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driving under the influence in california

DUI defense attorney for Alameda, San Joaquin, and Contra Costa County

After an arrest for DUI, drivers must contact DMV within 10 days to request a DMV Hearing, or else forfeit the right to challenge suspension of their driver’s license. Contact RLS Criminal Defense today, and we will help you to request a DMV Hearing free of charge, without obligation to hire us, so you can preserve your rights while you take time to consider your options. 

“Driving Under the Influence” is the crime attorney Ryan L. Smith handles most often. He is experienced asserting DUI defenses such as: illegal stop, illegal arrest, improperly administered field sobriety tests, coerced consent for blood/breath tests, rising alcohol, fermentation, improper chain of custody, breath temperature, strenuous blowing, failure to follow forensic regulations, and others.

Contact RLS Criminal Defense regarding DUI immediately!

What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence?

In California, there are several varieties of “Driving Under the Influence” charges. It is illegal to drive: with a 0.08 blood-alcohol concentration or higher; with a 0.04 blood-alcohol concentration or higher while driving a commercial vehicle; or with any blood-alcohol concentration if it renders you “…unable to drive with the caution and care of a sober person…”; or under any drug, prescription drug, or combination of drug, prescription drug, and/or alcohol which renders you “…unable to drive with the caution and care of a sober person...” 

One can also be charged with “DUI Causing Injury,” “DUI with 1 Prior DUI,” “DUI with 2 Prior DUIs,” or “DUI with 3 Prior DUIs.” DUIs can have penalty enhancements charged too for “Refusing to Provide a Blood/Breath Sample,” “Having a Blood-Alcohol Concentration of 0.15 or Greater,” “Driving 100mph or Greater,” and/or “Driving with a Child Less than 14 Years Old.”  DUIs are misdemeanors, except a DUI can be a felony if the driver has three prior DUIs, one prior felony DUI, or caused a serious injury. 

Penalties Upon Conviction

A DUI conviction causes 2 points on your DMV record, and generally requires: a sentence (to be served via jail, a work program, or electronic monitoring); probation; a fine; driver’s license suspension; a DUI school; and a requirement to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.

  • 1st offense – sentence of 2 days - 6 months; 3-5 year probation; $2,000 fine and fees; 6 month license suspension; 3 month DUI school; and 5-6 month ignition interlock device requirement.
    • If enhanced for BAC 0.15 or Greater – 10 month license suspension; 9 month DUI school; and 9-10 month ignition interlock device requirement.
    • If enhanced for Refusing to Provide Blood/Breath Sample – 12 month license suspension and denied eligibility for restricted license. 
  • 2nd offense – sentence of 10 days - 1 year; 3-5 year probation; $2,000 fine and fees; 2 year license suspension; 18 month DUI school; and 1-2 year ignition interlock device requirement.
  • 3rd offense – sentence of 120 days - 1 year; 3-5 year probation; $2,000 in fines and fees; 3 year license suspension; 18 month DUI school; and 2 year ignition interlock device requirement.

A negotiated “plea bargain” with the prosecutor could result in reducing charges (such as from DUI to Wet Reckless), dismissing associated charges (such as Hit and Run or Driving on a Suspended License), or dismissing enhancements (such as Having a BAC 0.15 or Greater or Refusing to Provide a Blood/Breath Sample) thereby permitting the minimum punishment to be smaller.

  • Wet Reckless – sentence of 0 - 90 days; 1 year probation; $1,000 in fines and fees; no required license suspension; 6 week Wet Reckless school; and no ignition interlock device requirement.

Punishments are greater for “DUI Causing Injury” and felony DUI.

DMV Admin Per Se Case

If you request a DMV Hearing within 10 days of arrest, your privilege to drive will remain intact until you are either convicted of a DUI criminal charge in court, or your DMV Admin Per Se Hearing takes place and DMV issues a written, unfavorable decision thereafter. If you are never convicted of a DUI in court (because your criminal case; is never charged, settles as a Wet Reckless, or is dismissed) requesting and winning the DMV Hearing would result in no license suspension. However, even if DUI conviction is avoided, the DMV Hearing still determines if license suspension is to be imposed.

It's important to request a DMV Hearing to keep your license longer, and to attempt to synchronize the two possible suspensions from DMV and criminal court to run concurrently. Although DMV Hearings are biased proceedings where DMV acts as the prosecutor, judge, and jury, attorney Ryan Smith has prevented many license suspensions at DMV hearings nonetheless. He understands special DMV Hearing defenses such as the requirement DMV prove the blood/breath was taken within 3 hours of the time of driving. RLS Criminal Defense will help you to request a DMV hearing, free of charge, while you take time to learn about DUI and interview multiple attorneys. 

Criminal DUI Case Strategies

More than people arrested for other crimes, people arrested for DUI tend to assume, incorrectly, there is no way to fight a DUI case. Perhaps it’s because a machine produced a number 0.08 BAC or greater, and they believe the machine is infallible. However, breath and blood alcohol analysis is prone to many errors that systematically skew results in a falsely high direction. Breathalyzers assume an incorrect temperature of your breath; police instruct people to blow “hard”; and blood is frequently fermented by the time it is tested by the lab. Don’t assume your case is indefensible merely because you were arrested and police told you your BAC was 0.08 or greater. Let an experienced DUI attorney negotiate a reduction of your charges; prove an illegal search or seizure occurred; or bring your case to trial. 

Contact RLS Criminal Defense for help requesting a DMV Hearing, or to schedule a FREE initial consultation.

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