In California, driving under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) is an exceptionally serious offense. While most cases generally involve misdemeanors, the District Attorney may also charge the crime as a felony under certain circumstances, such as where the allegedly drunk driver is involved in an accident in which another person is injured, or is alleged to have three prior separate DUI's within seven years of the new allegation, or has a prior felony DUI.
Whether felony or misdemeanor, the consequences of a DUI conviction are always serious, and most often include the suspension of the right to drive, the loss of personal liberty, the imposition of very heavy fines, and attending DUI classes. The consequences extend to the driver's everyday life, too, because his or her ability to travel to and from work and/or school is affected, and the cost of automobile insurance will rise.
DUI defendants will also be “prosecuted” by two separate government agencies: the District Attorney of the county where the crime allegedly occurred, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The DMV will initiate an action against a driver who allegedly drove with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, or refused to submit to a chemical test (among some other circumstances).
A number of defenses and statutory remedies are available to the accused in a DUI case. For example, it is not uncommon for a prosecutor to agree to a plea to a so-called “wet reckless” in cases in which the blood alcohol is relatively low or certain aspects of the prosecution case are marginal. The penalties for a “wet reckless” (a violation of Vehicle Code section 23103, subdivision (a) through section 23103.5) are substantially less than for a straight DUI, but it will still be treated as a separate offense if one gets another DUI within ten years.
Many folks are stopped and arrested at “sobriety checkpoints” set up by law enforcement to identify and arrest impaired drivers. However, law enforcement cannot establish these checkpoints without following the law. If they ignore the law, the subsequent arrest and seizure of evidence may be illegal and the evidence thrown out.
You want a lawyer who is familiar with the “ins and outs” of California DUI law, and is experienced both in court and at the DMV. Please call me now to set up an appointment to discuss your case.