Churchgoers this past Sunday church-goers received more than just an uplifting message at their service. At approximately 3:15 pm a suspected DUI driver crashed into their Hacienda Heights gathering. Three people were injured and had to be transported to local hospitals.
Drunk Driver Crashes into Church Gathering
Just after 3:15 p.m. on Sunday LA County Sheriff’s responded to a call about a traffic collision involving a structure on the 14900 block of Clark Avenue in Hacienda Heights. According to witnesses at the scene, church services had just concluded. The attendees were still gathered in the area when the vehicle crashed into the building.
One witness recounts that one of the victims pushed kids and a woman out of the way of the charging vehicle and took the force of the vehicle. A female pastor was also struck by the vehicle. A third victim was standing by the doorway, just inside the building, where the car made contact with the structure. All three of the church attendees that were injured were transported to local hospitals.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of the vehicle was arrested on suspicion of DUI. The suspect was transported for injuries sustained in the crash.
Drunk Driving Charges in Los Angeles
Drunk driving is one of the most common criminal charges in Los Angeles. It can have a significant adverse impact on the future of the defendant and his or her loved ones. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, you’ll want to immediately hire a skilled criminal defense attorney that knows how to handle these types of cases. Defending yourself can be terrifying and complicated, especially with the long-lasting penalties associated with a DUI conviction. You could go to jail, incur significant fines, have an ignition interlock device installed in your car, lose your license or have your driving privileges restricted, or be required to participate in a DUI treatment or education program. When facing DUI charges in Los Angeles, it is important that you speak to a lawyer who has experience handling Los Angeles DUI cases, so you can understand your rights under the law and determine the DUI defense strategy with the highest chance of success. Consult our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to determine how to best proceed with your case.
What to Do If You Are Charged with DUI
If you are arrested and charged with DUI, there are a number of first steps you should take:
- Immediately after arrest: Use your right to remain silent. This is one of the most important things to remember. After your arrest, a police officer will try to get you to admit you are under the influence. Often times they will use a variety of tactics – including telling you that if you confess they will go easy on you. Don’t fall for it. The only reason police officers act this way is to try to elicit a confession. They are doing their jobs by trying to gather as much evidence as possible. Stop talking and don’t answer any of their questions without having a lawyer present.
- You will need to act fast after the arrest. If you are arrested and charged with drunk driving you will receive notification of your pending license suspension, and a form with instructions to request a hearing. You can either set up the hearing yourself or you can ask your lawyer to do it. Regardless of what you choose, this needs to be done immediately because you only have 10 days to act. From the date of your arrest, you have 10 days to request a hearing from the DMV, or your license will be suspended.
- Get proper legal advice.
Affordable DUI Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
Most people arrested for a DUI in California assume the evidence against them is unmistakable, but that is often not the case. Police officers sometimes conduct improper roadside investigations, interfering substances and certain medical conditions may result in abnormally high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) readings, and breathalyzers and blood testing may be prone to error, among other potential blunders that could affect your case. An experienced criminal defense lawyer knows how to capitalize on these issues to win cases and may be able to get your DUI charges reduced to a lesser offense, negotiate a lighter sentence with a plea deal, or convince the prosecution to drop the charges altogether. Our legal team will work tirelessly to examine every aspect of your case and will exhaust every resource at our disposal, possibly including interviewing witnesses, reanalyzing blood samples and examining the maintenance history of the breathalyzer used in your arrest. Contact our DUI defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today for a free initial DUI defense consultation.
California DUI laws make it a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, meaning your physical or mental abilities are impaired to the point of being unable to drive as well as a cautious sober person would. DUI charges affect a lot of people in Los Angeles and throughout Southern California, often because drivers get behind the wheel of a car without realizing that they consumed enough alcohol to put them above the legal limit. In the state of California, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08% for drivers 21 years old or older operating a regular passenger vehicle, 0.04% for drivers operating a commercial vehicle, and 0.01% for drivers younger than 21 years old. However, under the California Vehicle Code, even if your BAC is below the legal limit, you could face DUI charges if there is clear evidence you were driving dangerously or erratically but not clear evidence that you were over the BAC limit. In this case, the prosecution can argue that, even though your BAC was not that high, your driving was affected to the point of being unsafe.
Conviction for DUI Vehicle Code § 23152 (a)
California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) is a “subjective” offense, which means the strength of the Los Angeles prosecutor’s case relies heavily on the observations of the arresting officer, who will provide detailed information about your physical appearance, your driving pattern and your field sobriety test performance. The officer will likely testify that you were driving erratically, swerving or weaving through traffic; displayed the “objective signs of intoxication,” which include slurred speech, red and watery eyes, an unsteady gait and an odor of alcohol on your breath; and failed to perform the field sobriety tests as demonstrated. In order to get a Los Angeles DUI conviction, the prosecution will have to prove the following elements of the crime:
- That you drove a vehicle; and
- When you drove, you were under the influence of alcohol.
