If you have been cited for DUI in Orange County (or anywhere else in California), do not talk to the police or investigators. Contact a DUI lawyer at the Johnson Criminal Law Group now to preserve your defense and protect your rights.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not a "right" to be able to drive a car, but rather a privilege. The department of motor vehicles (DMV) issues licenses to drivers which permits them to operate motor vehicles. A DUI in California is a crime that can affect the driving privileges of a person whether they have a license or not.
CA Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) makes it illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, regardless of whether or not the driver's BAC is 0.08% or higher (DUI or Driving Under the Influence/DWI or Driving While Intoxicated, both terms are used interchangeably in some jurisdictions).
CA Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) makes it illegal to operate a vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater, regardless of whether a driver feels or acts intoxicated.
CA Vehicle Code Section 23152(f) makes it illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs. There is no legal standard for how much alcohol or other drugs an individual needs to be intoxicated before they can legally operate a vehicle.
For a misdemeanor DUI conviction to stick, the prosecution needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, two criminal elements:
There are additional code sections that increase penalties for multiple DUI offenses, as well as enact severe consequences for injuries or death, and property damage resulting from drunk driving.
It is possible for a driver to be under the influence of alcohol and not even be aware of it or have a BAC over 0.08%. While the law doesn't specify the exact amount of alcohol or other drugs a person must consume to be considered impaired, the consumption of substances known to impair, and the subsequent operation of a motor vehicle is what the law attempts to regulate.
The first step in fighting a DUI in Orange County is hiring a DUI defense lawyer who is familiar with the law and the local court system. This goes a very long way in ensuring your rights are protected. The lawyer will file a motion to discover all of the evidence both against you, as well as those that are in your favor. Without a strong defense, you may end up serving a jail sentence and paying more in fines than you would normally be required to. A good DUI defense attorney could help you get your charges reduced using these tactics.
Whether you're found guilty of a DUI in California will depend on the circumstances of the case. While it is possible to plead guilty, the court will require that the prosecution prove that you were driving and physically in control of the vehicle. If the evidence supports the charge of DUI, a blood or breath test will be used as evidence to establish the defendant's guilt.
California allows offenders multiple chances at breaking the practice of drunk driving. State law and interest groups have effectively made it both difficult and expensive to drive after being convicted of DUI. DUI laws were first enacted in 1911 in California. Laws were lax in those days and drinking in public was allowed. The term "one for the road" has become a phrase associated with the practice of taking an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle despite there being laws against open containers. Until the 1980s, this practice was quite common, and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving group pressured the state's legislature to toughen DUI laws.
A DUI in California can lead to serious consequences. People convicted for DUI receive a misdemeanor or felony. In California, a DUI conviction stays on a person's record for ten years, increasing their auto insurance and appearing on rap sheets. After ten years, the conviction is no longer considered a prior for sentencing purposes. It will be considered a first-time offender after 12 years, a second-time offender, and a repeat offender.
If you have been charged with DUI, contact the Johnson Criminal Law Group to begin figuring out your defense. Without an experienced DUI lawyer at your side, you're risking more than you realize.