Many people in Lake Forest are charged with DUI on a daily basis. Most don’t know the severity of this crime until sentencing. The Orange County DUI Attorney is an experienced law firm with advanced strategies and defenses in handling such cases. If you are involved in a DUI case, consider getting in touch with us for a professional consultation and efficient services in handling your case.

Definition of DUI in California

As per the state of California, DUI or “driving under the influence” implies the illegal operation of a motor vehicle by an individual while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

In the state of California, common convictions of DUI involve driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding the legal limit. The legally accepted BAC limits in the state of California are stated as:

  • .01% or higher for persons under twenty-one (21) years old,
  • .04% or higher for commercial drivers or persons on DUI probation, and
  • .08% or higher for persons of twenty-one (21) years or older, driving a standard passenger vehicle.

DUI Offenses You May Be Charged With under the California Vehicle Codes 23152 VC

  • 23152(a) VC - This usually doesn’t require proof of your BAC level. It entails driving under the influence such that your mental and physical abilities are impaired, and you cannot drive well as a sober person.
  • 23152(b) VC - This involves driving with a BAC of .08% or higher. This definition does not require proving the driver was intoxicated, only that the BAC measured .08% or higher.
  • 23152(c) VC - This involves driving a vehicle while facing a drug addiction problem.
  • 23152(d) VC - This covers the driving of commercial vehicles with a BAC at or above .04%.
  • 23152(e) VC - This entails driving a passenger in a passenger service vehicle such as a taxi with a BAC at or above .04%.
  • 23152(f) VC - This covers driving under the influence of any drug.
  • 23152(g) VC - This includes driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs.

Most people apprehended for DUI in California are charged under 23152(a) and 23152(b), which allow the prosecutors options on how to handle the case.

Levels of DUI Offenses and Penalties in California

First DUI Conviction

In the state of California, a first-time conviction is treated as a misdemeanor. A guilty party may be subjected to the following penalties:

  • The driver may be ordered to pay three hundred and ninety ($390) to one thousand ($1,000) dollars in fines, and can also be subjected to various assessments of the penalty, which further increases the fines to be paid. The fines can sum to thousands or even more.
  • The offender may face between forty-eight (48) hours to six (6) months of jail time or get placed on probation as in most circumstances. Often the judge is lenient and disqualifies jail time from the sentence.
  • First-time offenders generally face license suspension for six (6) months and an administrative suspension of four (4) months by the DMV for drivers with a BAC above .08%. All first-time offenders are allowed to apply for a restricted license, which is meant for driving to and from school, or work, under strict supervision.
  • The defendant might face a total of three (3) years of informal probation, which may extend to five (5). For a probation term, the offender must attend DUI School for three (3) months and must be in class for about thirty (30) hours. For offenders with .20% BAC and above, the program takes nine (9) months and classes of sixty (60) hours.

Second DUI Conviction

  • Second-time offenders are fined similar to first-time offenders: three hundred and ninety ($390) to one thousand ($1,000) dollars in fines and penalty assessments.
  • Second offenders may face jail time of between four (4) days to a year. The offender can also be subjected to community service or house arrest.
  • Second time DUI offenders face a 2-year license suspension from a criminal court with an administrative suspension on cases that had .08% BAC and more. The sentences can overlap. The driver must also wait for one (1) year after which they are allowed to request a restricted license.
  • Second-time offenders usually face informal probation of three (3) years or up to five (5) years. The offender must also attend DUI School for a period of between eighteen (18) and thirty (30) months as part of the probation.

Third DUI Conviction

An offender faces fines of three hundred and ninety ($390) to a thousand dollars. The offender typically faces jail time of about one hundred and twenty (120) days to a year or thirty (30) days in the case of probation. Attending DUI School for thirty (30) months is also ordered.

A driver faces suspension for three (3) years by a criminal court with an administrative suspension of twelve (12) months if the cases involved BAC above .08%. The suspensions may overlap. The offender is allowed to apply for a restricted driver's license.

Fourth time DUI Conviction

A fourth or subsequent DUI within ten (10) years is charged as a felony; if found guilty, offenders are penalized with fines ranging between three hundred and ninety ($390) and five thousand ($5,000) dollars with substantial penalty assessments that can raise the total to eighteen thousand ($18,000) dollars. The offenders may also face jail time of sixteen (16) months to three (3) years in state prison.

The defendant must also face three (3) to five (5) years of probation and must attend a thirty-month DUI School as a term of probation. If you qualify to apply for a restricted license, an ignition interlock device is installed in your vehicle for three (3) years.

