Los Angeles DUI Attorneys
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been a serious criminal offense for years, especially since states began cracking down over the past few decades. Although it is generally charged as a misdemeanor, it also has severe civil penalties that can significantly affect your life and cost you thousands of dollars in collateral consequences.
Under California law, there are two charges you face for drunk driving: driving under the influence pursuant to CVC §23152(a), and driving with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% or more under CVC § 23152(b). These are separate offenses.
You also face loss of your driving privileges. After your arrest, you must immediately request an administrative hearing with the DMV to challenge your license suspension or it will become automatic.
A DUI is a criminal offense that can happen to anyone. Many people who leave an office party or restaurant or who stop for a few drinks on their way home are close to or over the legal limit. Peace officers are on the lookout for intoxicated drivers and can stop you for any erratic driving, failure to completely stop at a stop sign or driving a few miles over the limit in a residential area at night.
While you should never drink and drive if you can feel the effects of alcohol, there are some things you can do to protect your rights.
DUI Attorney in Pasadena
Depending on the circumstances, certain defense arguments may be applicable in your case, including:
- The officer did not have probable cause to stop or arrest you.
- A medical condition produced a false high BAC.
- Proper guidelines and protocols were not followed in administering the test.
- Reasonable explanations exist for your driving and field sobriety test performance.
- Your BAC was not over the legal limit at the time you were actually driving.
- The breathalyzer was not properly serviced and maintained.
- The officer or technician who administered the test lacked certification.
- Proper procedure was not followed in administering a blood test.
- There was no proof of intoxication if you did not perform FSTs.
What to Do if Stopped
Have Your Documents Available
Being prepared for any stop by police, regardless of the reason, is always a good idea as it shows organization and knowledge of your obligations. Have your driver's license, registration and insurance information readily accessible so you do not have to scramble or fumble looking for these documents.
No Obligation to Incriminate Yourself
The officer who stopped you may ask if you have been drinking. Other than providing your license and vehicle documents, you have no obligation to answer any questions. You can politely decline to answer though this may raise suspicions.
In most DUI stops, the officer will ask a motorist to perform certain coordination or field sobriety tests (FSTs). You have no legal obligation to perform these tests and face no penalty for refusing. You are obligated to perform them only if you are under 21 or under probation.
The officer may also request that you blow into a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) device, which is not a certified breathalyzer. You have no obligation to do so and its results are not admissible as evidence.
If requested by the officer after being lawfully arrested for DUI, you do have to submit to a breath test (or blood test if you prefer). Under the state's implied consent law, every motorist has given implied consent to providing a sample of their breath or blood for testing of their blood alcohol level. If you refuse, the DA can argue that you refused because you were under the influence. You can be charged and convicted of DUI even if you do not take a blood or breath test.
Administrative Per Se Hearing
You have 10 days after your arrest for DUI to request a hearing regarding the suspension of your driver's license or you waive it. Let our attorneys assess your situation and advise you regarding this hearing; we have extensive experience and a reasonable success rate at these hearings.
Penalties and Sentencing
A DUI is usually charged as a misdemeanor with a maximum jail sentence of one year. As a first-time DUI offender, you may face the following sentence and penalties:
- Probable 2 days in jail or community service
- Possible additional time in jail if testing was refused
- Probation for 3 years
- DUI class for 3 months
- Fine of $390 to $1,000
- Restricted license for transportation to work and to DUI class
If you did refuse testing, your license will be revoked for one year with no restricted license eligibility.
Second offenders face:
- 4 to 10 days in jail
- Fine of $390 to $1,000
- Loss of license for one year
- 2-year loss of license if you refused testing
- Restricted license availability
- 18-month DUI class
- Installation of ignition interlock system
Your penalties increase substantially for a third DUI within 10 years. If you receive a fourth DUI within 10 years, you face felony DUI charges.
Enhancements and Felony DUI
There are certain aggravating circumstances that can enhance your sentence or lead to felony charges. These include:
- Refusal to submit to BAC testing
- Having a passenger who is under the age of 14
- Speeding 20 mph or more over the posted limit
- Having an elevated BAC level of 0.15% or more
- Causing a property damage accident
- Causing a serious injury or fatality accident
If you caused an accident with serious bodily injury or a fatality, you face potential felony charges. A fatal accident could result in vehicular manslaughter charges as well. By having a passenger under 14 accompanied by other aggravating circumstances, you face a possible charge of felony child endangerment.
At trial or the DMV administrative hearing, the officer will testify regarding observations and conclusions about your demeanor and signs of intoxication. If you took a breath or blood test, the main focus may be the validity of the test. Having a BAC of 0.08% is a rebuttable presumption that you were under the influence; very often, a highly skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyer can attack the procedures used to administer either the breathalyzer or blood test and challenge the results validity based on a number of factors. Common defense arguments our attorneys use at DUI trials include:
- The breathalyzer was not properly serviced or maintained
- Your medical condition produced a false high BAC result
- The technician or officer who administered the test lacked certification or proper training
- Guidelines and protocols were not followed in administering the test
- The technician failed to follow procedures in administering and preserving your blood sample
- There were reasonable explanations for your driving conduct and performance on FSTs
- There was no proof of intoxication if you performed no FST
- Your BAC was under 0.08% when you were driving; your test was taken hours later
- The officer lacked probable cause to stop or arrest you
Let Us Help
A DUI conviction can affect your employment or chances for advancing your career and seriously hamper your mobility and other aspects of your lifestyle. Your insurance rates will increase substantially as well. Contact an Access Lawyer to represent you and feel confident that you are doing everything possible to bring about a favorable outcome for your case.