Driving under the influence (DUI) is dangerous for the intoxicated driver and everyone around them. Even if a DUI driver does not cause an accident, they can still face severe legal penalties if they are arrested and convicted for DUI in California. The penalties for DUI escalate with multiple offenses. If you have a DUI conviction and then commit another DUI offense within ten years, the penalties for the second offense will be substantially harsher than the first. It is vital for all drivers to understand the risks of DUI and the penalties that are likely to follow DUI conviction in California.
In California, police cannot compel a driver to submit to a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) such as a breathalyzer exam to establish probable cause for DUI. While other states have stricter implied consent laws, California’s implied consent law for DUI testing only applies when the driver has been lawfully arrested for DUI. This means the arresting officer must establish probable cause without relying on a PAS test. The only exceptions to this law are drivers under the age of 21 that demonstrate evidence of intoxication behind the wheel and drivers who are on probation for DUI.
Once a driver has been lawfully arrested for DUI in California, the arresting officers will proceed with booking and administering a chemical test for DUI. At this point, the driver should take full advantage of their rights to legal counsel and to remain silent. Anything said during arrest or booking can be used against the suspect by the prosecution. An experienced attorney can help their client navigate the early stages of a DUI case, including their preliminary hearings and pre-trial motions.
California enforces several punishments for DUI, and these penalties increase when a driver has multiple DUI convictions within a ten year period. These penalties include:
It should be clear that the penalties for DUI conviction in California are more extensive than most people initially realize. This is why it is so crucial to secure reliable legal counsel when you have been arrested for DUI, especially when you are certain that the arrest was wrongful or unjust and you have done nothing wrong.
Defending yourself from a DUI case in California requires the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney. Your attorney must carefully review the details of your situation, including the circumstances of your arrest and booking, to ensure the arrest was lawful and followed the rules of due process. If it did not, or if the police violated your Constitutional rights in any way, your attorney provides the best opportunity possible for avoiding the severe penalties that come with conviction.
A good attorney will look for weaknesses and inconsistencies in the prosecution’s evidence and highlight them to maximum effect. They will also coordinate expert witness testimony on their client’s behalf, if necessary, to prove their innocence. For example, if there is any reason to call the handling of your chemical test results into question, or challenge the testing lab’s findings.
While it is possible to secure legal counsel for free from a public defender, you can expect a more robust degree of legal representation when you choose an experienced private defense attorney to handle your case. Most public defenders handle multiple cases at a time and will not be able to offer much individual attention to your DUI case.
If you or a loved one have been charged with DUI in California, it is vital to speak with an attorney immediately to determine your best available legal options. The Law Office of Daniel P. Flores can provide the comprehensive and compassionate defense counsel you need when you are concerned about the severe consequences a DUI conviction could have on your life. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about how our firm can assist in your defense.
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