Articles Posted in DUI Penalties

If you pled guilty to, or were convicted of, driving under the influence, the court must order restitution to any victims who claim economic losses from that incident. Under California Penal Code Section (“PC” hereafter) 1202.4(a)(1), “a victim of crime who incurs an economic loss as a result of the commission of a crime shall receive restitution directly from a defendant convicted of that crime.”

To the extent possible, the restitution order shall be prepared by the sentencing court, shall identify each victim and each loss to which it pertains, and shall be of a dollar amount that is sufficient to fully reimburse the victim or victims for every determined economic loss incurred as the result of the defendant’s criminal conduct…”

The victim is required to submit the losses they believe were caused by the defendant while committing the crime. The defendant can agree or stipulate to the amount requested or request an evidentiary hearing to dispute the requested amount.

The penalties for a San Diego DUI conviction can be very harsh. For example, even if you are a first-time offender, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, five years on probation, a fine of $1,000, and participation in a nine-month mandatory drug and alcohol education program. The judge may also require that you install an ignition interlock system on your car, in which case you can drive without restriction. Otherwise, your license could be suspended for up to ten months.

Given the serious nature of these penalties, many people facing a DUI charge are interested in learning what they can do to reduce the charges or penalties they may face upon a conviction. Of course, not every DUI case results in a conviction; however, it is still a good idea to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

While driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol places others in significant danger, there has been a shift towards an increased understanding of why people get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Rather than view these offenses in isolation, courts are now more willing to consider that a DUI defendant suffers from addiction, and that their addiction played a role in their commission of the offense. That being the case, one of the things that can help mitigate against a hefty DUI sentence is to seek drug or alcohol treatment while the case is pending.

While any California DUI offense can have a serious impact on a person’s life, those DUI cases that involve an accident with injury are especially serious. Anyone facing such a violation must make sure to understand what they are facing, to better defend against the allegations. California Vehicle Code section 23153 provides that it is illegal to drive a car while engaging in any other type of conduct that is forbidden by law. This includes driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

After a California DUI accident, the prosecution will likely charge several offenses. Aside from a traditional DUI, a motorist may also face charges under section 23153. To prove a violation of section 23153, the prosecution must show:

  1. The driver violated the state’s DUI laws;
  2. While under the influence, you also violated another traffic law, or otherwise acted in a negligent manner; and
  3. The driver’s actions resulted in another’s injury.

To find someone in violation of the California DUI laws, the prosecution must establish that a driver:

  • Had a blood-alcohol (BAC) content of .08 or more;
  • Was otherwise under the influence of alcohol (even with a BAC of less than .08);
  • Was under the influence of drugs; or
  • Was under the influence of both drugs and alcohol.

Continue reading ›

In a recent California appellate decision, the appellate court considered the denial of a motion to suppress in a case involving felony DUI within 10 years of three prior DUI convictions in exchange for formal probation and dismissal of an enhancement and other charges. The DUI arose when a police officer saw the defendant’s vehicle travel into a field. He came up in his patrol car and directed his spotlight to the front of the defendant’s vehicle.

The defendant left his vehicle and tried to talk on a cell phone. The officer came up and asked what he was doing there. He smelled alcohol within moments of talking to the defendant and saw the defendant became nervous when providing responses to questions.

Later, the defendant identified himself, but the patrol officer suspected this identification was false and put him in handcuffs. The defendant gave his true name, and through a records check, the patrol officer learned his license had been suspended and he was on probation for prior DUIs. The defendant refused a chemical breath test, which was a condition of his probation. He refused a second time, and was then arrested and taken to the hospital for a blood draw, which revealed his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .093.

Continue reading ›

Sometimes drunk driving leads to someone’s death. In that case, you may face multiple charges on top of any DUI charges that apply. In a recent California appellate decision, the defendant appealed a conviction for gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and challenged the lower court’s denial of probation, among other things.

The prosecutor filed a three county felony complaint charging the defendant with a gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under section 191.5(a), DUI causing injury under Vehicle Code section 23153(a), and driving with a measurable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) triggering injury under Vehicle Code section 23153(b). With regard to these two other counts, it was alleged the defendant personally caused great bodily injury, that his BAC was at least 0.15% or greater, and proximately caused bodily injury or death to more than one person.

