Charged With DUI ?
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Penalties for a California conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) can be harsh, but first offenders do not usually serve time in jail. When the circumstances of a DUI are aggravated, however, a first offender is more likely to be sentenced to jail, while the sentences imposed for a second or subsequent offense become more severe than they would have been in the absence of aggravating factors.
If you have been charged with an aggravated DUI in Orange County or elsewhere in Southern California, you give yourself the best chance of avoiding jail and loss of driving privileges by enlisting the help of an experienced DUI attorney. Randy Collins has earned the respect of his peers and the gratitude of satisfied clients by fighting aggressively against DUI convictions. To put a dedicated DUI defense lawyer on your side in Los Angeles, Riverside, or any other community in Southern California, call The Law Offices of Randy Collins at (888) 250-2865.
Courts take a number of factors into account when they decide upon a DUI sentence. One of those is the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or above, but section 23578 of California’s Vehicle Code requires courts to consider a BAC of 0.15 or higher as a “special factor” that may justify an enhanced sentence. Even when a driver receives probation, the court is likely to impose punitive conditions that will make a driver’s life more difficult.
If you refuse to take a chemical test of your breath or blood and are convicted of DUI, the fact that you refused is another “special factor” that can be used to enhance your sentence. Since judges have no evidence of your actual BAC when you refuse a test, they tend to assume that your BAC was at a high level and sentence you accordingly.
Exceeding the speed limit by at least 30 mph on a freeway or 20 mph on any other road subjects the driver to an enhanced DUI penalty. Section 23582 of the Vehicle Code provides for an additional 60 days to be tacked onto the sentence that a DUI driver would otherwise receive.
Section 23582 VC tells judges to impose the 60 day sentence as a condition of probation if the judge places the driver on probation for the DUI charge. The law also requires the 60 days to be imposed as a consecutive sentence, so it cannot overlap the sentence imposed for the underlying DUI offense.
The offense of reckless driving is defined in 23103 VC as driving “in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” That essentially means driving in a manner that endangers other people or their vehicles, even if you did not actually become involved in an accident.
Driving recklessly, like driving at an excessive speed, is an aggravating DUI factor specified in 23582 VC. It subjects a driver to the additional 60 days in jail on the terms that are described above.
Committing a DUI while a child under the age of 14 is a passenger in the vehicle subjects the driver to at least an additional 48 hours in jail. That sentence is mandatory, even if probation is granted on the underlying offense. It cannot be stayed and it cannot be divided into shorter periods that can be served in intervals. Longer enhanced sentences may also apply, depending on the DUI offense with which the driver is charged.
If you cause an accident that leads to an injury while you are DUI, you will probably be charged under section 23153 VC. That aggravated offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you cause a hit-and-run accident while you are DUI, you will probably be charged with hit-and-run in addition to facing a longer DUI sentence
Even if you caused an accident that did not result in an injury, many judges will view the accident as a reason to increase your OWI sentence. The impact of an accident upon your DUI sentence may depend upon the court in which you are prosecuted.
Other factors that can lead to longer DUI sentences include:
How the prosecutor or judge will view different aggravating circumstances depends upon the city or county in which the driver was arrested. The likely penalty in Los Angeles may differ from the likely penalty in San Diego or Riverside.
In many cases, the aggravating circumstance must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That gives defense attorneys leverage against prosecutors who worry that they will not be able to prove the aggravating factor in a DUI trial, as well as those who do not want to devote time to a trial when they can resolve a case by dropping the aggravating factor.