Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the most prevalent crimes in Las Flores, CA. In California, a DUI conviction can have tremendous implications, including spending time in jail and paying hefty criminal fines. Additionally, you could have your driving license suspended for up to three years, depending on your DUI record. You could also incur additional costs as the court may require you to enroll for mandatory DUI programs as part of your sentence. Since it also affects your criminal record, a DUI conviction can have huge implications on your job options. In essence, a DUI charge is costly and can easily change the course of your life.
The complexity of the DUI process means that the arresting process is prone to errors hence wrongful accusations. Considering the tremendous negative implications and the complexity of a DUI charge, it is critical to seek professional help from experienced DUI attorneys. If you are in Las Flores, and you are facing a DUI charge, contact our experienced and dedicated Las Flores DUI attorney at the Orange County DUI Attorney. We will not only employ the best defense strategies to help you get a favorable outcome in court, but we will also ensure your rights are protected.
DUI Laws in California
California has some of the strictest DUI laws in America. A DUI arrest in California may result in the filing of two separate cases. One a civil suit from the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) and the other a criminal DUI case from the courts. The two cases are independent of one another, and the outcome of one does not determine the outcome of the other. While the civil lawsuit seeks to suspend or revoke the offender's driving license, the criminal case seeks to have the offender jailed or fined. It may also lead to the offender being put on probation, being required to offer community service or enroll in mandatory DUI programs.
Compared to the criminal DUI case, the DMV case is time-sensitive and requires the suspect to request the scheduling of a DMV hearing within ten days. Despite DMV hearings classification as civil cases, our Las Flores DUI attorneys will not only defend you in the criminal DUI case but will also protect your rights in the DMV hearing. The decision of the DMV on whether or not to suspend/revoke the defendant’s license is within two weeks. While a DUI arrest usually leads to the automatic suspense of the driving license, a successful DMV hearing may get the revocation/suspension lifted even before the criminal case commences.
Unlike the DMV hearing, it can take up to one year before the court files the DUI case. The defendant's attorney must take advantage of the extended timelines to build a strong defense. Despite the criminal DUI case being completely independent of the DMV hearing, the attorney may use the same arguments he/she had used in the hearing, including the existence of procedural errors and the illegality of the DUI arrest, among other legal defenses. However, the criminal DUI case encompasses all the aspects of the incidence and carries severe penalties; hence, you require the services of experienced lawyers such as our Las Flores DUI attorneys.
While most DUI offenses in California are misdemeanor crimes, the court convicts some as felony crimes. For instance, a DUI that results in a severe injury or the death of someone is a felony. Other DUI offenses that may result in a felony conviction include a repeat offense, where the suspect has very high levels of blood-alcohol content (BAC) or an accident that results in property damage. Primarily, an offender can be charged under several statutes as provided under California DUI laws.
While California's general BAC limit is 0.08%, the law prescribes a limit of 0.04% for commercial drivers. The state also has a BAC limit of 0.01% for anyone under 21 years with this limit, also applying to any person who is on probation for criminal DUI related charges. While the law does not provide for the prosecution of people under probation in case of a BAC level that exceeds 0.01%, they risk having their license suspended for more than one year in case of a DUI arrest. Even with all these statutes, DUI arrests in Las Flores are on the rise. As a deterrent to increasing DUI incidences, the state of California has made drunk driving illegal. Additionally, as per California laws, DUI penalties increase with each additional DUI charge.
DUI Offenses and Charges
In California, depending on the nature of a DUI offense, DUI charges are mostly different and carry varied penalties. Some of the most common DUI offenses and related charges include:
- First DUI Offense
If you have never had a DUI arrest up until this point, the courts will convict you for a misdemeanor for your first arrest. Generally, in Las Flores and the rest of California, judges tend to be lenient on first-time DUI offenders. However, this does not mean that a first DUI offense attracts a small penalty. California categorizes drunk driving as a high-risk crime; hence, every DUI case is taken seriously and may attract hefty penalties. The sanctions due to first-time offenders are only less to those of other DUI cases. Some of the charges and penalties that you can expect as a first DUI offender include:
- Suspension of Driver’s License
Although a first DUI offense is a misdemeanor crime, first-time offenders still have their driver's license suspended for a specific period, which may be up to six months. Whether you are a professional driver or driving is part of your daily routine, you are expected to adhere to the license suspension penalty. The charge can be devastating for people who earn their living from driving.
- Criminal Fines
As a first-time DUI offender, you may be asked to pay fines that could range between $390 and $1000 to the court. While the base fines cover the criminal justice system expenses that accrue from your DUI case, they are mostly meant to deter you from repeating the crime. Despite it being a first DUI offense, the court is supposed to conduct a thorough assessment to determine the amount you should pay. It is critical to have a skilled DUI attorney to avoid having prohibitive or unfair fine amounts imposed on you.
- Jail Time
Even as a first-time DUI offender, you could end up serving time in county jail depending on the nature and severity of your offense. Generally, a first DUI offense attracts a maximum of 6 months in prison. However, in case the offender was involved in some extreme criminal activities as part of his DUI case, he/she may end up having an extended sentence. It is especially the case if, by his/her drunk driving, the first-time offender gets into a fatal accident that leads to the injury or even death of another person.
As a first-time DUI offender, you could also end up serving probation of three to five years. Generally, probation involves a suspended jail sentence that includes being subjected to mandatory and regular supervision by a probation officer. Failure to comply with the court’s probation requirements may lead to a jail sentence. As part of the probation charge, the offender may be required by the court to offer community service or attend counseling sessions. The court may also demand that he/she pay restitution for any damages that he/she may have caused in the course of his/her drunk driving.
