Being charged with a DUI in Newport Beach can be overwhelming, especially for drivers who don't know what consequences they are likely to face. California DUI laws are stringent, and the courts are known to prosecute to the maximum extent possible. At Orange County DUI Attorney, we want our clients to know that a DUI accusation or arrest isn't the end of the road. Discussed in the article are different types of DUI offenses; we want you to understand what you are going through so that you can make an informed decision on the best way forward.
Different Types of DUI Offenses Handled by Our Newport Beach DUI Attorneys
Most DUI offenses are charged as a misdemeanor. However, you could be charged with a felony if you injure another person or have multiple previous DUI offenses. Also, under DUI laws, a conviction will count as a prior conviction for ten years (look-back period) from the date of the offense.
1st DUI Offense
A first-time DUI offense is treated as a misdemeanor and punished by:
- Typically three years of informal probation
- A maximum fine of $2,000 in penalty assessments
- Up to nine months in alcohol/drugs education program
- Driver's license suspension for six months
- A maximum jail sentence of six months
- Travel restrictions to Canada
- Work release
Sometimes the court may impose probation for the first drunk driving offense. If sentenced to probation, the court will require you to adhere to the following terms and conditions:
- You should not drive with any amount of alcohol in your body
- You should submit to chemical tests when required
- You should not be involved in any offense
- Installing an IID in your car for six months
2nd DUI Offense
The prosecutor should prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you were driving a car as well as you had a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or more or were intoxicated with alcohol or drugs at the time of the arrest.
A 2nd DUI offense is punished by:
- Between three and five years of informal probation
- Up to $1,000 in penalty assessments
- Up to one year sentence in county jail
- Installation of an IID in your car for a year
- Attending a DUI school for eighteen to thirty months
3rd DUI Offense
A third-time DUI conviction within the look-back period has these penalties:
- Informal probation for up to five years
- A county jail sentence of between one hundred and twenty days and one year
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000
- Enrolling in a thirty-month DUI school
- Compulsory IID installation for two years
- Being designated as a habitual traffic offender (HTO) by the California Department of Motor Vehicles
If you are arrested for drunk driving and you have three previous convictions of DUI within the look-back period, you will be charged with a felony. Although a California felony carries severe penalties, the consequences vary with each case depending on the circumstances of your case and if there were aggravating factors present during the arrest. Below are general punishments:
- A 16 month or 2 or 4-year sentence
- A maximum fine of $1,000
- Habitual Traffic Offender status for three years
- Completion of a thirty-month DUI school
- Up to four years driver’s license revocation
Ensure you get in touch with an experienced Newport Beach DUI attorney whenever you are facing subsequent, or felony DUI charges because your lawyer might be able to enter a plea bargain to reduce the charges.
DUI in California is harshly prosecuted, but first-time defendants are not sentenced to jail. However, when the case's facts are aggravated, the defendant is more likely to serve in jail while penalties imposed on subsequent offenses become more serious than they would have been without the aggravating factors. Common aggravating factors include:
- Excessive Speed
Driving with speed above 20 miles per hour on a highway or street or above 30mph on a freeway during the arrest adds a further sixty days to your jail term
- Multiple Victims
If convicted of felony DUI with death or injury to at least one victim, you'll face one to three years enhancement for every victim.
- DUI in construction and enhancement zones
You are likely to pay twice the fine for drunk driving in maintenance zones, highway construction, or safety enhancement zones.
- Minor passenger
Having a minor below fourteen years as a passenger during the arrest could result in an increased sentence. This enhancement adds a compulsory 48 hours, ten days, and thirty days in jail for a first-time offense, second offense, and third offense, respectively.
Under Vehicle Code Section 23136 VC, it is illegal for drivers below 21 years of age to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content that is greater than 0.01%. This Zero Tolerance Law applies to every beverage and medicine that contains alcohol. It also applies irrespective of whether the alcohol-impaired the driver or not. In short, you break this law by having any measurable alcohol concentration in your blood.
One of the penalties for violating underage DUI law is a mandatory suspension of the driver's license. First-time offenders risk withdrawal of driving privileges for one year while those with a history of breaking DUI laws will have their license revoked for 2 or 3 years.
