A drunk-driving charge is a serious offense and one that can result in serious penalties being imposed. Alameda DUI cases can be complex and it is important that you fully understand your rights. A skilled and knowledgeable Alameda DUI attorney can inform you of these rights and help to ensure that they are protected. For your convenience, we have provided you with answers to many of the questions that you may have:
What are the penalties that may be imposed against a convicted Alameda DUI defendant?
The penalties that follow an Alameda DUI conviction vary and are dependent on a number of factors. For example, if it is the defendant's first offense, then the penalties imposed are not so harsh compared to those of a subsequent offender. The potential penalties that may be imposed in an Alameda DUI case include fines, license suspensions/revocations, mandatory attendance in an alcohol-education program, community service, installation of an ignition interlock device, probation, and incarceration. The maximum penalties that may be imposed against convicted first-time DUI offenders include: (1) six-month license suspension, (2) fines and penalty assessments totaling $2,710, (3) contributions and other court-imposed fees totaling around $200, (4) enrollment in an alcohol education program, (5) probation for three to five years, and (6) six months in a county jail. If other factors are involved such as the DUI offender's having a blood-alcohol-content level of .20% or greater, then penalties may be enhanced. DUI offenders convicted of a second or subsequent offense face far greater penalties.
What is your “blood-alcohol-concentration level?”
Your blood-alcohol-concentration (BAC) level is what reflects the amount of alcohol in your blood stream and whether or not you are over California's legal limit of .08%. The two most popular methods used by the police to test a driver's BAC are breath and blood tests.
Is a blood test or a breath test more accurate?
For all intensive purposes, blood tests are by far much more accurate compared to breath tests. Nonetheless, both tests are susceptible to error and are not foolproof in determining one's BAC at the time he or she was “driving.” In an effort to get any test results suppressed, an experienced Alameda DUI attorney will challenge the reliability of any chemical testing that you may have submitted to.
What should I do if I am asked to submit to field sobriety testing?
There is no law that says that you have to submit to field sobriety testing. Hence, your refusal to perform roadside aerobics cannot result in any penalties being imposed against you. Police officers will ask a driver to submit to field sobriety tests as a means to prove that the driver is intoxicated. Most often the police already believe that a driver is intoxicated when they ask him or her to perform a field sobriety test, and no matter how well the driver performs, he or she will be arrested for DUI anyway. Therefore, in most situations, it is best to just politely refuse.
Should I submit to chemical testing?
This is a very controversial issue and one where there is no clear cut answer. However, when determining whether or not to submit to chemical testing, drivers should consider the consequences of their refusal compared to the potential penalties that may be imposed if they have a BAC of .08% or greater. If you refuse to take the chemical test, the police can get a warrant and get your blood. Also, your license could be suspended much longer than if you had submitted to the chemical test.
How long will my license be suspended if I don't submit to chemical testing?
Under California's APS law, if you were 21 years of age or older at the time of your arrest, your driving privileges could be automatically suspended for one year if this is your first DUI offense, revoked for 2 years if this is your second DUI offense and refusal, and a three-year revocation if it is your third or subsequent DUI offense and refusal within a 10-year period. In addition, the courts may look at your refusal as “consciousness of guilt.” If you were under 21 years of age at the time of your arrest and you refused chemical testing, your driving privileges will be suspended for one year; if it is your second DUI offense within a 10-year period, then your driving privileges could be revoked for 2 years; if it is your third or subsequent DUI offense within a 10-year period, then your driving privileges could be revoked for three years.
How is the DMV suspension/revocation different from the suspension/revocation that the court may impose?
The DMV suspension/revocation of your driving privileges is an administrative action imposed by the DMV. If you are convicted of DUI in court, then a mandatory court action resulting in the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges may be imposed in addition to fines, probation, and even incarceration.
Can I still drive after I am arrested for drunk driving?
At the time of your drunk-driving arrest, the arresting police officer should have confiscated your driver's license and issued you a pink slip of paper which serves both as a temporary license and a notice of suspension. You have only ten (10) days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing with the DMV. If you fail to request a hearing, then your driver's license could be suspended. As skilled Alameda DUI lawyers, we are often able to obtain a postponement of our clients' DMV hearings, allowing them to continue to drive until then. Depending upon the outcome of the hearing, you may or may not be allowed to maintain your driving privileges.
I was asleep in my parked car but was still charged with DUI. How come?
Under California law you can still be charged with DUI even if you are found sleeping in your parked vehicle. In determining whether or not a person should be charged with drunk-driving in such a situation, the courts look at whether or not you were in physical control of the vehicle and if the vehicle had been moved recently. In addition, the courts look to see exactly where you were asleep (i.e., driver's seat, passenger seat, back seat, etc.), whether or not the key was in the ignition, whether or not the motor was running, and to the extent to which the vehicle itself is capable of being operated or moved under its own power or otherwise.
What is a “sentencing enhancement?”
