Articles Posted in DUI

Under most circumstances, driving under the influence (DUI) in California will result in misdemeanor charges being filed against you. Most of the 200,000 people arrested for DUI will be charged with a misdemeanor offense.

These are the many people pulled over by a police officer who subsequently smelled alcohol on their breath and conducted a DUI investigation. Under California law, a person is intoxicated if they are driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater.

As long as there are no factors that would result in enhanced charges, a person would most likely face nothing more than a misdemeanor charge for their first, second and even their third DUI. However, if you have had three DUI convictions within the ten year look back period from the initial arrest, you will be facing California felony DUI charges with your fourth DUI arrest.

If your DUI resulted in injury or death to another person you will face felony DUI charges. The injury can be to a passenger in your vehicle, the driver or passenger in another vehicle or a pedestrian. A DUI with injury is sometimes referred to as a “wobbler” because it can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the extent of the injury and the county of the arrest.

If your DUI resulted in the death of someone you will be charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, which is a felony. In these cases, the death will be said to have been caused by ordinary or gross negligence of the intoxicated driver.

If the circumstances surrounding the death of another person while you were drunk are egregious enough, you can be charged with second degree murder. In these cases the death will be said to have been caused by malice or malice aforethought — a conscious disregard for human life. These charges are by far the most severe and are filed against repeat DUI offenders. They are called “Watson murders” because of a 1981 California Supreme Court case that allowed for the crime of second degree murder for repeat drunk drivers who cause a death. Everyone convicted of a DUI in California has to sign or acknowledge being given a Watson advertisement. That acknowledgement essentially states that you acknowledge how dangerous it is to drive under the influence and agree to be charged with murder in California if you kill someone while driving under the influence.

Finally, it is also possible for you to be charged with a felony DUI, for even a simple misdemeanor DUI arrest, if you have a prior felony DUI conviction. So, even a simple misdemeanor DUI arrest with no aggravating circumstances will escalate to a felony if you have had a prior felony DUI.

A felony DUI with bodily injury comes with stiff penalties, such as two to four years in a California State Prison, fines of up to $5,000, mandated 30 month DUI school and a driver’s license suspension of five years. You will also be designated as a habitual traffic offender (HTO) for three years.

A vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated will result in fines of up to $10,000 and up to four years in a California State Prison. The facts surrounding your arrest may cause the punishment to escalate. A gross vehicular manslaughter conviction will result in four to ten years in prison. If you are charged with gross vehicular manslaughter and have two or more prior DUI convictions, you could face 15 years to life in prison.

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First of all, do not drink and drive! If you have been drinking, it is always best to catch a ride with a designated driver or call a cab. The cost of a cab ride home is much less expensive than having to fight a DUI.

However, there are some things that you can do to avoid attracting the attention of a police officer, getting pulled over and being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI).

For example, always make certain that your turn signals, tail lights and head lights are working. In addition, make sure your inspection sticker and license plates are up-to-date. There are too many times when a person who has been drinking is stopped not for the way that they are driving, but because a head light or tail light is out. When the police officer comes to the driver’s window, they smell alcohol on your breath and a DUI investigation ensues.

When you are driving, do not go too fast or too slow. These are things officers look for when they are searching for reasons to pull a vehicle over, especially in areas that have many bars and restaurants. Certain areas such as this are known to be popular spots for police to write a DUI. Do not forget to turn on your headlights if they do not come on automatically. Do not forget to put your seat belt on. Do not attempt to eat, text, make phone calls, adjust the stereo or do anything that will cause you to drive erratically. Especially avoid swerving, going off the pavement, not signaling turn and lane changes, stopping too quickly or too far away from traffic signals.

Keep in mind that officers on patrol who are looking for impaired drivers will have particular hours that most arrests occur. They will begin around 10:00 p.m. and escalate after midnight until 3:00 a.m. Avoid traveling if at all possible during those prime times.

Do not drive through fast food facilities. Not only are police watching those facilities for late night hunger attacks by people who have been out drinking, the facilities themselves can detect you are drunk and alert the police.

Most of all you need to be courteous and respectful to the officers. This can go a long way to how you appear on the police video that is being shot from their cruiser. Be polite and on your best behavior because how you appear can be used as evidence for or against you.

Unfortunately, once the DUI investigation begins, there is little you can do to keep from being arrested and taken to jail. No matter how many times the officer tells you that you will be let go if you pass one test or the other, that simply is not true.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a dangerous trend among approximately 14 million women in the United States. That trend is binge drinking. The latest statistics released show that this group “binge drinks” roughly three times per month and average six alcoholic beverages each time. The definition of binge drinking, according to the study, is having four or more alcoholic beverages per outing for women or girls.

