Southern California DUI Laws and Penalties

San Diego California DUI Laws are applicable to drunk drivers, just as they are applicable in other counties in California. If a drunk driver is caught driving, California DWI penalties can turn their life upside down. Thus, driving any vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol is a serious offense in San Diego and Orange County California. According to California DUI laws, the legal alcohol limit is 0.08. Last year, there were around 1153 cases of accidents caused by the drivers who were at or above 0.08 alcohol limit.

Two separate cases will be triggered by every San Diego DUI arrest:

One is the court case or criminal proceeding for a DUI charge which has to be resolved in the California Judicial System while the other is the civil proceeding which is conducted through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The second proceeding will determine whether or not you can keep your CA driver's license. The accused driver should take both cases seriously as any disruptive behavior on their part can cause a high penalty.

In San Diego, CA conviction for the crime of DUI carries the following punishments and penalties:

First DUI arrest- With a first offense DUI arrest, there is 48 hours of jail time with a fine of $1400 to $1800 and a 6 month loss of driving privileges.

Second DUI arrest- There is 96 hours of jail time with a fine of $1800 to $2800 and a 2 year loss of driving privileges.

Third DUI offense- There is 120 days of jail time with a fine of $1800 to $2800 and a 3 years loss of your driver's license.

Fourth DUI arrest- A fourth offense carries 3 years of jail with a permanent loss of driving privileges.

When a person is caught driving under the influence of alcohol in San Diego California they should quickly learn the California court system or hire a skillful San Diego DUI defense attorney who can effectively navigate the system for their clients. Quick action on the part of the accused person can help them protect their CA driver’s license.

If you break California DUI laws there are certain rights to which you are entitled. Firstly, the accused drunk driver has 10 days, from the day of arrest, to request a hearing with the California DMV. Secondly, you can meet with your San Diego California DUI lawyer.

The following are the best DUI attorneys in San Diego and Orange Counties:

Eugene Ellis (Mr. DUI): the Law Office of Eugene Ellis has over 30 years of experience and they have built an excellent reputation in the field. This law firm has a technical support staff of experts and officers who can aptly deal with DUI cases in San Diego and Orange Counties.

Mitch Mehdy (Mr. Ticket): the Law Office of Mitch Mehdy has over 20 years experience dealing with the California DMV helping clients keep their driver's license.

Contacting a California DUI defense attorney is of the utmost importance for DUI arrests so that your rights are protected and you are able to easily navigate the California justice system.


History of DUI Laws

Across the nation, every state has rules concerning drinking and driving. Whether it is referred to as DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), or OUI (operating under the influence), the penalties are still very serious for this offense.

DUI Laws
In 1910, the first state to adopt drunk-driving laws was New York. California was the next state to pass driving under the influence laws, and the other 48 states soon followed suit.

These early DUI laws simply stated that a driver could not operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated. However, inebriation was not clearly defined by the lawmakers and courts at this point.

In the 1930s, two committees were tasked with making roads safer in the U.S. The American Medical Association created a committee to study the most common problems that lead to vehicle accidents. During this same time period, the National Safety Council set up a study to develop tests that could be used to determine intoxication. After doing research, the two groups determined that a driver with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher could be presumed to be inebriated, while a driver with a BAC under 0.15 could not.

As a result of the committee’s findings, 0.15 percent became the first commonly-used legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in 1938.

DUI laws and penalties began getting stricter in the 1970s. This is mainly due to groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD). Candy Lightner was also a leader in the fight for tougher DUI laws.

The pressure from these groups led to many changes in DUI laws, most notably raising the legal drinking age to 21 years old in all 50 states. These groups also changed the way laws were enforced by police departments – until this time, enforcing drunk-driving laws was not a priority.

The legal limit was affected during this time. Originally 0.15 percent, it was later lowered to .10 percent. Due to federal pressure on all of the states, this limit was then further reduced to 0.08 percent.

Zero Tolerance laws were also adopted by many states. These laws make it illegal for minors under the age of 21 to drive a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01 or 0.02 percent.

Automatic license suspension laws were also passed across the nation. These laws allow for an administrative license suspension after failing a breath test or refusing to take the breath test altogether.


California DUI Laws

There are two different statues that govern how an individual can be charged with DUI in the state of California. The first applies to whether or not the person who is driving under the influence is impaired more than a sober person would be. The officer on the scene is allowed to make a subjective judgment about an individual's driving capabilities. If the officer feels that you are impaired due to either alcohol or drugs to the point that your driving is not safe, you can be arrested for DUI.

The other way to be charged with DUI in California is based on your blood alcohol content, or BAC. If your BAC is .08% or higher, you can be arrested for DUI, even if you pass all of the field sobriety tests and are driving as any sober person would.

