How Is DUI Defined in California?
In Van Nuys and throughout California, a DUI is defined legally in several different ways. First, you can be charged with DUI based on your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) while operating a motor vehicle. Second, if alcohol in your system impairs your driving ability, it is a DUI regardless of the BAC. And third, if you are under the influence of drugs (illegal or otherwise) while driving, that is DUID (driving under the influence of drugs), which also counts as DUI.
Finally, note that you can also be charged with DUI based on being under the influence of both alcohol and drugs.
If your BAC is .08% or higher, that is the standard of an "ordinary" DUI. But if you are a commercial driver, a .04% BAC constitutes a DUI. And if you are below the legal drinking age (21 in California), any detectable amount of alcohol in your system whatsoever is a DUI - in practical terms, that means .01% or higher BAC.
With drugs, there is no specific level of intoxication you must meet that corresponds to the .08 of DUI alcohol: any intoxicating drugs found in your system at all can form the basis of a DUI charge.
And with DUI alcohol based on driving impairment, it doesn't really matter how much the alcohol impaired your driving. If the prosecution can show that you drove less cautiously or less skillfully in any way or in any degree, as compared to what a sober person would be expected to do in the same situation, it can be charged as a DUI.
Van Nuys DUI Penalties
DUI penalties vary state to state and city to city, but the bottom line is penalties have become more and more expensive and arrests have been on the rise almost everywhere in the United States. There have been more than 8,000 across LA, with many taking place in Van Nuys, and that number is sure to keep growing as time goes on with millions of dollars coming in due to the steep financial penalties associated with DUIs.
Some of the most common penalties for a DUI include:
- A fine as high as $390 (for first time offense)
- Court fees which can total more than $1,000
- Jail terms of at least two days and as long as six months
- Probation and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device
- Mandatory attendance at DUI School, at your own expense, which can amount to more $500 and last from as long as nine months
- Loss of your license for at least four months
If it is a repeat offense within 10 years of the first offense, you may be a facing a one-year license suspension, more than a year in state prison, more than a year in mandatory DUI treatment and more than $15,000 in fines and fees.
How Can You Fight A DUI in Van Nuys?
Many people think DUI cases are impossible to win, but that is just not the case. A skilled DUI defense attorney, especially one experienced in the Van Nuys court and law enforcement system, can examine your case and find the issues which will give you a convincing defense.
Some of the most-convincing defenses a DUI attorney like Ross Sobel will use include:
- Challenge the chemical tests: An attorney can review the chemical tests administered by the officer to see if there were any malfunctions or mistakes which may have led to inaccurate results.
- Challenge the arresting officer: Many officers do not follow the state-required procedures and protocols during traffic stops and arrests. An attorney can go over how the stop or arrest was handled and point out any mistakes the officer may have made.
- Challenge the traffic stop/arrest: If you were stopped without probable cause or arrested before being read the Miranda Rights, there is a good chance your case will be dismissed.
The DUI Process in Van Nuys, CA
The DUI process starts when an officer pulls you over for suspected DUI. He or she must have valid probable cause to pull you over, or else it is a violation of your rights, and we can likely get your case dismissed. But the officer need not have pulled you over for DUI originally. It could have been for a burnt out headlight or poor driving, and then, he/she suspected you of DUI after pulling you over.
Next, the arresting officer likely gave you a PAS (breathalyzer) test and had you go through a number of field sobriety tests (FSTs) to test you for intoxication. There are many ways that the results of these tests can be misleading, so don't assume your case is futile just because of not passing the PAS test or the FSTs. For example, the PAS can be thrown off by use of alcohol-containing mouth wash or of certain medicines. And exhaustion, nervousness, or pour outside conditions can potentially cause you to do poorly on FSTs.
Once the officer has determined he/she thinks you are guilty of DUI, your California driver's license will be immediately confiscated. Since 2011, California has followed this policy, called "admin per se" DUI, where there is no need to wait to prove you guilty of DUI to initially take away your license.
