To be in violation of California’s DUI laws, you have to be driving while your physical or mental abilities are impaired because of consuming alcohol, while under the influence of alcohol by either having a BAC of more than 0.08%, if you are 21 or over, or 0.01% if you are under the age of 21; while under the influence of a combination of drugs and alcohol. Things differ if you are driving a commercial vehicle. If this is the case, it only needs to be proven that you had BAC level of over 0.04% or more if you are over the age of 21 as opposed to the usual 0.08%. It might also be the case that you can be charged with a DUI if you are taking prescription drugs that impair your ability to drive either physically or mentally. If your blood concentration is over 0.08% no further evidence is needed to prove that you were driving impaired. You will be charged with DUI.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in California. If you are charged with a DUI, not only will you be facing criminal charges, but the Department of Motor Vehicles will attempt to suspend your license either temporarily or permanently, depending on the severity of the charges. Unlike other types of criminal charges where you are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, when you are charged with a DUI you will likely have to fight the DMV to retain your license until your criminal charges go to court. When you are arrested and charged with DUI, you will have ten days to request a hearing to reinstate your license. The hearing you must request is called an Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearing. If you don’t request an APS, the DMV will suspend your license anywhere from four months to as many as three years, depending on your circumstances and driving history. During the hearing, the DMV is required to prove three specific components in order to suspend your license. They have to show that the officer who made the arrest had reasonable cause to suspect that you were under the influence; that your arrest was lawful; and that you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was over 0.08% if you are over the age of 21. If you are under the age of 21, then the DMV must show that you had a BAC of over 0.01%, due to Zero Tolerance Laws.
DUI With Injury
If you are convicted of a DUI that results in the injury of someone, then it becomes a much more serious situation. DUIs causing injury are commonly charged as felonies, even if it’s your first DUI. Because of the severe consequences you face from a felony conviction, it is important for you to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
DUI with Priors
If you are driving in California, you should be aware that they have a ten year “look-back period.” That means that if you are arrested for DUI and have a prior record of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol within the past ten years, then you will face increased penalties in court. Both the court and the DMV will consider your DUI a repeat offense.
Having DUI priors in your ten year “look-back” period can affect the severity of: bail, sentencing, fines, alcohol education classes, length of driver’s license suspension, and jail time.
Prior convictions include conviction for DUI, reckless driving that involved alcohol (wet-recklessness), or DUI with injuries. It is also possible to be charged with multiple DUIs even if you have not yet been convicted in a court of law. For instance, if you are arrested and charged with a DUI while awaiting trial for a second offense, making this arrest your third one, you can be convicted for multiple DUI’s if they all occur within the ten-year time span. With each offense, the charges, fines, and penalties increase, which is why it becomes even more critical to seek proper legal representation.
California Penal Code 191.5(a) defines gross vehicular manslaughter as any incident where a defendant is driving while under the influence, engages in egregiously negligent acts, and those acts result in another person’s death. To be charged with DUI manslaughter it must be shown that: you drove while under the influence; you committed another unlawful act that might have caused significant injury or death to another; you acted with gross negligence; and your negligence led to the death of another.
Gross vehicular manslaughter is a felony charge and can result in the driver being sentenced to state prison for anywhere between four to ten years if found guilty. The state of California will also suspend your license if you are charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while under the influence.
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