DUI Arrests in California

Being arrested for DUI in California automatically sentences you to two separate cases. You face both a criminal court case and a case in the Department of Motor Vehicles. Both are serious cases, but the DMV case comes with more urgency. According to California DUI laws, you only have 10 days after your arrest to request the DMV hearing. If you fail to do so in the required time frame, you will automatically lose the privilege to drive after 30 days. For this reason, it is imperative that you connect with a qualified California DUI attorney to file the necessary paperwork to get your hearing with the DMV.

Basic Consequences for First Time Offenders

While consequences vary based on the situations surrounding the DUI arrest, first time offenders typically face the following:

-Fine between $390 and $1300
-Probation for 3 to 5 years
-Jail time ranging from 48 hours to 6 months
-Sheriff work programs
-First Offender School

Almost all those arrested for DUI in California have to go to First Offender School in order to get their licenses back, but the length of time required for attendance varies depending on the BAC percentages at the time of arrest.

License Suspensions for California DUI

A California DUI results in license suspension, which sets in 30 days after the arrest. The times for suspension by the DMV are as follows:

-First offenders: 4-6 months
-Second offenders: 24 months
-Third offenders: 24 months

This suspension is completely separate from the punishments the criminal court sends your way, which usually also includes license suspension. Typically the court will suspend your license for 6 months. These two overlap, but if you are given your license back by the DMV, you still face suspension as handed down by the courts. You can get a restricted license to allow you to go to and from work, but you have to get this from both the DMV and the court.

Insurance Consequences

When you are convicted of a California DUI, you will face consequences with your insurance company as well as in the courts. In order to get your license back or be approved for a restricted license, you will have to have proof of insurance. This can prove difficult, however, because the insurance company will raise your premiums incredibly high due to your DUI. Your insurance company may even drop your coverage and refuse to cover you. If you are able to find coverage, you can expect to pay a high price for it.

For more information regarding your Southern California DUI arrest contact expert DUI attorney Eugene Ellis, (866) 666-6384.


Lake Forest DUI

A 20 year old Lake Forest woman has been charged with 1 Count of Felony driving under the influence of alcohol with injury, 1 Count of driving under the influence with blood alcohol .08% or more causing injury and 1 Count of Minor driving with blood alcohol of 0.5% or more.

According to Lake Forest Deputies, the Orange County, CA woman hit a 16 year old girl after she lost control of her car and went up over a curb. The 16 year old girl suffered critical injuries, including broken bones and was in a coma for a period of time. The girl is expected to survive. If convicted, the accused faces up to 3 years in state prison.

DUI, or driving under the influence, charges are typically charged as misdemeanors. However, some DUI's can be charged as felonies. A DUI that is charged as a Felony DUI, usually involves DUI manslaughter; DUI causing serious injury; 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years; and 4th DUI conviction at any time. Drunk drivers who cause injury, or DUI with injury is sometimes referred to as a "wobbler" charge, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. However, prosecutors typically pursue the charge that carries the most punishment. An experienced drunk driving defense attorney, or DUI defense attorney, will have the knowledge and experience that is necessary to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.

A conviction of felony DUI carries a much more serious punishment than a misdemeanor DUI. A misdemeanor first offense DUI can be punishable by up to six months in the county jail, whereas a felony DUI can carry a year or more in state prison sentence.

In Orange County California, being under 21 and driving with a blood alcool of 0.01% or greater subjects you to the penalties under California's "Zero Tolerance Law". This means that even if you have only one drink, you may be found guilty of the offense. You do not need to be found to be "under the influence", only that you consumed some measure of alcohol. Penalties for a minor being convicted of DUI vary according to the circumstances. Violating California Vehicle Code 23140 is an infraction and therefore not filed as a misdemeanor or felony. However, certain circumstances can cause the punishment to be more severe. Possible sentences include three to five years of informal probation; $390.00 to $1,000.00 in fines; up to one year in county jail; mandatory court-appointed alcohol class; and a six month driver's license suspension.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has it's own punishments/consequences for minor's drinking and driving. If a minor violates the Zero Tolerance Law he or she will lose their driver's license for one year, be required to attend and complete a minimum three month alcohol program; and possibly be ordered to participate in a "Youthful Drunk Driving Violation Program". Participation in this program includes a visit to an E.R., the coroner's office or a chemical dependency recovery center.

Anyone charged with misdemeanor DUI or Felony DUI, should seek to hire an experienced DUI Defense Attorney, specializing in Drunk Driving Defense. An experienced Orange County, CA DUI defense lawyer should aggressively pursue and develope a strategy to defend your felony (or misdemeanor) DUI case and work to minimize all the negative consequences.

