In the state of California, drunk driving is considered a criminal offense. If you are convicted of drunk driving, you can have your license suspended, experience a raise in your automobile insurance, and expect to pay large fines and court costs. In some situations, a guilty conviction for drunk driving can lead to the loss of a job, probation time, or required jail time. If you’ve been charged with Driving Under the Influence in Riverside, California, it’s essential that you contact one of the experienced criminal defense attorneys today.
In the state of California, when under the influence of alcohol, you are considered illegally impaired at a certain Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. These depend on your age and other factors, like having passengers in your car.
California law states that an individual is operating a vehicle illegally with a:
The state of California considers a DUI as being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. If you have consumed drugs that are inhibiting your ability to operate a vehicle properly, even if you haven’t had anything to drink, you can still be charged with a DUI. This can include anything from illegal recreational drugs or medications prescribed by your doctor. If you have taken medicine for cold or allergies and are improperly operating a vehicle as a result, you can still be in jeopardy of receiving a DUI charge. Always be sure to thoroughly read the medication side effects before taking anything, and if you are unsure, don’t drive.
There are several potential consequences for a person who has been charged with and convicted of a DUI in the state of California. There are some penalties that are set into strict law, but typically a person’s legal consequences are dependent on a wide variety of factors. A first-time offender with a low BAC who did not cause any damage to persons or property can end up facing much lighter consequences than an individual who had a very high BAC. An individual with a high BAC who caused property damage and/or harmed other persons can face very serious ramifications. Having a Riverside criminal defense lawyer represent you can help alleviate some or all of the penalties brought against you in a California DUI criminal court.
Although the outcome can be very different on a case-by-case status, common penalties faced by individuals convicted of a first time DUI offender are:
Fines can start anywhere from $300 – $1000. There can also be additional penalty assessments that the driver has to pay, including Riverside DUI crimes court costs. You may also be liable for paying any booking fees and fees for any Adult Alcohol Education classes you can be required to attend. Typically, the total amount for a first time DUI offender is several thousand dollars.
First time offenders who require their vehicle for transportation to and from work or school are permitted to apply for the use of a restricted license. Having a restricted license means that the individual can start driving again right away with the use of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is a breathalyzer that is installed into the individual’s vehicle and is programmed to not permit them to operate it if they have a BAC of 0.01%. Even if you do not choose to apply for a restricted license, it’s typically that you may have to have an IID installed in your vehicle for up to six months after your license is reinstated.
In general, first-time DUI offenders in Riverside, California, are given three-year probation. This probation is usually considered informal, meaning that it is unsupervised, and you won’t have to have regular check-ins with a probation officer. During your probation, you can have to complete a DUI school that typically lasts three months – or 30 class hours. If you had a high BAC, you may be facing further probationary matters. An experienced DUI lawyer can help negotiate the terms of your probation.
There’s no mandatory jail time for a convicted DUI first-offender, but an individual can face anywhere from 48 hours to 6 months in jail. A solid, structured DUI defense from an expert attorney can help reduce the likelihood that you spend any time behind bars.
The state of California does not go lightly on individuals who have committed multiple DUI offenses. Although the fines and court costs are generally the same, the length of license suspension, jail time, and probation all vary.
For a second DUI conviction, an individual can have their driver’s license suspended for two years plus a one-year administrative suspension if their blood count was higher than 0.08%. These suspensions can run concurrently and be served at the same time. Second-time offenders can also apply for a restricted license and are required to use an IID in their vehicle for 12 months.
Third-time DUI offenders can face a three-year license suspension from the California criminal courts and an additional 12-month administrative suspension if they have a BAC of 0.08% or more at the time of the offense. Individuals convicted with their third DUI are permitted to apply for a restricted license and are required by California law to drive with an IID in their vehicle for two years.
Second- and third-time DUI offenders can face a minimum of three years to a maximum of five years of informal, also known as unsupervised, probation. If you are a second or third time DUI offender, you can likely have to attend an 18-month or 30-month DUI school, depending on what the judge thinks is best in your case.
In the case of a second DUI conviction, you can face four days to one year in jail. With the help of an experienced DUI attorney, you may be able to serve your time through an alternative work program or house arrest.
For a third DUI, you could spend 120 days to a full year in jail. If your Riverside DUI attorney works with the judge on the terms of your probation and you agree to a 30-month DUI school, you can spend as little as 30 days in jail.
In addition to legal consequences, an individual convicted of a DUI can face a range of penalties. Because your DUI can be accessible by your vehicle insurance company, you could experience higher rates from all insurance companies. In the worst case, your insurance company could withdraw coverage for your car altogether.
It is not unheard of for individuals convicted of a DUI to be terminated from work and have difficulty finding future employment. Within certain industries, there are additional consequences that can apply. For example, there are some instances where a medical professional could lose their license to practice if found guilty of driving under the influence.
