A DUI in Silverado is a serious offense that can land you in jail and in some cases, in state prison. If you are facing a DUI charge, you need the services of a Silverado DUI Attorney to help you in fighting these charges. DUI attorneys understand the laws related to California DUI offense, common mistakes the police make, and how these mistakes can be used in your defense.
Drunk driving refers to the offense of driving while your blood alcohol concentration exceeds the legal limit. The standard BAC limit for holders of a class C driver’s license is .08%. For commercial drivers, the legal limit reduces to .04% and .01% for underage drivers (under 21 years). If you violate these laws, you will be charged with a California DUI. The court may impose additional charges depending on the circumstances of the offense and any prior DUI convictions.
For example, if you kill a person while driving under the influence, you will be charged with a felony even if this is your first DUI offense. While such a charge might seem harsh, it is an incentive by stakeholders to discourage drunk driving and reduce related accidents, injuries, and deaths.
The first three DUI offenses within ten years are misdemeanors punishable by county jail time, fines, and license suspension. The court may sentence you to probation instead of jail and require you to complete an alcohol program in an approved school for a predetermined period.
The fourth and subsequent offense within ten years is charged as a felony. Other times when a DUI becomes a felony includes if you caused the death of another person or you have been convicted of a DUI felony before.
Whenever you are facing a DUI charge, you need to hire a Silverado DUI Attorney to help you fight the charges. The attorney begins the defense process immediately. Some of the services may include:
- Scheduling and representing you during a DMV hearing to challenge the automatic license suspension. The DMV suspends your license after you are arrested for a DUI, as part of its administrative procedures. The suspension begins thirty days after your arrest unless you schedule a hearing. You should schedule a hearing within ten calendar days of your arrest. If you hire a lawyer soon, they will schedule the hearing on your behalf.
- Defense during the criminal proceedings: the criminal proceedings begin with the arrest. Your lawyer may not be available during the arrest, but if you hire him or her soon, then he or she will attend the arraignment. If you are still in custody, he or she may attend your bail hearing and request your release on bail. During the bail proceedings, your lawyer can negotiate for reduced bail amounts to ensure you are getting a favorable outcome. During the arraignment, you will take a plea to the charges against you.
- If you plead no contest or not guilty, then your lawyer begins the intensive process of discovering evidence and negotiating plea deals with the prosecution. He or she might also bring motions to suppress evidence that was obtained unlawfully. The plea stage usually takes anywhere between a few weeks to several months. During this stage, the prosecution and defense will poke at each other's cases to identify loopholes and weaknesses. If your lawyer can find enough weakness to destabilize the prosecution's case, your charges may be reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed for insufficient evidence. However, if you do not agree to settle during the pretrial stages, you will have to go through the trial.
- The trial is usually the most uncertain phase of any criminal proceedings. However, if you go to trial, your Silverado DUI Attorney will still defend you. Some of the results a defense during the trial can achieve, include a reduced charge, acquittal, or reduced sentencing. The outcome heavily depends on the evidence the prosecution has against you and how well it succeeds in proving to the jury that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Post-conviction services such as early termination of probation, license reissue and expungement of DUI records
Types of DUI
When you commit a DUI offense, several factors will go into determining the nature of the offense and the specific law you have violated. Some of the types of DUI offenses include:
1. Misdemeanor DUI
Misdemeanor DUI or simple DUI refers to the crime of driving under the influence, without any aggravating circumstances. The first, second, and third subsequent offenses within ten years are misdemeanor offenses, especially if no one was injured or killed, and you do not have a previous felony DUI conviction.
2. Aggravated DUI
Aggravated DUI refers to a standard DUI offense with aggravating factors, including:
- Excessive blood alcohol concentration for example if it is higher than .15% or .20%
- DUI with a minor in the vehicle multiple DUI convictions
- DUI while driving on a suspended license
- DUI while driving at an excessive speed or recklessly
- Chemical test refusals
- DUI causing an accident, injury or death of another person
Aggravated DUI usually has stricter penalties. For example, the court will increase your sentence, increase the amount you have to pay in fines, a longer probation period, or longer hours at a DUI school. In some cases, the court will suspend your license for longer.
