A DUI charge in El Cajon can disrupt your life for years to come. If you’re convicted of a DUI charge, even if it’s a first-time offense, you’re looking at paying thousands of dollars in court fines, losing your license for many months, and spending time in jail. You’ll also have a record that can make it hard or impossible to get a job or even rent an apartment.
Facing a California prosecutor on a DUI charge can be daunting without the proper defense. Your best bet may be relying on an attorney who specializes in defending individuals like you against drunk driving charges. Call (310) 906-4831 to speak with one of our representatives about scheduling a free consultation with a leading DUI attorney who has years of specialized experienced in handling cases just like yours.
How a Drunk Driving Defense Works
If a DUI charge is brought to a trial, the prosecutor must prove two things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You had enough alcohol in your system to be legally drunk
- You were operating your vehicle
California, using Vehicle Code Section 23153, defines a general standard for “legally drunk” at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08%. In most cases, this will be what a prosecutor will have to show to the jury. However, there are circumstances, such as the driver being under 21, where the required BAC to be considered legally drunk for a DUI is lower.
A drunk driving defense works by challenging one or both of the required points that the prosecutor must prove. If there is reasonable doubt about the validity of either of these aspects, your defense will have been successful.
Challenging the Evidence that You Were Drunk
In many cases, the case will largely center around the determination of whether you were drunk or not. If you can successfully suppress evidence suggesting you were legally drunk, you may be offered a plea deal for a lesser charge or even have your case dismissed outright.
Field Sobriety Tests
You are not required to take a field sobriety test, but you may have been pressured into taking one. While these tests aren’t the most accurate way of determining how drunk a person is, they can be an important part of a prosecutor’s case against you.
A number of reasonable and alternative explanations can be used to weaken the usefulness of a failed field sobriety test. Medical conditions, such as those that cause leg and back pain, can make it difficult to complete the tests properly. If the officer gave unclear instructions, you may have not performed the test in the expected way. Likewise, if you were experiencing anxiety or nervousness during your interaction with the officer, you may not have heard the instructions properly or may have been uneasy on your feet.
Many cases rely on a form of a breathalyzer to determine your BAC. A prosecutor showing that your test showed a 0.08% or higher reading may be able to overcome a number of otherwise successful defense strategies.
However, breathalyzers don’t always report an accurate readout of your BAC. If the equipment is not properly maintained, the officer may see a level that is well beyond the legal limits. As part of a drunk driving defense, you should request a maintenance log for the equipment to verify that it has been properly calibrated.
Challenging the Evidence That You Were Driving
No matter how much alcohol you may have consumed, if the prosecutor can’t show that you were actually driving while under the influence, the case will get dismissed.
Say that the officer found you sleeping in your car at a parking garage and tests showed that you were above the legal limit. Being in your drunk in your car, however, isn’t necessarily evidence that you were drinking and driving. Successfully challenging this aspect of the case may result in a lesser charge, such as being drunk in public, or may have the charges dropped entirely.
Hiring a Skilled DUI Lawyer is Important
Without understanding the intricacies of DUI law, it can be difficult to successfully raise these defenses. Prosecutors in California are aggressive about pursuing DUI convictions and will not easily back away from a case that they believe they can win.
Rather than trying to face the charges alone, call us (310) 906-4831. The sooner you reach out to a DUI attorney with years of experience successfully defending individuals just like you, the sooner you can have peace of mind that comes from building a strong defense against your drunk driving charge.