Having a drink is not entirely wrong. Such habits become worse when you end up being apprehended with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above the legal limit. California laws have stringent laws against such behaviors, and anyone apprehended driving under the influence of alcohol or any other drug risks severe penalties.
Thankfully, you can hire a DUI attorney and have your case well well-represented in a court trial or get the right legal advice needed for such a situation. Our North Tustin DUI Attorneys are the best based on the level of experience and case results. It is reasonable to learn a few aspects of DUI cases to be sure of the legal procedure in your case. Therefore, continue to read this article to learn more about DUIs in California.
Legal Definition For a First Time DUI in California
In California, it is not an offense to drink alcohol, but it is an offense to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol to a certain extent. When you are apprehended for the first time, this means that you will be facing first time DUI charges. Anyone arrested for a DUI allegation faces two separate charges. These charges include:
- Vehicle Code 23152(a): Under this Penal Code, it is unlawful to drive any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
- Vehicle Code 23152(b): Under this penal code, it is a crime to drive a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher
First Time DUI for Under 21
California laws have two laws directed to underage driving under the influence. These laws include the Vehicle Code 23136 regarded as California's Zero tolerance law (BAC OF 0,01% or higher) and the Vehicle Code 23140 regarded as underage driving with a BAC of 0.05 % or higher.
Both laws apply even if the driver does not get impaired by alcohol in his or her bloodstream. The potential penalties for such offenses is a one-year suspension for the underage driver's license.
First Time DUI for Commercial Driver
Under Vehicle Code 23152 (d), it is offensive to drive a commercial vehicle with a BAC level of 0.04% or higher. Note that the limits only apply for drivers operating a commercial vehicle. Therefore, for a non-commercial vehicles such as small trucks, cars, and motorcycles, the regular California legal BAC limit of 0.08% applies.
The commercial driver's legal limit is quite strict and applies whether the alcohol impairs the driver or not.
How BAC is measured
BAC can be measured either through a breath test, blood test, or urine test. The results of a BAC are legally admissible in court and can be used in a prosecution.
Breath tests are the most common DUI tests and usually deliver instant results since they are minimally invasive. A breath test in California falls under two categories. This include:
- Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Tests
This test is usually given before one gets arrested with a DUI. It occurs after the traffic officer stops you at a DUI sobriety checkpoint.
- Post-Arrest DUI Breath Tests
These sorts of tests are given after taking a PAS breath test and failed to provide reasonable results. It is taken at the police station or along the roadside, depending on the choice of the arresting officer. Unlike the PAS test, a post-arrest DUI breath test is mandatory no matter where the officer decides to take it.
Whether you are a commercial driver, an underage driver, or a regular driver, you deserve to get the right legal advice when apprehended with DUI. For anyone living within North Tustin, CA, you should consider hiring a North Tustin DUI attorney for such a situation.
Penalties for First Time DUI
California first time DUI carries a couple of penalties. It is the responsibility of your DUI attorney to enlighten you on your potential penalties according to the circumstances of your offense. For those living in North Tustin, the penalties that apply for the first time DUI include:
- Three years of informal probation
- DUI classes for three, six or nine months in AB541 DUI school
- Fines ranging between $390 to $1,000 based on the extent of your offense. There is a possibility of a fine raise up to $3,600 depending on the penalty assessment
- Six months of driver's license suspension. There is a possibility of getting a restricted license or forced to install an Ignition interlock Device for six months as an alternative.
Restricted License After a First Time DUI
Any DUI offender who risks license suspension can opt for a restricted driver's license rather than serving the suspension. However, there are specific circumstances that can disallow one from considering a restricted license. These instances include having the court disallow you from restriction (which is rare) and a situation where your driver's license was suspended due to refusal to participate or complete a chemical test.
There are two provisions provided for anyone who intends to apply for a restricted license. This include:
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Restricted license
With an IID restricted license, you will be allowed to drive anywhere as long as you keep the IID In your vehicle. The IID is like a breathalyzer and restricts the driver from starting a vehicle when the device detects alcohol.
