Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible is the best course of action once you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Santa Rosa DUI lawyer Johann Hall has the skills and experience to help you defend yourself against these charges. Since DUI convictions stay on your driving record for ten years, it is vital to speak with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney right away after you have been charged.
Driving Under the Influence in the State of California
According to California state law, it is illegal to be operating your vehicle if your blood alcohol content level is .08% or higher. Additionally, if you are driving a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is just .04%. For drivers under the age of 21, the legal limit drops down to .01%.
In California, driving under the influence isn’t just limited to alcohol. It is also illegal to operate a motor vehicle if you have consumed illegal drugs. You can also be charged with driving under the influence of prescription medications or certain over-the-counter medications, especially those that contain alcohol.
License Suspension Procedure – Administrative Hearing
One important reason you’ll want to secure an attorney to represent you for your charges is that there are two major components to the penalties you can face for DUI. Not only will there generally be criminal court proceedings in your case, but you will also be required to go through the administrative court process regarding the suspension terms of your license. The administrative hearing will proceed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
California’s Three Strikes Law
Your case may be more complicated if it falls under California’s Three Strikes Law. Originally enacted in 1994, California’s Three Strikes Law requires a defendant convicted of a new felony to be sentenced to state prison for twice the term that would otherwise have been required, in the event they had previously had a prior conviction of a serious felony. If a defendant is convicted of any felony with two or more “strikes” (previous such convictions), then the law requires a state prison term for 25 years to life.
In 2012, this law was amended to add the requirement that for a defendant facing their third strike, this third strike felony must be a serious or violent felony in order to qualify for the 25 year to life sentence for a third strike. Because DUI offenses in California may fall under the Three Strikes Law under certain circumstances, it is extremely important to speak with a Santa Rosa DUI attorney such as Johann Hall if your case involves serious injury or death, or if you have a prior DUI conviction involving death.
Legal Consequences of Your First DUI Charge
There are multiple legal penalties that you may face upon getting charged with a DUI. For your first DUI, you may receive a license suspension for up to six months. You’ll also be subject to a fine of up to $1,000, not including court costs, and the possibility of spending six months in jail. It is also possible that you will be required to install an ignition interlock device and attend a DUI class.
Legal Consequences of Subsequent DUI Offenses
For second and subsequent DUI charges, the legal penalties are more serious. A second DUI can lead to a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,800, not including court costs. Another consequence is that your license can be suspended as well for up to two years.
California’s Implied Consent Law
In California, while you do have the ability to refuse to take a Breathalyzer test, your refusal will likely cause you to suffer harsher penalties because of California’s Implied Consent Law. Under this law, your refusal of the test for your first offense may result in your license getting suspended for one year.
Legal Defenses to a Charge of Driving Under the Influence
A Santa Rosa DUI attorney can help you formulate the best defense for your DUI charges. Your lawyer will be able to review and assess the specific facts of your case in order to determine the best way to represent you. Below are some common defenses used to defend against DUI charges. One or more of these may be able to be used as a defense in your case, though it will depend on the facts and circumstances of your charges.
- Lack of Probable Cause
- DUI Breath/Blood Test Errors
- Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests
- Police Misconduct
- Medical DUI Defenses, such as GERD, Acid Reflux, Ketosis
- Poor Driving Skills (not impaired driving)
- Failure of the Officer to Read You Your Miranda Rights
Get Help from Johann Hall
If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, it’s crucial that you speak to a DUI attorney. At the Law Offices of Johann Hall, we will help you to understand what you’ve been charged with and have the experience to defend yourself from these charges. Call us at (707) 360-8717 or fill out our online contact form.