If you’ve been charged with drunk driving in Vista, California, you should have a good understanding of the possible penalties you are facing. You’ll face an immediate license suspension, but that’s not all. Upon conviction, you’ll have to pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees, attend mandatory alcohol education classes, and you may even spend a while behind bars. Not only that, you may have difficulty getting a job, renting an apartment, or even getting affordable insurance for years to come.
When you understand the potential consequences you face if convicted, you may feel overwhelmed. Hiring the right DUI attorney is one simple way to assuage your fears. Contact us today to connect with one of our skilled DUI lawyers, who can discuss your case with you at no charge.
Penalties for a DUI in Vista
The possible penalties that you will face for a DUI conviction in Vista will depend heavily on your previous record with DUIs and a handful of additional factors. Repeat offenses in a 10-year period and other aggravating circumstances will mean that you’re facing even harsher penalties than a first time, “simple” DUI.
On top of any penalties that a court will issue, the California DMV will issue an administrative suspension of your license after it has been notified of your DUI arrest. Even if the DUI charges are dismissed, you can still face this suspension. Your only hope of avoiding this license suspension is by requesting a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest and successfully arguing your case with representatives from the DMV. A DUI attorney can be present for this hearing and can take the lead on arguing your case on your behalf.
Penalties for a First Time DUI Offense
A first time DUI in California is defined as driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more and having no previous DUI or “wet” reckless driving convictions in the past 10 years. The criminal penalties issued by a court for the first time DUI offense with no aggravating factors include:
- Jail time ranging from 48 hours to six months
- Between $1,800 and $15,000 in fines and court assessment fees
- A license suspension ranging from 30 days to six months, with the possibility of additional driving restrictions for two to five months
- Paying $500 to attend three months of mandated DUI classes
- Paying $800 out of pocket for the installation of an ignition interlock device
- Your vehicle being impounded for 30 days, which will come at your expense
Aggravating Factors That Increase the Penalties You Face
While the penalties that you face for a first-time conviction are severe on their own, there are a number of factors that can make you face even more serious penalties. In California, these include:
- Drunk driving under the age of 21
- Previous drunk driving convictions in the past 10 years
- Driving drunk with a minor in the vehicle
- Drunk driving that results in injuries
- Speeding while drunk
- Having a BAC at or above 0.15%
Some of these factors can lead your DUI to be charged as a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. A felony DUI means much greater penalties, the loss of the right to bear arms and vote, and you will have to disclose the crime on job applications.
The Importance of a Good Drunk Driving Defense
No matter how you feel about your circumstances surrounding your DUI charge, everyone deserves fair treatment in our justice system. Mistakes can be made on all sides, which can sometimes paint your actions in a less favorable light.
While the penalties are harsh for a DUI conviction, the judge can have some discretion as to the extent of the punishment you receive. A good drunk driving defense can include explaining your acknowledgment of a mistake and how you have grown from the experience. This can often result in facing the lower end of the possible penalties, saving you thousands of dollars in fines and potentially months in jail.
Similarly, there are times when the circumstances aren’t as bad as you might think. Faults in breathalyzers, medical conditions affecting your ability to perform field sobriety tests, and even a rising BAC may initially paint your charge in a worse light. A good defense will examine these facts closely, which may mean facing less severe charges or even dismissing your case outright.
A Vista DUI Attorney Can Make the Difference
You don’t have to face a drunk driving charge by yourself. Even if you think that your case is unwinnable, a skilled DUI attorney may be able to find flaws in the prosecution’s case. These flaws can result in less severe penalties, even if they don’t result in your case being dismissed entirely.
Complete the webform to schedule a free consultation with a highly experienced DUI lawyer in Vista and start building a solid drunk driving defense today.