You can request the IID restricted license immediately following your arrest. If your license gets suspended by the DMV after your arrest, you can request the IID restricted license and get a four months timeline to use it. However, if you get convicted in a court, you will need to use the IID for six months. However, if your BAC was 0.2% or higher, you will get an extended restriction that runs for six to ten months.
- Restricted License
A driver with a driver's license suspension for thirty days, he or she can request for a restricted driver's license. With a restricted driver's license, you will be able to:
- Drive to and from work
- Drive to and from the DUI treatment center
- Driver yourself or your family member to get medical attention for a severe medical condition
- Drive a minor dependent to and from school if there is no school bus transportation or public transportation available
Penalties for First Time DUI with Injuries
DUI with injury falls under the Vehicle Code 23153 VC and involves a third party such as a cyclist, a driver of another vehicle, or a passenger.
Under California laws, DUI with injury is a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony based on the circumstances of the accident and the history of the defendant. Typically, a first time DUI offense is charged as a misdemeanor unless the circumstances warrant it as a felony DUI.
If one gets convicted with a misdemeanor DUI with injury, the potential penalties include:
- Imprisonment in county jail ranging between five days to one year
- Three to five years of summary probation
- Fine ranging between $390 - $5,000
- Driver's license restriction for one to three years and
- Restitution of every injured party
On the other hand, if one gets convicted with a first-time felony DUI with injury, it means that one has caused severe injuries or death to the third party. The potential penalties for such an offense include:
- Sixteen months to ten years of California State imprisonment
- An additional of one to six years in prison for the injured survivors depending on the number of injured parties and the extent of injuries sustained from the accident
- Possible inclusion of a strike in your California criminal record as provided under California Three Strike law
- Fines ranging between $1,015 to $5,000
- 18 to 30 months of alcohol or drug program
- Restitution of every injured party
Alternative Sentencing for First Time DUI
It is possible to get alternative sentencing as a first time DUI offender rather than serving a sentence in a county or state prison. Some of the alternatives that one can serve include:
- Community service
- Cal-Trans roadside work
- Residence in a sober-living environment
- Electronic monitoring or house arrest
- Imprisonment in a private jail
Aggravated Factors that can Increase Penalties in a First Time DUI
Certain aggravating factors can increase your penalties for a first-time DUI conviction in California. The most common factors include:
- Refusal of submitting to a chemical test
- Causing an accident
- Driving at an excess speed more than the defined 30mph posted for highways and 20mph limit on a street
- Having a child under the age of 14 in a car
- Being under 21 during the time of the offense
Expungement for First Time DUI
A first time DUI offender can file for an expungement after a review of his or her eligibility. If a judge grants one a DUI expungement, you will be allowed to withdraw your plea of guilty or no contest. There are a couple of benefits that result from expungement include:
- Prohibition of disclosure of your conviction during a conditional job offer
- Ability to obtain a state of professional license
- Prevent a conviction of being used to convict your credibility in court
- In some cases, it can help in handling immigration consequences such as deportation
Our North Tustin DUI attorneys are conversant with all the penalties involved in first time DUI and can offer the kind of legal assistance that you need to handle such a situation accordingly.
