Although many people consider drunk driving to be a minor offense, the state of California does not. When you are accused of driving under the influence (DUI), you must take action to clear your name of these charges. The consequences could devastate your life both now and in the future.
You have the right to defend yourself. Get help protecting your freedom when you call an experienced Twin Lakes DUI lawyer to discuss potential defense strategies. You can learn more about which options may be best suited for your case when you contact our team for a free consultation.
California DUI Laws
Under Vehicle Code §23152(a) VC, you are prohibited from driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also commonly referred to as drunk driving, you can face these charges anytime your mental or physical capabilities are impaired and prevent you from operating a vehicle safely.
Generally, you can be charged with a DUI anytime your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level reaches 0.08% or greater. There may be additional sentencing enhancements if your BAC level is 0.15% or more.
Elements of a DUI Offense
If the prosecuting attorney wants to obtain a guilty verdict in your case, they will need to prove that the elements of the offense have been met. This means the prosecutor will need to show that:
- The defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The defendant was in control of or driving a motor vehicle.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI
DUIs in Twin Lakes are considered wobbler charges. This means depending on the specific details of your case, you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony-level DUI charge. You could expect to be charged with a misdemeanor DUI if:
- This is your first offense.
- Your BAC levels were at .08% but less than .15%.
- There was no property damage or injuries.
However, you could expect to be charged with a felony-level DUI if:
- You have previously been convicted of a DUI.
- Your BAC levels were at .15% or more.
- Your alleged drunk driving caused substantial property damage.
- Someone was seriously injured or killed due to your alleged drunk driving.
Your DUI attorney in Twin Lakes will be responsible for determining whether there are mitigating factors. When your lawyer presents these factors, the prosecutor may be more willing to reduce the DUI charges against you to a lesser offense or drop them altogether. However, if there are aggravating factors, such as a child or firearm being involved, you will likely face felony-level DUI charges.
What Happens After You Are Stopped by Police
When police initially stop you, you may be asked to consent to a field sobriety test or use a breathalyzer. Since California has implied consent laws, if you refuse to consent to chemical testing, you will automatically have your driver’s license suspended for a minimum of one year, whether you are acquitted or convicted of the DUI charges against you.
It would be best if you immediately inform the law enforcement officers that you will be exercising your right to remain silent. Remember, anything you say to police officials can later be used against you. Do not attempt to resolve the matter or resist arrest, as this could ultimately be devastating for your case.
You will be booked at the local county jail and given an opportunity to make a phone call. Use that phone call to contact a family member or your attorney so we can begin to arrange bail and start working on your defense.
How the Criminal Process for a DUI Works
Here is a general idea of what to expect when you have been charged with a DUI in Twin Lakes:
- You will be booked at the Mono County jail.
- Your Twin Lakes DUI attorney will seek to arrange bail.
- You will be arraigned, and bail will be set.
- Your attorney will work with the prosecutor to determine whether a plea agreement can be reached.
- If plea bargains are not an option for your case, we will prepare to go to court.
Penalties of a Twin Lakes Drunk Driving Conviction
The consequences you will face if you are found guilty of a DUI in Twin Lakes could be severe. There are both criminal consequences and collateral penalties you need to understand.
The criminal penalties of a DUI conviction can vary based on whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI, your criminal record, and other factors. Misdemeanor DUI convictions for first-time offenders often carry penalties that include:
- Up to five years of probation
- Fines up to $1,000
- Completion of DUI school
- Ignition interlock device installation
- A minimum six-month driver’s license suspension
- Up to one year and county jail
Felony DUI convictions can carry far more severe consequences. You might be ordered to pay fines up to $1,000, spend up to three years in a California state prison, and lose your driver’s license for several years.
The amount of fines, jail or prison time, and driver’s license suspension will vary. Your penalties will be assessed depending on your history of DUI convictions, aggravating and mitigating factors in your case, and the evidence obtained.
Collateral consequences describe how your life will be affected if you are convicted of a DUI in Twin Lakes. Examples of such penalties include:
- Damage to your professional reputation
- Loss of your professional license
- Disqualification from federal student aid
- Loss of housing opportunities
- Being passed over for career advancement opportunities
- Loss of firearm rights
- Loss of voting rights
- Court-ordered rehabilitation
Contact an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Twin Lakes for Help Today
Although you could hire a public defender free of charge to take on your case, you can bank on your case not receiving the attention it deserves. When you want to be proactive with your defense, having a private Twin Lakes DUI lawyer working for you is in your best interests.
Reach out to an experienced DUI law firm for help preparing your case. You can fill out our confidential contact form or call us to get started on your potential defenses as soon as today.