DUI

California Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b)

DUI: Driving Under The Influence In California

It would be a mistake to assume that DUI (driving under the influence) is just another traffic offense, it’s not.  In California, being charged with a DUI  or DWI (driving while intoxicated) is a criminal offense.  Many motorists have difficulty accepting the reality that a conviction for drunk driving comes with harsh penalties, including a California criminal record, hefty fines, loss of driving privileges, increased insurance rates, potential jail time and possible loss of your professional license.

DUI Laws

The main code section for drunk driving laws can be found in California Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b). According to the Center for Disease Control, each year an estimated 120 million episodes of alcohol-impaired driving occur in the United States.  Each year, approximately 1.5 million drivers are stopped and arrested for DUI.  Approximately one-third of DUI offenders are repeat offenders.  Last year 35% of all California defendants who were arrested for DUI kept their driver’s license simply by requesting a DMV hearing within the allotted time period.  If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you owe it to yourself to have a clear understanding of the California DUI process, be fully prepared, and secure the best possible outcome for your case.  This is most successfully accomplished by retaining an experienced California DUI attorney, such as Damian Siwek to be on your side.

Why Am I Being Charged Twice?

Many people wonder why they are charged twice under the California Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b) for a DUI. In the following video playlist, Los Angeles Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney Damian Siwek explains California Vehicle Code 23152(a) and 23152(b) and why people are typically charged with both counts. Quite simply, it’s a legal mechanism for a prosecutor to have 2 opportunities to secure a conviction against you.

California DUI Arrest – Two Separate Distinct Cases

When you are arrested for California DUI there are two distinct cases that are brought against you – the DMV case and the criminal case:

  1. DMV Case – There is an administrative hearing controlled by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), where the fate of your driving privileges will be determined.  Many motorists charged with DUI don’t realize that this DMV hearing must be scheduled within 10 days after arrest; otherwise, the defendant’s California driver’s license will be automatically suspended 30 days following the arrest date.  Trying to represent yourself is not recommended as most defendants will not understand the technical issues raised at the hearing, and will lose due to their inability to understand the legal requirements at the hearing.

Unlike California criminal court, the DMV hearing is very informal and run by a Driver Safety Office (DSO) Hearing Officer, instead of a lawyer or a judge.  Although the standard of proof is much lower than in criminal court, the chances of a person winning without an experienced California criminal defense attorney are not very good.

The criminal defense attorneys at DCS Defense will clarify the proceedings involved in your California DMV hearing, including the confusing documentation and misleading statements which may lead the defendant to believe that it is his or her responsibility to prove that the suspension is not justified.  When DCS Defense handles your case, you will see that the burden of proof  rests with the DMV to prove that the suspension is justified!  Additionally, DCS Defense will fully prepare you to testify (if necessary) in front of the hearing officer as part of your DUI defense.  After the hearing is concluded, the hearing officer will take the matter under consideration and will subsequently issue his or her written findings.  These findings will usually be sent out to the defendant within a few days of the hearing.  If you lose the hearing, a license suspension is imposed.  However, if you win the hearing and the hearing officer rules in your favor, then no license suspension is issued.

  1. Criminal Case – Normally the criminal case follows the DMV hearing.  Depending on the specific facts surrounding your California DUI arrest, you risk facing jail time, fines, rehabilitation, driver education school, community service (live-in, out-patient or through the Sheriff’s office), CALTRANS (physical labor), having your vehicle impounded, law enforcement’s installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, attendance at the Hospital and Morgue program (HAM) or Mothers Against Drunk Driving class (MADD), or any combination of the above.  Penalties for California drunk driving or DUI charges can increase if one or more of these circumstances applies to you:
  • Having a prior DUI conviction within the last ten (10) years
  • At the time of the arrest:
    • Speeding or driving recklessly
    • Driving with a child under the age of 14
    • Having an excessive (over .20%) blood alcohol content (BAC)
    • Refusing any chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine.

