Apart from the fines instituted by the court, there are many other costs involved with a DUI case. These may include:
- Impound or towing charges that are dependent on the location
- Cost of attending a DUI program which depends on the length you have been sentenced to
- Other court fees that are based on how severe the offense was
- Legal fees which vary with complexity and seriousness of the case
- A contribution to the California Victim Compensation Program which is mandatory of $500
- Cost for license reinstatement of $125
- An increased cost of insurance premiums based on the insurer
- Charges for installing an IID
It is possible to get an expungement. However, your lawyer must file a petition requesting it from the court. The judge reviews the petition and establishes if it is eligible. If you succeed in your application, you will also be allowed to withdraw your guilty plea, and enter a not guilty plea instead.
The state of California has very strict laws for DUI offenders. However, a defendant can get sued for lesser charges in California. With an experienced DUI attorney, you can be able to plead guilty for lesser charges and get a reduced sentence.
Judges in California have sentencing discretion. Depending on the facts of the case, you may be sentenced for two days as a first time offender or receive a waiver of your sentence for probation.
Through your lawyer, you can make a plea to a lesser charge. This is known as a reduction of the charge. This is only possible based on the facts and circumstances around the case. Your DUI history is usually taken into consideration in determining if to get a lesser charge.
In California, a defendant can plead guilty to wet reckless driving. However, this is based on the circumstances of the case and at the discretion of the prosecutor. If you are sure you may be convicted of a DUI, with your lawyer’s advice, you can ask for a wet reckless charge instead. If you succeed, the penalties will be less as compared to those of a regular DUI.
Dry reckless is another lesser charge that is given to individuals that had a BAC of 0.08% or below. The person should also not have a prior DUI history, and just like wet reckless, it is at the discretion of the prosecutor. A dry reckless will not take into consideration your DUI history in the last ten years. The penalties for dry reckless are minimal with offenders being fined not less than $145 and having two points on their license. Unfortunately, a dry reckless conviction may affect your rates for insurance regardless of a clean driving record.
It is a myth where many people think moving from one state to another leaves your DUI convictions behind. Moving to California does not erase your history. Depending on your DUI status in your previous state where you had a DUI conviction, you may be unable to obtain a driver’s license in California. However, each case is different, and discussing it with your DUI attorney will be helpful.
When you apply for a driver’s license in California, the DMV will seek your history regarding your driving from your previous state. Based on the information they get, they may decide to issue you with a license or deny you.
California is a sovereign state, meaning that it has its own state laws that govern DUI offenses. A DUI conviction from a different state may not be considered in California; however, should it be necessary, various factors are considered. These include:
- The conviction timeline – the state of California considers offenses committed within ten years from the first date of arrest. If the conviction was before, the state would not consider it.
- State law similarities – A prosecutor can only use your previous conviction if the state where you were convicted share DUI similarities with California.
- How the DUI is described – the description of a DUI offense from another state may differ from that of the statute of California’s DUI. If this is the case, your previous DUI offense from another state will not be used against you.
If the DUI from another state is therefore compatible with that of California, you will be charged with a second DUI offense. Some of the penalties you are likely to get include:
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to two years
- Payment of court fees and fines amounting to $4,000
- Attending a DUI school for about 18 months
- Installation of an IID in your vehicle
- Possible jail time of between 10 days to one year.
Although you may be tempted to plead guilty, it is highly advised against, instead, always ask to have a lawyer. Once you plead guilty, it may be unlikely for you to withdraw your plea and the case will proceed to sentence. However, a not guilty plea allows you to fight with the possibility of getting lesser penalties. The only time your lawyer may advise you plead guilty is if there is a negotiated plea bargain deal with the prosecution. Pleading guilty allows the court to issue penalties at their discretion where you may have to endure severe penalties.
If you want to plead guilty, with the help of your lawyer, you can get the prosecutor to allow you to plead guilty to lesser charges that attract lesser penalties.
If you are found in violation of your DUI terms, your probation may be revoked. If this happens, the judge may decide to reinstate a new sentence that in most cases includes jail time.
Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, but certain circumstances make them get charged as felonies. For a DUI to be charged as a felony, certain circumstances exist. These are:
- If serious injuries or death resulting from a DUI accident
- If you have prior 4 DUI convictions within a ten year period
- If you have various convictions for wet reckless
Depending on the circumstances of the case and how the case was charged, the penalties will differ. For instance, some DUI offenses can be prosecuted as either felonies or misdemeanors, where they attract different penalties. Additionally, DUI penalties depend on if the person is a first time, a second time, and third or fourth-time offender. For purposes of understanding, however, the minimum sentences to expect are:
- Suspension of your driver’s license by the DMV
- Payment of fines and other fees totaling to about $1,700
- Ordered to attend a DUI class for three, six or 9 months
- A DUI probation of up to 3 years
- Driving license restriction of up to 90 days
- Possible jail time of between 4 days and six months
If because of your DUI an accident happened that resulted in a death or bodily injury, you will face additional penalties just like with repeat offenders. At the same time, if you are below the age of 21, you may face additional sentence enhancement, if your BAC was 0.01% and above. A person convicted of a DUI with a minor will also face various charges and harsher penalties.
