Getting arrested for Driving Under the Influence doesn’t mean you have to lose your driver’s license. It doesn’t mean that you have to plead guilty. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person.
In California, a person accused of driving under the influence of alcohol is usually charged under both Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b). The 23152(a) count addresses the impairment caused by the substance or substances the individual has in his or her system. The 23152(b) charges an individual with driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher. Whether an individual is found guilty or pleads guilty to one of these charges, or both of these charges, the punishment is virtually identical.
There is an ever-growing problem with the abuse of prescription medications either lawfully prescribed or obtained illegally. A person who drives under the influence of prescription medications, even medications taken at the prescribed dosage, can result in an arrest for a violation of Vehicle Code section 23152(a) (driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
A first time DUI punishment includes, but is not limited to three years of informal probation, fees and fines totaling approximately $2000, a three, six or nine month driver’s safety class (depending on the blood alcohol content in the person’s blood at the time they were arrested) and attendance at a Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”) Victim Impact Panel.
Probably the most difficult aspect of dealing with a first time DUI is the impact it has on a person’s California Driver’s License. The criminal court will impose a 6-month license suspension, but allow a person to drive to and from work, in the course of business and to and from alcohol driver’s safety classes. However, the DMV, which is totally separate from the criminal court proceedings, will suspend a person’s ability to drive for four months with no exceptions. Like the criminal courts, the DMV, in lieu of the 4-month total suspension, will usually allow a person to get a restricted license that will allow a person to drive to and from work, in the course of business and to and from the court ordered alcohol classes.
In order for a person to obtain a restricted license from the DMV, the person must first be enrolled in a 3 month alcohol class and obtain and obtain special liability insurance (SR-22). The DMV will typically force a person to suffer through a thirty (30) day total drivers license suspension (no restriction) before he or she can obtain the restricted license. This restricted license will be in effect for 5 months or until the individual completes the driver’s safety program (bringing the total DMV suspension to six months (thirty day actual suspension plus a five month restricted license).
In Los Angeles County and several other counties in California, a DUI conviction will also result in the individual being forced to obtain and have installed an ignition interlock device on his or her car. An interlock device is an advanced breathalyzer attached to a person’s car. It requires the person to blow into a tube and tests for the presence of alcohol.
Subsequent convictions for driving under the influence carry greater penalties. A second conviction will result in increased jail time, a license suspension of 1 year and an 18-month multiple offender alcohol-driving program. A third conviction results in a mandatory minimum of 120 days in jail and a fourth conviction within ten years will be charged as a felony and a lengthy prison sentence is likely.
The punishments for Driving Under the Influence become extremely serious if the person whose is deemed under the influence causes an automobile accident that results in injuries to anyone in the person’s car or another. The person deemed under the influence can be charged with a serious (strike) felony depending on the seriousness of the injuries sustained by anyone in any involved car. Should a death occur the person deemed under the influence could be charged with vehicular manslaughter or murder if the person has a prior DUI history.
The CA legislature has made the DUI Laws in California complex, convoluted and extremely punitive. DUI cases present a unique challenge to a criminal defendant because he or she must confront the DMV as well as the criminal court. While this process appears to violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against double jeopardy, courts have ruled it does not. Consequently, there are 2 ways an accused can lose his or her license and 2 ways an individual can get punished (the criminal courts and the DMV.
DUI cases are extremely complex in nature because any DUI case includes issues of whether proper police procedures were followed, delicate forensic collection, testing and analysis and being able to deal with “experts” hired and used by the prosecution to help prove their case.
Although DUI cases can be can be scary to most people the mere fact you have been charged with a DUI does not mean you will be convicted of any crime. Sean Hennessey has handled numerous cases where all charges have been dismissed or a jury has found his client not guilty of all charges.
Should you be charged with a DUI related crime you MUST call the Law Offices of Sean Hennessey immediately. You only have ten (10) days to contact the DMV after you have been arrested for a DUI in order to set up a hearing. If you fail to contact the DMV within ten (10) from the date of your arrest your privilege to drive car in the State of California will likely be lost. Sean Hennessey has a wealth of experience dealing with accusations of driving under the influence. From negotiating a better deal in the criminal court, to saving your privilege to drive with the DMV, Sean Hennessey will help.