The defendant pled guilty and admitted the truth of the enhancement allegations. The factual grounds for the plea was that he had knowingly and unlawfully killed someone without malice aforethought while drunk driving and the killing was the result of an illegal act that was not a felony, which resulted in death. He also admitted his blood alcohol was .15 or greater.

Continue reading ›

California Vehicle Code Section (VC) 14601.3 states: “It is unlawful for a person whose driving privilege has been suspended or revoked to accumulate a driving record history which results from driving during the period of suspension or revocation. A person who violates this subdivision is designated a habitual offender.”

Once the person has been deemed a habitual offender, any subsequent driving offenses are subject to more severe penalties, including jail time. Upon a first conviction under this statute, the person shall be sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $1000 fine. A second or subsequent conviction within seven years of a prior conviction will result in 180 days in jail and a $2000 fine.  Under 14601.3(e)(3), any habitual offender who is convicted of driving on a suspended license and the suspension is due to a DUI, the penalty is 180 days in jail, to be served consecutive to any other jail time imposed for violating any other law, plus a $2000 fine.

To convict someone under this statute, the prosecutor must prove: Continue reading ›

Typically, when you are sentenced, and your sentence includes probation, one of the things you are ordered to do is not violate the law. If you are arrested, the arrest itself is not a probation violation. However, what ends up happening, is you will have a new open case and the probation violation trailing behind it, waiting to see what happens on your new case.handcuffs

If you plead guilty to the new charge or are found guilty after a trial, the judge will then address the probation violation in a probation violation hearing. Typically that is done in front of the sentencing judge who put you on probation on the first case. However, the judge on your new case, if s/he has jurisdiction over the first matter, may address probation with the new case, in what is often called packaging or bundling both together.

The probation violation hearing has a lower standard of proof, meaning a judge only has to find that you violated the terms of probation “by a preponderance of the evidence” not “beyond a reasonable doubt” as required in criminal cases.

At the hearing, both the prosecutor and the probationer will be able to present evidence. If the judge finds that it is more likely than not that the probation terms were violated, Continue reading ›

Driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID, is essentially the same as a DUI with alcohol. The code section reads: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle. “

pillsIn essence, the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant drove a vehicle, and when s/he drove, s/he was under the influence of a drug. The drug can be an illegal substance, a prescribed medication or even an over-the-counter medicine that could affect the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person.

Under the influence” is the hardest element for the government to prove. According to the California Jury Instructions (2110), “A person is under the influence if, as a result of…taking a drug, his or her mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.”

Unlike drunk driving cases involving alcohol, Continue reading ›

In California, if a person is initially arrested for driving under the influence, the case may be negotiated down to other, less severe charges such as a wet reckless, dry reckless, drunk in public, or even an exhibition of speed charge. Successful negotiation will depend upon the facts of the case.

In my experience in San Diego courts, exhibition of speed as a reduction from a drunk driving charge is rarely available as a negotiated plea, unless the case has some serious flaws and the prosecutor believes the DUI case cannot be proven in trial. However, I have been able to obtain such a result in a case that was filed in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Courthouse. My client had a .08 BAC on both the preliminary alcohol screening test and the evidentiary breath sample.

The exhibition of speed charge is found in California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c), and it does not mention alcohol, drinking, drugs, blood alcohol content, or under the influence. Therefore, it is a much better result for the defendant because the penalties are a lot less severe. There is no license suspension, unless Continue reading ›

Recently, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1046 into law after the State Senate and Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor, (unanimously with the exception of one “no vote recorded” in the Assembly).  This law will require that all persons convicted in California of a DUI, even a first offender, to install an ignition interlock device, or IID, in all the vehicles s/he owns for a specified period of time.

An IID is a machine that is installed in your car’s ignition. In order for your car to start, the driver must first blow into the machine. If no alcohol is detected, the car will start. If alcohol is detected, the car will not start. In addition, as the car is running, it requires additional breath samples with no alcohol detected to keep the car operational.

The penalty will be as follows: Continue reading ›

Contact Information