If your license has been suspended due to a DUI charge, you can request to have a non-commercial restricted driver’s license. However, if the court disallows you to or when your license was put on suspension because you refused to take or complete a chemical test, then you cannot apply. There are two types of restricted license you can apply for; the restricted license with an IID or a standard restricted license.
Depending on the particulars of the case, you can apply for a restricted driver’s license between 30 days and 90 days.
During the hearing for your license suspension, the officer will be looking at the following to may his or her final decision:
- Whether the driver committed to complete a blood or breath test
- Was there a reasonable cause for the arresting officer to suspect drunk driving
- What was the BAC level for the driver at the time of arrest was it above the legally acceptable limit?
- Did you refuse or fail to take a chemical test?
- Were you lawfully arrested?
Whether the officer explained to you the consequences of an incomplete or refusing to take a chemical test such as having your license suspended for a year or revoked for between two and three years
The possibilities of winning during a DMV hearing usually are very slim. However, this does not make winning impossible. With a good DUI lawyer, you can adequately prepare to increase your chances.
When you get arrested for drunk driving, two proceedings will happen against you:
- A DUI trial to establish if the driver committed any crime
- A DMV hearing that is the option to determine if the defendant will keep their license or not
A criminal trial happens in court while a DMV hearing is not a court proceeding. If your license is suspended, only a DMV officer can decide that, but he has no authority to impose other penalties. It is important to note that the DMV hearing is independent of the criminal proceedings in court, and the outcome thereof will have no impact on the court proceedings.
No, a hearing is not automatic. Once you are arrested on a DUI offense, you must get in touch with the DMV to request a hearing not more than ten days after the arrest. If you don’t do that, you will lose your right to have a hearing as well as the chance to fight for the reinstatement of your license. Having a DUI attorney to help you through the process is recommended.
The state of California authorizes the police to collect your driver’s license when arrested. Should you not pass a chemical test, they will retain the driving license so that they can forward it to the DMV and a suspension notice. It is important to note that the law does not require for you to be convicted of a DUI offense before the suspension is issued.
Avoiding passing through a checkpoint for a DUI does not give the police officer reason to pull you over. However, if in the process of getting away from a checkpoint, you commit a violation of traffic rules, you will be stopped.
Preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test is one of the standard field tests administered on a suspected drunk driver. However, you are not obliged to agree to it. However, if you are below the age of 21, the law requires you to take it. Additionally, if you are currently on a DUI probation for a prior offense, you are also required to take the breathalyzer test. Should you refuse, the officer will arrest you, and on getting to the police station, you will be expected to submit to a breath or blood test.
You do not have to. No legal penalty exists for refusing a sobriety test. If you feel the test may incriminate you, do not take it because the results will be used against you as evidence in court.
You should always maintain your calm. Be respectful to the officer and remember you do not have to say anything that may be used to incriminate you. If you are asked if you were drinking, you do not have to answer even when you get tempted to lie. The best answer at such a time is to indicate you need to talk to a lawyer.
Apart from being pulled over because of suspicious driving patterns, other factors will contribute to being arrested for a DUI. They include:
- If the officer smells alcohol
- Your eyes are watery or bloodshot
- Your speech is slurred
- You fumble to get your registration or license
- You find it difficult to understand questions
- Presence of drugs or instruments used in drugs
- Alcohol or alcohol containers
Irrespective of the initial reason a law enforcement officer stopped a vehicle; anyone faces a DUI arrest. An officer must have a valid reason for stopping a car in line with traffic laws. It may be a violation of safety equipment or a pattern of driving that made the officer suspicious of the vehicle. If upon being pulled over the officer is suspicious that you are driving while drunk, he may ask you to submit to various field tests.
Operating or driving a vehicle while intoxicated by either alcohol or both legal and illegal drugs with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or more, is what DUI is. The legal requirement for alcohol in your blood, however, varies with age or the type of vehicle you are driving. If you are operating a commercial vehicle, you will be charged with drunk driving if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.04% or over. For persons below the age of 21, a DUI charge will be brought against you if your BAC level reads 0.01% or more.