Don’t let a DUI turn your life upside down. Fight it now with an experienced and respected San Diego DUI defense lawyer on your side. Dod Law, APC, of Vista, California, defends the rights and freedoms of clients across San Diego County.
A DUI charge can hinder you for an indefinite period, while you face extensive fines and incarceration. Losing your license and ability to drive creates hardship in your day-to-day life and can also be damaging to your reputation. Led by attorney Dod Ghassemkhani, our San Diego criminal defense law firm will advocate for you in seeking the best results possible. A reliable and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, Mr. Ghassemkhani has 17 years of legal experience and worked on more than 6,500 criminal cases. Don’t delay in getting the trusted legal help you need. Contact San Diego’s trusted DUI Defense Attorney at Dod Law and learn your legal options.
What to Expect After a DUI Arrest in San Diego
DUI’s are considered misdemeanors under California state law. However, any violators face severe consequences. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in San Diego, here’s what you can expect:
- Your driver’s license will be immediately suspended following your DUI arrest. The only way to prevent this is to submit a request for a DMV hearing in time to attempt to avoid it.
- You will attend an arraignment where you submit your plea. Your case may go to trial unless your attorney negotiates an outcome where a trial is unnecessary. Should your case go to trial, it will be decided by a jury.
- Your lawyer will develop a robust defense with you to win your case. Strategies may include proving that your rights were violated, undermining the arresting officer’s testimony, or finding other gaps in the evidence against you.
- If you’re found guilty, you will face steep penalties that may include fines, incarceration, education programs, rehabilitate treatment, a suspended driver’s license, restricted driving privileges, and more. The severity of penalties depends on whether you’re charged with a repeat offense, injuries involved, and the judge’s discretion. If you’re convicted, an experienced DUI attorney can help you negotiate less severe penalties.
Types of DUI Charges & Their Penalties
California law holds a separate set of penalties for a first-time DUI conviction that gradually escalates in severity for a second, third, and subsequent DUI offense. Drivers in California must drive without violations for ten years before a previous DUI conviction is no longer considered.
Because of the tiered penalty system, DUI laws in California are incredibly complex. For example, if two people with the same blood alcohol content (BAC) were arrested for a DUI, one may face different penalties than the other, depending on whether there were previous DUI convictions.
Consider various DUI charges and minimum penalties in California below:
First-Time DUI Convictions Can Lead To Serious Consequences
Many clients don’t realize how serious the punishment can be in a DUI conviction. For a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense, you face:
- Up to $1,000 in fines and additional penalty fees
- Up to six months in jail
- Driver’s license suspension for four months
- Payment of a $125 license reinstatement fee
You may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle to monitor future attempts at drinking and driving, and attend an approved DUI rehabilitation program. Penalties may increase if you have multiple DUI arrests and convictions. Your charges could also be more severe if there are aggravating circumstances such as having a child age 14 in your vehicle at the time of your DUI, or if you caused an injury while driving drunk.
Second-Time DUI Offenses & Minimum Penalties in California
The minimum penalties for a second-time DUI offense in California include:
- At least 96 hours in jail
- Completion of 18-month or 30-month alcohol treatment plan
- Mandatory installation of an interlock device on all owned vehicles
- Driver’s license suspension for at least one year
- Payment of a $125 license reinstatement fee
Keep in mind that these are the minimum penalties. Many California drivers who face a second DUI violation and choose not to partner with an experienced attorney may face harsher penalties that include extended time in jail up to one year and a license suspension up to two years.
Third & Subsequent DUI Convictions & Penalties
The minimum penalties for a third and subsequent DUI offense in California include:
- At least 120 days in jail for a third offense, or 180 days for a fourth or subsequent offense
- Completion of the long-term 30-month alcohol treatment plan
- Driver’s license revocation for at least three years for a third offense, and four years for a fourth offense
Without taking an alcohol treatment plan, DUI offenders may not ever get their driver’s license back. Again, these are minimum penalties for a third or subsequent DUI violation. Depending on the circumstances, violators may face up to one year in jail for a third DUI, or 16 months in state prison for a fourth or subsequent DUI. Additionally, your vehicle may become impounded for three months, or you may lose your vehicle to the state of California.
