Orange County DUI Attorney has a wealth of experience handling DUI cases and helping clients get lesser penalties and have their records expunged. Get in touch with us to get expert legal help and representation for all DUI and DUI DMV related cases in Orange Park Acres and the entire Orange County.
What is "Per Se Count" Law in California?
California Vehicle Code section 23152(b) stipulates that a motorist is legally impaired if their BAC is 0.08% or more. This regulation is famously known as the per se count, and the prosecutor has the burden to prove the following:
- The suspect was the one operating the vehicle during the crash
- The driver's BAC level was 0.08 percent or higher when they were pulled over
- Limit for Blood Alcohol Content
California provides four categories of the blood alcohol levels which are based on a person's age as follows:
- Adults 21 years and older (0.08% or higher)
- People with a commercial driver's license (0.04% or higher)
- Adults on active probation for a DUI offense (0.04% or higher)
- People who are yet to reach 21 years (0.01% or higher)
Types of DUI Charges in Orange County
There are many scenarios of driving while impaired, and each one is handled differently under California law. In this section, we discuss the various kinds of drunk driving charges you could face and what they mean in terms of the law.
The California Vehicle Code Section 23103.5 notes that nobody is charged with a "wet reckless" directly, but rather, this happens after the suspect agrees to take a plea bargain as advised by their legal representative. Once you plead no contest to Section 23103, the prosecutor will charge you with a wet reckless. This charge attracts lesser charges than a typical DUI accusation, but you still get a criminal record. You can bargain for lesser punishment when it comes to jail, probation, fines, DUI school enrolment, and of course, avoiding license suspension.
Most people get this charge if their BAC was almost at 0.08% or when there is insufficient evidence to back up more severe charges. In our many years of practicing, we have seen clients fall victim to police quotas and found themselves facing this charge even when they are not guilty. Repercussions are arising from a wet reckless that could still hurt you even when you retain your driving privileges.
Firstly, a wet reckless is a prior able crime, and so the sentencing for future charges will be harsher. Even if the police coax you into accepting this charge, we urge clients to wait until they speak to a qualified Orange Park Acres DUI attorney. Our experts know how to handle these cases and keep clients like you out of legal troubles.
The first and second DUI charges are usually charged as misdemeanors if there are no aggravating factors like being on probation for another DUI conviction. Also, injuring someone counts as an aggravating factor that may elevate this current DUI from a misdemeanor to a felony charge. The arresting officer must determine your BAC using a certified Breathalyzer and also check for other substances like marijuana.
An aggravated DUI can arise from hurting someone in the crash or damaging property such as roadside vendor kiosks, slamming into a construction, another vehicle, etc. You can also be charged with aggravated DUI if your BAC is found to be 0.15% or higher, or if you were ferrying persons under 14 years at the time. The arresting officer can also elevate the charge under these circumstances:
- If you decline to take blood or breath test upon request
- If you were under 21 at the time of the arrest
- If you are serving probation for another criminal act
- If you have two or three former DUI charges inside a decade
- If you fled the accident scene, so it becomes a hit-and-run
- Careless driving like swerving the vehicle or racing
Your Orange Park Acres DUI Attorney will negotiate with the prosecutors to have these charges reduced down to a wet reckless, so you get fewer penalties and assessments.
DUI Homicide: Watson Murder
A DUI charge can only qualify as Watson Murder if someone died as a direct result of the accident. Penal Code 191.5 of the California code considers this charge as vehicular manslaughter while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Possible penalties include paying restitution of $10,000, adding three strikes to your driving record, and a prison sentence of 15 years.
If the accident results in death, such offenses are prosecuted as second-degree murder. Second-degree murder involves utter disregard for human life, while first-degree murder involves premeditated and deliberate killing. The prosecutors have the burden to prove the following:
- You knowingly and deliberately disregarded human life
- The natural result of these actions endangered human life
- Your purposeful activities led to the loss of one or more life
Non-immigrant Visa DUI
A simple DUI arrest can frustrate an immigrant because they stand a chance of deportation and inadmissibility. Immigrants must be careful not to drive with a suspended license or operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substances like illicit drugs. Other factors that matter here include having multiple DUI convictions in your criminal record or ferrying a passenger under 14 when the accident happened.
The US immigration law can refuse entry in the country for people convicted of drug-related criminal acts or people convicted of multiple crimes that add up to five or more years in jail or prison. If the said offense is classified as an aggravated felony or attracts more than a one-year in state prison, you could be deported.
Facing criminal charges that could affect your immigration status is problematic, and the result could be separating you from your loved ones even when they are still dependent on you. It is expedient that you hire an Orange Park Acres DUI Attorney to evaluate your case and give the best advice under the prevailing circumstances.
Medicinal and recreational use of marijuana has become legal in many states, including California. Congress is poised to vote a historic bill dubbed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This bill aims to remove this drug from the Controlled Substances Act and start making amends to the failed War on Drugs that has disproportionately targeted minorities.
Getting behind the wheel after smoking or inhaling marijuana is outlawed, and anyone apprehended for this becomes liable for DUI offenses. Since there is no legal limit for driving under the influence of cannabis, impairment levels are determined per-person basis. The lack of a standardized legal limit has paved the way for unlawful arrests where innocent people are charged with marijuana DUI even when they can safely drive.
Once convicted, these people often face harsh sentencing guidelines which escalate with every subsequent DUIs. We understand how frustrating things can be when you are arrested without cause. So we advise clients to not speak or sign any statements before speaking to an experienced attorney. Our lawyers understand how the criminal justice system in Orange County works, and we shall be on hand to protect your interests.
Prescription Drug DUI
Some prescriptions have side effects that impair your driving capacity, such as making you sleepy and, therefore, unable to keep steering the vehicle. It is common to find people abusing medications like painkillers, and they eventually become dependent so much that they acquire them in the black market. Other lawful prescriptions like antidepressants, sleeping aids, antihistamines, and decongestants and can affect your driving skills, and when this happens, you will be charged with prescription drugs DUI.
California Vehicle Code 23152(f) stipulates that driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is punishable, and the conviction will remain on your record for ten years. Prospective employers and landlords will see this when they request to conduct a criminal background check, and use these findings to deny you work or housing opportunities. You can avoid these adverse impacts by hiring the best Orange County Defense Attorney to fend off these charges.
DUI Causing Injury
California Vehicle Code 23153 classifies DUIs that lead to injury as misdemeanors or felonies. The former usually includes first offense DUI that leads to damage, and the penalties include restitution, probation of not more than five years, and suspending your license. Convicts will also serve a jail sentence of up to one year and pay a fine of up to $5,000.
A third DUI that leads to injury is classified as a felony, and the penalties include revoking your license for five years, serving up to four years in county jail, and three strikes on your driving record. You will also be branded as a habitual traffic offender, which will hurt your chances if you are ever apprehended for another crime. The judge can order a state prison sentence of up to 6 years and a fine of about $1,000.
DUI Hit and Run
It is not atypical to find drivers speeding off after causing an accident on Orange County freeways. Doing so without providing contact details to the other parties is dangerous as you could be charged with a DUI hit and run. You can also face this charge when someone was injured due to your actions of driving while intoxicated.
We advise clients to identify themselves to those concerned even when they didn't necessarily cause the accident. If you must leave the scene for a justifiable reason, such as heading to the hospital or other emergencies, the police will use these details to reach you. The next step is contacting the local police department right away to report the accident so they can start processing the scene and launch an investigation.
Blood Split Motions
Police departments and some processing stations must withhold urine/blood samples to allow for independent testing, and this is where blood split motions apply. Filing for a blood split motion permits you to petition another agency to test the levels of alcohol in your blood or urine in the samples you provided upon arrest. A DUI attorney must be available when filing a blood split motion, so feel free to get in touch with our Orange Park Acres DUI Attorney to guide you through this process.
