Drunk driving is a serious offense in California. Knowing when to call the Sacramento DWI/DUI Lawyers I would call in this mess, possibly helping you avoid jail time, or in some cases, avoid it altogether. Even though California’s law prohibit individuals from driving with a minimal concentration of .08 of alcohol in their blood system, some individuals may be charged with DUI or DWI with lesser amounts in their bodies.
Drivers who are 21 years of age or younger can be charged with DUI if they have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01. The same BAC applies to drivers who are repeat offenders. In addition those under 21 may not carry unsealed beer, wine or liquor in their vehicle while driving alone. Neither can they consume alcohol in any form, including cough syrup and prescriptions drugs. California has a no tolerance policy for drivers aged 18 and younger, meaning no alcohol can be in their system while driving a vehicle. Drivers of commercial vehicles that require a special license may not have a BAC of .04. If you are pulled over by police and have a BAC lower than the specified levels, you may still be charged with DUI if the arresting officer deems you sufficiently impaired.
Understanding California DUI Penalties
DUI/DWI charges were minor offenses as recently as 20 years ago. Offenders often got off with small fines, a slap on the wrist and no loss of driving privileges. Those days are long gone. California DUI penalties vary on the circumstances of individual cases, but if convicted, first time offenders can spend up to six months in jail, incur a fine of up to $1,000 and have your license suspended anywhere from 30 days to 10 months. All penalties increase for second and subsequent offenses. For a fourth offense that occurs within 10 months of a third DUI conviction, offenders can be sentenced to 16 months in jail, pay fines of up to $18,000 and have their licenses suspended for four years. California also has a lookback period of 10 years that is relevant for DUI sentencing.
Understanding the severity of a DUI offense is essential to understanding why and just how quickly you should get California DUI legal help. Since 2010, the state has strengthened DUI-related laws that can restrict or entirely take away your driving privileges for a longer period of time. The number of categories where licenses are immediately suspended when suspected of a DUI has increased as well as mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for repeat offenders. Repeated drunk driving violations can result in termination of driver’s insurance, much higher premiums when an insurance company accepts you along with lost wages from jail time.
How a DUI Attorney Can Possibly Help
Sometimes offenders, especially those charged with a first offense, mistakenly believe that any type of attorney can defend you in court against drunk driving charges. Attorneys specialize in certain practice areas, so if you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s in your best interest to find an attorney who specializes in defending DUI cases.
California DUI lawyers look at the range of possible consequences that you may face and determines the best course of action to take to minimize the damage to your life. In some cases, obtaining California DUI legal help can possibly get your sentence reduced as your attorney will assess your situation and determine that you may be offered probation if you are a first time offender. Your DUI attorney will also inform you if you are possibly eligible for community service or plea-bargaining. In addition, your attorney may be able to help with contingent licenses that will allow you to use your vehicle to go to and from work.
Working with a DUI lawyer who is experienced and thoroughly knows the California legal system with make the court process manageable. Chances are you are scared and don’t know how to proceed. Your lawyer can help ease the process by completing forms, represent you at a suspension hearing, help get your vehicle out of the pound following your arrest, etc.
Attorneys specializing in DUI cases often know local prosecutors and know which defenses work best in your situation to help obtain a lesser sentence for your situation. Remember, however, that the higher your blood alcohol level, the more complicated your case becomes. Depending on your circumstances your DUI attorney may contest evidence, such as the accuracy of breathalyzer or other tests to evaluate you BAC. The “rising BAC” defense, for example maintains that your BAC at the time of arrest may actually be higher than at the time you were driving. Other circumstances, such a drunk driving that causes a severe accident with injuries, also make retaining an attorney specializing in DUI essential.