Sacramento DUI Lawyer
In the state of California, police can pull you over if they suspect that you’ve been drinking and driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, you are “impaired” if your blood alcohol level is 0.08 percent or greater. Proof that your blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent while you were behind the wheel of a vehicle is enough for a judge to convict you under California’s very strict DUI laws. Even if no one was injured as a result of you driving under the influence of alcohol, the penalties can be very severe. The penalties increase in severity based on the number of previous DUI convictions you have on your criminal record.
Drunk Driving and California Law
California’s Vehicle Code is very clear when it comes to driving under the influence. The law says, “It is unlawful for a person who was under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.” The law goes further to say, “It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.”
The police can require you to take a field sobriety test, which may include walking in a straight line, reciting the alphabet, or any number of other activities that can give a police officer clues about whether you have been driving under the influence of alcohol. Police can also request that you take a breath test at the scene. The test is sometimes referred to as a “Breathalyzer” because that’s the name brand of one of the first commercially available testing devices. He broadcast is supposed to measure the concentration of alcohol in your blood. However, now police officers are properly trained in the use of handheld breath analysis tests. Sometimes the equipment is improperly calibrated, and like any machine, the breath analyzer can malfunction.
When Can Police Pull You Over?
Under California law, police officers must have reasonable suspicion that you are drunk in order to pull you over. Usually, suspicious or erratic driving is a good enough reason for the police to suspect that you have been drinking.
Can You Refuse a Breath, Blood or Urine Test?
If you refuse a chemical test when police suspect you of drunk driving, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license. The suspension will go into effect whether you were actually guilty or you were innocent. Further, your refusal to submit to a chemical test can be used against you in court. The state may argue that you were guilty, and that’s why you refused the test.
What is Implied Consent?
California is an “implied consent” state. That means you automatically give your consent to submit to a breath or blood alcohol test when an officer pulls you over under suspicion of drunk driving. The state considers your use of a California driver’s license and your use of public roads to be sufficient consent.
Do You Really Need a Lawyer for DUI?
If your chemical test results reveal that you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, the state will consider you to have been drinking and driving. It can be difficult to argue against those results, which is why many people choose to work with an experienced Sacramento DUI lawyer long before they appear in a courtroom. An attorney may be able to challenge the legality of your traffic stop, analyze the breath or urine test’s results and determine whether the state actually has enough evidence to convict you. The facts that your lawyer uncovers could mean the difference between a “guilty” and a “not guilty” verdict.
Penalties for DUI in California
The consequences for a DUI conviction can be very severe. The penalties typically get worse with each subsequent conviction. That means the state won’t be as hard on you when you receive your first DUI, provided that nobody was hurt, as they would be for your second, third or fourth DUI.
If your chemical test reveals that your BAC was 0.15 or lower, and if this is your first offense (and you did not injure anyone), you could face:
- $2,500 fine
- 3 years of informal probation
- 5 months with an ignition interlock device (that you must pay for)
- 1-month license suspension
- 5-month license restriction (you may be able to drive to work, school or an alcohol class)
- 2 days of a work project or home detention
- 3 months of first-offender alcohol class (30 hours)
- 2 DMV points
- A misdemeanor on your record, which can often be expunged after probation expires
- An insurance increase
A second DUI offense, if you plead guilty, could require:
- 4 days of mandatory jail time
- 6 days of a work project or home detention
- 18-month alcohol program
- 1 year with an ignition interlock device
- 3-month license suspension
- 21-month license restriction or ignition interlock device
- 4 years of informal probation
- $2,500 fine
- 2 DMV points
- A misdemeanor conviction, which may be expunged after you complete probation
- An insurance increase
Third and Subsequent Offenses
If you are convicted of drunk driving for a third time, or if you have been convicted three or more times prior to this conviction, you will be facing a minimum of 120 days of supervision (with 6 days or more mandatory).
Your fourth and subsequent DUI convictions are felonies.
What is Wet Reckless?
Your attorney may be able to get your DUI charge reduced to what’s known as a “wet reckless.” With a wet reckless charge, you can expect:
- No ignition interlock device
- No work project
- No home detention
- Alcohol class of 12 hours (or, in some cases, none at all)
- Fine reduced by about $1,000
- License suspension or restriction reduced by two months (or, in some cases, neither suspension nor restriction)
Can You Defend Against DUI Charges?
It is possible to successfully defend against DUI charges in Sacramento. Your lawyer will examine all of the evidence, and based on what he or she finds, there may even be a reason for the court to dismiss your case entirely.
Breath and Blood Analysis
Your attorney may choose to use a “rising blood alcohol defense” to save you from a DUI conviction. This may be effective if your lawyer can successfully argue that you were in the absorption phase when you were tested; that would mean your levels were lower while you were driving than they were when you were tested. Your attorney may also be able to request a blood retest. In many cases, a credible, independent lab will return a lower result, and your lawyer can use that result in your defense.
Chemical breath testing devices must comply with the requirements outlined in Title 17. If the device is not maintained or calibrated properly, it can deliver false-positive results. Further, many police officers are not properly trained in the use of handheld breath analysis devices; this can result in improper testing and false-positive results.
Was Your Arrest Legal?
Your lawyer may be able to argue that police did not have reasonable suspicion that you were drunk when they stopped you. Sometimes, filing a motion to suppress is a good idea; this type of motion may get your case dismissed for issues related to weaving within your lane, the lack of a vehicle code violation, refusal to submit to a chemical test, or inconsistency between the police report and other evidence.
Working with a DUI Lawyer in Sacramento
If you are facing a drunk driving charge in Sacramento, you know that the consequences can be severe. You deserve aggressive legal representation; you deserve Crowell law offices. Call us at 916-303-2800 for a free case evaluation. It may mean the difference between “guilty” and “not guilty.”