If you or your loved ones are beginning the process of immigrating to the United States, even a minor offense like a first time DUI can hinder your progress. If you are an immigrant or non-citizen of the United States and convicted of a DUI, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact. It’s best to contact a Riverside criminal defense attorney right away.
The state of California has a no-tolerance policy for underage DUI drivers. If a person under 21 years of age is caught driving with a 0.01% BAC, they can face a penalty for an infraction of up to a one-year driver’s license suspension and a few hundred dollars in fines. If the individual has a BAC of 0.05%, they can be convicted of an official underage DUI, but the legal consequences are typically the same as the no-tolerance infraction, though individuals over the age of 18 can be court-ordered to attend a DUI school. If the underage driver has a BAC of 0.08% or more, they can face the same consequences as an adult over the age of 21.
An underage DUI conviction can carry more than the standard legal penalties. Insurance rates are already high for younger drivers, and in the case of a DUI on your record, that price can rise exorbitantly. In some cases, you could be dropped from your car insurance company altogether. An underage DUI conviction can impact your educational studies as well. You may lose any scholarships you currently have and become ineligible for them in the future. There are some higher-education institutions that cannot accept you into their programs if you have been found convicted of a DUI in California.
In Riverside, California, the court system is fairly straightforward. While no two cases are the same, there are standard measures that the court system has to adhere to for everybody. Here’s a general outline of what you might experience through the Riverside, California criminal court system:
The first step can be attending your arraignment hearing. During the arraignment hearing, you can have your charges read aloud to you by the judge. This is where you can state if you would like to plead “not guilty” or “guilty” to your DUI charges. You should always consult an experienced Riverside criminal defense attorney before making a plea in the criminal court.
During arraignment, your Riverside DUI attorney can receive all of the evidence the state has against you. This can include breathalyzer or blood test results, any eyewitness statements, police reports, and police body camera footage, if applicable. It’s essential to make sure that your attorney has as much evidence as possible to help them build your case.
The second step in the court system’s process is the pretrial conference. This happens relatively soon after your arraignment hearing is held and is usually the time when most of the plea bargains are made regarding DUI cases. A plea bargain is an agreement made between your defense attorney and the prosecution attorney. Taking a plea bargain means that you can plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for reduced consequences. Changing the terms of probationary periods, replacing jail time with community service, and negotiating a lower fine can all be potential reductions.
A common plea bargain taken by individuals charged with DUIs in California criminal court is the “Wet Reckless” plea. Generally, in order to be offered a Wet Reckless plea, this needs to be your first DUI offense, and there must be no property damage or harm to other persons done as a result of your intoxication while driving. If you take a Wet Reckless plea, your criminal and driving records can still state that you have been convicted of a reckless driving charge, but in exchange, you can face much less severe consequences. Individuals who take a Wet Reckless plea typically:
The pretrial conference is also where your Riverside DUI attorney can make any motions or requests against evidence, if appropriate. This includes motions to suppress evidence or have your case dismissed.
If you do not take a plea bargain and your case isn’t dismissed, you can move onto the trial stage in the California court process. This is where both your DUI defense attorney and the prosecution can present their evidence to a jury. Other individuals involved in the case, for example, your arresting officer, can be asked to testify at the trial. Trials can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on complications or if the jury is unable to reach a verdict.
Unlike a personal injury attorney who works on a contingency basis, DUI attorneys typically charge an hourly or flat rate.
If you are a first time offender and are facing minimal misdemeanor charges, the cost to hire an experienced Riverside DUI attorney can range between $1,000 – $10,000. In the event that your case is incredibly complex, or if you are being charged with a felony DUI, a knowledgeable attorney may charge up to $70,000.
Most attorneys can require a retainer or an initial payment before appearing in court. Some attorneys offer payment plans.
In the state of California, driving under the influence is considered a serious offense. Even first-time offenders need to make sure that they have the representation necessary to secure a good plea bargain or properly defend their case if not guilty. Without a Riverside DUI attorney advocating for your defense, you could risk losing any chance of lesser sentencing or the opportunity for a case dismissal.
If there is evidence in your favor and it is likely that a jury of your peers can side with you, going to trial might be in your best interest.
For example, if you were forced to provide a breathalyzer test in an illegal manner, the test was faulty, or you were stopped without probable cause, your attorney would be able to use that evidence to potentially have your charges dropped or the case dismissed. Your attorney can counsel you on the best steps for going forward with your case.
The time from conviction to the final day in court depends on a lot of variables. For a first-time offender, a typical case can take about two to six months before it is concluded. For second- or third-time offenders, the case can take anywhere from three to nine months. In the event the case becomes more complex or goes to trial, it can take even longer.
When convicted of a DUI, you shouldn’t have to face the California criminal court system on your own. The experienced Riverside DUI defense attorneys at U.S. Law Center can give you the confidence and guidance you need to secure the best result in your case. If you have been charged with a DUI, don’t wait any longer to find skilled legal representation. Contact us for a free consultation today.