The penalties also depend on the specific aggravating circumstances in your case. For example, if you commit a DUI with a minor (aged 14 or less), you will be charged with child endangerment. The court might increase your sentence with a mandatory minimum of 48 hours to 90 days, depending on the prior offenses on your record.
3. Felony DUI
Felony DUI is a serious charge that required the support and defense of a Silverado DUI Attorney. A DUI becomes a felony if:
- It is your fourth subsequent offense in ten years
- Another person dies or was injured due to an accident you caused while DUI
- You have a prior DUI felony conviction
Causing the death of another person can be charged as:
- Driving under the influence
- Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated
- Second-degree or Watson murder
Some of the offenses that count as prior DUI offenses include:
- A wet reckless conviction
- A DUI conviction
- An out of state conviction that qualifies as a DUI in California
Felony DUI has the potential of attaching stiff penalties, including up to a life sentence in state prison, heavy fines (usually $10,000), and license suspension. If you were charged with a felony for multiple priors, you would also have to register as a habitual traffic offender.
4. Commercial DUI
Commercial drivers are bound by strict regulations, including licensing and drunk driving. A commercial driver who is arrested for a DUI faces the possibility of losing his or her livelihood for life. California puts the legal BAC limit for commercial drivers at .04%. Exceeding this amount when operating a commercial vehicle will lead to a DUI conviction if found guilty.
For a simple DUI, the offense is a misdemeanor with potential consequences such as:
- Informal probation or a county jail sentence
- License suspension for a year
- Fines and court assessment fees (total amount could be higher than $2000)
- Attending a court-approved DUI school for three months
If you cause the death or injury of another person, the offense becomes a felony. If you are convicted for a second commercial DUI offense, you will lose your commercial driver’s license for life, whether the offense is a misdemeanor or a felony.
The severity of the consequences of a commercial DUI warrants the defense of a Silverado DUI Attorney who is familiar with the laws surrounding commercial drivers and DUI.
5. Underage DUI VC
California has zero-tolerance laws against underage drunk driving. An underage driver in California is one who is aged below 21 years. Such drivers are not supposed to drive with any detectable alcohol in their system. You can be charged for underage DUI in two ways:
- For driving with a BAC of .01% (VC 23136)
- For driving with a BAC at or higher than .05% (VC 23140)
Driving with a BAC of .01% is a civil offense punishable by a one-year license suspension. Driving with a BAC of .05% or higher is punishable by a one-year license suspension, a $100 fine, and attendance to a mandatory alcohol program for at least three months if you are aged at least 18 years.
6. DUI of Drugs
California VC 23152f prohibits driving while under the influence of drugs. Driving under the influence of drugs is an offense convicted in a similar way to a DUI of alcohol. However, the investigation process is a bit different, since breath testing equipment cannot test the level of drugs in the body.
In most cases, investigating officers will call a Drug Recognition Expert at the scene or the police station. The expert is called after the officers establish that you are not driving under the influence of alcohol, but you still exhibit symptoms of intoxication.
The penalties of driving under the influence of drugs are similar to those of a DUI involving alcohol. They include:
For a first to the third offense (convicted as misdemeanors)
- Informal probation or jail time
- $1800 in fines
- California DUI school
- Suspension of your driver’s license
For a felony charge
- Formal probation
- Up to four years of the state prison sentence
- Fines between $1000 and $5000 depending on the circumstances of the offense
Fighting DUI Charges
DUI charges, even felony charges can be fought with the right defense strategy and a skilled Silverado DUI Attorney. The defenses for DUI offenses arise from the shortcomings of DUI tests and errors the police make when stopping, investigating, and arresting offenders. Others arise from poor handling of samples or the use of chemicals or tools that introduce alcohol into the sample. Some of the successful defenses against DUI charges include:
1. You Were Not Intoxicated
The stresses of daily life, fatigue, and medical conditions can affect your appearance and give an impression of intoxication to an officer. For example, if the officer noticed you had slurred speech, it does not mean you were intoxicated. You could have been slurring your speech due to nervousness.
Sometimes, symptoms such as slurred speech, red, watery eyes, a flushed face, and unsteadiness could arise from innocent conditions such as fatigue, irritation of the eyes, or allergies.
