S state, California has prescribed specific limits for the levels of alcoholic substances in the blood. For all adult drivers, the BAC limit is 0.08%. However, drivers who possess driving licenses which are commercial have a BAC limit of 0.04%. Moreover, according to California's Vehicle Code 23140; persons who are below 21 years old have a BAC limit of 0.01%. As per Vehicle Code 23136, this BAC limit of persons under 21 years old also applies to persons who are on probation for criminal offenses related to DUI. However, you will not be prosecuted for a DUI offense if you are on probation and your BAC limit exceeds 0.01%. The consequence which you risk facing in that situation is that your driver’s license will be suspended for a period which exceeds one year.
Generally, California's laws illegalize driving under intoxication. Therefore, you may be arrested even if you were driving under the influence of medicine which is prescribed by a doctor. However, for you to be convicted of DUI; the prosecution has to prove three elements. These three elements are; that you were driving, you were under the influence of a drug or alcohol and, that influence caused you to drive recklessly.
The Punishment for a DUI Offense in California
There is a widely held misconception that the offense of driving under the influence is a minor offense. This misconception is not true. The crime of driving under the influence is taken very seriously in California. A DUI offense carries with it some grievous, devastating consequences such as heavy fines, loss of driving licenses and, even prison sentences. These consequences can have a very negative impact on your life and, those of your loved ones.
According to VC 23152(a), the offense of driving under the influence is classified as a misdemeanor in California. However, misdemeanor DUI can be upgraded to a felony in certain aggravating circumstances, for instance; if you cause a serious accident while driving under the influence. Furthermore, if you are convicted of misdemeanor DUI for three times and you still commit this offense for the fourth time within an interval which does not exceed ten years from the time when you last committed the crime; then you will be charged with felony DUI.
Penalties for a Misdemeanor DUI
According to the laws of California, the penalties for misdemeanor DUI generally are;
A term in jail, which may be up to 1 year
A term of probation, which may be between 3 – 5 years
An order to participate in a certified DUI school
An order to pay a fine and the value of the fine may range from $390 - $5000
A suspension of your driving license for a specific period, which may be up to 6 months
Furthermore, the laws of California provide for enhancement penalties which may apply in some particular circumstances. Some of these circumstances are;
When your BAC level is too high
If there was a child in your vehicle at the time, you committed the DUI offense
If you have ever been convicted of DUI before
If you caused an accident which resulted in death or grievous physical injuries
If you have a past felony conviction.
Here are the enhancement penalties;
Suspension of driving license for one year with a 2-day jail term and an order to attend alcoholic control and regulation classes for nine months for first time DUI convicts
Suspension of driving license for two years with a 96-hours jail term for second time DUI convicts
Suspension of driving license for three years with a 10-day jail term for third time DUI convicts
Also, if you refuse to take a sobriety test; you may be charged with two offenses at the same time, a DUI offense and a refusal to partake in the sobriety test.
What You Should Do When you are Arrested for DUI
A law enforcement official will be more inclined to arrest you for DUI if they notice that you are driving recklessly. Therefore, it is crucial for you to know the exact steps which you should take after being arrested for DUI to avoid making your situation worse.
The first step that you should take after being arrested is to contact a reliable Dana Point DUI attorney. It is this attorney who will look for various loopholes from your point of arrest, for instance; the accuracy of the BAC test and come up with the best defense strategy for you.
If a police officer flags you down, the best thing for you to do is to pull over immediately. Don’t try to evade the officer or show any signs of hesitating to pull over since you may make the law enforcement official to be more suspicious about you. Furthermore, you should always be polite and calm; and never try to engage the officer in an act of aggression.
You have a constitutional right to remain silent, and you are not obliged to answer any question which the officer poses to you. After being arrested, the law enforcement official may place you under custody; during which you will be read to your Miranda rights. It is at this point when you can ask to contact a Dana Point DUI attorney.