At that point, you were left with a temporary "pink slip" driver's license, only good for 30 days. And in order to get a DMV hearing to challenge the DUI, you must request one within 10 days (not business days, "actual" days) of your arrest or lose that right forever. The Law Offices of Ross H. Sobel can help you get your DMV hearing set up; and we can help ensure that your temporary license will be good up until your DMV hearing, even if that goes past the original 30-day mark (which it often does.)
If you were arrested without probable cause or in a way that violated your rights, that can be used to get evidence suppressed and your case summarily dismissed. For example, if the arresting officer failed to read you your Miranda Rights or began interrogating you before informing you that you were under arrest, that is a violation of your rights. But otherwise, as we go in the DMV hearing and/or jury trial, it will be a matter of challenging the evidence and testimonies of the prosecution.
It is important at this point to understand that there are two distinct DUI processes in California: the DMV administrative process and the courtroom process. Winning or losing the one does not necessarily mean you will win/lost the other.
The DMV hearing comes first, and if you lose it, the temporary license will end and you will lose your driving privileges for at least 4 months, and often longer. And unless/until you win in court, you won't be able to get your license back (earlier than the end of the DMV suspension). Thus, it is crucial to walk into the DMV hearing prepared and with experienced legal representation. We have often won dismissals at the DMV hearing and seen the DUI end right there; we know how to put the police report and the BAC test results under intense legal scrutiny. And we know how to probe for any violations of your rights or of police protocols (especially under Title 17) that could win you your DMV hearing.
Finally, even if you lose your DMV hearing, we can still take your case on to a jury trial. Or, if you win at the DMV, but the prosecution still decides to pursue your case, Ross H. Sobel and our law firm will know how to defend you. The penalties for losing in court can be even more severe and permanent than losing at the DMV, and it would also create a criminal record. Thus, you should never settle for less than the best possible DUI defense attorney.
Possible Outcomes to Your Van Nuys DUI Case
As we have seen, the possible penalties for a DUI conviction are steep and can be long lasting. Plus, having a DUI on your record will make it much more difficult for you to find and keep gainful employment, to get approved for an apartment lease, or get approved on a college application.
At The Law Offices of Ross Howell Sobel, we always fight first and foremost for a dismissal or an acquittal so that you face no legal penalties or social consequences of a DUI and immediately get your license restored. Avoiding a DUI conviction could also save your state-issued professional license, and thus, your career.
In some cases, it's not possible to get a dismissal or acquittal; but often, a reduction of the charge can be fought for and obtained. We often get DUI charges reduced to wet or dry reckless driving charges, which carry much lighter sentences. And we also know how to negotiate for a lighter sentence even where a DUI cannot be reduced to a lesser charge. We can point out mitigating factors in your favor, get jail time exchanged for community service, argue for lower fines, help prevent your car from being impounded, help you get a shorter license suspension period, help you avoid the need for an IID (ignition interlock device), and work to get you approved for a restricted license that lets you drive to/from work and DUI Class.
Thus, Ross H. Sobel has a long history of helping numerous people charged with DUI in Van Nuys and throughout Southern California get their DUI charge dismissed, acquitted, or reduced. And he and the rest of the team at The Law Offices of Ross H. Sobel can get you a much lighter and more bearable sentence even when the facts of your case virtually preclude an outright dismissal/acquittal.
When one just "goes it alone" and assumes a DUI cannot be successfully fought, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. But when you enlist an experienced DUI defense lawyer to your cause, there are many ways that your case can end in a much more favorable way. Even when evidence and arguments of the prosecution seem insurmountable, we have found ways to score a victory. We can do the same for you as well, and win you the best possible outcome to your Van Nuys DUI case.
At the Law Office of Ross H. Sobel, we have the experience and expertise needed to win a DUI case. Ross Sobel can help you if you are facing DUI charges in Van Nuys, or anywhere in the Los Angeles area. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us and receive your free legal consultation.
Call us at 805-657-1798 and we can get started on your case as soon as today.