Driving under the influence, or DUI, is a heavily legislated offense that covers a broad spectrum of activity. Ultimately, a DUI involves a driver consciously taking the wheel when under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and other impairing substances. Some of the more common terms associated with DUI charges are:
- Drunk driving
- Drunken driving
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Operating under the influence
- Drinking and driving
- Impaired driving
In California, it is against the law to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or greater. However, even if a person’s BAC is below the .08% limit, an officer can still charge them with a DUI if they fail field sobriety tests or if the officer finds that their mannerisms allude to intoxication. In addition to alcohol intoxication, a person can also be charged with a DUI of drugs (DUID) or DUI marijuana.
Why You Need a San Diego DUI Lawyer
The California DUI process is lengthy and complicated. Not only does it lead to arrest and license suspension, it can also result in costly fines, probation, jail time, and sheriff work programs. Additionally, a DUI conviction that goes on your record can result in other negative consequences such as increased insurance premiums and lost employment opportunities.
Without an experienced San Diego DUI attorney like Bradley R. Corbett on your side, you could face not only a conviction of your charge, but the maximum fines and penalties that go along with it. Bradley R. Corbett has personally handled hundreds of criminal cases, many of which include DUI charges. Our highly specialized team of legal professionals will defend your case in court to help you get your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Been Arrested for DUI/DWI in San Diego area? Watch this:
DUI of Drugs in California
Just as it is illegal to drive while intoxicated, operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs is also a serious crime that can involves jail time, community service, and heavy fines if found guilty. DUI of drugs can involve driving while under the influence of illegal substances such as marijuana or even legal substances like prescription drugs taken at illegal dosages. In short, the California DUI law defines drugs as any substance that affects the brain, muscles, or nervous system in a way that negatively affects or impairs a person’s ability to drive correctly.
While drunk driving and drugged driving are defined the same, they are carried out by different tests administered by law enforcement. When someone is pulled over for drunk driving, a breath test is administered to determine how much alcohol is present in a person’s bloodstream. Since marijuana and other drugs will not register in a breath test, the individual may be subject to a blood test, and in some cases, a urine test.
For an officer to administer these tests legally, all they have to do is have reasonable suspicion based on observed behavior that includes:
- Physical appearance
- Erratic driving
- Incriminating statements
If you’ve been charged with a DUI of drugs, don’t wait to call Bradley R. Corbett, an experienced San Diego DUI attorney. Having handled hundreds of DUI cases, he and his skilled legal team can help you get your charges reduced or dismissed.
DUI Marijuana in California
Driving while under the influence of marijuana is also considered a crime in California, and the charges associated are just as serious as those for DUI of alcohol and a DUI of drugs.
By definition, all of these charges are the same by law, stating that if the substance “affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle in a manner that any ordinarily prudent and cautious an, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like circumstances,” then it is illegal to be operating a vehicle under its influence.
Where a charge for DUI marijuana does differ, however, is in the prosecution’s ability to convict a person charged for this offense. Unlike a breathalyzer test that can prove blood alcohol concentration, the prosecution in a California DUI marijuana case must be able to not only prove that marijuana was present in the person’s system, but that it caused impairment while driving. Because the ingestion of marijuana doesn’t always lead to impairment on all stages, the charge of impaired driving due to marijuana can be difficult for the prosecution prove.
It is also important to recognize that while there are California laws in place protecting those using marijuana for medical purposes, law enforcement can and will investigate the validity of medical claims for the use of the drug when a DUI is involved.
If you or a loved one is facing a California DUI marijuana charge, call the most experienced San Diego DUI marijuana lawyer, Bradley R. Corbett. With free consultations always offered, you have nothing to lose.
VC 23152(a) and VC 23152(b)
The most common DUI laws in California are as follows driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, under California Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC, and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater, pursuant to California Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC. In California it is very common to be charged with both offenses. This means that even if you are below the legal limit, you can still be charged with DUI.
Everyone makes mistakes while they are driving. Often people look down to check something or look at the speedometer or look over for street signs temporality taking their eyes off the road. This can cause the car to have a slight swerve. Just because one was driving poorly does NOT mean that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The police need reasonable suspicion to pull over a suspect. Just because an individual is leaving a bar at 2 a.m. with other people, and that they get in their car and drive is NOT enough for reasonable suspicion. The officer can look at all the surrounding circumstances but has to actually have some sort of reasonable suspicion, or see a violation to pull over a vehicle. If you ever drink alcohol before driving, make sure you do not break the law while driving and that your vehicle is up to code. If the officer pulled you over without the proper cause then this would be grounds to get all the evidence excluded.
Innacurrate blood or breath sample
Machines are not perfect and neither are the people in the lab. Mistakes are made, from either a malfunction in the machine, to improper storage or transportation of the blood sample. These are things that our firm looks into while assessing your case.
Innaccurate observation of field sobriety test
The field sobriety test that an officer administers is often very difficult and sober individuals often make mistakes. An officer trying to administer this test in 15 minutes can be inaccurate and he/she can miss signs of clear sobriety by the suspect.
Alcohol level on the rise
One’s blood alcohol level varies throughout the night. It can be dropping or it can be one the rise.