Your lawyer can even dispute that the alcoholic breath the officer smelled was not alcohol but a non-alcoholic drink.
2. Inaccurate Field Sobriety tests
Field sobriety tests are prone to errors due to differing weather conditions, rough surfaces, fatigue, medical conditions, and the clothes the person is wearing. For example, if you are naturally uncoordinated, you will probably fail the field sobriety tests, even when you are sober.
Field sobriety tests are inherently faulty and have a success rate of 91% when the officer is trained correctly, and the conditions are perfect. However, most of the time, the conditions are not perfect, or the officer does not know how to perform the tests.
3. Mouth Alcohol
Breath testing equipment is designed to test deep lung air, but they cannot separate it from mouth alcohol. This means that any alcohol residue in the mouth will count as part of the BAC.
Mouth alcohol can elevate the BAC level. Some sources of mouth alcohol include mouthwashes and regurgitation. When investigating a DUI, the officer is supposed to observe you continuously for 15 minutes to ensure that you do not eat, drink, vomit, belch, burb, or regurgitate.
If the officer fails to observe you for this period, you can successfully use this defense to prove that you had residual mouth alcohol that interfered with the BAC results.
4. Illegal DUI Checkpoint
A DUI checkpoint must adhere to the legal requirements for it to be lawful. However, if these requirements are ignored, then the evidence gathered will be unlawful.
Even when a DUI checkpoint is legal, but the officers detain you for too long, your Silverado DUI Attorney can successfully challenge the arrest.
Some of the requirements a DUI checkpoint must meet include:
- An authorized technician must draw the blood sample
- Alcohol-based agents must not be used in cleaning or sterilizing the equipment to be used in drawing, storing or analyzing the DUI sample
- The blood sample must be preserved with adequate anticoagulant and preservative to prevent fermentation or clotting of the blood sample
- The anticoagulant and preservative must not be expired and should be sufficiently mixed with the blood sample
- The blood sample must be stored properly
- The officer administering a breath test must conduct a 15 minutes observation period to ensure that the person does not eat, regurgitate, vomit or burp
- The breath testing equipment must be properly maintained and calibrated
If Title 17 regulations are not followed, your lawyer can successfully challenge the credibility of the breath or blood test results.
5. Rising Alcohol
Alcohol takes time before it is absorbed fully into the system. This means that, if you take a drink right now, it will take about fifty minutes to three hours to be fully absorbed into the bloodstream. Let us say you take a drink at 8:00, and an officer stops you at 8:15, he or she might detect an alcoholic odor in your breath and establish probable cause to arrest you.
If a second test is taken at 9:00, the BAC level will have risen significantly, because more alcohol has been absorbed into the bloodstream.
Rising alcohol is a defense used to prevent a conviction for a DUI when you were not driving under the influence. For example, if you live thirty minutes away, you could have arrived home without any impairment.
The defense of rising alcohol will get your charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense, such as a dry or wet reckless charge. If your BAC at the time of the arrest was lower than the legal limit, then your charges might be dismissed.
6. The Officer Failed To Follow Procedure
The police are required to follow a standard procedure when investigating a DUI. These standards include:
- Adherence to Title 17 regulations
- Stopping a vehicle if he or she has probable cause (except at a DUI checkpoint)
- He should have probable cause to conduct a DUI investigation or arrest
- Read your Miranda rights before conducting a DUI interrogation.
These regulations prevent the use of unlawful evidence against a defendant. Your attorney can use police failure to follow the rules to defend you.
He or she will introduce a motion to suppress evidence, which locks out evidence that was unlawfully obtained. If some of this evidence includes the BAC results, the probability that the prosecution will dismiss your charges is high.
Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me
Facing a DUI charge can feel final and damning. However, the law provides you with the opportunity to fight these charges. You should never fight a DUI charge alone, instead hire a DUI attorney as he or she is familiar with the DUI laws, process, and potential defenses. The Orange County DUI Attorney provides defense and post-conviction services to people arrested for a DUI in Silverado and the surrounding cities. Some of these services include administrative DMV hearing, criminal defense, license reinstatement, installation of IID, acquisition of an SR-22 certificate, and DUI record expungement. Contact us at 949-377-2280 for our defense services.