DUI means “driving under the influence.” In Orange County, it’s a crime to operate a car when impaired by alcohol or other intoxicants. You’re liable to DUI charges if your blood alcohol quantity is 0.08% and above. Though there are different ways to challenge a DUI case, a lawyer’s guidance will come in handy through the complicated legal processes. Your Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm representative will help you preserve your driving rights and fight for the reduction and dismissal of DUI sentences.

DUI Penalties

From alcohol levels to previous criminal records, DUI penalties vary with the situation of your case. Here are the punishments you’re likely to encounter:

  1. First DUI Offense

Though you may receive a 6-month county jail sentence, initial DUI crimes don’t carry compulsory jail time. While a 3-month alcohol course is mandatory, this period could shoot to 6 and 9 months if the blood alcohol levels hit 0.15%. In addition to $390-$1,000 fines, victim impact and Mothers Against Drunk Driving classes may be recommended.

The offense can also lead to the confiscation of your driving license, after which a 30-day interim license is issued. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) allows ten days to contest the license withdrawal. Blood alcohol quantities reaching 0.08%, warrant a 4-month suspension. Even so, you can apply for a restricted driving permit to ease mobility to school, work, and alcohol classes. The following are conditions for a restricted license:

  • Wait 30 days after the suspension
  • Submit a $125 fee
  • Start alcohol classes
  • Provide an SR-22 certificate of insurance (this form proves your policy fulfills the minimum legal requirements)

In most cases, first-time offenders stay on probation between 3 and 5 years. Violation of probation terms can land you a court trial with additional penalties. Here are some probation rules:

  • Don’t drive with a detectable amount of alcohol in your body
  • Comply with any officer who asks for a roadside blood sample or alcohol breathalyzer
  • Don’t break any law regardless of whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor (normal road infractions don’t apply)
  • Carry proof of auto liability coverage when driving
  • Comply with all court, probation, and prison orders
  • Have a genuine driver’s license whenever you’re on the road
  • Have valid government identification
  • Reveal your probation terms upon an officer’s request
  • Use your real name and date of birth

The court can raise the punishment if:

  • You cause a crash (with or without casualties)
  • You have an additional speeding charge
  • There are minors in the vehicle
  • Your blood alcohol quantity hits 0.16%
  • You say no to a blood test
  1. Second DUI Offense

It applies when you commit the crime before 10 years elapsed from the initial conviction and can earn you between 96 hours and a year behind bars. In most cases, however, an offender gets 45-90 days in a correctional facility subject to the facts presented and how far behind their past DUI was. Not forgetting 18-30-months in an alcohol course and $390-$1,000 penalties.

Additional punishments may include probation, community service as well as alcoholics anonymous and victim impact classes. It can also cause a one-year license withdrawal if you don’t dispute it in 10 days.

Though you can acquire a restricted license during this period, your full license can only be reinstated when you settle a $125 re-issuance charge, pass a multiple offender class, and present an SR-22 document through your insurer.

The court or DMV can also prescribe an ignition interlock device until one year is over. The driver breathes into the gadget and if their blood alcohol quantity exceeds a certain level, the car won’t start. Failure to pass the IID program may lead to further punishment.

  1. Third DUI Offense

It occurs when you have two previous DUI sentences but still receives an additional charge within 10 years. If found guilty, the lowest prison term is 120 days. On completion of your term, the court may order probation for no less than 3 years. Subject to the gravity of your crime and the court’s judgment, you’ll be required to pay approximately $390-$1,000 in penalties.

Additionally, you must take alcohol classes for a minimum of 18 months together with victim impact classes as recommended by the judge. An IID gadget may also be put in your motor vehicle for 2 years. Apart from a criminal hearing, you’re required to go through a DMV trial. Your driver’s permit could be withdrawn immediately if the booze in your body was 0.08% and above when you were taken into custody.

Even so, you’ll receive a 30-day provisional driving permit, therefore, availing enough time to dispute the suspension. While the court may terminate your license for 3 years, the DMV can suspend it for one year. However, you’ll only serve 3 years if you receive both sentences.

Not to say you’re no longer allowed on the road after the suspension. You may register for a restricted license 18 months later to perform court-mandated duties like going to school, alcohol programs, and work. You must, however, be 12 months into the drug program. You can get your complete driving rights after the suspension when you complete an SR-22 submission. Retain this document for 3 more years after the license reinstatement. You’ll also cater for a $125 fee.

  1. Fourth DUI Offense

It happens when you are tried for the fourth time within 10 years. While the prosecutor may decide to treat it as a misdemeanor, fourth DUI charges can also be felonies. Felonies attract sentences exceeding one year. Before declaring it a felony, a prosecutor must confirm:

  • You drove
  • Your blood alcohol quantity was at 0.08%
  • The 3 previous convictions occurred within ten years of the latest DUI arrest

The prosecutor can use drug program completion certificates together with DMV files to confirm prior offenses. However, it’s not a prior conviction if another state found you guilty using different DUI standards. If found answerable, you can serve a 16-month sentence in state prison but the period may increase to 4 years.