Example: Ron decides to go to his friend’s birthday party. Before leaving he take 5 shots with his brother to celebrate his brother’s graduation. Right after taking the shots he drives to his friend’s house. Ron’s friend lives at the end of the street about a mile away. Ron is pulled over on the way there. Feeling completely sober Ron decided to take a blood test because he knows that there may be alcohol on his breath from just taking the shots of alcohol. A while later Ron is taken to the police station to have the test administered. At this point he is feeling the effects of the alcohol. He has his blood taken and he is above the legal limit.
The problem here is that there is no way to prove that Ron was ABOVE the legal limit at the time he was driving. At the time he was driving his blood alcohol level would have been much lower because it was still on the rise.
First Time DUI
To prove a person is guilty of a first time DUI the State of California must show the person was 1) Driving a motor vehicle and 2) The person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or had a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher. A criminal defense attorney can usually get first time DUI charges reduced to a lesser offense such as wet reckless, dry reckless, or just dismiss the case depending on the facts of the case.
When a person is charged with a first time DUI, the penalties commanded by the court are 1) The person faces probation for three to five years 2) Six months in county jail 3) Between $390-$1,000 fine plus other penalties (Between $500-1,000) 4) Three month court approved alcohol program 5) The person will have a suspended license for six months.
Usually when a court commands a person to be on probation because of their DUI the penalties include 1) The person may not drive with any amount of alcohol in their blood 2) The person shall not refuse to submit to a test of blood, breath, or urine 3) The person may not commit any other crimes. Also a person may also be required to 1) Attend Alcoholic Anonymous 2) Participate in Mothers against drunk driving 3) Restitution and 4) Installation of an interlock device.
Permanent Criminal Record for First Time DUI
A person can avoid having a criminal record when charged with a first time DUI in California by getting an expungement. A person may expunge a DUI, if the person was 1) Placed on probation and 2) Completed the probation. If the person has been granted the expungement the person may withdraw their guilty plea and get the case dismissed.
Wet Reckless Plea Bargain DUI Cases
A person being arrested for California DUI does not mean the person has been convicted for a DUI. Appealing a DUI may reduce a person’s charge, which comes with a reduced sentence. Plea Bargaining comes into play which involves Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b).
California Wet Reckless Vehicle Code 23103, per 23103.5
The word “wet” in California is when a person has been involved in driving offence involving alcohol or drugs. A wet reckless is a charge that can be offered as a plea bargaining session as a substitute to a DUI. A DUI is usually reduced to a wet reckless when 1) The person’s blood alcohol concentration is close to .08% or 2) There are weaknesses in the states case or 3) The state would rather choose a wet reckless than risking losing everything at trial. There are advantages and disadvantages to a wet reckless.
A wet reckless charge involves no required jail time, regardless of how many DUI priors the person has committed. A person could potentially get 1) Reduced court jail sentence 2) Shorter probation period 3) Reduced fines 4) No required license suspensions 5) Reduced DUI school.
The disadvantages of having a wet reckless are 1) The wet reckless will still count as a DUI if the person is charged with a subsequent DUI within a 10 year period 2) The person may still lose their license 3) The persons insurance company may treat it a wet reckless as a DUI.
Second Time DUI
A person’s punishment increases with each consecutive DUI or wet reckless charged within a 10-year period. There are two elements to meet in order for a person to be convicted of a second DUI. They are 1) Operating a motor vehicle and 2) The person had a Blood Alcohol Concentration .08% or higher at the time of driving.
During Plea Bargaining sessions DU charges are usually reduced to wet reckless, or dry reckless. However, if a person is charged with a second time DUI the penalties are 1) Three to five years of probation 2) A minimum of 96 hours and up to one year in county jail 3) Fines between $400-$1,000 and additional penalty assessments 4) The person must complete an 18 month or 30 month California DUI school 5) A persons drivers license would be suspended for two years, and after a full year a persons license may be turned into a restricted license.
Permanent Criminal Record for Second Time DUI
A second DUI chance has the possibility of being expunged and completely removed from a persons record. A person is able to get an expungement if 1) The person was placed on probation and 2) The person has completed their probation. If the expungement is granted then the person may withdraw their guilty-plea or have the case dismissed all together.
Third Time DUI
A person’s punishment increases with each consecutive DUI or wet reckless charged within a 10-year period. There are two ways that must be satisfied to meet a third time DUI. They are 1) The person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs or 2) The persons blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher at the time of driving.
The penalties for a person being arrested for a third time DUI are 1) Between three to five years of probation 2) Between 120 days to one year in county jail 3) Between $2,500-$3,000 in fines 4) The person completes a 30 month DUI education program 5) The persons three year drivers license is taken away and after 18 months the license could be turned into a restricted license.
Permanent Criminal Record for Third Time DUI
A third DUI chance has the possibility of being expunged and completely removed from a persons record. A person is able to get an expungement if 1) The person was placed on probation and 2) The person has completed their probation. If the expungement is granted then the person may withdraw their guilty-plea or have the case dismissed all together.
If you experience a situation where any defenses apply please make sure to call the law office of Bradley Corbett immediately.
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