- Enrollment in Special DUI Classes
As part of the court process, you may be required to enroll and attend alcohol classes regardless of whether you have an alcohol disorder or not. These classes must be attended in person and can be part of the probation process with a probation officer tasked to keep track of your attendance. Most of the courses are designed like regular AA classes with the court guaranteeing personal information. As a first-time DUI offender, you may be required to attend the mandatory sessions for a period of between three to nine months. Barring any technicalities, the attendance is expected to be consecutive.
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
The court may require a first-time offender to have an IID in their vehicle for a period of up to six months. In some instances, the court may require a defendant to wear IID around their ankle for up to twelve months. However, IID on the vehicle is more common and is mandatory for defendants who need to continue using their cars without restrictions as it acts as an option to the suspension of a driver’s license. The vehicle installed IID is breathalyzer equipment, and the driver is required to take a test before turning the ignition. Since the device strategically interlocks with the ignition system, it prevents the engine from starting if the driver's BAC levels are higher than the IID programmed limit. The device also has a rolling retest mechanism that ensures only the breath samples are from the actual driver and not from any other person.
As a first-time DUI offender, it is important to adhere to sanctions such as probation and IID requirements to avoid further legal issues. While some of the penalties may be prohibitive or unfair, our Las Flores DUI attorneys are ready to defend you and protect your rights.
- Second DUI Offense
Similar to a first DUI offense, courts in California also convict a second DUI offense as a misdemeanor. However, a DUI charge is only considered to be a second offense DUI if it is the defendant’s second DUI offense within ten years. Since it is a repeat offense, a second DUI offender is heavily penalized compared to a first-time DUI offender. Nevertheless, any DUI charge is bound to have some adverse effects, hence the need to seek the services of skilled and experienced attorneys. In addition to stiffer penalties, some of the charges and sanctions that you can expect for a second DUI offense include:
- A Two-Year Driver’s License Suspension
As a second-time DUI offender, you could have your driver’s license suspended for up to two years. Whether you are an everyday driver or a once in a while driver, 24 months is a long time to be without your license.
For a second DUI offense, you will be required to pay a base fine of between $390 and $1000. However, this may be in addition to various penalty assessment associated with a repeat offense. It is critical to have an experienced DUI attorney; otherwise, the enhanced fines and penalties can leave you broke.
- Jail Time
As a second-time DUI offender, you could end up spending between four days and one year in county jail. An extended stint in prison is not only a lousy criminal record, but it could significantly change the course of your life, including being fired from your job for absenteeism.
In California, a second DUI charge may attract misdemeanor probation of between three to five years.
- 18 Months of Special DUI Classes
While the probation time is similar for the first DUI offense, the duration of the alcohol classes doubles from a maximum of nine months to a minimum of 18 months for second-time DUI offenders. The mandatory DUI program may run up to 30 months regardless of whether or not you have an alcohol or drug problem. However, if there is an alcohol dependency diagnosis, the defendant will also be required to attend AA meetings.
- IID Installation
A second-time DUI offender also has similar mandatory IID requirements as a first-time DUI offender where they have the device installed in their vehicle. However, for a second DUI offense, the IID is to be fit for up to one year.
- Third DUI Offense
In this case, the defendant commits a third DUI offense within ten years. As the number of DUI offenses increases, the penalties become stiffer. Some of the charges or sanction you can expect for a third DUI offense include:
- A driver’s license suspension of up to three years
- Probation of up to five years
- A jail term of between 120 days and one year
- 18 Months of Special DUI Classes and AA meetings
- IID installation and other IID related requirements, including the possibility of the defendant being required to wear an IID around their ankle.
- Fourth DUI Offense
While the court considers DUI offenses up to the third time in a decade as misdemeanor crimes, a fourth DUI offense within ten years may attract felony charges. As a felony, the DUI offense may even lead to jail time in state prison. In addition to the felony charges, other sanctions that a fourth DUI offense attracts include:
- A driver’s license suspension of up to four years
- 18 Months of Special DUI Classes
- Court sanctioned AA meetings
Defenses a Las Flores DUI Attorney May Use
In California, drunk driving is a serious crime, and as stated above, DUI charges attract hefty penalties. However, for a conviction, the prosecution needs to prove three elements; the defendant was driving, that they were under the influence, and the influence led to their reckless and dangerous driving. With the burden of proof on the prosecution, by applying the best defense strategies, an experienced and dedicated attorney can help get your charges dismissed or reduced. Some of the best defenses strategies that a DUI attorney may use include:
- There was no probable cause for your DUI arrest. In this case, the arresting officer did not have probable cause to believe that you were drunk driving.
- There was no intoxication at the time of your arrest. In this case, even if you were drunk, your BAC levels were below the legally allowed limits.
- There was an infringement of your rights at the time of the DUI arrest. In this case, the police officer may have used excessive force or even injured you.
- The BAC kits were faulty; hence, the results were inaccurate. As a result of being defective, the BAC kits gave incorrect information about your intoxication levels.
- There was possible discrimination or police misconduct in your arrest. The arrest was for some personal stereotypes rather than for a lawful reason.
Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me
DUI related offenses are complicated and costly. A single DUI conviction, even if you are a first-time offender, can significantly change the course of your life. The increasing number of DUI incidents in Las Flores has forced the California justice system to take DUI cases even more seriously and impose stiffer penalties. However, whether it is your first, second, third, or fourth DUI charge, there is no need to panic. A Las Flores DUI attorney will provide you with the necessary DUI defense that may lead to either the dismissal or reduction of your charges. Call 949-377-2280 to get the services of our attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney law firm.