These signs are problematic because the dangerous behavior is not just limited to high school and college aged females. Furthermore, such activity results in over 20,000 deaths per year for women and girls in the U.S. It is also documented that binge drinking leads to increased risks of sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, breast cancer and heart disease, among other things. For pregnant women, binge drinking can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders and SDS, or sudden infant death syndrome.

According to the report:

• One out of eight women and one out of five high school girls admitted to binge drinking.

• Of the high school girls that consume alcoholic beverages, 50% admitted to binge drinking.

• White and Hispanic females were most likely to binge drink, in addition to women whose household earnings topped $75,000.

The CDC study consisted of a telephonic survey in 2011 of some 278,000 women and 7,500 high school females.

The frightening thing about this study is that these 14 million women and girls are going to attempt to get home after a night on the town or binge drinking at a friend’s house.

The result of making that decision to drive home after drinking can be life changing. Certainly where the average number of drinks consumed is six, many people are going to have consumed eight or ten. In virtually every instance where you have consumed six or more drinks, you will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) if pulled over in California. Pursuant to California law, it is a crime to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more.

If you are convicted of DUI while speeding, having a child in the car 14 years old or younger, or having a BAC of .15 or more, the fines and penalties will be enhanced.

Even if you don’t get behind the wheel to drive, you can be arrested under the California Penal Code for being drunk in public (DIP). Determining factors are if the arresting officer feels that your state of inebriation is such that you are a danger to yourself or others, or that your intoxication level interferes with the use of public sidewalks and other common areas.

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Out of the 200,000 people arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California every year, many are driving under the influence of drugs. California Vehicle Code section 23152 states that it is unlawful for an individual to drive or operate a motor vehicle while under the influence or drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both.

This does not mean the drugs need to be marijuana, cocaine or some other form of illicit drug. Any type of drug that alters or otherwise impairs an individual’s thinking and reaction times will suffice, causing you to potentially be arrested for driving under the influence in California.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has just released a new set of guidelines for the extremely popular sleeping pill Ambien.sAmbien is distributed by Sanofi and sold in other forms as Edluar by Meda Pharmaceauticals and Zolpimist by NovaDel Pharma. The active ingredient for all of these sleep medications is zolpidem. However, many other sleep aid medications that do not contain zolpidem can also have the same side effects.

Due to new studies confirming that zolpidem stays in patient’s system longer than initially thought, the FDA is requesting that doctors reduce the recommended dosage from ten milligrams to five milligrams in women. If the drug is in the extended release form, the dosage should be reduced from 12.5 milligrams to 6.25 milligrams. Due to the fact that the drug is slow to metabolize.sThe FDA is also asking doctors to consider reducing the dosage for men, as well.

The studies have revealed that the estimated 40 million people who take sleeping pills are at risk of injuring themselves and others due to morning drowsiness. Many people taking Ambien showed significant zolpidem blood levels the day after taking the medication, which could impair thinking, reaction times, and the ability to drive or operate machinery.

Dr. Carol Ash at Meridian Health in New Jersey stated that driving to work for many patients the day after taking the medication is “essentially like driving drunk.” She also warned of the addictive nature of the insomnia drugs and urged the millions who take them to seek alternative solutions.

If you are stopped and the police officer feels that you are “impaired,” you can just as easily receive a DUI for taking Ambien or some other prescribed insomnia drug. It is no different than having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. The fines, penalties, driver’s license suspension and other attendant costs attached to a DUI charge will be the same even though you had not had a sip of alcohol to drink.

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Making the decision to drive after drinking can be a very expensive mistake in judgment. The average expense of a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest is approximately $10,000. This includes the bail, fines, towing and storage costs, DUI school costs, ignition interlock device (IID) installation costs and legal fees, among other things.s

Under California law, a person is driving under the influence if they have a blood alcohol content of .08 or greater. If you are stopped and you have a breathalyzer reading of .08 or more, you will be arrested. If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and you are stopped, you will be considered driving under the influence if your BAC is .04 or more. If you are under the age of 21 or on probation for a DUI, your BAC only has to be .01 or more to get arrested. Following the arrest, you will be taken to jail and booked, requiring bail to be released.

If at the time of the arrest you have a passenger 14 years old or younger in the vehicle, the fines and jail time will be enhanced. Enhancement will also apply to situations where you are exceeding the speed limit on a freeway by 30 mph or 20 mph on other roadways. Finally, if your BAC is .15 or more the fines and penalties will be enhanced.

Following the police stop, you will be asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests (FST) to evaluate your balance and coordination. Usually the officer has already reached a conclusion about your impairment at this point and you will be going to jail regardless of your performance. However, it will all be recorded for evidence on the camera in the patrol car.

As a first time DUI offender you will usually not face any jail time but this can depend on where the DUI occurred and any extenuating circumstances. You can expect a driver’s license suspension of several months and be ordered to attend a DUI school. Fines will be approximately $1,500 or more depending on other aggravating factors.

If you are a second, third or fourth time DUI offender you will face more serious fines and penalties. A second DUI will result in up to a year of jail timesand a two year driver’s license suspension, in addition to an eighteen month DUI school. Fines will normally exceed $1,500 and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on your vehicle. A third time DUI offender will get up to a year in jail and a three year driver’s license suspension, in addition to being ordered to attend DUI school. If you have more than three DUI convictions within the ten year look back period, you will face a felony DUI charge and be sent to prison for up to three years.

The cost of an attorney can be approximately $5,000 or more, depending on the charges. Towing and storage charges are roughly $500. Ignition interlock devices cost about $100 for installation and approximately $75 per month for monitoring. Fines will start at approximately $1,500. Having your driver’s license reinstated will cost approximately $125. In addition to these expenses, your vehicle insurance costs will skyrocket.

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Anyone who causes an injury to another person while driving under the influence (DUI) faces serious charges and might even be charged with a felony DUI. Under California Vehicle Code 23153, an individual will generally be facing a felony charge, depending upon several factors, including the type and extent of the injury.

Since 1989, the law in California states that an individual is legally driving under the influence if his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or greater. It has remained the same for the last 23 years.

“Injury” can mean anything from bruises or a broken finger to major injuries and hospitalization. The only real distinction is that it must be something more than having been shaken up. The injury can be to the driver or passenger in another vehicle, a passenger in the intoxicated driver’s vehicle or a pedestrian.

A DUI with bodily injury is often called a “wobbler.” This means that it can be a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI, depending on whether you have a prior DUI or a criminal background; what county the offense occurred in; and the type of injury the other person sustained.

A person is considered to be “under the influence” if their physical and mental abilities are impaired to the extent that they cannot drive as carefully as a sober person would under the same or similar circumstances.

If you are charged with a felony DUI, you can possibly go to prison for two to four years, in addition to considerable other fines and penalties. These fines and penalties can be enhanced if the victim involved suffered great bodily injury (GBI). The court will assess fines of up to $5,000 and order attendance at a court approved DUI school for 30 months, in addition to suspending your driver’s license for five years. You will also be designated as a habitual traffic offender (HTO) for three years.

Having a felony DUI conviction on your record can have major ramifications that will last a lifetime, particularly if your job entails driving. You will lose your job. Even for individuals who do not drive for a living, it will make obtaining employment difficult when employers conduct criminal background checks. It will also make obtaining car or mortgage loans more difficult, as well as getting into a college or university of your choice.

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linebreak__When individuals are faced with a DUI, they often are so concerned about being arrested, being put in jail, having their license suspended, hiring an attorney, fines, penalties and DUI school that they fail to comprehend the long-term ramifications of their actions. Here are just some of the problems a DUI conviction can cause you.

If you are a truck driver, a chauffeur, a delivery person or have a company car, you might lose your job. The reason for this is that the liability of having someone drive their trucks, vans or cars, after having a DUI conviction, is too great.

If you are seeking employment, your permanent criminal record showing a DUI conviction can cause employers to pass you over. The hiring process will normally involve credit checks and criminal background checks and this could prove to be fatal in your attempts to obtain employment.

A DUI conviction can cause you difficulty if applying to get into a college or university. It also can serve to disqualify or hinder you if your job requires state licensing or certifications, such as attorneys, doctors and teachers.

Your automobile insurance will likely skyrocket. Your driver’s license will be suspended and you will need to obtain a California SR22. This is proof of having met the state’s minimum requirement for automobile liability insurance. This can be very expensive and because of a DUI conviction you will typically wind up in a high-risk insurance pool.

Following a DUI conviction, spouses, family, friends, co-workers and employers may lose some respect for your ability to make good decisions. This can result in embarrassment, humiliation, depression and anxiety. Additionally, some will simply assume that you have a problem with alcohol.

First time DUI offenders are normally charged with a misdemeanor DUI. However, the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest are such that penalties are enhanced you could be facing a felony DUI. A felony DUI charge can also result from multiple DUI convictions, DUI with injury and a vehicular manslaughter charge. Felony DUI charges all carry considerable time in the California State Prison.

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A relatively common question that criminal defense attorneys hear is, “Can someone get a DUI while taking prescription medications?” The answer is, yes. Under the California Department of Motor Vehicles Vehicle Code, Section 23152, it is unlawful for any individual to drive a vehicle while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, or under the combined influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs. This includes drugs that are legally prescribed to the operator of a vehicle.

Most people think that drugs mean marijuana or some other type of illicit drug. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The taking of a lawfully prescribed medication can impair thinking and reaction times, resulting in individuals being charged with a DUI in California.

Some of the most common prescription medications that lead to a DUI arrest are Vicodin, Demerol, Dolophine and Oxycontin. These are narcotic analgesics used to relieve pain. Vicodin or Hydrocodone is one of the most universally prescribed pain killers. However, this and other prescription medications prescribed for pain management come with warnings advising that taking the medication can cause impaired thinking, decreased reflexes and decreased reaction times, making it unsafe to drive or operate machinery. The warnings also advise of the dangers of mixing the medication with other drugs or alcohol.

Remember, simply having a valid prescription for Vicodin, or any other prescription medication, will not be enough to get the charges dismissed or suffice as a defense to the DUI charge.

California police officers are trained to look for certain signs and symptoms exhibited by individuals taking drugs, such a Vicodin. Some of those are constricted pupils, drowsiness, droopy eyelids and slowed vital signs.

Just as in any other DUI case, the prosecutor’s case will largely depend upon the arresting officer, blood and urine testing and the Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE).sA DRE is a specially trained officer who has successfully taken the California Highway Patrol CHP) Drug Recognition Program and is certified in identifying and prosecuting drug impaired individuals.

The penalties for operating a vehicle under the influence of prescription medications are the same as any other DUI. If it is a first time offender case, which accounts for the vast majority of DUI cases, the charge is a misdemeanor. The penalties will be a fine of approximately $1,500, several months driver’s license suspension and a court ordered attendance in an approved California DUI school. Rarely is there any jail time given for first time offenders, unless there are aggravating circumstances at the time of the arrest.

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Many times people ask criminal defense attorneys whether they can be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) if they were not driving their car. The simple answer to that is, yes. However, it depends on the facts and circumstances. Particularly, it depends on where you and your keys were found in your vehicle.

One situation is where a person leaves a bar or restaurant after having too much to drink and decides to wait and sober up before attempting to drive home. He or she sits in the driver’s seat, with the keys in the ignition and falls asleep listening to the radio. The engine does not have to be running.

The next thing they know is there is a police officer shinning a flashlight through the driver’s side window and asking the individual to step out of the vehicle. The usually occurs when a police officer notices a car in an empty parking lot, parked on the street or on the side of the road with a person sitting or slumped over in the driver’s seat. At this point, the officer becomes suspicious, investigates the situation and determines that the individual has been drinking and their ability to drive is impaired due to alcohol.

Under these circumstances, this individual would end up being charged with a misdemeanor DUI. How can that happen when they weren’t driving the car? The determining factor is whether an individual is in physical control of the vehicle. By sitting in the driver’s seat and having the keys in the ignition, whether the engine is on or off, an individual is normally considered to have physical control of a vehicle. The idea is that given these facts, an individual has the ability to put their vehicle in motion while under the influence.

Even if a person is sleeping it off in the back seat can be a bad idea, especially if the keys are in the ignition. A reasonable argument can be made by the prosecutor that an individual under these circumstances could easily have physical control of the vehicle and set it in motion. Sleeping it off in the back seat of a car is questionable but there are certainly sufficient ways to argue that an individual under those circumstances did not have physical control. This is better than being up front and near the controls.

Remember, the determining factors are where an individual is in the vehicle and where the keys are. Being anywhere in the front seat or in the driver’s seat is a bad place to be if an individual has been drinking. It is important that the ignition keys remain in his or her pocket or purse and away from the ignition. They could also be in the glove compartment or the console. Essentially, the keys should never be in the ignition and the engine should never be running.

For your own safety and the safety of others, have someone drive you home or get a cab.

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When the prosecutors are trying to convict someone of a Driving Under The Influence Charge, they must prove two separate elements beyond a reasonable doubt. 1) That the person was under the influence and 2) that the person was driving.

It may often be straightforward to prove that a person is intoxicated, especially when they have submitted to a blood alcohol test and the date results demonstrate a BAC present in their blood stream. Driving on the other hand, may not be as easy to prove in all cases.

Lets consider two different examples, one in which driving is straightforward, and another in which it is not.