Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was recently arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in California. I understand that they have changed their DUI laws with regards to the ignition interlock device. I am wondering how the changes to the law will affect my DUI penalties.”
It is illegal in the state of California to operate a motorized vehicle if you are 21 years or younger and your blood alcohol concentration is 0.01% or higher. It is also illegal for any driver to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. Drivers operating a commercial vehicle may not drive with a BAC of 0.04% or higher, and drivers under the age of 21 may not have unsealed beer, wine or liquor in their car while they are driving alone. If you are arrested for any of the offenses you could be charged DUI or minor in possession. Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “If I am arrested and convicted for a California DUI will I have to go to jail?”
Getting pulled over after drinking is a scary event which occurs frequently n California. Depending on the nature of the case, there are many common facts you need to know. This guide focuses on exactly what happens before, during, and after a California DUI arrest.
Why the Officer Pulled You Over
Typically the arrest is made after either breaking a driving law or acting erratically. If you are speeding, run a red light, or never stop at a stop sign, you can be pulled over on a basic charge. In some cases, the officer may already have suspicion you’re drinking and driving. In other cases, the officer may be suspicious after pulling over and simply observing your speech and other actions.
What Tests Are Made
You will be given an on-site breathalyzer test by the officer. If you test over the legal limit for alcohol – the same in California as all states, 0.08 or higher – you will be arrested. However, if you pass the alcohol test but are clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol of some kind, you can still be arrested. In either case, further testing will be done, namely blood tests. Blood tests take longer, but are the best test for alcohol and/or drugs.
You Are Arrested
The officer will read you your rights and arrest you for a DUI. The officer will tell you your license will be suspended in 30 days, and take your current license away. You will be taken to jail, where you typically wait a few hours, and then be allowed to post bail.
Tests for Alcohol and Drugs
If further tests prove you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the proof will be clear. Charges will almost always be made. Your arresting officer will fill out some paperwork and then the prosecution will decide whether or not to charge you.
After reading the officer report, a California prosecuting attorney will decide whether or not to charge you. He or she can choose not to file charges, but in most cases for a positive test you will be.
Why You will Be Charged
Why did all this happen? Drinking and driving is a major problem in California and all states. Using drugs, legal ones which effect your ability to drive or legal ones, is also subject to charges. The problem is how many accidents, injuries, and deaths are related to driving under the influence. Just drinking increases your chances of being in an accident. It’s unfortunate, but those are the facts.
What You Do
It’s likely time to consider representation. Your options are to represent yourself, use a public defender, or hire a private California DUI lawyer. These are not equal options; you should almost always hire professional counsel instead of defending yourself or using a public defender. Why? A public defender has no time, and you likely lack the legal knowledge to defend yourself.
When you’re pulled over after drinking, rarely are the fines forthcoming the first thing on your mind. No, you’re likely scared of going to jail, of losing your license permanently, of being forced to jump through hoops in order to get your life back on track. True, the fees may seem secondary, but they become important in any DUI charge, especially in California. The costs of a California DUI go far beyond simply paying fines, even if those are high. No, in order to get accurate representation, you need to pay for a California DUI lawyer.
This blog post covers the major fees you will be paying, how you should treat the charges, and how to hire an affordable California DUI lawyer.
Beyond fines, for your first DUI you’ll face a license suspension means a mandatory six month license suspension, mandatory jail time of 48 hours for a first offense, and hours in a DUI School. You have to understand that by drinking and driving, or abusing drugs and driving, you endanger others. It may seem to be far from it when you’re driving down an empty road at night, but drinking and driving is a leading cause of death in California.
If you have multiple DUI violations, you can expect stiffer penalties, such as your license being suspended for several years, weeks to months spent in jail, and be put on probation for an extended period. It’s worse if you get a felony.
Fines and Fees for a California DUI
You can expect to pay $1,400 to $1,800 for a first time offense, and that’s before you even consider lawyer fees. A second offense means $1,800 to $2,800 in fines and court fees. A third offense is technically the same. If you get a fourth offense, you likely will face felony charges and money will be the least of your problems. However, with the right help, by hiring the right lawyer, by never drinking and driving again, these problems can be overcome.
How do you hire a lawyer?
There are literally thousands of California lawyers who can help defend a DUI charge. However, not all are equally experienced for your case, nor are the price ranges always the same. You can expect to pay much more for your lawyer to represent you than the fines. It can be $10,000 to $20,000 to defend your rights in court. Some do charge less, some are negotiable, some will even work with you on a payment plan. Going to trial, especially for felony charges, without legal representation could cost you time in prison. You just have to value how much staying out of prison, being able to get your license back, and avoiding major court fees can help.