DUI is a criminal offense that can affect your life in so many ways. Other than incarceration and payment of hefty penalties, DUI defendants in California are also likely to lose their driving privilege. More severe cases of drunk driving are punished by life imprisonment, as well as a mandatory requirement to register as a habitual traffic offender.
That is why Orange County DUI Attorney has a team of dedicated and experienced DUI attorneys. Our goal is to make sure that our clients are fairly treated and that their rights are not infringed upon once they are arrested and charged with DUI. Therefore, if you have been arrested for DUI in Santiago Canyon, can count on us to plan a robust legal defense and help influence the outcome of your case.
Understanding DUI Laws in California
California state has very rigorous laws on impaired driving. Offenders are severely punished with jail and prison terms, as well as hefty fines and suspension of their driver's license. The severity of these penalties intensifies with the number of sentences a defendant has in a span of ten years. A 3rd offender will, for instance, receive a heftier punishment as compared to a first offender. It, however, does not mean that a first offender is not severely punished. Every DUI offense in California, however minor it may seem, is treated with the seriousness it deserves.
In California, DUI laws are provided in California Vehicle Code Section 23152. There are two main statutes under this first law that clearly defines DUI and the elements that a prosecutor must prove before a person is found guilty of drunken or drugged driving:
- Sun-section 23152(a). This law defines drunk driving as driving a vehicle under the effect of drugs or alcohol. When a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, both their mental and physical abilities are impaired to the extent that he/she is not able to operate a vehicle the way a steady person would. This means that the prosecutor does not need to provide the driver's BAC test results to prove to the court that he/she was impaired at the time of the arrest.
- Sun-section 23152(b). This is the section of the law that relies on a driver's BAC results to prove that he/she was drunk or under the influence of drugs at the time of the arrest. This section of the DUI law provides that all drivers must not operate with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Again, with this law, the prosecutor will not need to demonstrate to the court that your mental and physical abilities were impaired. As long as your BAC was higher than the required standard, you could be convicted of DUI even if you did not break any traffic rules.
These are the principal statutes that are used by prosecutors in trying DUI offenders, but they are not the only ones. We have other five misdemeanors in California that could be used to charge a DUI defendant, depending on the circumstances surrounding their case and the presiding judge. These are:
- Sub-section 23152(c). That is the code that makes it unlawful to drive when a person is dependent on alcohol or drugs
- Sub-section 23152(d). It is the part of the law that makes driving a commercial/profitable vehicle when a person has a BAC level of .04% or higher illegal
- Sub-section 23152(e). That is the code which doesn’t allow anyone to drive a commuter for-hire car, for example, a taxi or Uber to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content of .04% or higher
- Sub-section 23152(f). This is the part of the law that makes operating a car when one is under the effect of drugs illegal
- Sub-section 23152(g). This is the part of the law that makes driving when one is under the effect of both alcohol and drugs illegal
The law against DUI in California is not easy to decipher, which is why it is advisable to hire a competent DUI attorney as soon as you have been arrested for impaired driving. Finding the best Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney will determine whether or not you will be released and your charges dropped, or whether or not your charges will be reduced to a more lenient charge.
Types of California DUI Cases You Should Find Help With
A competent Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney will have the ability to handle all types of DUI cases in Santiago Canyon. You need someone with a great experience and the best training to succeed in your quest for release or reduction of your charges. Some of the DUI cases you can find help with include:
First DUI Offense
If it is your first time to be arrested and charged with drunk driving, you probably do not have an idea of how the justice system works. This is precisely where the help of an experienced Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney comes in. You need someone to guide you through the legal process, to advise you on what you need to do and what to avoid in order not to make your situation worse.
An experienced DUI attorney will not only file the necessary documents in the criminal court but also request for a DMV hearing on time. This way, your case will be determined on time to avoid spending more time behind bars. It will also help you not lose your driving privileges.
The most important thing your attorney will do is to plan a strong legal defense for you. The first DUI crime in the state of California is a misdemeanor. The penalties you could get for this include but are not limited to:
- A fine ranging from $390 to $1000, which could go up to $3,600 after the inclusion of penalty assessment costs
- Jail time of between 48 hours to six months
- License suspension or six months by the criminal court and four months by DMV. If the offender refused to yield to a sobriety test, DMV could have their license suspended for a year
- Misdemeanor probation for a minimum of three years. It could go up to five years. within this period, the defendant must complete a DUI program for a minimum of three months
- The condition to install an Ignition Interlock Device system in their vehicle for six months
A competent DUI attorney will know how to fight these penalties to make sure that your punishment is as lenient as possible.
Second Offense DUI
The second DUI offense is also a misdemeanor in California. The legal process will be the same after your second DUI arrest, just as it was the first time you got arrested. But you can be sure that the penalties will be stiffer this time around. That is why you need the help of a well-skilled Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney. You need someone that will fight your charges to ensure that you are not receiving the harsh penalties of a second-DUI offender. Some of the punishments include:
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000. Fines could go up to $4,000 after the inclusion of penalty assessment costs
- Jail time for at most one year
- Driver’s license suspension for two years by the criminal court and a year by DMV
- Summary probation for between 3-5 years. During the probation period, the defendant will be required to complete a DUI school for a period within 18 and 30 months
- The compulsory requirement to install an Ignition Interlock Device system in their car for a minimum period of one year
Penalties for the second drunk driving offense could be more than listed above. The number of penalties you get depends on the nature of your case. A qualified DUI attorney will know how to get your case dismissed or your charges reduced. Attorneys will use any possible loophole in the justice system to ensure that their clients are not getting all the penalties the offense deserves.