DUI offenders may be placed on probation after any DUI offense. First-time DUI offenders can face at least three years of probation, which could be extended. If you violate any laws or are caught drinking and driving while on probation, additional and harsher penalties will be imposed on you for breaking the probation term.
DUI Expungement in California
A DUI conviction can affect your life long after you’ve served your sentence. Even if your DUI didn’t cause an accident, it will show up as a conviction on your job applications. It may keep you from enrolling in higher education, obtaining a position at a company you want to work for, and may even work against you when you look for a place to live.
If you’ve been convicted of DUI in the past, you should know that it may be possible to expunge your DUI from your criminal record in California. What this does is withdraw your guilty or no contest plea. The case is then dismissed; however, your DUI will still count as a prior offense if you commit another offense of driving under the influence. Your DUI will also count as a prior offense for DMV purposes. After your conviction is expunged, employers may not use it against you when reviewing your application or considering you for a promotion.
If you’re interested in striking your DUI from your record and obtaining a clean start, talk to attorney Dod about your expungement options in California. He will review the details of your conviction thoroughly to inform you whether you are eligible for an expungement and guide you on the best actions to take to petition the court.
How Does the Legal Process of a DUI Case Work in California?
A DUI arrest in San Diego is a stressful and challenging ordeal for anyone to face. The legal process begins immediately after the arrest, and defendants should waste no time securing trusted legal representation. The legal process can be less intimidating if you know what to expect.
Starting from the beginning, the legal process of a DUI case in California involves the following steps:
- Arrest: After being stopped for driving under the influence, the office would place you under arrest and bring you to the police station. There, you’d be processed and booked in jail. Your license would be taken away and replaced with a temporary one that expires in 30 days unless you persuade the DMV otherwise.
- Lawyer: You are not required to hire a lawyer, but doing so can significantly benefit your case. Having a trusted and experienced San Diego DUI lawyer dedicated to your case is an investment in our future and could be the difference between freedom or incarceration.
- DMV Hearing: Immediately after your arrest, your California driver’s license will be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles, called an “administrative suspension.” If you move quickly, you have ten days to file a request for a DMV hearing. This hearing is your only opportunity to mitigate the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. You want to have your lawyer representing your best interests during this hearing to have the best chance of securing your driving privileges. After ten days, there is no reversing the suspension.
- Arraignment: The arraignment is the first court hearing for your DUI case. Your lawyer and the prosecution stand before the judge and present their respective arguments, and you’ll enter your plea. This hearing is typically short, and there is no jury present.
- Pre-Trial: Many DUI cases are resolved before they go to trial. During the pre-trial phase, the prosecution reveals all evidence found against you. Your attorney can examine the evidence and search for holes that may help your case, like if your rights were violated or the evidence was collected unjustly. Your attorney has the prime opportunity at this point to negotiate a deal for you, which ideally involves reducing the charges to something lesser than a DUI.
- Trial: If the prosecution refuses to negotiate or if their case is weak, your attorney will recommend going to trial. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it can be risky because you may be punished with the harshest extent of penalties or walk away free of charges. Having an experienced trial attorney is vital to create doubt in the juries’ minds about the circumstances and ideally acquit you of all charges.
The DMV Hearing
You must request a DMV hearing at the first opportunity to avoid an automatic license suspension. You have just ten days to make this request before it’s too late. You’ll also want to be sure you secure a DUI attorney to represent you during this hearing.
DMV hearings are not lengthy, and sometimes take place over the phone. During the hearing, you’ll be asked the following questions:
- Was it reasonable for the officer to believe that you were driving under the influence?
- Were you lawfully arrested?
- Was your BAC 0.08% or higher?
You want to be very careful how you answer these questions. The arresting officer will have documented reasons for stopping you, and you may not know exactly what your BAC was at the time. Securing a knowledgeable DUI lawyer in San Diego to represent you during the DMV hearing will benefit you in many ways. Your attorney can subpoena the arresting officer, which could expose errors in how you were arrested.Most importantly, your attorney can help you construct compelling responses to the DMV officer’s questions.
California’s Implied Consent Laws
WHAT ARE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS IN A CALIFORNIA DUI?
