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DUI Penalties

As a driver in the state of California, you are probably well aware that a DUI conviction can result in serious consequences, such a suspended license, expensive fines, and even jail time. Are you also aware that having an experienced DUI attorney on your side can mean the difference between suffering all of those consequences or not? Jonathan Franklin, DUI Attorney, at www.duiattorney.com, has that experience.

DUI Attorneys in the Los Angeles Area

Jonathan Franklin, DUI Attorney, is located in Los Angeles and has extensive experience with the local court system as well as DUI law. His courtroom experience and negotiating skills enable him to leave no stone unturned when preparing your defense. This includes reviewing the conduct of the police officers who arrested you both during and after your arrest to determine if there has been any impropriety during these proceedings that may provide the grounds to have your charges dismissed.

Your DUI attorney should be able to ascertain whether or not the police officers involved had been properly trained to administer the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test, that proper protocols were followed, and that the breathalyzer unit used had been maintained, inspected, and calibrated correctly.

DUI Penalties in California

The state of California has separate penalties based on whether or not the charge in question is your first or subsequent offense. DUI law is based, in part, on prior convictions, meaning that the penalties increase with the number of DUI convictions you have had. Any DUI you have had in the previous ten years will be considered along with your current charges.

First Offense DUI

Your first offense will bring:

  • A minimum four-month license suspension
  • Up to six months incarceration
  • A minimum fine of $390 plus court fees of approximately $1,245
  • Administrative costs, towing and impound fees, drivers license fee, DUI school, victim restitution fee, and bail bond costs that add up to approximately $3,860
  • Increased car insurance rates of over $10,000

Your total cost, if found guilty, will exceed well over $15,000. In addition, there is a possible installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) placed on your vehicle that will not allow you to drive or continue driving if you have alcohol on your breath and a possible three to five-year probation period. You are responsible for the fees and installation cost of the IID of approximately $150.

Second Offense DUI

A second offense conviction brings with it stiffer penalties:

  • A license suspension of up to two years
  • Up to one year in jail
  • A fine of approximately $400 plus fees of approximately $5,000
  • Up to 30 months of DUI school at a cost of approximately $1,800
  • A mandatory IID installation at a cost of approximately $150
  • Three to five years probation

Third Offense DUI

The fees and penalties continue to increase exponentially from what you incur with a first or second offense:

  • Your license can now be suspended for up to three years
  • Up to one year in jail or incarceration of up to 16 months in a state prison
  • Fines and fees of up to $18,000
  • A mandatory 30-month DUI program
  • A mandatory IID installation on your vehicle
  • Up to five years probation

Fourth Offense DUI

In addition to increased fees and penalties, you will also be classified as a convicted felon. Fees and penalties include:

  • Up to four years license suspension with possible permanent suspension
  • Up to 16 months incarceration in a state prison
  • Fines and fees of up to $18,000
  • A mandatory 30-month DUI program
  • A mandatory IID installation on your vehicle
  • Up to five years probation

Felony convictions, however, have longer-reaching effects including:

  • A lifetime loss of your right to own firearms
  • You will no longer qualify to receive a hunting or fishing license and face restrictions on other licenses.
  • Many employers will not hire you, because you are mandated by law to disclose your felon status on all job applications.
  • You lose your right to vote until you serve out your sentence and finish parole. You must re-register in order to vote again.

When is a DUI a Felony?

In addition to your fourth DUI being charged as a felony, there are other circumstances that can cause you to be charged with a felony DUI:

  • Law enforcement has the right to charge you with a felony if someone was injured or killed as a result of your DUI. The prosecutor, in certain circumstances, may choose to try your case a misdemeanor instead. These circumstances may be if the injuries were minor or there were mitigating factors. Mitigating factors are information or evidence presented to the court by your attorney that could result in reduced charges or a lighter sentence.
  • You have other prior charges that add up to the equivalent of three DUI's. For example, you may have only two past DUI charges, but you also have a prior reckless driving charge with alcohol involved. A DUI attorney who is experienced in criminal law may be able to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
  • You have a prior felony DUI conviction. In this circumstance, there is no possibility of having the felony waived.

Can You Be Acquitted of a Felony Dui?

The short answer, while not a guarantee, is yes. An experienced DUI attorney knows what evidence to present to get your charge downgraded so that your jail time or fines are reduced or you don't have to go to prison. 

Since felony cases involve several stages where your attorney will have the opportunity to dispute your charges, a skilled DUI attorney will use those opportunities to gain more time to prepare and build a stronger case in your defense. If they use that time to find holes in the prosecution's case and get certain evidence against you thrown out, they may be able to have you acquitted, or at the very least, reduce the amount of time you will have to deal with the myriad of possible consequences.

Can You Refuse to Take a Breath Test?

There are two types of breath tests. One is a PAS test, which is actually a screening tool used at traffic stops for a police officer to administer in order to determine whether or not you should be placed under arrest. The other is a BAC test, which is administered after arrest.

A PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) test is simply an investigative tool that police officers use with very little training. It's a questionable tool, at best, because it is known to be highly unreliable. This is due to something called trace alcohol left in the mouth. You can have traces of alcohol in your mouth for hours after having your last drink that will be misread by this machine. As a result, your actual blood alcohol level could be negligible while the trace alcohol in your mouth can trigger a positive result on the PAS equipment.

Other common factors that can contribute to a false positive PAS test result are equipment or operator error.

This makes a PAS test particularly vulnerable to challenge, and a skilled DUI attorney will use this in building your defense. Your DUI attorney should seize this opportunity to get this evidence tossed out. Many times this is the prosecutor's key piece of evidence and without it, the charges against you may be dropped.

You may always refuse a PAS test, because you are not under arrest when it is administered.

A breathalyzer or BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) test is mandatory once you have been placed under arrest. Law enforcement is also allowed to test your blood or urine for the presence of alcohol or drugs. Since you have already been arrested, you are required to take any of these tests, and failure to do so will result in the following additional penalties:

  • Two to ten additional days in jail
  • License suspension up to 12 months 
  • Nine months of DUI classes

A refusal after arrest is a second charge on top of the DUI charge itself, which is something you want to avoid.

Other Causes of False Positive Breath Test Results

An experienced and dedicated DUI attorney can employ numerous strategies to challenge breath test results. These include:

  • Another Alcohol Source - Something as innocuous as mouthwash can create a false positive breath test result. Other sources include breath spray, medication with alcohol in it, or just a sip of alcohol before driving.
  • Changes in BAC - Your blood alcohol content can continue to rise from the time you are pulled over to when you are tested. If there is an extended period of time between these two events, the BAC result could be significantly higher than what your actual BAC was when you were driving.
  • Diabetic or Dietetic Defense - Diabetes or low carb diets can affect your body chemistry in a way that creates a false positive result when you haven't had any alcohol at all.
  • Faulty Calculation - Breath testing is not an exact science. The test has to calibrate your blood alcohol level by only measuring the alcohol on your breath. It does this by using a 1:2100 breath-to-blood ratio. This so-called average number is often inaccurate, and a skilled DUI attorney will call this result into question.
  • Acid Reflux Disease - It is possible for alcohol in your stomach to be regurgitated during acid reflux. Police officers are instructed to observe you for a full 15 minutes prior to a breath test to make sure you have not burped or vomited before administering the test. They are also supposed to use that time to make sure you do not eat or drink anything prior to administering a breath test.
  • Calibration Failure - Breath test equipment is required by law to be recalibrated on a regular basis. The law states that each machine must have this done every ten days or after each 150 uses, whichever occurs first. The law also requires that records of the recalibration must be kept. Your DUI attorney can access these records and use them in your defense if this schedule was not followed.

What Are the DUI Penalties If You Are Under Age 21?

If you get a DUI and are under the legal drinking age of 21 in the state of California, not only are you under the same liability as someone who is arrested for a DUI over the age of 21, you can actually incur more charges and penalties. This is because underage drinking is a separate charge from the DUI itself.

Because California is a "zero tolerance" state when it comes to underage DUI's, your entire future can be negatively affected. It can even lead to you being denied acceptance to college.

California's Zero Tolerance Law encompasses a whole different set of criteria for underage DUI offenders. As an underage offender, you will face charges if you have any amount of alcohol in your system at all. This is in addition to the secondary charge of underage drinking. 

Based on those these facts, the following list of BAC thresholds and corresponding penalties have been set if you are found guilty:

  • 0.01% and above - License suspension for one year
  • 0.05% and above - Permanent criminal charge on your record, one year license suspension, $100 fine, mandatory 90-day DUI course that you must pay for
  • 0.08% and above - You face all the same penalties as an adult, with thousands of dollars in court fees and fines you must pay, driver's license suspension, up to six months incarceration, followed by a mandatory three to nine month DUI course and years of probation.
  • Reckless Driving due to Alcohol - DUI law does not depend on BAC results alone. If you were swerving, speeding, or in some other manner endangering other drivers and passengers on the road and alcohol was involved, you will also be charged with a DUI, and the penalties will be the same as if your BAC tested at 0.08% and above.

How Many Charges Can an Underage Drunk Driver Get?

One arrest is not the same thing as one charge. You can rack up multiple charges during just one arrest. For example, if you are under the age of 21, caught speeding, and register a BAC of 0.05%, you have actually broken three laws, Reckless Driving, Underage DUI, and Zero Tolerance, giving you multiple charges with just one arrest.

At this juncture, it is absolutely critical that you are represented by an experienced, highly skilled, and dedicated attorney who will work hard to reduce your charges and give you the best possible representation in court.

If you are facing a DUI charge contact Jonathan Franklin, DUI Attorney at 323-464-6700.

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Contact Information

Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney
6777 Hollywood Blvd Ste 508
Los Angeles, CA 90028
323-464-6700