In case of probation, you could stay in a county prison between 180 days and a year.  Lasting 5 years at most, the probation comes with the condition of an 18-30-month DUI program. What’s more, you’re required to pay $390-$1,000 in fines.

Even so, this figure may increase when you include court charges and penalty assessments. The DMV might also discontinue your driving permit for four years. What’s more, the court may seize your car or fix an IID in it for 3 years if you’re granted a restricted license.

  1. Underage DUI

Per the zero-tolerance regulation, it’s criminal for drivers under 21 years to control a vehicle when their blood alcohol quantity reaches 0.01%. You’re answerable even if you can steer the vehicle effortlessly. Substances like cough syrup can also get you in trouble when they’re detected by the alcohol concentration test.

What’s more, it’s illegal to have booze containers in the car regardless of whether they’re open or closed. You risk a one-year license withdrawal or delayed driving rights for a similar period if found guilty.

Similarly, you could earn a $100 fine if your alcohol levels range between 0.05-0.07%. However, your suit will be treated as an adult DUI when the booze in your blood hits 0.08%. Further penalties include a minimum of 3 years in unofficial probation and at least 3 months of alcohol classes before recovering your driving permit.

  1. Driving When Hooked on Drugs

Unless you’re in an authorized treatment or rehabilitation plan, it’s illegal to operate a vehicle when dependent on a particular drug. Per the law, drugs are elements that interfere with a person’s brain, nerve center, and muscles impairing their ability to drive. The crime not only applies to illegal substances like cocaine but also prescription medicines such as hydrocodone. While the officer may find it difficult to identify addiction when they pull you over, it can be determined later after tests. You’re considered a drug addict if:

  • You experience withdrawal without it
  • You’re physically dependent on it
  • You’re emotionally dependent on it
  • You have a high tolerance to its effects creating the need for stronger doses

You risk a $390-$1,000 fine if you’re at fault. What’s more, you could spend 6 months in a county correctional facility and lose your license for a similar period. Not forgetting a compulsory 3-month drug course and 3-5 years in unofficial probation. In most cases, first offenses don’t include jail terms. Despite being a habitual user, your Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm representative can challenge your case by proving you’re not an addict.

  1. Marijuana DUI

Despite allowing its recreational use, California is against marijuana impairment while driving. Unlike booze with a 0.08% blood quantity limit, no amount of cannabis is safe for operating a vehicle. Like other misdemeanors DUIs, pot DUI is punished under California VC 23152a. This means its penalties match other DUI offenses like driving when intoxicated by booze.

Another element of this crime is possessing cannabis below one ounce while on the road. The court must prove you had direct physical access to marijuana, for instance, holding a lit blunt or having it in a bag on your car’s backseat.

This can earn you a fine of $100. Even so, possessing marijuana on the road is legal if you produce a card to prove its medical use. Insufficient evidence about how marijuana amounts affect your driving allows your Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm representative to dispute your trial.

  1. Hit-and-Run

It occurs when you’re guilty of two charges namely, hit-and-run and DUI. Additionally, the hit-and-run can either be a felony or a misdemeanor. You could be tried of a misdemeanor if:

  • The crash causes damage to another party’s property
  • You’re aware of the property damage
  • You flee the scene without providing your identifying details to affected parties

Penalties include:

Approximately $1,000 in fines

  • 2 additional points on your road record
  • 3-year probation
  • 6-month jail term
  • Compensation of bodily harm

On the other hand, it’s a felony if:

  • The crash causes physical harm to another person
  • You’re aware of the physical injury
  • You leave the scene without providing your identifying details to affected parties

Penalties include:

  • 3-year jail term (could be 4 years in case of casualties)
  • $1,000-$10,000 in fines

But what is the punishment for DUI with a hit-and-run? Running simultaneously, misdemeanor versions of both charges could earn you at least 90 days in jail. Likewise, you could serve up to 5 years and 4 months for both felony offenses. In succession, the maximum prison sentence of both misdemeanor charges is one and a half years while their felony versions carry a minimum of two years.  However, the judge can authorize a civil compromise in misdemeanor offenses if the defendant’s record is clean. In this case, you compensate the injured party for their destroyed property in return for the dismissal of your criminal charges.

In case the other party is absent from the scene when the accident occurs, leave them a note on their car bearing your name, narration of the incident, and address. Place the note where the owner can spot it easily. Additionally, call the relevant authorities and report the accident.

You can be charged with both offenses if the event results in bodily harm and property damage. Note that you’re still answerable even if you didn’t cause the accident. Unless you’re rushing to seek treatment, the law requires you to remain at the accident scene and share your identifying details with the other party. This includes instances when the injured person is in your car or when the other party doesn’t plan on taking you to court.