After law enforcement pulls you over under suspicion of DUI in San Diego, the investigating police officers will conduct field sobriety tests to establish probable cause for arrest. These tests may include the following tests, validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as being reliable:
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
- The Walk-and-Turn
- The One-leg Stand
These physical and mental exercises help police officers understand if you’re intoxicated and to what extent. Performing poorly on these tests may be a sign of impairment from alcohol or drugs, and will lead to a DUI arrest. Field sobriety tests, however, are not the most accurate tests, and drivers in California may decline to take them without facing any penalties.
CAN I REFUSE A BREATH OR BLOOD TEST?
While you may refuse field sobriety tests without penalty, you may not refuse to take a chemical test such as a breath or blood test without hurting your case. If you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test, you may face:
- Increased penalties
- A mandatory driver’s license suspension
Your license will be suspended whether or not you are found guilty of DUI. This is because of California’s implied consent law. Implied consent is the concept of consenting to certain actions ahead of time. When you apply for your driver’s license, you consent to submit to chemical tests like breath, blood, and urine tests if you’re ever investigated for DUI. You cannot receive your California driver’s license if you don’t agree to these terms. The consent only applies to breath and other tests that are done after a lawful DUI arrest.
DUI suspects may refuse to take preliminary alcohol screening tests before they’re arrested. Police officers perform these tests with portable breath test devices. These devices aren’t considered as accurate as those used at the police station. Still, if you consent to a portable breath test before your DUI arrest, the BAC it produces may be used against you in court.
CALIFORNIA’S IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICE LAW
Some first-time DUI offenders may be placed on probation and required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) into their vehicles. Ignition interlock devices force you to submit a clean breath sample before starting your car. These devices are expensive to install and maintain, but, if you’re ordered to use one, you will have to cover all the costs.
California’s new IID law passed in 2018 and requires all repeat DUI offenders and first-time DUI offenders who caused injury to install an IID for 12-48 months. Courts also have the discretion to order an IID for a first-time DUI that did not result in injuries. A first DUI offender may be sentenced to use an IID for up to 6 months.
When you’re sentenced to install an IID in your car, you must have the device professionally installed. You must also install one in each vehicle you own and drive, except company vehicles. It’s up to you to keep up with maintenance and ensure it is properly calibrated before use.
CHALLENGING YOUR BAC RESULTS IN CALIFORNIA
Drivers accused of DUI might feel like all hope is lost when the prosecution has evidence against them, such as BAC results that show their level of alcohol in their blood exceeded the legal limit. There are many reasons why this line of thinking is misguided.
There are several ways your attorney can challenge the results of your BAC test in California.
- Dozens of substances can interfere with the results of a breath test. Whether you are on medication or used mouthwash, your BAC results may be flawed. You may have falsely tested at or above 0.08%, leading to your arrest.
- Blood testing is also prone to error. Your attorney will investigate how your sample was used to uncover any mistakes on the part of the police officers, hospital staff, and lab workers.
- Police officers must adhere to a strict set of procedures when they investigate DUI, and there are dozens of rules for conducting a breath test. Officers often make mistakes throughout the entire investigation that can cause their findings to be invalid and unusable in court.
Attorney Dod has the experience you need to review all the details of your case to ensure you’re represented fairly in court.
Speak With an Experienced San Diego DUI Attorney at Dod Law Today!
Even a first-time DUI can have lasting consequences in California. Dod Law in Downtown San Diego has the knowledge, experience, and success record you need. DUI defense attorney Dod Ghassemkhani is a skilled criminal defense attorney who has worked on more than 6,500 criminal defense cases. He has a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating, and named on The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers list. Available 24/7, he focuses his practice exclusively on criminal and DUI defense. Contact him for a free consultation in San Diego at 619-814-5110 or in Vista at 760-814-6025.
Frequently Asked Questions About DUI in San Diego
Do I have to take the field sobriety test?
You do not have to submit to any field sobriety test or a handheld (PSA/ Preliminary alcohol screening) breath test on the side of the road. However when you were taken into custody you must submit to either a blood or breath sample or your license will be suspended for one year.
How can a DUI lawyer help me?
You will need an experienced DUI lawyer to navigate you through the minefield. A DUI has license implications with the DMV and criminal implications in criminal courts. You must contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest or your license is automatically suspended. An experienced DUI lawyer will put a stop to that suspension and schedule a hearing.
How much will it cost me to hire a San Diego DUI attorney?
The cost depends on the facts of your specific case and your criminal history.