DUI with Injuries

The severity of a DUI charge in Lake Forest, CA increases if there are injuries inflicted on civilians involved in a DUI accident. The levels of injuries sustained determine whether the case is treated as a minor or severe offense. A case of DUI treated as serious leads to jail time of between sixteen (16) months to four (4) years if proven guilty. The fines levied on a defendant depends on their history with DUI and range from three hundred and ninety ($390) to five thousand ($5,000) dollars.

DUI with Fatalities

Defendants of DUI involved with the death of other persons are prosecuted per the state of California’s murder laws or vehicular manslaughter. The defendant may face the following charges:

  • Gross vehicular manslaughter with intoxication,
  • Negligent vehicular homicide with intoxication, and
  • Second-degree murder.

For a case of minor vehicular manslaughter with intoxication, an offender may face one (1) year in jail and about one thousand ($1,000) dollars in fines. A conviction of second-degree murder involves a minimum of fifteen (15) years up to life imprisonment in state prison.

Underage DUI and Zero- Tolerance Laws in California

The Zero Tolerance Law

In the state of California, underage(under 21 years old) motorists caught driving with a BAC of .01% and above, can be convicted of an infraction. A conviction results in two hundred and fifty ($250) dollars in fines and a one-year minimum license suspension.

Underage DUI Charges

In the state of California, a young driver with a BAC of .05% or more can be charged with underage DUI. The convicted drivers face a one-year license suspension and a one hundred ($100) to three hundred ($300) dollar fine. It depends on whether the driver has ever been convicted of an infraction in the last twelve (12) months or not. Drivers below twenty-one (21) but above eighteen (18) years must undergo an alcohol education program as a term of license reinstatement.

Meaning of a Wet Reckless Charge

The term describes a reduced plea arrangement made by a driver arrested for DUI. The driver pleads guilty to driving with alcohol involved; thus, the name “wet” This charge carries fewer obligations, costs, and punishments than standard DUI charges.

A Lake Forest DUI Attorney can reduce your DUI charges to a “wet reckless.” Are you involved in DUI? Reach out to a Lake Forest DUI Attorney today.

How can a Prosecutor Prove you are Guilty of DUI?

Drug Intoxication

To be sentenced for DUI, the prosecutor must prove that you indeed operated a vehicle while under the effect of drugs or alcohol.

The fact that you operated a vehicle under the effect of a drug is, however, not enough to incriminate you.

A person will be held liable for a crime if their mental or physical abilities does not allow them to operate a vehicle like a normal or a sober person.

Though for other drug intakes like marijuana, not enough evidence can prove that you're under the influence of the drugs.

For such instances, the prosecutor can only prove:

  • A person’s physical outlook,
  • Existence of confusion dilated pupils or unclear speech,
  • Careless driving,
  • Presence of drugs in your vehicle,
  • Failure to agree to chemical tests, or
  • Mode of conversations with police.

Watson Murder

Watson murder in California is a form of California penal code 187. It’s second-degree murder, which an individual is charged with while they have a prior murder record in the case of a DUI accident that resulted in a fatality.

A defendant is considered of malice if:

  • Caught while under the influence and intentionally committed an act,
  • The results and natural impacts are dangerous to mortal life, or
  • The defendant knew the consequences and deliberately carried out the act.

At this point, the prosecutor has to prove that the driver deliberately committed the act.

Moreover, if a prosecutor provides full evidence, the defendant will then be penalized as the law states under gross vehicular manslaughter found in penal code 191.5 (a), or penal code 195 (b).

The Unreliable and Faulty Breath Test

The breath test is majorly used by officers to examine the defendants BAC though it's not an accurate method of examination.

DUI tests don't directly measure alcohol capacity in your blood, but instead in your breath and divert the amount of alcohol as a determinant of alcohol present in your blood.

It's easy to win a case by this method of examination because:

  • The Breathalyzer can malfunction,
  • Improper application of breath test by the police officers, or
  • Breath tests being dependent on physiological conditions hence mostly unreliable.

There Was No Police Misconduct Involved During the Arrest

The existence of police misconduct could suppress your charges even if you were under the influence.

In the case of proper demonstration of police misconduct, the DUI charges can be dropped since it’s based on police procedures and policies which must be monitored.

There was no Radio Frequency Interference

A  DUI breath test may result in a higher reading due to electromagnetic interference. This results in the production of inaccurate results. The prosecutor has to prove that the radio frequencies did not contaminate the results of the breath test and that the results are accurate.

Driving Proof

The arresting police officer must be able to sufficiently prove that the defendant was the driver of the vehicle and that they were under the influence. In the case that no evidence is found to arrest and detain the defendant, the case can be terminated.

The prosecuting attorney must have concrete evidence to sustain the accusations for the case to stand. In the case of insufficient evidence, the case will be dismissed.