Bringing in a DUI attorney is the best bet for you to be acquitted of a DUI offense. A criminal attorney is well versed with the laws, regulations, and procedures applicable in DUI offenses in Dana Point; and he or she will surely use such knowledge to defend you.
Defenses for Driving under the influence in Orange County
An experienced Dana Point DUI attorney has the technical know-how to navigate around a charge of driving under the influence. With the help of a Dana Point DUI attorney; you may get an acquittal or, your charges may be reduced due to plea bargaining. Here are some of the plausible defenses for driving under the influence in Orange County;
Lack of a Probable Cause
According to the laws of California, a law enforcement officer should only flag you down if he or she has a probable cause. If a police officer flags you down and he or she does not have a probable cause; then you should not be charged for DUI – since that evidence will be inadmissible. According to U.S. jurisprudence, evidence acquired in contravention of the law cannot be admitted.
Lack of Intoxication
Maybe it is true that you were drunk, but your BAC levels did not reach the limits provided for by the law. Your Dana Point DUI attorney is able to come up with a story to show that you were not intoxicated, for instance; he or she can tell the court that you were either sick, stressed or, fatigued. This way, it will be hard for the prosecution to prove that you were intoxicated making you be acquitted.
Infringement of Your Rights
You can assert that your rights were infringed upon when you were being arrested as a defense. Successfully proving that there was a violation of your rights at the time of your arrest will provide a fertile ground for you to be acquitted. Maybe your Miranda rights were not read to you before being placed in custody. Alternatively, perhaps you were neither informed of the reason behind your arrest nor, given the opportunity to contact an attorney.
Faulty BAC Testing Kits
Some BAC testing kits may be faulty, and they may give incorrect results. If your Dana Point DUI Attorney is able to prove that your BAC results were inaccurate; then your charges will be automatically dismissed because of insufficient evidence.
If your attorney can successfully prove that the law enforcement officer who arrested you has some personal stereotypes against you; then your DUI charges may be dropped altogether. This defense is applicable in situations where you have been arrested due to racial and gender profiling and, other forms of discrimination.
The Roles of a Dana Point DUI Defense Attorney
Besides coming up with an excellent defense strategy, a DUI defense attorney has key specific roles. Because a charge of driving under the influence has serious implications, a reliable DUI defense attorney will do all that it takes to relieve you of these charges.
If you manage to contact a Dana Point DUI Attorney during an arrest, the attorney will advise you on what to say and do to avoid self incrimination. If you have a defense attorney, you can choose to refrain answering the questions that are being asked by the police. A DUI defense attorney will enlighten you on how to avoid aggravating and worsening your situation at the point of arrest.
Moreover, a DUI defense attorney will make sure that your constitutional rights are not violated at the point of arrest and during a court hearing. In essence, a DUI defense attorney will make sure that you are treated with dignity and respect both before, during and, after arrest regardless of your status as an accused person.
A competent attorney will invest all his or her resources in enabling you to be acquitted of the charge of driving under the influence. He or she will have to interrogate both the defense and prosecution witnesses, as well as gather more information and evidence in support of your case; including outsourcing the services of a private detective.
Once you hire a DUI defense attorney, you will be assured that you definitely won’t be alone during the hearing process. Your defense attorney will be with you each step of the way. He or she will provide support to you during the hearing process and, will attend all the court hearings which relate to your case.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
When you are arrested for driving under the influence, don’t panic. The best thing for you to do when arrested for DUI is to contact a Dana Point DUI defense attorney. Orange County DUI Attorney law firm is composed of competent, experienced and, reliable defense attorneys who will do all it takes to either reduce or dismiss your charges. Although the offense of driving under the influence has grievous penalties; our team has adequate know-how to navigate around these charges for your benefit. Our team will assist you to come up with a plan on the best way to defend yourself and, avoid conviction. Call our DUI defense lawyer at 949-377-2280 and get the best defense strategy to win your case.