The best possible outcome you can expect from a California DUI charge will result from having a qualified DUI attorney.  From alternative sentences to sentence reductions, the uncovering of the weaknesses in your case, and various strategies geared toward challenging the prosecution, the odds of a favorable outcome are vastly increased when experienced and aggressive California criminal defense lawyers are fighting your battles.

DUI Penalties – You Need A Good Lawyer

The specific circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest and number of times you have been charged or arrested for DUI will determine your final sentence.  California DUI convictions are also “priorable” offenses meaning that with each subsequent DUI conviction, the punishment significantly increases.  The outcome of your case depends in great part to the experience, skill, and effectiveness of your lawyer.

In the following video playlist, Los Angeles Criminal Defense and DUI Attorney Damian Siwek explains the penalties for a first time, second time, third time and fourth time DUI, as well the penalties for a misdemeanor and felony DUI with injury, the penalties for refusing a chemical blood alcohol test, DUI sentence enhancements, and some of the typical terms of probation for a DUI in California.

First DUI Offense – Misdemeanor

  • Summary (Informal) Probation for three years
  • 48 hours minimum to 6 months in county jail; the 48 hours minimum in jail must be served continuously
  • Fines from $390 to $1000 plus mandatory penalty assessments or approximately thirteen days of community service; Total costs including fines, penalty assessments, and court costs range from $1500 to $2400
  • License Suspension for six to ten months
  • A three month court approved alcohol and drug education program (AB 541 class)
  • IID – Ignition Interlocking Device required in Los Angeles, Alameda, Tulare and Sacramento counties in a pilot program .  An IID is an instrument that is attached to your car that does not allow the car to start until you provide an alcohol-free breath sample.

Second DUI Offense- Misdemeanor

  • Summary Probation for three to five years
  • 96 hours minimum to a maximum of one year in county jail
  • Fines stay in the same general range as in a First DUI (see above)
  • License Suspension for two years that may be converted to a restricted license after 12 months
  • An 18 to 30 month court-approved alcohol program
  • IID – Ignition Interlocking Device may likely be required on a second DUI conviction, regardless of what county you’re located.

Third DUI Offense- Misdemeanor

  • Summary Probation for three to five years
  • 120 days (minimum) to a maximum of one year in county jail
  • Fines stay in the same general range as stated above
  • License Suspension for three years which may be converted to a restricted license after 18 months
  • A 30 month court-approved drug/alcohol program
  • Installation of an IID (Ignition Interlocking Device)

Fourth DUI Offense – Felony

  • Parole for three years
  • Sixteen months to three years in state prison
  • Fines stay in the same general range as stated above
  • License revocation for four years
  • Possible automobile forfeiture
  • A 30-month alcohol treatment program
  • Designation as a “Habitual Traffic Offender.”

The above penalties are typical for standard DUI offenses.  The penalties for your DUI conviction can be increased significantly if there are additional facts and circumstances in your DUI arrest such as:

  • Refusing to take a chemical test
  • Resisting arrest
  • Driving with a blood-alcohol level of .20% or more
  • Causing an automobile accident
  • Excessive property damage
  • Driving recklessly or at excessive speeds
  • Having a child 14 years or younger in the car
  • DUI with injury which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

The variations in the DUI penalties depend on the many factors and circumstances surrounding your DUI charge.  The importance of securing an aggressive, skilled and effective attorney such as Damian Siwek at DCS Defense, cannot be underestimated.  We strive to achieve favorable outcomes for all of our clients by working hard and giving our clients the personal attention they deserve.   We know California DUI law and know how to defend against these charges by effectively challenging DUI charges on the basis of a lack of probable cause for the traffic stop, lack of Miranda advisement, illegal arrest, improper testing procedures, faulty testing equipment, and other issues including improper police conduct.

Additionally, the lawyers at DCS Defense are very familiar with the alternative sentencing options in a DUI case. These alternative sentencing options include alternatives to county jail or prison that include electronic monitoring or house arrest and live-in alcohol treatment programs. Contact us for a no-charge confidential consultation to discuss your potential defenses, strategy, and legal options.

For aggressive and effective representation against DUI charges, including a free confidential consultation, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Damian Siwek at DCS Defense.