Driving Under The Influence

Driving Under The Influence is a criminal offense.  In California, a first-time misdemeanor offense is punishable by 48 hours to 6 months in jail, and a fine of $1,000 (plus court assessments and other fees, totaling over $2,000 for cases in San Diego County).  If this is your second offense within the past ten years, you are facing increased fines and penalties, and must attend an 18-month class (mandated under SB-38).

If you already have 3 prior convictions, then you may be charged with felony drunk driving.  Similarly, if anyone was injured when you got your ticket, you may be charged with felony drunk driving and perhaps vehicular manslaughter.  Additionally, if a child fourteen years or younger was in your car at the time, you could also be charged with child endangerment, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail.

The effects are far reaching.  In addition to the court system, you have immediate concerns with the DMV.  The police officer usually confiscates your California Driver’s License and issues a temporary Driver’s License which is good for only 30 days.  Thereafter, your license will be suspended for 4 months.  You may apply for a restricted license (allowing you to drive to and from work) after 30 days.  If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test, your license will be suspended for 1 year.

Additionally, your car insurance can increase 30% – 60% for a first conviction of drunk driving.  This increase will typically continue for the ten years that a drunk driving conviction remains on your driving record.

To retain your license, you must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest, and be successful at the hearing in challenging the validity of the stop, the arrest, or the results of the blood, breath or urine test.

To protect yourself, you should seek the advice of an experienced lawyer, knowledgeable in the area of DUI laws.  An attorney will evaluate the validity of the stop, detention, and arrest, as well as analyze the methodology, procedures and results of the blood, breath, or urine test.  Often times, an attorney can be successful in getting probation, community service, work furlough or public work service as an alternative to the mandatory jail sentence.

Being cited with a DUI means that you stand to lose a lot.  An attorney may be able cut these losses or prevent them completely.  If you have a commercial drivers license or otherwise depend upon your clean driving record, your employment may be in jeopardy as well.

A lawyer can help you when you are charged with a DUI through consultation, negotiation, and court or DMV representation.  The lawyer can provide you with invaluable advice during your initial and subsequent consultations.  The lawyer can provide you with alternatives available and better educate you about your specific situation.  The lawyer can use their special talents, knowledge, and negotiation skills to help you negotiate with the prosecuting agency.  If the lawyer specializes in criminal law, and drunk driving, they will probably have a good working relationship with several prosecuting attorneys.  A lot can be accomplished with a simple letter or telephone call from the attorney.  And finally, the lawyer can represent you in court or at the DMV hearing.  A criminal lawyer, skilled in the rules of evidence, with a lot of trial experience can prove to be invaluable in what may seem like a hopeless situation.

If you decide you would like to consult with a knowledgeable skilled lawyer in the area of DUI law, call Sheryl Graf.  Sheryl Graf is a local attorney whose practice focuses on criminal defense.  Her office is conveniently located in El Cajon.  She may be reached at 619-440-5716.

This information is general in nature and should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship