A conviction of drunk driving in San Juan Capistrano is bound to change many aspects of your life. Other than spending time in jail and paying hefty fines, the offender could end up losing their driving privileges for up to three years or more. At Orange County DUI Attorney, we have a dedicated team that is ready to take up your DUI case to ensure that you get a fair outcome. There are several defense strategies we use to fight our client’s DUI charges. In addition to these strategies, we work hard to protect their rights. If, therefore, you are in San Juan Capistrano, and you are facing a DUI charge, get in touch with us.
Understanding California DUI Laws
California is among the states in the U.S that have very stringent laws against drunk driving. Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California are very harsh. Their severity increases with the increasing number of prior DUI convictions an offender has in their record. You are also likely to get a more severe penalty if a person was injured as a result of your drunk or drugged driving.
Most DUI offenses in the state of California are convicted as misdemeanors. However, there are felony DUI offenses, too, for instance, a DUI resulting in an injury, property damage, or death of another person. Anyone that is convicted of a DUI four times within ten years will also face a felony conviction on their fourth conviction.
Some DUI convictions result in incarceration that could range from six months to several years, depending on the severity of the offense. Some offenders are lucky to get probation, but they could lose their driving privileges. California courts allow some defendants to continue operating their vehicles as long as they have an IID system installed in their cars. It ensures that the driver is not committing the same offense again while on probation.
Generally, California laws against drunk or drugged driving as provided under Section 23152 of California Vehicle Code has several statutes that an offender can be charged with once they are arrested for DUI. These are:
- Section 23152(a- it is the law against operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol to the point that your physical and mental abilities have been impaired. A driver who has been impaired by alcohol will not be able to drive as well as a sober person.
- Section 23152(b) - It makes it illegal for a driver to operate a vehicle when their blood-alcohol concentration is at 0.08% or more.
- Section 23152(c) - it is the law against operating a vehicle when one is addicted to any drug
- Section 23152(d), which is the law against operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or more
- Section 23152(e) - it is the law against operating passenger for-hire vehicles such as a taxi with a BAC of 0.04% or more
- Section 23152(f) is the law against operating a vehicle under the influence of any drugs
- Section 23152(g) is the law against operating a vehicle under a combined effect of drugs and alcohol.
Each of these offenses is heavily punished with incarceration and hefty fines and the possibility of losing one’s driving privilege. That is why you need the best legal defense to have your charges reduced or dropped. A competent San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney will come up with a proper defense to ensure that the court does not find you guilty to the DUI charges you are facing.
Types of DUI Cases a San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney Can Handle
As mentioned above, there are several types of charges a DUI offender can face in the state of California. They all depend on the nature of the offense committed and the defendant’s prior DUI convictions. Fortunately, a well-trained San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney will be able to handle several DUI cases and ensure that the rights of his/her clients are respected all through. Some of these cases include:
1st Offense DUI
When a person is arrested for DUI for the first time, they will face misdemeanor charges in a California court. This, however, does not mean that the penalties will be any less compared to other DUI cases. As mentioned above, every DUI case attracts hefty penalties, including the first offense. Some of the sanctions the offender is likely to get in this case include:
- Summary/misdemeanor probation for between three and five years
- A maximum of six months in a county jail
- Fines that could range between $390 and $1000
- A mandatory enrolment to a court-approved DUI school for between three to nine months
- Mandatory requirement to have an IID installed in the defendant's vehicle for at least six months. This will allow the defendant to continue using their vehicle without restrictions. If not, DMV will have a driver's license suspended for between six to ten months
Consulting a competent San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney immediately after arrest is advisable as the defendant is not familiar with the court process. Again, you need the best legal defense to ensure that you are not facing all the above penalties. Your attorney could have the court dismiss your charges or have them reduced to less hefty charges.
2nd Offense DUI
Just like the first DUI offense, a 2nd offense DUI in California is convicted as a misdemeanor. A 2nd DUI offense, in this case, occurs when a person is convicted of DUI for the second time within ten years. Possible penalties for second offense DUI in the state include:
- Misdemeanor probation for between three and five years
- Time behind bars for between 96 hours and one year
- Fines ranging between $390 and $1000
- Mandatory registration in a California DUI program for between 18 to 30 months
- Mandatory installation of an IID system for at least one year. If the defendant agrees to have the IID installed in their car, the court will allow him/her to continue operating their vehicle with no restrictions. If not, the DMV can suspend their driver's license for one year.
The significance of facing a second DUI offense is overwhelming, and the penalties that come with the conviction are severe. That is why you need to get in touch with the best DUI attorney. An experienced DUI attorney can fight the charges to compel the court to drop or reduce them. He/she will also be with you all through, helping you file the necessary documents in court on time. You will also need legal advice and representation during the DMV hearing for a favorable outcome.
3rd Offense DUI
A third DUI conviction in ten years will also be convicted as a misdemeanor in the state of California. Penalties are, however, heftier than those a first-time offender is likely to get. Some of these penalties include:
- Informal probation for between three and five years
- Jail term for between 120 days and one year
- Fines of between $390 and $1000
- Mandatory completion of a court-ordered DUI school for at least 30 months
- Mandatory installation of an IID system for at least two years. When this is agreed, the driver will be allowed to drive anywhere. If not, DMV will suspend their driver's license for 3 years. A suspended license for a 3rd DUI offender can only be changed to a restricted driver’s license after 18 months of suspension.
- The offender could be labeled as a habitual traffic offender by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles
As you can see, things get even worse for DUI offenders with prior convictions. That is why it is essential to try and fight your subsequent DUI charges. It will not only help you avoid the harsh penalties that come with each DUI conviction but also the possibility of having your driver's license revoked.
A felony DUI conviction will attract heftier penalties as compared to a misdemeanor conviction. Fighting those charges is crucial if you do not want to end up in prison, to pay more in fines and even lose your driving privileges for more years. Working closely with an experienced San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
In California, it is only the first three DUI convictions that are convicted as misdemeanors. Subsequent DUI convictions will be treated as felonies. Other DUI cases that will be convicted as felonies include:
- A DUI arrest for the fourth and subsequent times within ten years after the prior three DUI convictions
- DUI resulting in bodily injury or death of another person
- Driving with a BAC higher than the allowed level of 0.08%
There is a significant difference between a misdemeanor and a felony DUI conviction in California. Some of the penalties an offender is likely to get after being found guilty of felony DUI include:
- Incarceration in state prison for a maximum period of four years
- Fines of not more than $1000
- Driver’s license suspension for at least four years
- Mandatory registration and successful completion of a court-ordered DUI school for at least 18 months
- A mandatory requirement by DMV to register as a habitual traffic offender
Penalties for DUI convictions in California vary greatly depending on the seriousness of the offense. California courts consider several factors and the circumstances surrounding each case to determine a fair punishment for every offender. There are mainly two categories of these factors. The mitigating factors are those that could lighten the conviction the offender is facing. Some of these mitigating factors are, for instance, a clean driving record and completion of a voluntary DUI program.
Aggravating factors, on the other hand, are those that unfavorably affect the outcome of a DUI offender's case. These are factors that show that the DUI case at hand is more than a typical DUI case. They can cause a more severe penalty handed down to the defendant. Sometimes they could result in a felony drunk driving conviction. Some of the aggravating factors that could affect your California DUI case include:
- The defendant crashed into another car or caused damage of property in their drunken or drugged state
- The defendant injured another person while operating a vehicle under the influence
- That the defendant’s BAC level was at or more than 0.20%
- That the defendant was driving with a passenger who is below 14 years of age at the time of the arrest
- That the defendant failed to yield to a DUI test
- That the defendant was on probation for DUI at the time of the arrest
- That the DUI offender was driving with an invalid, suspended, restricted or without a California license
- That the defendant has been previously arrested for DUI
- The defendant was over-speeding in their drunken or drugged state
- The offender was below the legal drinking age of 21 at the time of their arrest
- That the defendant fled from the scene of the accident and was facing a hit & run charge
Aggravated factors will heighten the punishment a DUI offender is likely to get for their offenses. They will also affect the defendant’s personal and professional life. That is why it is advisable to work closely with a competent DUI attorney who will make sure that you do not get more punishment than your case deserves.
Possible Defense Strategies a San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney Can Use To Help Your Case
The main reason why you need a DUI attorney if you are facing DUI charges in California is for legal defense. If you have been arrested, your case will end up in a criminal court, and your attorney will defend you against the charges you are facing. Sometimes the evidence collected by the prosecutor may seem so much to the point of losing hope in getting off the hook. However, a competent attorney will always find ways to help your case and give you a fair outcome. Here are some of the defense strategies that could help in the DUI case you might be facing today:
Police mistake or misconduct
Police misconduct is one of the things that could make a criminal court dismiss the charges leveled against a defendant. DUI charges can, too, be dismissed if there is proof that the arresting officer did not conduct him/herself as required by the law. In the state of California, there are strict processes and professional conduct that every law enforcement officer must adhere to. State police must, for instance, adhere to Title 17 requirements. There are requirements for accurate reporting, too, as well as how the police must handle DUI stops. If the arresting officer manipulated evidence or statements against your case, for instance, your charges will be dismissed.
You were not driving the car at the time of the arrest
A driver cannot be convicted of DUI if there is no evidence that they were operating a vehicle at the time of the arrest. The prosecutor needs to demonstrate to the court that you were the one driving and that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is, however, not always easy to prove. If the arresting officer found you inside a parked car and they arrested you for DUI, there is no way to prove that you were the one operating that car at that time. Your San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney can skillfully use this defense strategy to have your charges reduced or dropped.
There was no probable cause
For a court to proceed with the hearing of your case, the arresting officer needs to give an account of how he/she arrested you. The court will want to know what made the officer stop and arrest you for DUI. If the officer did not have probable cause to believe that you were indeed driving under the influence, any evidence gathered against you by the officer will be dismissed. The law requires an arresting officer to have a good reason to believe that a driver is operating under the influence for him/her to stop and arrest the driver. If you were driving well and the officer routinely stopped you and then arrested you for DUI, your attorney can use this strategy to help your case.
Your Miranda rights were not read to you
The law requires an arresting officer to read an offender's Miranda rights before he starts interrogating and gathering evidence against the offender. If this was not done at the time of your arrest, and the officer questioned you even before allowing you to get in touch with your attorney, you can use that against the officer to help your case. The court will not use any evidence gathered by the officer before your Miranda rights were read to you.
Find a San Juan Capistrano DUI Attorney Near Me
Fighting DUI charges is essential if you do not want to face the full punishment of drunk driving in the state of California. This is what we do at Orange County DUI Attorney. We have a team of highly skilled and experienced DUI attorneys that can take up your case and ensure that your rights are not violated throughout the legal process. Call us at 949-377-2280 if you are in San Juan Capistrano, and let us handle your defense.