It is unlawful for anyone in the state of California to drive while intoxicated. Driving under the influence of any drug, whether it is a legal or banned substance, comes with penalties that become increasingly harsher, depending on other factors such as injuries to people or damage to property. The consequences you face as a result of a DUI include suspension of your license, fines, jail, probation, and mandatory participation in an alcohol education program.
If your DUI resulted in someone getting injured or killed, then the charge changes from a misdemeanor to a felony. If the injuries were minor, however, then there is a possibility that you will be charged under the misdemeanor section of the statute instead.
During the arrest, it is expected that the police act in accordance with proper policies and procedures. In order for the stop to be legally valid, they must have had probable cause for pulling you over. Probable cause can include things like a traffic violation, being stopped in a DUI checkpoint, or suspicion of DUI pursuant to an accident. If you are taken into custody, the police will advise you of the implied consent warning prior to asking if you’ll submit to a breath test. When you were issued your driver’s license, you agreed to submitting to a BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) test if requested by law enforcement. It is within your rights to refuse, but your license will be suspended for a period of one year for a first refusal and two years if you’ve already refused to submit to a breath test in the past. A refusal may also result in jail time and alcohol education courses.
Your first three DUI offenses are considered misdemeanors unless one of the DUIs resulted in injuries or death. The fines for all DUI misdemeanors, unless it results in an injury, will not exceed $1,000. Penalty assessments are added by the court, however, which can significantly increase the amount of the fine. With your first offense, your exposure is six months in jail, and for your second or third offense, you could be facing up to a year in jail. The court will also determine how long your license is suspended for and how long you will have to attend an alcohol education program.
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Felony charges are considered far more serious than misdemeanors, so they come with heavier consequences. Absent aggravating circumstances, most DUIs are misdemeanors. If you have, however, accumulated three prior DUI convictions in a 10-year period, you will be charged with felony DUI.
If you are on probation for another drug or alcohol-related offense, then you may also be subject to harsher penalties. This is why it is important to discuss your particular case with a DUI attorney about prior convictions and penalties.
The “implied consent” laws require that minors must submit to a breathalyzer test.
A diligent and successful Los Angeles DUI attorney will work to reduce your charges so you can get back on the road again. Contact C. Robert Brooks and learn more about your rights under California law.