Anyone who drives while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% may be charged with DUI in California. Similar rules apply to operating bikes and scooters while intoxicated, as well as to boating under the influence. Be aware that the BAC threshold is lowered for commercial drivers to .04% and for underage drivers (under 21 years old) to .01%.
As opposed to some other states, a driver cannot be charged with DUI if they are not driving (i.e., merely in actual physical control). The prosecutor must prove the act of driving for a DUI charge to hold.
California also implements implied consent laws that require all drivers who are lawfully arrested for DUI to submit to BAC testing, either a blood or breath test. Refusal could lead to a fine and 1-3 years of license suspension, depending on the existence of prior refusals.
DUI Sentences in California
Upon conviction, an individual could face a range of penalties depending on how many prior convictions they have (California DUI convictions count as priors for 10 years):
- First Offense - DUI is classified as a misdemeanor under California law. If convicted, the offender is facing 3 - 5 years of probation, fines of $390.00 up to $1000.00 with additional penalty assessments, DUI school, a 6-month driver's license suspension, and installation of an ignition interlock device.
- Second Offense - Requires a minimum of 96 hours in jail up to 1 year in jail, as well as $390-$1,000 in fines, 2 years of license suspension, and 1 year of IID use.
- Third Offense - Could warrant at least 120 days in jail and up to 1 year in jail, as well as $1,800 in fines, 3 years of license suspension, and 2 years of IID use.
Standard DUI offenses are generally misdemeanors, though the presence of certain aggravating factors like the following could increase the offense to a felony which comes with a maximum of 3 years in jail:
- causing serious injuries to another person while driving under the influence;
- causing the death of another person while driving under the influence (vehicular homicide);
- having 3 or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years; and
- having a prior felony DUI.
Similarly, though, the presence of mitigating factors could lead a judge or prosecutor to consider a lower-range sentence. For instance, if the driver was impaired due to lawfully prescribed medication or voluntarily completes a substance abuse treatment following their arrest, the defendant could face lesser penalties than the maximum.
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With first and second convictions, the goal may simply be to keep the driver’s license, as it could impact your ability to get to work and earn an income. However, with the above aggravating factors or multiple charges, such as the fourth in 10 years, the consequences may become more serious at the felony level.
In addition to felony sentencing, California DUI law also specifies circumstances that require more severe sentencing enhancements:
- Minor passenger younger than 14 years old in the vehicle – additional mandatory 48 hours in jail for a first offense, 10 days for a second offense, and 30 days on a third offense
- Felony DUIs with multiple victims – 1-year enhancement for each victim with a maximum pf 3 years
- Excessive speeding – additional 60 days to the jail term if driving more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit on a street or highway or over 30 miles hour over the limit on a freeway
- DUIs in safety enhancement and construction zones – doubled fines
At Thompson • Garcia Law, A Law Corporation, we understand these high risks and will tirelessly fight the charge on your behalf. We will also review the evidence against you to determine if there is a factual or legal defense, in which case we can prepare a strategy for reducing your charges to a lesser defense.
Strategic and Experienced Trial Attorneys Serving Pleasanton, Hayward, and Fremont
Following a failed Breathalyzer test and a DUI charge in California, you may feel that you are left to the harsh consequences. But, with the help of our attorneys at Thompson • Garcia Law, A Law Corporation, we can protect your rights in all types of DUI cases. With over 65 years of combined experience, we can fight your charges and minimize the penalties. In fact, we try our best to keep you out of court altogether, exploring and negotiating alternative sentences, such as treatment programs, staying in a halfway house, or doing only weekend jail time. This can help you avoid the embarrassment of a courtroom exhibition with a discreet resolution to your case.
If you have been charged with DUI in Dublin, California, do not hesitate to seek legal representation immediately. Our attorneys have significant experience with numerous different defense methods, and on many occasions, we have proven the DUI testing equipment and tests in court to be fallible, such as by calling into question the means by which our clients were found to be under the influence. Whether this if your first offense or you are facing felony or even vehicular homicide charges, we know how to put up a tough fight in court. Put a confident DUI trial attorney on your side today.
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