Administering DUI Tests

Here are some common sobriety tests:

  1. One Leg Stand

The officer instructs you to bring your feet together and place your arms on the side as you await their instructions. You’re required to lift either of your feet until it’s approximately six inches high. Focusing on your raised foot, stick your toe out and count audibly by thousands until the officer tells you to stop. This is usually after 30 seconds. You can only start the test when you confirm you understand the guidelines. The officer may suspect intoxication if you:

  • Sway
  • Hop
  • Use your arms as balance
  • Bring your foot down

However, slippery and uneven surfaces may render the results invalid. Likewise, the elderly and those with physical conditions like obesity and leg problems may find it hard to raise their feet for long. Brain damage and hearing problems can also make it hard to comprehend the instructions. Because the officer is supposed to stand still when administering the test, pacing around may cause distraction. Incorrect timing by the officer as well as unfitting clothes and footwear could also hinder the results.

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

The officer asks you to remove your spectacles so that they can monitor your eye movement. Though their presence is recorded, the test can be administered with your contacts intact. They then ask you to put your hands on your side and your feet together before observing a horizontally-moving stimulus in front of your face.

You’re required to observe the stimulus without shifting your head. This can be the officer’s finger, flashlight, or another moving object. The officer can only proceed when you confirm your understanding of their instructions.

Some pointers of intoxication include distinct twitching of your eyes and their inability to smoothly follow the stimulus. However, older people and those with eye conditions may exhibit similar results. What’s more, you may score poorly because of anxiety, insufficient lighting, and uneven surfaces.

  1. Mouth Swabs

The officer asks you to rub a collection stick inside your cheek for around four minutes and dips into a device containing a testing solution. The gadget then identifies the exact substances in your body. This process takes about eight minutes.

Even so, mouth swabs cannot determine the drug amounts in your system. If you test positive, the officer may arrest you and administer further tests to determine drug concentration. Note that you can reject mouth swabs.

Even so, a law enforcer can obtain a warrant and ask for chemical tests if they suspect inebriation through your bloodshot eyes, marijuana odor, and dangerous driving. Because some drugs remain in the mouth for several days, mouth swabs may be ineffective for proving DUI.

  1. Walk and Turn

It involves walking on a straight line with your toes touching your heels. After 9 steps, you’re required to turn, and take nine more steps back to the start of the line. Maintain your arms on the side, look at your feet, and count each step aloud as you walk. The officer should demonstrate these steps before you begin. They may detect impairment if you:

  • Start too soon
  • Stray from the line
  • Take lesser or more steps
  • Use your arms as balance
  • Turn incorrectly
  • Your heels don’t touch your toes
  • Lose your footing while turning
  • Cannot maintain your balance when receiving instructions
  • Stop while walking

In case of difficulty, begin from where you made a mistake instead of redoing the whole test. But intoxication isn’t the only cause of poor results. Slippery surfaces, for example, may make it hard to maintain balance. Likewise, distractions like sirens and oncoming traffic hinder your concentration. While physical conditions like obesity can also make it difficult to walk straight, mental disabilities may hinder the understanding of instructions.

Not to mention unsuitable clothes. Heels, as well as tight and baggy attire, may make maneuvering difficult. This test should be performed in enough lighting. Therefore, a flashlight will come in handy to illuminate the surface. In the absence of a natural line, the officer can use a stick or chalk to draw it on the ground.

DUI and Insurance

Unlike accidents, a motorist isn’t obligated to inform their insurance agency of a DUI offense. However, the company can know about the incident when the driver:

  • Renews their old policy
  • Registers for a different policy
  • Reports themselves
  • Requests the company to submit an SR-22 document for the restoration of their withdrawn license
  • Informs the insurer when an accident occurs

Because it’s illegal to cancel a policy or hike premiums midterm, an insurer will only look for a motorist’s record when they make a claim. But insurance agencies don’t conduct background checks on every new claim. Your DUI is likely to go unnoticed if you’re a low-risk client or you don’t have claims in your history.

To avoid increased premiums when you make an SR-22 request, acquire a policy from another agent. By so doing, you won’t have to pass through your main insurer to replace your license when the DMV suspends it. On average, insurance charges increase beyond $2,000 when you’re declared answerable of a DUI in Orange County. But this amount varies with the firm’s risk tolerance. Other factors that affect insurance costs include:

  • Vehicle age
  • Vehicle safety rating
  • Marital status
  • Credit score
  • Number of past DUIs
  • Driving experience
  • Owner’s gender
  • Owner’s age
  • Profession
  • Place of residence
  • Duration at current residence
  • Whether you rent or own your home

A DUI offense could cause the cancellation of good driver discounts. Such discounts are provided by the insurer to motorists who haven’t caused accidents or committed traffic violations within a particular period. In California, you’re banned from these price cuts for 10 years starting from the day you were arrested. This could hike premiums by 20-30%. Another DUI consequence is the cancellation of your coverage. In case you’re unable to find a new auto insurer, talk to the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan which connects high-risk motorists with willing agencies. 

It’s not uncommon for a policyholder to report their DUI offense. By so doing, the driver knows if there is a possibility of continuing with the coverage and the new premium amounts. What’s more, it allows them to find a cheaper policy if their cover is canceled.

Find an Expert Orange County DUI Attorney Near Me

Avoid unwarranted penalties by talking to our Orange County DUI Defense Attorney Law Firm team. Aside from handling your case, we will help you understand your rights on the road. Are you facing DUI charges? Call us at 714-740-7866 to book a consultation.