Nearly 97% of DUI charges in California are misdemeanors. Unfortunately, some people think “misdemeanor” means “not serious.” Every criminal conviction is serious. A criminal record affects the ability to obtain employment, credit, professional licenses, and security clearances. Criminal convictions jeopardize the opportunity to travel to other countries and the immigration status of noncitizens. A conviction almost always results in higher auto insurance premiums.
It may be possible to expunge a misdemeanor DUI after a period of time, but expunging a conviction is not the same as erasing it. The California DMV typically does not remove expunged DUI convictions from driving records. Internet databases that record the conviction might not remove it after the conviction is expunged. That means potential employers and others can learn about the conviction by accessing the database or DMV records. Even expunged convictions must be disclosed on most applications for government employment and occupational licenses.
Your best chance of avoiding a conviction in Orange County and elsewhere in Southern California is to retain the services of a dedicated DUI defense attorney. The Law Offices of Randy Collins has earned a stellar reputation for its skillful defense of DUI accusations. Learn more about the ways you might be able to avoid a conviction by calling (888) 250-2865.
According to the 2015 Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System, there were more than 155,000 misdemeanor arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) in California during 2013. Here’s how those arrest statistics break down in some Southern California counties:
Almost three-quarters of arrested drivers are first offenders. About 25% of arrested drivers manage to avoid a DUI conviction, either by obtaining a dismissal, a “not guilty” verdict, or a conviction of some other offense (usually reckless driving).
The primary law that forms the basis for California misdemeanor DUI charges is section 23152 of the Vehicle Code. Subsection (a) of that statute makes it a crime to drive under the influence of alcohol or any drug. A driver is under the influence of a substance when consumption of the substance has impaired the driver’s ability to drive with the same caution as a sober driver.
Section 23152(b) VC is California’s “per se” law. That subsection makes it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of more than 0.08%.
It is possible to be convicted under subsection (a) even if the driver’s BAC is less than 0.08%. Those charges should always be challenged, since juries have heard “0.08%” so often that they tend to be skeptical of DUI charges brought against drivers who were under the legal limit.
It is also possible to be convicted under both subsections. When that happens, however, only one set of penalties can be imposed.
A conviction of a second or third offense DUI misdemeanor will likely result in a jail sentence. A conviction of any DUI misdemeanor will result in costly fines and a suspension of driving privileges. Judges commonly require drivers to attend an alcohol abuse education or treatment program. Some charges subject drivers to vehicle impoundment or mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
The potential penalties for a misdemeanor DUI are influenced by a number of factors, including:
Judges and prosecutors follow guidelines when they recommend or impose penalties. Those guidelines vary, so the penalty that might be imposed in Los Angeles is not necessarily the same penalty that would be imposed in San Diego.
Guidelines are not set in stone. A skilled DUI defense attorney can make convincing arguments for lesser penalties than the court might otherwise impose. Of course, avoiding a DUI conviction entirely is the first goal of an aggressive DUI defense.
Fortunately, a number of defenses can be raised to defend these offenses. The defense that is best suited to your charge will depend on the facts of your case. Possibilities include:
In California, defendants who are facing their third charge for driving under the influence will encounter few chances and harsh penalties. A third offense DUI defendant is seen as especially dangerous by the courts and the resulting penalties are severe and have serious long-term consequences. If you have been charged with your third DUI offense in California, a qualified DUI criminal defense attorney can help defend your rights in court.
DUI offenses in California are always misdemeanors unless one of the following is true, making it a felony.
Third offense DUI defendants in California will face both administrative and criminal penalties. Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to three years; however, if applicable, after one year you may be eligible for a restricted license to use in limited circumstances, such as driving to work.
The criminal penalties for a third DUI offense are severe. A defendant will face a minimum of 120 days in jail, with a possible maximum sentence of one year. Jail alternatives may be available: a DUI criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate for a shorter time in jail in exchange for a portion of your sentence served as community service, drug and alcohol rehab or house arrest. You will also incur a minimum fine of $390; the fine may be increased to as much as $1000. You will also serve a minimum probationary period of three years with a possible maximum of five years. The judge will also order you to complete an 18-month DUI course.
The standard criminal penalties can also be increased if there are certain factors present in your DUI case. These factors are known as “enhancements” and include:
Any one of these factors can result in an additional charge and even harsher penalties.
If you have been charged with your 3rd DUI offense in California, the severe administrative and criminal penalties associated with your crime make hiring an attorney extremely important. Contact a qualified DUI criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you receive the best legal defense.Free Case Evaluation
Those in Southern California can call the Law Offices of Randy Collins to obtain a free case evaluation. Call (888) 250-2865 today to speak with an experienced DUI attorney and get the answers you’re looking for.
I had never gotten in trouble before, so I was pretty concerned when I called the Law Offices of Randy Collins. After a 30 minute consultation about my DUI with injury I felt like I was in the right hands. I went with them and was very happy with the result.