Charged with a DUI? Call 916-546-8052 for a free consultation today. Protect your rights.
DUI, DWI, & Criminal Defense in Sacramento, CA
Most people arrested for a DUI or DWI in California believe that the cards are stacked against them and believe the best solution is to resolve the case as quickly as possible. This could not be further from the truth. Fighting a DUI charge is generally the better choice than walking into court and accepting the first offer made by the District Attorney’s Office. There are many parts of the prosecutor’s case that need to be carefully examined, including:
- The traffic stop – did the officer have reasonable cause to stop you and were your rights violated?
- Field Sobriety Tests – did the officer conduct them correctly and were they evaluated correctly?
- Breath tests – is there something that interfered with the breathalyzer used by the officer, such as a medical issue, a foreign substance, lack of adequate equipment maintenance, or an equipment malfunction?
- Blood tests – was the blood test an accurate reflection of your blood alcohol level? Did the delay before your test cause your blood to register higher than when you were driving (a “rising blood alcohol level”)?
When a person is charged with a DUI in California, they can be charged with two different code sections, Vehicle Code Sections 23152(a) and 23152(b). Depending on the reason for the arrest they can be charged with one or both of these sections.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
When arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, generally you are charged with both 23152(a) (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs) and 23152(b), if your blood alcohol level is .08 percent or more while driving.
Most of the time a DUI arrest starts with a traffic stop or at a DUI checkpoint. After a conversation with the officer, he/she typically will ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests and then may asks you to blow twice into a preliminary alcohol screening device (or “breathalyzer”). After the arrest is made and you are transported to the jail, the officer will usually ask you to take an additional test at the jail, which may be blood or breath. By law you are required to take this test. If you refuse it may result in much tougher penalties from the DMV and from the court.
For most DUI arrests you will be released from jail a few hours after your arrest and booking. You will be given a court date for a future date to which you must appear (unless you have hired an attorney who, in most cases, will be able to appear without you being personally present). If you are charged with a Felony DUI you likely will have to post bail before being released.
Contacting the DMV
Time is of the essence when arrested for a DUI. You have ten days from the date of the arrest to contact the DMV and schedule a hearing to contest the arrest and the pending license suspension. If you do not contact the DMV within 10 days, you forfeit your right to the hearing and your license will be suspended in 30 days. After retaining my office, we will schedule the DMV hearing for you as long as we are contacted before the 10 days have run. Once we have scheduled the hearing, the DMV is required to send a copy of the police report and any copies of blood alcohol results prior to the hearing. We will be able to review these with you, looking for any inconsistencies in the report.
It is vitally important to contest the arrest both with the DMV and the court. Often there are inconsistencies in the Officer’s report, or we discovery that the breathalyzer was not calibrated correctly, leading to falsely high blood alcohol results. Do not wait to involve an attorney in your case. Contact us at 916-546-8052 for a free consultation today.
The Court Process
In most cases we can appear in court without you being personally present at the hearing and will notify you of the new date and the results of the court hearing. Most DUI cases consist of multiple court dates, as we file and run motions, collect evidence, and negotiate with the District Attorney’s office. In many cases we have been able to reduce the charges to a “wet and reckless” or a complete dismissal of charges. If a settlement is reached, that is agreeable by you, we can execute a plea without you having to be present.
If no settlement is reached, we will then discuss your options for trial and the case is generally then set for trial. A typical trial in a DUI case is 3-5 days, depending on the circumstances. Many times we are able to reach a settlement once the case is set for trial because the District Attorney’s Office will start to scrutinize their case in the same light we have from the beginning. Often then they see the inconsistencies that we have been showing them.
Driving Under the Influence – Drugs
When driving under the influence because of drug use you are only charged with VC 23152(a). Additionally, unlike a DUI because of alcohol, there is no DMV hearing associated with this crime. Despite these two differences, a charge of driving under the influence because of drugs is a serious charge that takes an experienced attorney to look into the complicated issues that surround this crime.
Under California law, drugs are defined as any substance other than alcohol that could affect your brain, muscles, or nervous system. You can be charged and convicted of driving under the influence when those drugs impair you to the point that you can no longer drive like a sober person in similar circumstances.
You can be prosecuted for driving under the influence of drugs regardless of the drug, so long as that drug affects your brain, muscles, or nervous system. Such examples are illicit drugs (such as cocaine), prescription drugs (such as vicodin, oxycodone, and marijuana), and certain over the counter drugs (such as diphenhydramine found in Tylenol PM).
While an arrest for driving under the influence for alcohol and drugs start the same (generally with a traffic stop or DUI checkpoint) they differ greatly from there. Once an officer believes that you are under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol a Drug Recognition Expert, or “DRE”, does the investigation before arrest. This may be the officer who made the stop, or it may be an additional officer that is called to the scene. If that officer believes that you are impaired because of your drug use, he will arrest you and generally take you to jail for a blood test to determine what drugs are in your system.
The Court Process
Unlike a DUI due to alcohol, there is no magic number that shows you were under in the influence when driving. As such, DUI cases due to drug use are much harder for the District Attorney to prove, and an experienced attorney is needed to closely examine the evidence and determine the best course of action.
Penalties for Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence, whether it is because of alcohol or drugs, is a misdemeanor in California unless:
- It is your fourth or subsequent offense,
- You have a prior felony conviction for driving under the influence, or
- Your driving causes an injury to a third party.
If charged with a first time misdemeanor driving under the influence charge the penalties can be:
- Three to five years of summary (informal)probation,
- Up to six months in county jail,
- Fines between $390-$1000 plus penalties and assessments
- A three, six, or nine month alcohol education class,
- A six to ten month license suspension, which may be converted to a restricted license.
If you are charged with a second or third misdemeanor driving under the influence allegation, the penalties can be greatly increased. Most counties require a minimum mandatory jail time for a second offense of 96 hours, and 120 days for a third offense. Additionally, the court will order an 18 month alcohol education class.
If charged as a felony the penalties can be:
- Sixteen months, 2 years, or 3 years in California State prison,
- Fines between $390-$1000 plus penalties and assessments
- A four year California license revocation
- A designation as an “Habitual Traffic Offender” with the California DMV, which increased greatly your penalties if convicted of driving with a suspended license.
The above penalties only apply to felony DUI’s without injury. If an injury occurs, the total prison time may go up dramatically, as well as the possibility of a strike being assessed against your record. Please contact us directly at 916-546-8052 for a free consultation to discuss the penalties associated with felony DUI.
If you or your loved one has been arrested for any DUI charge, do not hesitate to contact us at 916-546-8052 immediately to discuss your case. Protect your rights and get the best possible outcome available. Our firm handles these cases all over California, including in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, El Dorado, Sutter, San Joaquin, and Nevada Counties.