Getting arrested for a DUI in San Rafael, CA can be devastating. