If you or a loved one are facing a DUI charge in Pasadena or anywhere in Southern California, the potentially severe and long-lasting consequences of a conviction make it imperative that you enter your DMV hearing and/or trial with the best possible legal representation.
Many people assume that it is futile to fight a DUI, that your best "strategy" is to simply accept whatever sentence is handed out to you without ever trying to affect the outcome. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we know that this is simply not the case.
We win acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges/sentences for our DUI defense clients on a routine basis, and your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome to your case are much higher when you rely on an experienced DUI defense attorney.
For a free legal consultation and immediate attention to your case, do not hesitate to call us 24/7 at 626-689-2277.
California's DUI Statute
In California, a DUI is defined as operating a motor vehicle while your driving ability is impaired by the presence of alcohol or drugs of any kind in your system.
For alcohol, a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher automatically makes you "legally" under the influence regardless of your actual condition. For commercial drivers, the standard is twice as strict (.04%). For drivers under the legal drinking age of 21, the standard is .01%, while those under 18 are considered DUI if even the tiniest bit of alcohol is detected in their blood or breath sample.
Under Vehicle Code Section 23152, California handles the crime of driving under the influence, the four subsection addressing specific situations as follows:
- VC 23152a concerns those demonstrable under the influence of alcohol regardless of exact BAC.
- VC 23152b addresses those under the influence per se given their BAC was .08% or higher.
- VC 23152c deals with DUID (driving under the influence of drugs). So long as the drug impairs your driving, it matters not whether it was an illegal narcotic, a prescription drug, or an over the counter drug.
- VC 23152d addresses cases where a person is guilty of both drunk and drugged driving (DUI Alcohol and DUI Drugs) simultaneously.
Note that most DUI defendants will be charged with both 23152(a) and 23152(b) of the Vehicle Code and can be convicted of a DUI under both. But, you can only be punished based on one of the two subsections. Prosecutors simply charge both to increase their chances of gaining a conviction. Also note that the punishments for 23152(a) or (b) V.C. convictions are identical.
Two other statues that concern DUIs are:
- Vehicle Code section 23153, which deals with DUI with injury, where such injury leads to a felony charge being leveled.
- Penal Code Section 191.5, the vehicular manslaughter statute. This can be charged where a DUI led to the death of another person.
The California DUI Process
When you are arrested for the first time for DUI in California, the complex and sometimes unexpected nature of the process may take you by surprise. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we know every step of the process "like the backs of our hands," and we can help to clear up any confusion you may feel if you give us a call.
Below, we go over some of the basics of a DUI arrest and what to expect thereafter:
Upon being arrested for DUI, your California driver's license was confiscated by the arresting officer, and you were given a temporary "pink" license in its place. This pink slip serves as a Notice of Suspension effective 30 days after the arrest unless such suspension is overturned at a DMV hearing.
You do not automatically get a DMV hearing, however, you or your lawyer must contact the DMV to request an Administrative DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest (including non-business days). Otherwise, you will lose your right to contest the suspension.
If you hold a driver's license issued by another state, the arresting officer could not legally confiscate your license, but the officer will still give you a Notice of Suspension of your right to drive in California. Also, California will give notice to the license-issuing state, which will then typically suspend your license.
If you refused to submit to the BAC chemical test, under California's "implied consent" law, your license is suspended pending your court case. This is termed a per se suspension and is an administrative action of the DMV. A later, "more permanent" license suspension as part of a criminal sentence is also possible.
On your DMV hearing date and/or your court date, you would do well to arrange for representation by a skilled DUI defense attorney. There are many factors that can affect the outcome, such as city/county regulations, the tendencies of specific judges and prosecutors, and the reputation and ability of your defense lawyer. Your lawyer can assist you in gathering all evidence and witnesses in your favor and in finding weaknesses in the prosecution's case. Even when these efforts cannot succeed to win an acquittal/dismissal, they still may help secure a lesser sentence.
Possible Penalties for DUI in California
In most cases, DUIs in California are charged as a misdemeanor, but when a serious injury results or if it is a 4th or subsequent DUI, you can be charged with a felony. Any DUI or wet reckless conviction within the previous 10 years will count as a "prior" and thus enhance the penalty of a current DUI.
Here is a "run down" of the basic DUI punishments based on the key determining factors of DUI number and with/without injury:
- A first DUI is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine of $390 to $1,000, a license suspension of 6 to 10 months, and 3 to 9 months at a state-approved DUI School. You may well be able to get a restricted license, however, to allow you to drive to/from work and DUI class only.
