Types of DUI Charges in California
Santa Barbara DUI Attorneys
Driving under the influence, or "DUI," is an umbrella term for a wide-variety of criminal traffic offenses in California. In California, most DUIs are considered misdemeanor offenses, but prosecutors can pursue felony charges, too – depending on the unique circumstances surrounding your arrest. Regardless of the specific offense, a DUI in California is subject to strict consequences. If law enforcement arrested you or a loved one for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the Santa Barbara DUI lawyers from Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can help. Speak with our firm to learn more about your options with our topnotch team of criminal defense attorneys.
An Explanation of California DUI Charges
Commercial Driver DUI
Like any motorist, commercial drivers are subject to California DUI Laws; however, commercial drivers can face drunk driving allegations for driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) that totals .04%; half the legal BAC limit for regular drivers. For many commercial driver's license holders, commercial driving is a source of income. If you are a commercial driver facing DUI charges, your job and your livelihood could be at stake. Additionally, a conviction could lead to additional consequences alongside standard California State DUI penalties. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you could permanently lose your commercial license.
DUI Causing Injury
According to California Vehicle Code § 23153, it is unlawful to driver under the influence, causing bodily injury to another person. V C § 23153 does not apply if the driver causes injury to him / herself. In order to face a conviction, the driver must commit an act of negligence (in addition to drunk driving) that results in the injury of another person. In other words, the driver may face a standard DUI accusation if prosecutors cannot show that he/she committed another unlawful act while driving under the influence, such as speeding or running a red light.
DUI with Drugs
DUI with drugs, also called "drugged driving," is delineated as a criminal act in California Vehicle Code § 23152(a). According to the law, it is unlawful for any motorist to drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or the combination of both substances. A driver can face drugged driving charges for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of virtually any controlled substance, including painkillers, sleep medication, and other prescriptions. Marijuana is another common substance associated with these charge. Drugged driving is subject to the same legal consequences as DUI involving alcohol.
DUI with Minor Passenger
California Vehicle Code § 23572 states that DUI charges are subject to enhanced penalties if a minor passenger is found in the car. According to California DUI standards, a "minor" passenger is any child under the age of 14. While DUI with a minor passenger is not its own criminal offense, it can result in additional penalties and may be charge alongside a standard DUI. The enhanced penalties for DUI with a minor passenger usually involve extended incarceration in a county jail. The court will not impose these penalties if the driver is convicted of child endangerment for the same actions. In other words, you cannot face two charges for the same alleged crime.
Although drunk driving is usually a misdemeanor in California, aggravating circumstances can result in a felony conviction. For example, facing multiple DUIs within the span of 10 years can result in a felony charge. Prior DUI offense can lead to a felony allegation as well. Generally speaking, felony DUI is subject to stiffer penalties, exorbitant fines, and a multitude of other consequences. Speeding, an extremely high BAC, injuries to a third party, or a traffic collision are aggravating circumstances that may lead to a felony DUI. The legal team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP can help you avoid the consequences of an unnecessary felony conviction.
Your first DUI is subject to harsh penalties, even if your prior criminal record is clean. Although subsequence offenses may result in more severe penalties, such as extended jail time and license revocation, first-time DUIs can lead to similar penalties. For example, a first DUI conviction is punishable by probation (three to five years, fines and penalties (up to $2,000), and six months of driver's license suspension. After a DUI arrest, the DMV will automatically suspend you license unless you fight for your driving privilege in a DMV hearing. Additionally, prosecution could charge you with a felony offense if our first DUI involved any injury.
"Marijuana DUI" is not an official criminal charge. However, California Vehicle Code § 23152 states that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or the combined influence of both substances. Although marijuana is associated with a relatively small number of DUI-related accidents and injuries, law enforcement is determined to crack down on this drugged driving offense. Unfortunately, police have not developed chemical testing that can accurate judge a driver's level of marijuana impairment. In fact, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is traceable in a driver's blood for many days after its affects have worn off.
Out of State DUI
Out of state DUIs are, at best, inconvenient. If you were arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while visiting California, you can face the same fines and penalties as California drivers and may have to report to a California Court for criminal proceedings. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our Santa Barbara DUI defense lawyers can help you avoid a criminal conviction in California. Depending on the DUI laws in your home state, you may be subject DUI penalties from both states. Even your first California DUI is subject to probation, fines, incarceration, and increased insurance payments. Retain our team to help you avoid a California DUI.
As a "priorable offense," drunk driving is punishable by more severe penalties for second and subsequent convictions. In California, your second misdemeanor DUI is punishable by at least 96 hours in jail. Additionally, you could face mandatory DUI school, driver's license suspension, probation, and other penalties. If your case involves an injury / fatality, car accident, or other aggravating circumstances, you could face even stricter punishment and a felony DUI conviction.
According to California Vehicle Code § 23136, any person less than 21 years old is not permitted by law to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeds .01%. This offense is called underage DUI and can lead to one year of driver's license suspension. If the driver does not have a legal driver's license, the court may postpone his/her ability to obtain a license for one year. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest, a driver could face traditional DUI penalties as well – including fines, probation, and incarceration. Typically, underage DUI is a misdemeanor offense in California.