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DUI charges in California are very serious. State laws have extremely heavy penalties for drunk driving. Depending on the type of charge, they generally include jail time and steep fines. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Fresno, Madera, Hanford, Visalia or surrounding cities, it is crucial that you immediately contact a DUI attorney. Legal representation is a vital part of the process when you hope to be able to continue driving. Jones Law, has successfully defended numerous people who have been charged with a DUI.
There are two specific charges in California law that are typically used in an arrest for DUI:
• California Vehicle Code 23152 (a): driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• California Vehicle Code 23152 (b): driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher.
In order to be arrested or even stopped under suspicion of DUI, a law enforcement officer must have a lawful reason for doing so. In the state of California, this means one of two things:
• Law enforcement officer had warrant because of a traffic violation such as speeding, weaving, broken tail light, etc.
• Law enforcement officer had warrant because of a sobriety checkpoint. These checkpoints must be announced, supervising officers must be present and law enforcement must use some predetermined method for stopping vehicles.
If you are stopped for either reason and the officer believes you may be under the influence, they will ask you to submit field sobriety tests. At this point, you are not yet under arrest. Only after a lawful arrest will you be required to submit to chemical testing, such as a blood or breath test to determine blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of driving. Refusing a chemical test after you have been arrested is grounds for automatic suspension of driving privileges. If you are tested to have .08 percent BAC or greater (or less for commercial and underage drivers), then you can be charged with DUI and your license will be suspended. However, you do still have the right to both an administrative and a criminal hearing. The administrative DMV hearing will evaluate your right to drive and the criminal hearing will deal with your criminal charges. In many cases, we are able to restore our clients' driving privileges as well as get their criminal DUI charges reduced to a lesser charge such as reckless driving or dismissed completely.
California DUI Laws:
Underage DUI has specific laws
California is a "zero tolerance" state in regards to underage drinking and driving. An individual who is under 21 and is found to have a BAC level of .01% or above will be charged with DUI. This is never a charge to attempt to handle without an experienced DUI lawyer.
For all drivers arrested for driving under the influence, you have only 10 days in which to request a DMV hearing. This is an administrative hearing in which it is determined whether to suspend or revoke your license, based on the evidence provided by law enforcement. If you do not schedule this hearing, your license will automatically be suspended. These DMV hearings are best handled by a skilled DUI lawyer. There are certain factors that the attorney can bring forward in order to protect your ability to drive. Most individuals on their own would not know what to do or say at a DMV hearing. Having an experienced DUI lawyer can greatly enhance the possibility of a good outcome in the hearing.
What is a DUI charge?
The DMV hearing is not your DUI charge. The DUI charge is handled in court. This is when your sentence is decided. The prosecutor, with the backup of law enforcement, has the full intention to convict you on your drunk driving charge. DUI attorneys are experienced negotiators and many cases have had the charges dismissed or reduced.
Information on Field Sobriety & Chemical DUI Tests
There is no test that is without error. Field sobriety tests are based on the observation of law enforcement and are not a scientific test. The BAC chemical testing equipment has specific maintenance to keep it in working order. There are many cases where the breath test instrument was found to be faulty.
Investigation of the circumstances of your arrest is the job of a dedicated and aggressive DUI lawyer.
We can evaluate your case and ask the following questions for your defense:
• Was the chemical testing device functioning properly?
• Were the field sobriety and chemical tests administered properly?
• What was the time of testing versus the time of driving?
• Were you completely and correctly informed of your rights?
• Did the law enforcement officer have adequate reason to stop your vehicle?
• Did any outside factors influence the outcome of your field sobriety tests?
There are various legal approaches to any drunk driving charge. It is crucial that you talk to an attorney and determine what can be done in your case. Your future may depend upon it.
The help of a good lawyer is critical in limiting the damage that a criminal or DUI case can have on your family, your life and your livelihood. Of course a good lawyer can minimize the penalties such as jail, fines and license suspension or revocation.
David E. Jones is a former Deputy District Attorney and a highly skilled DUI/DWI and criminal defense lawyer with more than 20 years of experience helping clients who are facing State and Federal criminal charges.