Thousands of drivers are arrested every year for DUI – driving under the influence – here in California. If you are charged with driving under the influence in southern California, you need to speak about your case as quickly as possible with a Rosemead DUI attorney.
If you are charged with DUI, should you insist on your right to a trial – and plead not guilty? Or is it smarter to take a plea deal? What constitutes driving under the influence in this state? What punishments can be imposed for a conviction? Will you require a lawyer’s advice and services?
If you’ll keep reading, these questions are about to be answered. You will learn what every California driver needs to know about DUI, and you’ll also learn how to obtain the legal advice and services that you’ll need if you are facing a DUI charge in the State of California.
What Are California’s DUI Laws?
You can be charged with driving under the influence in California in any of these circumstances:
- A law enforcement officer determines – without regard to the results of a field sobriety or breathalyzer test – that you are too impaired to drive safely.
- Even if you do not appear to be impaired, your blood alcohol content (BAC) level measures at or above 0.08 percent.
- Additionally, motorists under 21 years old with any detectable blood alcohol content level may be arrested and charged for driving under the influence.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
Some California drivers may not realize that a driving under the influence charge triggers two different types of proceedings: an “administrative” action by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend your license, and a criminal prosecution for the DUI charge.
When you are charged with driving under the influence, your driver’s license will automatically be suspended by the DMV for four months (after a thirty-day period) unless you request a hearing from your local DMV office within ten days of your driving under the influence arrest.
A Rosemead DUI attorney can argue on your behalf and against the license suspension at the DMV hearing, but with only ten days to request and prepare for that hearing, you will need to contact and discuss your case with a DUI lawyer as quickly as possible after the DUI arrest.
A DMV license suspension is an administrative action totally independent of any jail term, fine, or license suspension imposed by a criminal court for a DUI conviction. It’s not always possible, but in some cases, your attorney may be able to prevent an administrative license suspension.
What Are the Criminal Penalties for a First DUI Conviction?
For California drivers who are 21 and older with standard (not commercial) driver’s licenses, the penalties that may be imposed for a first-time driving under the influence misdemeanor conviction may include:
- a fine of at least $390 and no more than $1,000, plus PA (penalty and assessment), which
can add up to $2000 and above.
- up to six months in a county jail
- a three-to-five year term of probation
- participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program or alcohol education class
- a license suspension separate and apart from any administrative license suspension
If someone was injured because the defendant caused a traffic accident while driving under the influence, the court will order the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the offender’s personal vehicle for twelve to forty-eight months after the license suspension is lifted.
But even for a first offense, DUI with injury may be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the details of the incident. And as you might guess, penalties are harsher for second driving under the influence offenses and increasingly harsher for subsequent offenses.
What Will a DUI Defense Lawyer Do for You?
In California driving under the influence cases, the prosecution will typically depend on breathalyzer exam results, field sobriety tests, and testimony from arresting law enforcement officers. How can you and your DUI defense attorney successfully dispute this type of evidence?
Ask a California DUI lawyer to handle your case and scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence. A good DUI defense attorney will protect your legal rights, uncover the truth about what really happened, and bring your DUI case to the best possible outcome.
For some DUI defendants, your lawyer might be able to have charges dropped or dismissed. And even in cases where the state’s evidence is conclusive – and a conviction is certain – the right DUI attorney will negotiate on a defendant’s behalf for reduced or alternative sentencing.
Every motorist who is prosecuted for DUI in the greater Los Angeles area should contest the charge with the help of a Rosemead DUI lawyer, as field sobriety tests are always suspect, and even with the current technology, chemical tests for DUI are still often unreliable and inaccurate.
What Makes Breathalyzers Unreliable?
A breathalyzer is designed to measure your blood alcohol content level based on the amount of alcohol vapor it detects in your breath, but other substances that a breathalyzer may measure as alcohol can be found in foods, beverages, drugs, mouthwashes, and toothpastes.
A medical condition can also skew breathalyzer readings. Gastrointestinal reflux disease, heartburn, and acid reflux may create an acid in the stomach, mouth, or esophagus that may distort a breathalyzer reading.
Contesting the reliability of breathalyzer measurements is one of several strategies that California DUI attorneys use to defend their clients. If your lawyer can raise enough doubt about the breathalyzer results, jurors may decide that the state has failed to prove its case.
Can You Avoid a DUI Conviction?
The best way to avoid DUI trouble is not advice from an attorney – it’s just basic wisdom: Don’t Drink and Drive. A variety of taxi companies, limousine companies, and rideshare services like Uber are available “24/7/365.” Or if you’re with friends, ask one to be the designated driver.
Even getting a room for a night or sleeping at a friend’s residence is a better idea than trying to drive home after drinking. You simply cannot let a driving under the influence conviction take your liberty or destroy your future.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the Rosemead area – or anywhere else in southern California – because of a breathalyzer test or any other reason, you must arrange at once to speak with a California DUI attorney.