Your lawyer can ask the court to annul previous test results if the police lost the sample or failed to preserve it. If the new tests show your BAC level is lower than what the cops recorded at the initial round of testing, you have a high chance of getting the case dismissed. We shall use the findings as a discovery for your criminal case to help fight the charges brought before you or at least get a favorable ruling from the presiding judge.
We have also seen cases where findings from the independent testing indicate that urine or blood specimen were tampered within the chain of custody, were improperly stored, or cross-contaminated. It is our job to have the test results invalidated, so they are not used against you by the prosecutor.
The Two-Step Process of DUIs in California
Now that we have discussed the various kinds of DUI charges that you could potentially face in Orange County, let us understand how the process unfolds. Two essential processes take place when DUI charges are filed, and they may ensure autonomously; a criminal court hearing and a DMV hearing.
Criminal Court Hearing
Criminal court proceedings are dire as the prosecution will be seeking to make the accusations stick by showing you contravened California's driving regulations, which abhor drunk driving. They will bring up discovery such as your BAC levels to prove you were intoxicated at the time of the arrest. Only an experienced lawyer is equipped to challenge such evidence in open court, so do not attempt to represent yourself.
The second part of a DUI case is going for DMV hearings, which are typically informal administrative meetings with DMV officials and yourself. Having an attorney present is optional, but we strongly urge you to retain one, so they can accompany you here as well. The DMV officials look at the case, ask a few questions, then determine if they should take away your driving privileges or allow you to keep driving in Orange County.
Things are precarious when your driving license is on the line. You could lose your job as a driver, or be unable to take the kids to school or run domestic errands like picking up the groceries. What's more, getting to your job will be more cumbersome and expensive if you cannot drive as usual.
Consequences of DUIs that Impact Your Life
Being charged with drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) is a serious accusation that has ramifications in your life now and in the future. Many consequences depend on what kind of DUI charge you are up against, and how many times you have been convicted for similar offenses. The overarching penalties are as follows:
- Jail or prison sentence
- Suspension of driver's license
- Monetary fines to the court
- Restitution to victims of the accident
- Restricted driving privileges
- Attending alcohol driving classes
What is a Restricted Driving License?
A restricted license is a more palatable alternative to having your license suspended. It dictates where and when you can operate an automobile – including a commercial vehicle – as per the terms outlined by a court in Orange County. If you have a restricted driving permit, you can drive to doctor's appointments, drop off kids at school, and drive to your place of work.
This permits also covers attending court arraignments and mandatory counseling programs for alcohol abuse or DUI school as instructed by the court. If the DUI arose from abusing alcohol, you must install an ignition interlock device (IID) to check your breath each time before driving. If your BAC is above the desired limit, the engine will fail to start, thus preventing you from driving off and potentially putting lives at risk.
What are the Possible Defenses Against DUI Charges?
Standardized and non-standardized tests may surmise that you were indeed impaired with alcohol or other chemicals when the accident occurred or when patrol officers stopped you. Being afflicted with any form of DUI is not easy, but we can mount any of the following defense to arrive at amicable outcomes:
- Challenge the accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
- Failure to adhere to due process when testing blood or urine samples
- "Mouth alcohol" contributed to outrageously high BAC
- Unlawful process of stopping and detaining you, e.g., racial profiling
- Anyone can drive recklessly, not just drunk people
- Existing health conditions led to misleading levels of BAC
- "Objective symptoms" of alcohol and drug impairment are not always objective
- Violation of Constitutional Rights like denying you legal representation
- The blood alcohol content was rising rapidly at the time of drawing samples
- There was an emergency, and your actions were justifiable
Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
DUI charges can affect your life in many ways, from suspending your driving privileges to having a criminal record. Orange County DUI Attorney specializes in cases involving impaired driving, and we work tirelessly to get our clients the best deal possible. Call 949-377-2280 to speak to an experienced Orange Park Acres DUI Attorney today.