Drunk driving is one of the most common criminal charges in California, and it’s one that can have a significant adverse impact on the future of the defendant and his loved ones. However, with the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney, it is possible to beat a California misdemeanor or felony DUI charge. If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles, 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.
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.
The subsets of Vehicle Code § 23152 VC DUI are Vehicle Code § 23152(a) VC driving under the influence of alcohol, Vehicle Code § 23152(e) VC driving under the influence of drugs, and Vehicle Code § 23152(f) driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs. Some offenses related to California DUI include Vehicle Code § 23153 VC DUI causing injury, Vehicle Code § 23582 VC DUI speed enhancement, Vehicle Code § 23572 VC DUI with minor passenger, Vehicle Code § 23221 VC drinking alcohol in a vehicle, and Vehicle Code § 23103 VC reckless driving.
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. 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.
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 Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer today to find out how you can fight your DUI charges and move on with your life.