California’s DUI laws and penalties for a DUI conviction are among the toughest in the nation. While no one would ever advocate driving while impaired, people can and do make mistakes.
The question then becomes whether a single error in judgement—particularly if no other person was harmed by that judgment lapse—should forever alter the life of the driver. In some instances, you could have been accused of driving under the influence but truly were not impaired.
The usual reason for a DUI arrest, if you are not drunk, relates to inaccuracies in field sobriety tests and Breathalyzer tests. Regardless of the circumstances of your DUI arrest, it is a sure bet you are anxious, stressed, and fearful about your future. A conviction for a DUI can bring serious criminal penalties and trigger long-term consequences.
Speaking to an experienced San Diego DUI defense lawyer can significantly minimize those penalties and consequences in many cases. The Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC understands the science behind DUI’s and will aggressively defend you. Call us today for a free consultation.
Charges Associated with a San Diego DUI
If you are arrested for DUI in the state of California, you are likely to be charged with two separate misdemeanor offenses:
- The first is driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and is charged under California Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC.
- The second, driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, is charged under California Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC.
The first is a “subjective” offense, meaning the prosecutor is required to prove the elements of your crime. The prosecutor must prove first that you were, in fact, driving the vehicle and that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time you were driving.
The “driving” part would appear pretty straightforward, but in actuality, perhaps you were sleeping it off in your car, or parked in a parking lot. California courts require some movement of the vehicle in order to prove “driving,” however this movement may be proven with circumstantial evidence—evidence which is inferred by the police officer from the surrounding circumstances. As an example, say you were found asleep in your car in the middle of an intersection. You were alone in the car, and you were not parked in what would be considered a parking lot.
Since your car was not magically transported to that location, the inference is that you drove it there. In this scenario, the “driving” element has been proven. Next, the prosecutor must show you were under the influence, meaning your physical and/or mental abilities were impaired to such a degree, you were no longer able to drive in the manner a normal, sober person would have done under the same circumstances.
Criminal Penalties Associated with a San Diego DUI Conviction
The criminal penalties you will face if convicted of a DUI depend on several factors, primarily whether you are convicted of your first, second, third or subsequent offense.
First, second and third DUI charges are generally charged as a misdemeanor, while a fourth or subsequent DUI within a ten-year period will be charged as a felony. If there are injuries as a result of the DUI, it could also be charged as a felony.
Penalties for a first DUI conviction in San Diego can result in the following:
- Between three and five years of informal probation;
- Potential jail time;
- Fines as high as $2,123;
- Participation in a court approved DUI school;
- Participation in a MADD Impact Panel class;
- Suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of six months (unless you prevail in your California DMV DUI hearing);
- For a BAC at or above .15, five days of public work service (above .20, 10 days public work service and a none-month First Conviction Program DUI Class, Above .25, 15 days public work service and a nine-month First Conviction Program DUI class);
- If you had a passenger under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of your arrest, you could be charged with Child Endangerment and will likely spend at least 48 hours in jail;
- Should you refuse a post-arrest chemical test, you could face 48 hours in jail, and a nine-month First Conviction Program DUI class in addition to other applicable penalties, and
- If you were driving thirty miles over the speed limit on the freeway or twenty miles over the speed limit on a street, you could additionally be charged with reckless driving and could face 60 days in jail in addition to the other applicable penalties.
Call San Diego DUI Lawyer Vikas Bajaj Today For a Free Consultation
Other consequences of a DUI conviction include skyrocketing automobile insurance rates, restrictions on your ability to travel to Canada, potential employment termination as well as difficulty obtaining employment in the future, and the social stigma attached to a DUI conviction.
Your San Diego DUI lawyer will spend time looking for errors in your case. The administration of a Breathalyzer test will be actively questioned, and if there were errors in your initial traffic stop, the arrest procedure or during field sobriety tests, your charges will be challenged. With such serious consequences, don’t go it alone if charged with a DUI—call an experienced criminal defense attorney with a proven track record immediately.