- A second DUI is punishable by 4 days to 12 months in jail, a fine of from $390 to $1,000, 18 to 30 months of DUI classes, and a license suspension of 2 years. A restricted license can be applied for after the first year, however.
- A third DUI is punishable by 120 days to 12 months in jail, the $390 to $1,000 fine, a 30-month DUI class, and a 3-year license suspension. You can apply for a restricted license after 18 months.
- A fourth or subsequent DUI is a felony, punishable by 16 months to 3 years in state prison, the $390 to $1,000 fine, an 18 or 30 month DUI class, and a 4-year license suspension.
- A DUI with injury can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by 5 days to 12 months in county jail, a fine of $390 to $5,000 dollars, full restitution to all victims, 3 to 30 months of DUI class, and a 1 to 3 year license suspension. As a felony, possible punishments are: 16 months to 16 years in state prison, a fine of $1,015 to $5,000, full restitution, DUI class of 18 or 30 months, and a 5-year license suspension.
Besides these "basic" factors in determining DUI sentences, there are a number of other possible "aggravating factors" that can lead to enhanced punishments. These include:
- Refusing the chemical test, which can increase jail sentences besides requiring a mandatory DMV admininstrative license suspension.
- Excessively high BAC. The standard here is .15% or higher.
- Causing an accident. Not only will an at-fault driver guilty of DUI be exposed to civil lawsuits for property damage and/or personal injury, he will also receive a tougher DUI sentence.
- Excessive speeding or reckless driving. When you drive DUI at speeds 20 miles per hour over the legal limit on city streets or 30 miles per hour over the limit on freeways, additional DUI penalties will apply.
- Child endangerment. If a child under the age of 14 is in your car when you drive DUI, you can receive extra sentencing elements based on child endangerment.
While the above has focused on how a DUI sentence can be increased, there are ways in which a good defense lawyer can get your sentence decreased.
First, it is often possible to get prosecutors to agree to a charge reduction to "wet reckless" when the defense attorney "puts up a good fight." Wet reckless still counts as a prior for DUI purposes, but otherwise, it is punished much less severely.
Second, your defense attorney can often succeed at getting you approved for a restricted license or in helping you avoid having to have an IID (ignition interlock device) installed on your vehicle.
Third, a strong DUI defense can help you avoid jail time in favor of "alternative" sentencing, such as community service hours, house arrest, or time at a "sober living" facility. It is also possible that, if incarceration is unavoidable, that your lawyer can help get you placed in a less harsh facility.
Possible Defenses Against DUI in California
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have a large repertoire of defense strategies we employ, as appropriate, to our DUI defense cases. As we have successfully handled numerous DUI cases in the past, we understand when, where, and how to use each specific defense.
Some of our most commonly used defense strategies in DUI cases include the following:
- You were stopped by police or arrested for DUI without probable cause.
- You were not informed of your right to refuse field sobriety tests or breath/blood tests or not informed of the potential legal consequences of such a refusal.
- You were not given the choice of either a blood or breath test or an extra blood sample was not saved for independent testing by your attorney later on.
- The arresting officer did not follow proper procedures in administering the breath test and/or did not follow Title 17 regulations.
- The arresting officer failed to observe you for 15 minutes without interruption before administering the breathalyzer test.
- Mouth alcohol, a medication you were taking at the time, a diabetic condition, a low carb or high protein diet, or various other factors threw off the breath test results.
- Your failure of the field sobriety tests was due to factors other than intoxication, as were the "objective symptoms" noted by the arresting officer. Physical exhaustion, nervousness, weather conditions, and more can all affect these outcomes.
- Your BAC was still on the rise at the time the blood or breath test was administered, meaning that it could have been below .08 at the time when you were behind the wheel.
- If charged with DUI absent a BAC of .08 or higher, the defense can say that you may have had poor driving habits but may not mean you are "impaired" or were DUI. Your mental alertness can be evidence that physical intoxication is extremely unlikely.
Contact Us Today for Help
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we stand ready to come to your aid with experienced DUI defense in your hour of need. We have a detailed knowledge of every aspect of California's DUI statute, along with long familiarity with local Pasadena and L.A. Area court processes.
We always fight first and foremost for a complete victory, that is, an acquittal or a dismissal, but we are also well seasoned negotiators who know how to obtain a favorable plea deal when necessary.
We have won DUI cases for numerous clients across Southern California over many years of dedicated service to our community, and we are prepared to do the same for you.
To learn more, or for a free DUI consultation and immediate attention to your case, call us anytime 24/7/365 at 626-689-2277.