Legal Defenses for a First Time DUI
Considering the penalties that result from a first DUI offense, our experienced North Tustin DUI attorney will help you defend the accusation made on you in a court trial. This occurs when you have not pleaded a bargain with the court, or when the judge fails to take heed to the bargain. There are a couple of legal defenses that an attorney can consider. Some of the legal defenses that our experienced North Tustin DUI attorneys can use include:
- Challenge the Breathalyzer Results
DUI does not measure the BAC directly. It measures the through estimation of 1:2100, which means that you can raise a benefit of the doubt on the credibility of its results. There are a couple of things that you can use to challenge the breathalyzer results. Some of the factors that you can use include:
- The partition difference that is different between drivers
- The breathalyzer's margin of error
- Auto-brewery syndrome
- Improper calibration of the device or poor maintenance of the breathalyzer
- Claim that There Was No Probable Cause for a DUI Stoppage
A police officer should stop a DUI suspect if there is a reasonable suspicion indicating that one was driving under the influence of alcohol. The suspect should show various impairment patterns that indicate that he or she is drunk. Some of the elements that prove that one is under the influence of alcohol include:
- A stuttering speech
- Swerve driving
- Over speeding
- Running past stoplights, among others
A professional attorney should be in a position of filing a motion to suppress any evidence presented by the prosecutor based on the patterns that you indicated while driving. The defense could carry more weight if the arresting officer stopped you at a point that does not stand to be a DUI sobriety checkpoint.
- Claim that You Had a Rising Blood Alcohol
It takes forty-five minutes to three hours for the body to fully absorb alcohol once you have an alcoholic drink. Any delay by the arresting officer can significantly raise your blood alcohol content if it takes more than one hour.
In a legal defense, a defendant can claim that his or her BAC level was not above 0.04% while driving and had a rising blood alcohol content instead. Such a defense requires one to involve a toxicology expert to create an analysis that proves the rising blood alcohol content.
- Assert that the Results Were Inaccurate
Blood testing for alcohol should follow strict protocols to ensure that the results were accurate. Therefore, if the blood samples that were taken from a defendant were not handled well, there are possibilities of inaccurate results. For instance, if the technician handling the results failed to store the samples well or failed to add the required amount of preservative, the BAC level can rise by 0.25% or more.
Therefore, to use such a claim as your defense, you can file for a blood split motion where the blood has to be retested. You should take note of the details about the storage and how the testing was conducted.
- Claim that There Was no Proof of Driving
One of the critical elements that the prosecutor must prove is whether you were driving under the influence. However, if you were apprehended in a parked car or if you were involved in an accident, but no one saw you proving, you can use such instances as your legal defense.
There are a lot of other legal defenses that an attorney can use. Thankfully, our North Tustin DUI attorneys are responsible enough to assess your situation and check the best legal defenses that are viable for your case.
- Claim that the Driver Did Not Comply With California Title 17 Regulations
Under California Code of Regulations Title 17, the arresting officer should follow a couple of requirements when conducting a blood and breath test on a suspect. Some of the requirements needed by the code include:
- A 15 minutes observation of the suspect
- Proper maintenance and calibration of the breathalyzer
- Proper administration of the test
If the arresting officer fails to comply to some of the requirements provided, then your attorney should use that as your defense.
The Statute of Limitation for First Time DUI
Under California law, a statute of limitations is a period that a prosecutor has to file a lawsuit in court. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to protect the defendant in a criminal or civil court. It also keeps the case updated since the witness might fail to remember some of the details of what happened.
The statute of limitations applies differently according to the case at hand. Penal Code 802 (a) states that any case that does not involve or imprisonment in state prison should start one year after committing the offense. In other words, any misdemeanor offense should not take more than a year before the prosecution commences. Since a first DUI is usually considered as a misdemeanor, then the prosecutor has a year to file the case in court.
However, if the DUI caused injuries to the third party, the violation is considered as a wobbler and carries both misdemeanor and felony charges. Regardless of the punishment the prosecutor seeks, the maximum punishment for the offense determines the statute of limitations. In the case of DUI with injuries, the maximum imprisonment takes three years, which describes the time limitation that one has.
Find a North Tustin DUI Attorney Near Me
It is both confusing and stressful to deal with the proceedings of a first DUI offense in California. That is why anyone charged with such an offense should hire a professional attorney who can help in handling every detail concerning the case at hand. We at Orange County DUI Attorney are ready to offer the best legal services and ensure a fair trial in your DUI case. If you are in the North Tustin area, contact our offices at 949-377-2280 to receive help.