Whatever the circumstances of your DUI arrest, you have the right to fight the DUI charges and the loss of your driver’s license. And no matter how strong the prosecution’s case against you may seem, a skilled Los Angeles DUI defense attorney can use his or her knowledge of the California criminal justice system and DUI laws to poke holes in their argument.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction
A DUI is a complex criminal charge, and the penalties for a DUI conviction can vary depending on several factors, including whether anyone was injured, whether you have any previous DUI offenses, and how severe the judge presiding over your case is.
There are three immediate possible consequences:
- $15,000 Fine – One DUI conviction can cost you up to $15,000. That amount includes fines, court fees, and any other expenses that can potentially be tacked on for a DUI offender. That $15,000 fine can completely change your life.
- Loss of License. Even if you are not convicted, you can still lose your license if you do not schedule your hearing within 10 days of arrest.
- Jail Time – A first time DUI can carry jail time. A first-offense DUI can mean up to 6 months in jail with a minimum 3-day sentence. A judge can waive this as part of probation. A good attorney is the best way to ensure that a judge does so.
For drivers 21 years old and older, a first DUI offense is a misdemeanor punishable by immediate license suspension or revocation for six to 10 months, up to six months in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines, plus a mandatory DUI program and installation of an ignition interlock device. As a second or subsequent misdemeanor offense, DUI carries increased penalties, meaning longer jail time and more costly fines, in addition to other penalties. Felony DUI is punishable by 16 months, two years or three years in state prison and/or up to $1,000 in fines, plus license suspension or revocation for four years and mandatory DUI school for 18 or 30 months.
For the purpose of calculating DUI penalties, a previous drunk driving offense counts for up to 10 years. So, if you have a prior DUI conviction from nine years ago and you are arrested for another DUI, the new arrest would count as a second offense, even though a great deal of time has passed since the previous offense. For a second or subsequent offense within 10 years of the prior offense, driver’s license suspension or revocation is elevated to at least one year. Some Los Angles DUI offenses also fall under California’s “Three Strikes” law, which imposes longer jail sentences, heavier fines and longer (or permanent) license revocation for certain repeat offenders convicted of serious or violent felonies, such as drunk driving accidents resulting in severe injuries or death.
Additionally, if you injure people or cause structural damage you may face additional charges. While it’s unclear exactly what charges the driver who injured three people at the Church over the weekend faces, what is clear is that he needs to immediately hire an attorney to defend his DUI charges.
Defense to DUI Charges
A drunk driving charge may seem like the end of the world, but you do have options after your Los Angeles DUI arrest. There are strategies you can use to get your charges reduced to a lesser offense, negotiate a plea bargain or win your case during trial, and with a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney on your side, you may be able to successfully fight your drunk driving charges. Some possible defenses to DUI charges in Los Angeles include:
- Alcohol was not the reason for your driving issues
- The “objective signs of intoxication” that the officer observed were due to fatigue, illness, allergies, sun exposure or other factors
- Field sobriety tests don’t accurately measure impairment
- The arresting officer did not have probable cause to make the initial stop
- Illegal arrest
- A lack of evidence
- You did not appear intoxicated during field sobriety tests
- Administrative mistakes related to blood and breath tests
- The police failed to follow proper procedure in your arrest
- Your Constitutional rights were violated
Hiring an Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
A DUI is a serious, life-changing criminal offense that can destroy your reputation and a conviction can carry devastating consequences, including incarceration and significant fines, plus a misdemeanor or felony on your permanent record. DUI convictions stay on your driving record for 10 years and one slip-up can result in a lifetime of paying the price. Not only does a good DUI defense attorney know what to expect from the arresting officer’s testimony and the prosecution’s case, he or she knows the best way to challenge it and cast doubt on your guilt in the eyes of the court. If you have been arrested for or are being charged with a Los Angeles DUI, don’t risk your freedom and your future and don’t give up your legal rights without first speaking to a lawyer who has experience handling Los Angeles DUI cases. Contact our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to find out how you can fight your DUI charges and move on with your life.
Your Defense Team
If you are facing criminal charges in California, our defense team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles can help. Whatever the circumstances of your case, we are committed to representing our clients in an aggressive and professional manner, and we will ensure that you understand the charges against you, so you can make educated decisions about your future on your own.