The BAC Present at the Time of Arrest Impaired Your Judgment

Field sobriety tests often fail to give conclusive results. The tests have been found to multiply the BAC by four (4) times. The prosecutor and the arresting officer must be able to prove that the evidence of BAC collected is accurate. Failure of this implies that the case can be dismissed.

There was no Abuse of Title 17 CA Regulation Code

The prosecutor must follow the requirements for the collection, storage and analyzing DUI chemical tests as stated in Title 17 California code

The Title 17 CA code warns against:

  • Improper calibrations of DUI breath test instruments,
  • Uncertified and untrained technicians, and
  • Violation of Title 17 CA code, which leads to the immediate removal of BAC evidence.

The Blood Tests Were Accurate

The prosecutor should be able to prove that the blood tests conducted are accurate and were carried out by a trained, competent medical practitioner. Failure to show this can be utilized by a defense lawyer to criticize the accuracy of the evidence provided by the test.

Possible Defenses in a DUI Case

Lake Forest DUI Attorney seeks possible strategies in building your defense. Many individuals are inaccurately arrested due to wrong breathalyzer readings or inaccurate BAC and other surrounding factors.

A defense attorney can take up the following defenses in a DUI case:

Bad Driving is not DUI

Poor driving is not a DUI. The arresting officer must give a satisfactory testimony that the defendant was driving under the influence. An experienced lawyer can fight this evidence by asking the arresting officer to explain the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s driving. If the testimony by the officer conflicts and can ascertain that the defendant was driving using the correct speed limit, the defense attorney can develop a positive argument towards the success of the case.

If the defense attorney can prove that a sober driver committed the majority of the implications, DUI charges can be dropped, and only the allegation of reckless driving sustained.

Objective Symptoms of Intoxication

A Lake Forest DUI attorney can opt to challenge the existence of physical symptoms of intoxication.

The physical appearance is vital in the investigations. The officer must be able to prove that the defendant experienced conclusively:

  • Unsteady gait
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Flushed face, or
  • Slurred speech

An officer is allowed to arrest a person showing these symptoms. A good lawyer can use possible defenses such as:

  • Allergies
  • Eye irritation
  • A cold, or
  • Fatigue

An experienced lawyer may also defend by stating that alcohol bears no smell from people who use beverages such as coffee or juices.

If the arresting officer observed and arrested you, a Lake Forest DUI attorney can present an alternative and provable argument on the possible causes of intoxication.

Lack of Mental Impairment

A DUI officer can arrest a person for exhibiting physical symptoms of intoxication. A good defense attorney can defend by proving the lack of signs of mental impairment, which most officers don’t observe before arresting an individual. This is enough to win the case since people behave differently, even without taking drugs.

Inaccurate High BAC Result

An officer must observe a person for more than fifteen (15) minutes before issuing a BAC test. The fifteen (15) minutes is used to make sure that a person puts nothing new in their mouth, including non-alcoholic drinks or medicine.

The use of such substances may bring up alcohol from the stomach, thus giving the wrong readings. This is a common defense to DUI charges as the lawyer will base their case on the erroneous readings from the testing equipment, which will significantly act to your advantage.

Inappropriate Observation

In case an arresting officer takes incorrect observations before, during, and after the breath test, the defense can argue based on the accuracy of the evidence. It is common to ask whether the observation took place lawfully or not. Some officers don’t observe the rules involved and end up recording wrong results, which in turn makes their arrest irrelevant. This is an advantage to the defense.

Regulations on Blood and Breath Testing

Proper rules must be followed before arresting and using the breath and blood test equipment. The requirements include:

  • An observation period of not less than fifteen (15) minutes
  • Proper administering of the test
  • Qualified personnel should carry out the chemical test
  • Regular maintenance of the test equipment, and
  • Proper handling and storage of blood samples

These regulations are not strictly observed because there is a high level of contamination.

A DUI defense lawyer can use these regulations to question and defend against the charges. In some cases, the arresting officers fail to follow the rules fully. This provides an opportunity to defend your DUI charges successfully. 

Arrest while not Driving

The arresting officer may arrest a person who is intoxicated but not driving. This is allowed by law. In such a case, the defense can take up the notion that the person was conscious of the risks of driving, thereby pulled over.

Find a Lake Forest DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

A prosecutor may make you believe the charges you face are incontestable. However, we at Orange County DUI Attorney can analyze your case and build a strong defense. We believe that everyone deserves a fair trial. We can ensure that you will have a good attorney to defend you in case of a DUI charge. Our group of attorneys is one of the best and well recognized DUI law firms in southern California. For assistance, please contact our Lake Forest DUI Attorney at 949-377-2280.