Law enforcement throughout the United States uses various methods for identifying impaired drivers, but most DUI arrests start with the police stopping a driver for erratic driving or moving violations. Impaired drivers are more likely to run stop signs, drive at excessively slow speeds, and hinder surrounding traffic. If the police stop a driver and detect alcohol in any way, this can form probable cause for a DUI arrest.
After police conduct a lawful arrest for DUI, they will administer a chemical test to the arrested driver to measure the driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). The legal limit for BAC is 0.08% for regular drivers and 0.04% for commercial drivers. For drivers under the age of 21, any detectable amount of BAC could lead to a DUI conviction.
Many drivers assume that the police check BAC by administering breathalyzer exams during traffic stops. A breathalyzer analyzes a driver’s breath to detect alcohol particles and reports a BAC percentage. However, a breathalyzer conducted during a traffic stop is a preliminary alcohol screening; drivers over 21 have the right to refuse preliminary screening, but they must submit to a chemical test following a lawful arrest for DUI. The only exceptions to this rule include drivers under the age of 21 and drivers on probation for prior DUI.
Potential Penalties for DUI in the Inland Empire
California state law prescribes escalating penalties for multiple DUI convictions that occur within 10 years. If you were convicted of DUI eight years ago and face a second conviction, the prior offense would influence your penalty for the second. In California, the penalties for DUI include:
- Fines up to $1,000, jail time up to 6 months, 3 years of probation, driver’s license suspension for 6 months or more, and a 3 or 9 month alcohol program for a first offense.
- Fines of $1,000 or more, jail time for 48 hours up to1 year, 3 to 5 years of probation, at least 1 year driver’s license suspension, and 18 month alcohol program for a second offense.
- Fines of $1,000 or more, jail time for 120 days up to one year, a 3 year driver’s license suspension, probation for 3 to 5 years, and an 18 month alcohol program for a third offense.
- Fines of $1000 or more, jail or prison time for at least 180 days to 16 months, 2 to 4 years driver’s license suspension, and 18 to 30 month alcohol program for a fourth offense, which is also a felony.
A fourth conviction within 10 years or a DUI resulting in serious injuries or death to another person qualifies as a felony DUI in California. The penalty for felony DUI can include 16 months to four years in prison, but if the offender killed someone, they could face vehicular manslaughter or second-degree murder charges that can mean 15 years or more in prison.
A DUI that causes injury, this is a wobbler offense, meaning it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the severity of the injury. The prosecution must prove that the driver’s neglectful driving or illegal driving maneuver caused the injury to the other party. If a misdemeanor, there is a 5 day to 1 year jail sentence and at least a 1 year driver license suspension. If a felony, there is a 2, 3, or 4 year prison sentence and a 5 year license revocation.
Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated carries a 4, 6, or 8 year prison sentence. However, if the driver has a prior DUI related conviction, then the prison sentence can be 15 years to life. Driver license revocation for 3 years.
Defending Yourself From DUI Conviction
It’s vital to work closely with an experienced Riverside, California DUI defense lawyer when you face any DUI conviction, including a first offense. Your attorney can help you prove your innocence or challenge the validity of the prosecution’s evidence to have your charges reduced or dropped. My SoCal Lawyers excels at exposing weaknesses in a prosecutor’s case. When we represent your DUI case, our first task will be to examine the conditions of your arrest to determine whether the police violated your constitutional rights or the laws of due process. If they did not establish probable cause to conduct an arrest, this could be enough to have a DUI case dismissed.
In more complex cases, your Riverside, California DUI defense attorney will challenge the prosecutor’s evidence, including calling the validity of the chemical test into question, assessing whether the lab responsible for processing the test result is a reliable establishment, and providing evidence that contradicts the prosecution. Ultimately, every DUI case is unique. A driver facing conviction for DUI must have a carefully crafted defense and the help of an experienced Riverside, California DUI defense lawyer to avoid the most serious penalties.
If you or a loved one was recently arrested for DUI in the Inland Empire, My SoCal Lawyers could provide the legal guidance you need to approach this situation with more confidence. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with a reliable Riverside California DUI defense attorney.