If you would like to know more about Felony DUI, Misdemeanor DUI or Minor DUI charges, contact Orange County DUI Defense Attorney, Louis Pilato, at his Irvine, CA office at 18300 Von Karman Ave, Suite 720 or at (800) 522-6700.


Orange County DUI Violations

After you have pled guilty to a DUI or lesser offense, the courts have generally put you on a probationary period of anywhere from one to five (generally three) years. In a DUI case, violating your probation normally means that you have failed to live up to a term that you agreed to on an initial plea. This may mean you did not make your fine payments on time, failed to complete an alcohol education program, didn’t perform jail time, community service, cal-trans, live-in/out programs, AA meetings, etc… It can also be because you have picked up another misdemeanor or felony offense (DUI or other) while still on probation for another case. In cases such as these, the penalties can range from minor (being revoked and reinstated on the initial terms of one’s probation) and then dealing with the new case, or major (being subjected to the maximum penalties and/or fines under the law) and still having to deal with the new case. Once you violate your probation, you are in the judge’s hands. The District Attorney’s office does not negotiate these cases. However, having a good attorney by your side can only make it better! The DUI defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Eugene Ellis handle violation of probation on DUI cases on a daily basis. We will present your case to the judge and determine whether it is in your best interest to try and negotiate or have a hearing on the alleged violation.


Orange County DUI Checkpoints

Our Newport Beach DUI Lawyers have learned that the Costa Mesa Police Department will be conducting two DUI/Drivers License checkpoints in the next several days, first on Thursday, September 16, 2010, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., at Harbor Boulevard/Gisler Avenue. The second checkpoint will be Monday night, September 20, 2010, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., at Victoria Street/American Avenue; these areas near a number of nightlife establishments, including bars, nightclubs, and restaurants.

DUI checkpoints are conducted for one primary reason – to make money for the police department. The Federal Government, through the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) provides funding for DUI checkpoints, and MADD provides volunteers and funding. Although DUI checkpoints are not even close to being as effective as roving “saturation patrols”, as far as the percentage of offenders identified and or the percentage arrested and off the street, they catch a significant number of driers without a valid license, which allows the police to impound a vehicle for months, which at the police impound lot’s daily rate, is a significant source of income for local police departments.

Information about this DUI checkpoint was publicized and provided to us by the Costa Mesa Police Department. If you have any questions about DUI checkpoints for our Orange County DUI Lawyers, call us, toll free, at (866) NO-NO-DUI.

Orange County DUI Attorneys

If you were unfortunate enough to have a DUI in Newport Beach – watch out. Newport Beach is infamous for a police department dedicated to catching and arresting DUI offenders, a prosecutor, the Orange County District Attorney’s office, that has higher penalties for Newport Beach DUIs than other courts in the same county, and judges that don’t want to be known for being soft or easy on DUI offenders – especially in an area with as many political connections as Newport Beach.

Newport Beach DUI Checkpoints

Orange County DUI checkpoint locations are often found in Newport Beach, and DUI checkpoints are one of the most common ways the police find individuals to arrest for DUI. Unfortunately, DUI checkpoints are not truly effective ways of catching criminals. Their most useful purpose is for providing money to the city of Newport Beach, especially through impounded motor vehicles. An individual will still have to pay to have his vehicle back, even if he has been found innocent of DUI in a court of law.

Handling DMV Issues

The best thing you can do is to have one of the specialized Newport Beach DUI lawyers in the area handle the DMV issues for you. You’ll have only 10 days and could face having a suspended license for a year or more if you don’t act. It’s very important that the attorney has the chance to schedule a hearing to stop the DMV from removing your privileges because they can then subpoena witnesses and evidence that can help convey your innocence.

If you schedule the hearing yourself, you risk losing witnesses who may be unable to attend on the date you’ve scheduled, and it may be an inopportune time for your Newport Beach DUI lawyers too. Be sure to let the attorney know right away that you haven’t scheduled the hearing but that it needs to be done. They are experts at handling the situation and can potentially keep you from losing your license privileges.

Defending a DUI Charge

There are many different factors that contribute to the defense of a DUI charge. Not only will your attorney go over the details of the arrest with a fine-tooth comb, but he or she will ensure that all proper procedures were followed during your arrest. For instance, if the arresting police officer did not follow proper protocol, there’s a chance that all charges could be dropped. If your Miranda rights were not read to you, or if the breathalyzer machine was not calibrated correctly, the attorney can work to have the charges dismissed. Your blood alcohol level and toxicology reports will be gone over as well, as attorneys know exactly what to look for.

By quickly contacting an attorney as soon as you’ve been arrested and charged, you increase your chances of having competent representation and ensuring that your rights are protected. Our Orange County office is located at 183000 Von Karman Ave., Suite 720, Newport Beach, CA 92612, and you can reach us at (800) 522-6700.