Driving under the influence (DUI) is not only extremely dangerous, but it’s also a serious crime in California. A DUI arrest and conviction can have far-reaching consequences on your life that last for years to come. If you were arrested recently in the Fullerton area for DUI, it’s vital to connect with a Fullerton DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to start building a defense against the charges you face.
California prosecutors tend to pursue DUI cases aggressively. Without the right legal representation, you may face the full range of potential consequences from a conviction. An experienced Fullerton DUI defense attorney can help you determine your available defenses, analyze the actions of the law enforcement officers who handled your arrest and identify procedural errors to help you minimize your penalty.
California state law upholds harsh sentences for DUI convictions. The court will assess any “aggravating or mitigating” factors that come into play. The severity of the offense and the number of prior DUIs an offender has on their record are two of the most important aggravating and mitigating factors. For example, an individual arrested at a DUI checkpoint – when they caused no harm to others and did not contribute to an accident – will likely face a much lighter sentence than an individual with prior DUI convictions who caused a serious accident due to new DUI.
If you were convicted of DUI within the last ten years, it will count as a prior conviction in a new DUI case. The penalties for DUI escalate with subsequent offenses. A first-time DUI conviction in Fullerton could lead to fines between $390 and $1,000, plus penalty assessments based on the convicted driver’s behavior. A first-time DUI offender may also face 48 hours up to six months in jail based on the severity of their current offense. They will also face a six-month driver’s license suspension that will run in tandem with a four-month administrative suspension issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
A first-time DUI offense will also lead to three years of probation, during which time the offender must complete a three-month drug and alcohol education course, including 30 or more classroom hours. If the offender had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .20% or higher, they must attend a nine-month course and complete 90 hours of classroom time. The legal limit for BAC in California and the rest of the US is .08% for most drivers over 21.
The penalties for DUI will continue to escalate based on the number of the offender’s prior convictions:
For a fourth offense, the offender can expect to lose their driver’s license permanently and face much harsher penalties. If any aggravating factors come into play, such as an injury or fatality caused by the DUI incident, the offender could face misdemeanor or felony charges in addition to state-level penalties as well as civil liability for the victims’ damages. For example, if a DUI accident were fatal, the driver convicted of the fatal DUI could face second-degree murder charges that lead to 15 or more years in prison in addition to civil liability for the wrongful death of the victim.
If you face a DUI charge, it’s essential to work with an experienced Fullerton DUI defense attorney as soon as possible so you can determine your best available defenses. Many California drivers are not fully aware of their rights, nor do they know the full scope of law enforcement’s responsibilities when it comes to conducting DUI arrests and booking procedures. In many cases, police officers make critical mistakes. Sadly, some may even knowingly obfuscate the facts to pursue their convictions. A Fullerton DUI defense lawyer can help their client determine the best possible defense in a DUI case.
All California drivers should know that they do have a legal obligation to submit to an official chemical test following a DUI arrest. This test is part of the implied consent provided when they obtain their California driver’s licenses. However, there is no legal obligation to perform field sobriety tests. Police officers commonly request drivers suspected of DUI to perform various field sobriety tests that judge balance, coordination, and divided attention to determine if they are under the influence. The police may also attempt to pressure a driver suspected of DUI into submitting to a breathalyzer examination, a preliminary BAC screening, but this is not a legal requirement. The police officer conducting your DUI traffic stop for DUI must establish probable cause to conduct an arrest for DUI.
Your Fullerton DUI defense attorney will review the police report of your arrest and determine whether the police followed proper procedures in your arrest and booking. If it is revealed that the police made critical procedural errors, this may be enough to have a DUI case dropped in some situations. In others, procedural errors and hazy evidence could potentially lead to diminished DUI penalties, such as avoiding a full DUI conviction and receiving a minor reckless driving charge instead.
The state of California can provide you with a public defender free of charge, and public defenders are dedicated and experienced attorneys. However, they cannot provide the level of individualized representation you would receive from a private defense firm like the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC. If you need a Fullerton DUI defense attorney, our firm can help you determine your best available defenses and assist you in fighting the charges you face. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a consultation with an experienced Fullerton DUI defense lawyer.