If certain factors exist at the time of your DUI offense, the courts may impose what are referred to as “sentencing enhancements.” A sentencing enhancement is an added penalty that is imposed in addition to any penalties that are normally imposed in DUI cases. The most common sentencing enhancements are imposed if:
- A subsequent DUI offense occurred within a ten-year period
- The driver was driving 20 or 30 miles above the posted speed limit
- A minor was in the vehicle
- The driver refused chemical testing
- The driver's BAC was .20% or greater
- The driver was under the age of 21 years
- Personal injury to a third party occurred as a result of the drunk driving
- What is an Ignition Interlock device and will I be required to get one?
An ignition interlock device is an instrument that is installed on a driver's vehicle and that requires the driver to blow into it in order for the engine to start. If the device detects the presence of alcohol on the driver's breath, the vehicle will not start. Generally, courts will order the installation of the ignition interlock device in the vehicles of those who are subsequent offenders or who had a blood-alcohol concentration of .20% or greater. The courts may require that the device be kept on a convicted DUI offender's vehicle for up to three years.
Why should I fight an Alameda DUI charge?
You should do so in order not to lose your right to drive, have to pay hefty fines, or even possibly have to spend time in jail. It is important to realize that just because you are charged with an Alameda DUI, this does not mean that you will be convicted of an Alameda DUI. There are a number of defenses that can be used to fight an Alameda DUI charge. As experienced Alameda DUI lawyers, we can devise creative defenses to help lessen the impact of your arrest and perhaps even possibly get the charges dropped altogether. Some of the more common questions that we most often look into in DUI cases include:
Was there probable cause for the police to stop you? The police must have probable cause in order to stop, detain, and arrest you for drunk driving. If there was not probable cause, then it is possible to get the charges dismissed.
Were you actually “driving?” The prosecution must be able to prove beyond all doubt that you were, in fact, driving. The fact that you were intoxicated, by itself, does not prove that you violated the law and were driving under the influence (DUI). If there aren't any witnesses, this can be especially difficult to prove.
Did the police violate any constitutional provisions, state regulations, statutes, or other legal authority?
Were you read your Miranda rights? Failure of the police to do so can sometimes help an Alameda DUI attorney get suppressed any incriminating statements that you might have made to the police during the arrest process.
Were you advised of your right to refuse to submit to chemical testing?
Under California's Implied Consent law, if the police failed to warn you of your right to refuse chemical testing and the consequences of refusing, the admissibility of any chemical test result both in the court case and at the Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative hearing may not be allowed.
How was the chemical test administered?
There are a number of defenses that can be raised when it comes to chemical testing. One of the most prominent issues that arise pertains to how the test was administered. For instance, was the breath test machine properly calibrated, maintained, and in proper working condition? Were you hyperventilating or crying prior to taking the breath test (which can result in an inaccurate reading)? Who drew your blood? Were proper amounts of preservative and anticoagulant placed in the tube? Was your blood sample properly preserved in a refrigeration setting? Again, so many different issues and different defenses to these issues can be devised when it comes to chemical testing.
Rising BAC defense. While this is a complex defense, it is one that often is quite effective in getting evidence suppressed and charges dropped. This defense addresses the issue that while it is unlawful to have a BAC of .08% or greater while driving, it is not illegal to have this BAC at the time of being tested. Because it takes between 30 minutes and three hours in order for alcohol to be absorbed, your BAC may continue to rise even after you were stopped and submitted to testing. Furthermore, because the police sometimes do not administer the chemical test until an hour or more after a suspect is stopped, then the result most likely is inaccurate. For instance, assuming that the test result reflected a BAC of .10%, if your body had continued to absorb alcohol after you were stopped and before you were tested, then your BAC at the time that you were actually driving would have been only .07%.
I have an out-of-state driver's license. How will an Alameda DUI arrest affect me?
In addition to the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges in California, your out-of-state driver's license may also be suspended or revoked by the issuing state. The Interstate Driver's License Compact (IDLC) provides for the sharing of information between states, which means that your home state (if part of the IDLC) will become aware of the DUI arrest. In addition, you may have to travel back to California to go to court and possibly be subject to jail time in a California jail. In some instances, out-of-state drivers face far greater consequences than in-state drivers and it is important that they do not ignore the charges and that they consult with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
How long does the whole court process take?
Every Alameda DUI case is different, and the different factors that may be involved determine how long the court process will take. Generally, however, unless you decide to plead guilty at your first hearing, then you can expect it to take anywhere from three months or more. Complicated Alameda DUI cases can often take anywhere from six months to a year or more.
Will I need to go to court?
If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI in Alameda, it is possible that you will not have to appear in court. In many instances, our Alameda DUI lawyers are able to appear on a client's behalf so that he or she does not have to go to court.
Do I really need an Alameda DUI attorney?
This is like asking if you really care whether or not you lose your license or have to go to jail. If you don't, then the answer is simple – “no.” However, if you do care, then it is always the wiser choice to have an experienced Alameda DUI attorney by your side. DUI cases are quite complex as there are a number of complicated procedural issues that can arise that even an inexperienced attorney who does not regularly handle drunk-driving cases will not know how to handle. An experienced and knowledgeable Alameda DUI lawyer will thoroughly examine all aspects of your DUI case and may be able to uncover certain things that can help get evidence suppressed and possibly even the charges dropped entirely.