Driving under the influence (DUI), in almost all cases, is just a misdemeanor crime. However, it has more impact on your reputation, professional licensing, or driver’s license than many felonies. Getting a DUI can be absolutely devastating to your life, and if you are facing charges for a DUI, you can feel like you are facing a monster.
But you do not need to fight for your rights alone. There are incredibly skilled and understanding DUI lawyers in Altadena that can help you fight against the State of California. When you are facing DUI charges, you should contact an Altadena DUI lawyer.
California State DUI Laws
It is important to know the DUI laws in California, as every state has its own slightly different DUI laws. In California, DUI is a crime that results from a person driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or excessive amounts of alcohol. Essentially, if you are driving unsafely and you are found to have taken drugs (including legal prescription drugs) or drank alcohol, you will be in violation of the law.
Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and Evidence of DUI
If you are familiar with DUI laws, you might be under the impression that DUI laws impose a restriction on driving with a certain amount of alcohol in your system. This, however, is only partially true. Anytime that a police officer has probable cause to believe that you are driving unsafely due to alcohol, they can arrest you.
Your BAC can still be used against you. BAC is a measure of the percentage of your bloodstream that is made up of alcohol at any given time. A high BAC can lead to your automatic arrest, but it is not the only factor. Your BAC will be determined at the time of your arrest through the use of a breathalyzer test.
The purpose of the breathalyzer test is that if your BAC is high enough, it creates prima facie evidence that you are guilty of a DUI. This means that, at trial, your BAC will create a presumption that you are guilty of DUI. This essentially means that you will have to prove your innocence rather than the State proving your guilt, which is extremely rare in criminal trials.
Whether you have committed DUI according to your BAC depends on two things: (1) the actual value of your BAC, and (2) your age or situation. If you are a person of legal drinking age who is driving their own vehicle with no passengers, the maximum BAC that you can have is 0.08%. However, if you are driving a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license, such as a truck, or if you are driving passengers for hire, such as through Uber or Lyft, the maximum BAC that you can have is 0.04%.
Further, if you are already on DUI probation, you commit a DUI by having a BAC of 0.01% or higher, or essentially any alcohol at all. You need to be extra careful, as even using mouthwash can sometimes put your BAC at above 0.01%. The State laws regarding DUIs can be complicated and difficult to comply with, so you need a skilled DUI attorney in Altadena to help you stay in compliance with the law.
Unsurprisingly, if you are not old enough to drink, California law does not allow you to have any alcohol in your system while driving. If you are under the age of 21, a BAC of 0.01% or higher will be sufficient to make you guilty of DUI. 0.01% is a very low number. 1 drink will put you over this number, regardless of your size or tolerance for alcohol.
California law goes even further to punish underage drinkers. If you are between the ages of 13 and 20, and you are convicted of operating a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has the authority to suspend your driving privileges for up to a full year, even if you have not yet received your driver’s license.
These laws can seem quite draconian, so it is important to remain compliant with them. The best thing that you can do is not drink at all. However, we know that mistakes can happen. If you are facing charges for DUI, contact a skilled DUI lawyer in Altadena for assistance.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction
A DUI conviction can have harsh penalties in California. There are several punishments that you might face if you are convicted of DUI, including:
- Jail time of up to 6 months;
- Fines of up to $1,000;
- Your vehicle might be impounded, and you will have to pay a fee to get it back
There are also several penalties other than criminal sentences that you might face, including:
- You will have to pay for and complete a DUI class;
- Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to a year;
- You will have to pay fees to the DMV before they will re-issue your license;
- You might have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, which will not allow your car to start if you have any alcohol at all.
- If you caused damages while driving drunk, you might get sued by the victims;
If you are facing any of these penalties, you need skilled lawyers on your side. You should contact skilled and professional Altadena DUI attorneys if you are facing legal penalties for DUI.
Contact an Altadena DUI Lawyer
If you have been arrested for DUI and are facing charges, you may be terrified of what is to come. The State of California is a huge and powerful entity that you cannot effectively fight against by yourself.
You are not alone. If you need legal help defending against DUI charges, you need the assistance of astute lawyers. Contact an Altadena DUI lawyer today to see how we can help.