Third Offense DUI
DUI offenders are said to have committed a third-DUI offense if they have two prior convictions within ten years. Even though the offender will be familiar with the justice system, they will still be worried about the penalties they are likely to receive for their offense. Committing the same offense three times in ten years could be interpreted as a total disregard for the safety of road users. It may cause the judge to pronounce a heftier penalty for the offender. For this reason, there is a need to have an experienced attorney by your side.
Note that the third DUI offense in California is convicted as a misdemeanor too. Some of the penalties the offender could get are:
- A fine of between $390 and $1,000, which could go up to $18,000 after penalty assessment
- Incarceration for one year or 16 months in state prison
- License suspension for three years by the criminal court and two years by DMV
- Misdemeanor probation for between three and five years. one condition or probation will be compulsory completion of DUI school for a minimum of 30 months
- The requirement to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in their car for two years
4th and Subsequent DUI Offenses
Similarly, a fourth DUI offense is said to happen if a person is arrested for DUI four times in ten years. If you have three prior DUI convictions and you get arrested again for DUI, you may get a felony conviction. It means that the penalties will be even heftier, and chances of facing a long time behind bars will be higher this time around. Some sanctions a fourth DUI offender is probably going to face are:
- A fine that could range between $390 and $5,000, which could go up to $18,000 after penalty assessment
- Incarceration for between 16 months and three years in a California prison
- License suspension for up to four years, with a possibility of license revocation
- Felony probation for between three and five years. The defendant must register in and complete a DUI program for a minimum period of 30 months
- Mandatory requirement to install an Ignition Interlock Device system for three years
The most important role for your Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney will be to fight the charges you are facing and at least have them dropped. This way, you will not have to face a felony conviction and the punishment that comes with it. Alternatively, your attorney will try to find flaws with your previous convictions. If successful, you may not face a felony conviction after all.
As detailed above, punishments for a DUI conviction in the state of California can be very harsh. First offenders, however, do not get to spend more time than six months in jail. However, there are aggravating factors that could heighten your sentence and cause you to serve an even longer prison time than you had anticipated. Aggravated DUI in California will carry an increased penalty, regardless of whether or not the defendant was convicted of a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or felony DUI. Aggravated DUI in the state is convicted as a felony. Some factors that might heighten your DUI penalties may include:
- Operating a car with a BAC level of 0.15% or more
- Failing to submit to DUI testing
- Causing an accident in your DUI state
- Driving at a higher speed than standard
- DUI with a minor below the age of 14 as your passenger. The offense will even attract additional charges of child endangerment
- DUI while under the California legal drinking age, which is 21 years
The type of heightened penalty you will receive for any of the aggravating factors will depend on your criminal history and the exact condition of your arrest. Speeding will, for instance, give you an additional 60 days of imprisonment on top of the jail or prison time you would get for your original offense. Having a minor in the vehicle, on the other hand, will give you an additional 48 hours in jail.
A competent attorney will know best how to counter all these charges to give you the outcome you truly deserve.
Possible Defenses against California DUI
To fight your charges successfully, you not only need a smart attorney but one that will be able to utilize any reasonable chance to give you a fair result. Fortunately, there are several defense tactics that a competent Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney could use to influence the result of your case plus ensure that the court is granting you back your freedom or reducing your charges. Some of these are:
Lack of a probable cause for DUI stop
The law requires that every police DUI stop must have the support of a probable cause or a reasonable suspicion. Under the 4th amendment, police stops are usually considered as seizure, which is illegal in California. That is why the police need to have a good reason to suspect a driver of drunk driving before they stop him. If you have a reason to believe that the traffic officer didn’t have a reasonable cause to believe that you were operating under the influence, you can use that as a defense against the charges you are facing.
Inaccurate DUI test results
California law requires blood testing for DUI suspects to follow a specific protocol to ensure that the results obtained are accurate. There are several ways in which blood tests can yield inaccurate results. If, for instance, blood samples are left to sit for days before they are analyzed, there are low chances of obtaining accurate results. Improper storage of blood samples could also cause inaccurate results. If your attorney has reason to believe that the blood samples collected from you were mishandled, he/she can use this defense to ensure that the test results obtained are not used in your trial.
No proof of driving
Even if your DUI test results show you were under the effect of alcohol or drugs, the prosecutor is required to prove that you were operating a vehicle at the time of the arrest. If, for instance, the police arrested you in a car that was parked, the arresting officer needs to verify that you operated a car in your drunken/drugged situation for you to face a DUI. Your lawyer could use the fact that no one saw you driving to have the court drop your DUI charges.
Again, California has a list of procedures that traffic police must follow when arresting lawbreakers. Police misconduct is enough to have a DUI defendant's charges dismissed, regardless of whether or not the offender was acting under the effect. A law enforcement officer is, for instance, expected to only give truthful testimony in court. He/she is not allowed to fabricate, illegally obtain or manipulate any evidence. Any missing information on the day of trial is also regarded as police misconduct.
Find a Santiago Canyon DUI Attorney Near Me
A conviction of DUI in California will not only land you in jail or prison but also cause you to pay a lot of money in fines and restitution. Your professional and social life could also be significantly affected. That is why you need proper legal help in fighting the DUI charges you are facing. At Orange County DUI Attorney, there are competent DUI lawyers that are always willing and ready to handle your DUI case. We fight to safeguard your rights throughout the process and ensure that you are getting a fair outcome from your case. Call us at 949-377-2280 today if you have been arrested in Santiago Canyon.