Driving under the influence, or DUI, is the charge of driving or operating a motor vehicle while impaired by substances to the point that the driver is incapable of operating it safely. It covers a broad spectrum of activity and is a heavily legislated offense.
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 believes alcohol or drugs have impaired judgment to the point that they aren’t able to drive safely. A person can also be charged with a DUI of drugs (DUID) or DUI marijuana.
Some of the common terms associated with DUI charges are:
- Drunk driving
- Drunken driving
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
- Operating under the influence
- Drinking and driving
- Impaired driving
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 criminal defense attorney in San Diego like Bradley R. Corbett on your side, you could face a conviction of your charge and the maximum fines and penalties that go along with it. Bradley Corbett has personally handled hundreds of criminal cases, including 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 involve jail time, community service, and heavy fines. the California DUI law defines drugs as any substance (or combination of substances) that affects the brain, muscles, or nervous system in a way that negatively affects or impairs a person’s ability to drive correctly. This includes illegal substances such as marijuana, or legal substances like prescription drugs taken at illegal dosages.
While drunk driving and drugged driving are defined the same, law enforcement administers different tests to check for them. When someone is pulled over for drunk driving, a breath test is administered to determine how much alcohol is present in that 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. With extensive experience, 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 a DUI of alcohol and a DUI of drugs. Where a charge for DUI marijuana does differ, however, is in the prosecution’s ability to convict a person charged for this offense.
By law, if a substance or combination of substances “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 man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would drive a similar vehicle under like circumstances,” then it is illegal to operate a vehicle under its influence.
The prosecution in a marijuana impairment case must not only prove that marijuana was present in the person’s system, but that it caused impairment while driving. This is not as cut and dry as driving while intoxicated (DWI), with a breathalyzer test that can prove blood alcohol concentration. 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.
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 DUI marijuana charge, an experienced lawyer like Bradley R. Corbett can help. With his free consultation, you have nothing to lose.
The most common DUI laws in California are 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 blood alcohol limit, you can still be charged.
Bradley R. Corbett has handled hundreds of DUI cases and can advise you on the best defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Possible defenses include:
Everyone makes mistakes while they are driving. Drivers often temporarily take their eyes off the road when they look down to fiddle with the radio, glance at street signs, or check the speedometer. This can cause the car to swerve slightly. Just because a person 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. and gets in their car to 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. Once an officer pulls over a vehicle they must have probable cause for a DUI. If an officer pulled you over without the proper cause then this would be grounds to get all the evidence excluded.
INACCURATE BLOOD OR BREATH SAMPLE
Machines are not perfect and neither are the people in the lab. Mistakes are made when testing. These could include a malfunction in the machine or improper storage or transportation of the blood sample. These are things our firm looks into while assessing your case.
INACCURATE OBSERVATION OF FIELD SOBRIETY TEST
The field sobriety test that an officer administers is very difficult, and even sober individuals often make mistakes. An officer trying to administer this test in 15 minutes can be inaccurate and can miss signs of clear sobriety by the suspect.
ALCOHOL LEVEL ON THE RISE
After drinking, blood alcohol level varies over time. It can be dropping or it can be on the rise. This defense would apply in the following example:
Before leaving for a friend’s birthday party, he takes five shots with his brother to celebrate his brother’s graduation. Right after taking the shots, he drives to his friend’s house, who lives a mile away. Ron is pulled over on the way there. Feeling completely sober, Ron chooses to take a blood test because he knows there may be alcohol on his breath. A while later, Ron is taken to the police station to have the test administered, and at this point, he is feeling the effects of the alcohol. The blood test shows that he is above the legal limit.
However, 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) 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, depending on the facts of the case, get it dismissed.
When a person is charged with a DUI for the first time, the penalties commanded by the court are:
- Probation for three to five years
- Six months in county jail
- A fine of $390 to $1,000, plus other penalties that range from $500 to $1,000
- Three-month court-approved alcohol program
- A suspended license for six months
When a court commands a person to be on probation because of their DUI, the penalties include:
- The person may not drive with any amount of alcohol in their blood.
- The person shall not refuse to submit to a test of blood, breath, or urine.
- The person may not commit any other crimes.
- The person may be required to:
- Attend Alcoholics Anonymous
- Participate in Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- Make restitution
- Have an interlock device installed
PERMANENT CRIMINAL RECORD
In California, a person can avoid having a criminal record when charged with a first-time DUI by getting an expungement. This can happen if the person was placed on probation and completed the probation. If an expungement has been granted, the person may withdraw their guilty plea and get the case dismissed.
Wet Reckless Plea Bargain DUI Cases
A DUI arrest does not mean the person has been convicted. Appealing may reduce a person’s charge, which comes with a reduced sentence. A wet reckless plea bargain involving Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b), may be an option.
CALIFORNIA WET RECKLESS VEHICLE CODE 23103, PER 23103.5
The word “wet” in California applies to a driving offense involving alcohol or drugs. Wet reckless is a charge that can be offered as a plea bargain to substitute for a DUI. A DUI is usually reduced to a wet reckless when:
- The person’s blood alcohol concentration is close to .08%.
- There are weaknesses in the state’s case.
- The state would rather choose a wet reckless than risk losing everything at trial.
WET RECKLESS ADVANTAGES
A wet reckless charge involves no required jail time, regardless of how many DUI priors the person has committed. A person could potentially get:
- Reduced court jail sentence
- Shorter probation period
- Reduced fines
- No required license suspensions
- Reduced DUI school
WET RECKLESS DISADVANTAGES
The disadvantages of having a wet reckless are:
- The wet reckless will still count as a DUI if the person is charged with a subsequent DUI within a 10-year period.
- The person may still lose their license.
- The person’s insurance company may treat 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. Two qualifications must be met in order for a person to be convicted of a second DUI: 1) operating a motor vehicle and 2) a BAC of .08% or higher at the time of driving.
During plea bargaining sessions, DUI charges are usually reduced to wet reckless or dry reckless. However, if a person is charged with a second DUI the penalties are:
- Three to five years of probation
- A minimum of 96 hours and up to one year in county jail
- Fines of $400 to $1,000 and additional penalty assessments
- Required completion of an 18-month or 30-month California DUI school
- Suspension of a driver’s license for two years (after a full year the license may be turned into a restricted license)
PERMANENT CRIMINAL RECORD
A second DUI still has the possibility of being expunged and completely removed from a person’s record. An expungement can be granted if the person was placed on probation and they completed it. If the expungement is granted, the person may withdraw their guilty plea or have the case dismissed altogether.
Third Time DUI
A third-time DUI can be charged if: 1) the person was driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or 2) the person’s blood alcohol concentration was .08% or higher at the time of driving.
The penalties for a person being arrested for a third DUI are:
- Three to five years of probation
- Between 120 days to one year in county jail
- Fines of $2,500-$3,000
- Required completion of a 30-month DUI education program
- Driver’s license suspension for three years (after 18 months the license could be turned into a restricted license)
PERMANENT CRIMINAL RECORD
A third DUI chance has the possibility of being expunged and completely removed from a person’s record if the person was placed on probation and completed that probation. If the expungement is granted, the person may withdraw their guilty-plea or have the case dismissed.
AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY ON YOUR SIDE
If you’ve received a DUI in San Diego, you want the best criminal defense attorney on your side. Call the law office of Bradley Corbett immediately, and he’ll get started on your case right away.