Other penalties include $100 in fines (for a first-time defendant) and completion of a three-month DUI school if the driver is above 18 years.
DUI with Injury
According to VEH 23153 VC, DUI with injury is driving while drunk and as a result causing bodily hurt to somebody else. To prove that you violated Vehicle Code 23153 VC, the prosecution team should prove the following elements of the crime:
- You were breaking DUI laws
- While breaking the laws, you acted in negligence
- Your negligence injured somebody else
DUI with injury is a wobbler. As a misdemeanor, it carries:
- Up to three years of informal probation
- Up to a year sentence in jail
- Between $390 and $1,000 in fines
- Completion of DUI school
- Suspension of driver's license for one (1) or three (3) years
- Restitution to all victims
Felony driving under the influence is punishable by:
- 2, 3, or 4 years of imprisonment
- Consecutive and additional three to six years sentence if the victim has severe bodily injury
- A consecutive and additional one-year sentence for every victim with an injury
- A strike on your criminal record according to the Three Strikes Law if any person suffers severe bodily injury other than you
- Fines that range from $1,015 to $5,000
- Enrollment in an eighteen to thirty-month alcohol/drug education program
- HTO status for three years
- Revocation of driver's license for five years. (However, you can continue enjoying driving privileges without restrictions provided you install an ignition interlock device for more than a year)
It is worth noting that different from a non-injury DUI, a third-time DUI causing injury is considered a felony under California Vehicle Code Section 23153 VC.
DUI Laws and Commercial Drivers
Under the California Vehicle Code, it is unlawful for a commercial motor vehicle driver to operate a CMV with a blood alcohol content exceeding 0.04%. Well, this limit applies only when you are driving a commercial vehicle. That means the legal limit of 0.08% applies when you drive a non-commercial vehicle like a small truck, motorcycle, or car.
Commercial drivers charged with first-time DUI will face the following penalties:
- Informal probation
- A maximum of one year in jail
- DUI school
- Fines that range from $390 to $1,000
Moreover, you will have your driver's license suspended for a year. This withdrawal applies irrespective of whether you were operating a commercial vehicle or not during the arrest. It also applies if you refuse to take a blood, urine, and breath test.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated
Under Penal Code Section 191.5 (a) PC, you are guilty of violating gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated if:
- You drove a car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,
- Acted with gross negligence, and
- Your gross negligence killed somebody else.
It is worth noting that in this context, gross negligence is more than just ordinary carelessness. It's gross if the defendant acts differently from how a cautious driver would act in a similar situation and if the act shows disregard of human life. In other words, gross negligence happens when:
- You act in a careless manner that could result in severe bodily injury or death, and
- You knew acting in that manner could result in such a risk.
Gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a felony and it attracts felony probation, $10,000 in fines and a four, six or ten-year sentence in state prison.
What Other Services Does Our Experienced Newport Beach DUI Attorneys Offer?
You can also contact our Newport Beach DUI attorney to handle the following issues:
Department of Motor Vehicles Hearing Representation
If you are accused of drunk driving in California, you will face two different legal processes: a DMV hearing and a criminal charge in court. Unlike the court proceeding, the DMV hearing is an administrative process that handles only driving privileges; it cannot sentence you.
After you're arrested, the arresting police will cease your driver's license and then give you a Notice of Suspension. You are supposed to use this notice as your temporary driver's license for thirty days. Additionally, this notice will inform you that you have a right to a California Department of Motor Vehicles hearing to stop the withdrawal of your driving privileges. However, you should request a hearing within ten days of your arrest.
Failure to request a hearing within ten days, your driver's license will be suspended after the thirty days.
Just like a court proceeding, you have a right to be represented by an experienced attorney who will do the following on your behalf:
- Analyze and review evidence,
- Summons and present witnesses as well as the arresting police officer,
- Bear witness, and
- Cross-examine witnesses.
Remember, you should also schedule your hearing within ten days following your arrest. Failure to do so deprives you of your entitlement to the hearing. If you engage a competent DUI lawyer to represent you in court, they will request and schedule the DMV hearing for you as long as you retain their services with the ten-day window. They could also attend the hearing on your behalf as long as you aren't going to testify.
