DUI Defense Attorney Referral Service
Drinking and driving can expose you to serious legal ramifications in California where DUI laws are strictly enforced. These laws apply to all persons, including minors who may not be aware that as little as a 0.01 blood alcohol percentage can constitute a DUI charge.
What is DUI?
DUI stands for “driving under the influence”. DUI laws generally prohibit anyone from driving or operating a motor vehicle when their blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeds certain limits. BAC limits vary according to the driver’s age and type of vehicle.
Young people aged 20 and under cannot legally drive with a BAC percentage of at least 0.01%. A person aged 21 and older cannot drive then their BAC is at least 0.08%, while drivers of commercial vehicles are not allowed to drive when their BAC is at least 0.04%.
Are DUI and DWI the same thing?
In San Fernando Valley, California, DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated”. DUI and DWI are used interchangeably and refer to the same offense although the proper legal term is DUI. You may be charged with DUI if:
- You are caught driving with a BAC of at least 0.08;
- If you are under 21, the BAC percentage which constitutes DUI is at least 0.01;
- Your driving is impaired due to consumption of alcohol or other substances, even if your BAC is below 0.08.
Penalties for DUI violations may include:
- Jail time
- License suspension
- Completion of a court-approved DUI program
- In certain cases, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) which prevents your vehicle from starting unless you pass a BAC test.
The state of California takes DUI offenses seriously and imposes higher penalties for subsequent offenses. DUI offenses also remain in your record for a period of 10 years. A second and third offense committed within a 10-year period will merit longer jail time of up to one year, fines of up to USD $1,000.00, driver’s license suspension of up to three years, installation of the IID, and completion of a court approved DUI program.
In California, DUI laws also apply to the use of other substances while driving. You may be charged with DUI if you drive while having consumed prescriptive medicines, over-the-counter medicines, illegal drugs, and excessive amounts of drugs containing alcohol such as cough medicine.
Breathalyzer or blood alcohol test
Furthermore, in California, you may be compelled to take a breathalyzer or blood or urine test when suspected of drinking and driving. Refusal to take the breathalyzer or blood test can expose you to penalties such as a one year license suspension for the first offense. Second and third offenses are punishable by a two year license suspension.
How can I benefit with the assistance of a DUI defense attorney?
Professional opinion: Every DUI case is different and defense lawyers are trained and experienced in analyzing the legal facts and issues of this charge. Factors such as your metabolism can also affect the outcome of a chemical test. A lawyer can assess the quality and weight of the evidence against you and plan the appropriate defense strategy for you.
Knowledge of court procedures: Trial practice involves complex procedures which can be confusing for non-lawyers or minors. An attorney’s skills in trial technique can remove the confusion and hassles of learning court procedure and boost your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
Plea bargaining: When you are interested in entering a plea bargain where you will plead to a lower offense such as ‘wet reckless’ or reckless driving involving alcohol, it is best to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf.
A criminal DUI defense attorney can inform you of all your legal options based on an assessment of your situation. You should consult a lawyer if you are arrested and charged with an offense.
Contact the Attorney Referral Service of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association for a referral to an experienced DUI defense attorney that will help you prepare your defense for the best possible outcome. A referral from the ARS is fast, easy and convenient. The attorneys referred by the ARS are local, reputable, well established, and ready to fight for you.