Drunk driving is taken seriously in California. If you are convicted, you may face many substantial legal penalties, as well as social consequences such as difficulty obtaining housing, a job, or a professional license. However, you should not assume that a conviction and serious penalties are inevitable. An experienced Sacramento DUI attorney can investigate your case and determine potential strategies for a defense. If you are arrested and charged with drunk driving, the Folsom firm of Travis G. Black & Associates may be able to represent you.Fighting DUI Charges in California
It is illegal under California law to operate a motor vehicle with a .08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or higher if you are 21 years old or older. The California DUI law covers not only alcohol but also prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and over-the-counter medicines. If you are convicted, the conviction will stay on your driving record for 10 years, which is known as a "lookback period." The penalties depend on how many offenses you have during the lookback period, with a third or fourth offense being punished more harshly than a first offense.
If you fail or refuse a chemical test for a DUI, your license is taken in addition to the criminal penalties that you may face for a DUI conviction. You may request an administrative hearing within 10 days of receiving an order that your license has been suspended. However, refusing to submit to a chemical test after being pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving may lead to harsher penalties.
As with other criminal cases, a drunk driving charge must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This is often a difficult standard for the prosecution to meet. For example, it may be possible to attack the police procedures in your case and argue that your constitutional rights were violated. If you were stopped by the police without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, it may be possible to convince the court to suppress evidence obtained during the stop. Similarly, if a Breathalyzer machine was not calibrated appropriately, or an officer did not know how to properly administer a field sobriety test, it may be possible to get the test results thrown out. Without some of this evidence, the prosecution may not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Most first offenses are treated as misdemeanors as long as they do not result in injuries or death. The penalties for a first offense include summary probation, up to six months in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, an alcohol or drug education program, and a license suspension. However, in some counties, you may need to pay a fee to have an Interlock Ignition Device installed. This device requires you to pass a Breathalyzer test in order to start your vehicle. You may face much harsher penalties if you are convicted of a DUI involving serious injuries or death.Protect Your Rights by Enlisting a DUI Attorney in the Sacramento Area
Sacramento DUI lawyer Travis G. Black is a former police officer who can bring his experience and insights about law enforcement procedures to bear on a drunk driving case. Based in Folsom, Travis G. Black & Associates provides knowledgeable legal counsel to people fighting charges. Contact us online or call 916-962-2896 for a free appointment with a drunk driving attorney.