Out-of-State Drivers and DUI
If you're arrested for DUI and you are an out-of-state citizen, the officer will provide you with a notice notifying you that your driver's license in California has been suspended for thirty days. Once the officer tells you of the suspension, the DMV is notified immediately, and you have ten calendar days to challenge the suspension. This is done by requesting a DMV hearing.
If you fail to request a hearing within the first ten days after your arrest, you lose the right to do so. Also, the suspension becomes effective after thirty days. Moreover, if you request a hearing within ten days of the arrest, this adjourns the suspension. The suspension won't become active until and unless you don't prevail the hearing.
You are entitled to be represented by a proficient DUI defense lawyer who knows how to present your case, prevail the California DMV hearing, and prevent license suspension. The lawyer can also appear on your behalf. That means you don't have to come to California for the hearing since it can be done over the phone.
If you lose the DMV hearing, your license will be suspended. The suspension length varies depending primarily on the number of prior DUI convictions. Typically, a first-time offender will have their license suspended for four months, and it can be restricted after thirty days.
What is the Relationship Between Driver's License Suspension and Interstate Drivers License Compact?
Chances are your home state will take action against you if you are charged with a DUI. This is because most states belong to the Interstate Drivers License Compact (IDLC). IDLC believes that every motorist in the United States has one driving record and driver's license.
Fighting Chemical Test Refusal Charges
If you refuse to take a DUI chemical test, you will face both a compulsory driver's license suspension and increased penalties to your DUI penalties. This is because, under implied consent law, a defendant should not refuse to take a chemical test after they are arrested legally.
Any skilled lawyer will be able to use the following common legal defenses in your case:
The arrest was not lawful
If your arrest was illegal, then you haven't given implied consent to blood, breath, and urine test. Once the court finds you innocent, the chemical test refusal charges will be dismissed.
The arresting police officer did not inform you of your responsibility to take a chemical test
The admonition should be given clearly. If this is not the case, then your lawyer can justify the refusal.
The refusal was due to a medical condition or severe injury that is not associated with consuming alcohol
The law recognizes that there are instances you may not be able to give a meaningful refusal to a chemical test or consent. A perfect example is an injury or medical condition that renders you unable to make decisions. However, your refusal won't be excused if your inability is as a result of voluntary consumption of drugs or alcohol (even partly).
Acquiring an SR-22 Form
An SR-22 form is issued by an insurance firm that confirms that you have met California's auto-liability insurance requirement. Immediately the form is issued, the insurer should submit it to the Department of Motor Vehicles. It can be acquired anytime you wish to reinstate your license after a driver's license revocation or suspension.
Most people don’t understand the SR-22 requirement as far as DUI cases in California are concerned. That is why you need the assistance of a qualified DUI defense lawyer who is familiar with all the requirements you need to obtain the SR-22. The lawyers should also be able to assist you with filing various SR-22 forms, such as the Broad Coverage Policy, Owner's Policy, and Operator's Policy Certificates.
The expungement of driving under the influence conviction is a do-over that erases or seals a conviction. It is available to any defendant immediately they complete probation successfully. Your lawyer should be able to help you file a petition with the court requesting the expungement. Then the judge reviews the petition to decide if you qualify for an expungement.
If the judges approved the petition, you either:
- Withdraw your guilty plea and reenter the innocent plea, or
- If you were found guilty after the trial, the court sets aside the decision.
With an expungement, you will have an easier time securing a job. That means a potential employer cannot see your criminal record. If the employer finds out, they cannot lawfully use the expunged DUI conviction as a basis when making decisions like promoting or retaining you.
Getting Legal Representation Near Me
A DUI arrest comes with severe penalties that can change your life. After being charged with a DUI, it is common to experience an array of emotions as well as being overwhelmed by the unknown future. It is a challenging moment and going forward; you need to focus on your family, career, and life while feeling confident that you have a skilled Newport Beach DUI attorney who will help you realize the best possible outcome. At Orange County DUI Lawyer, we understand every case is different and will stand with you throughout the process. To book your initial appointment, contact us at 949-377-2280.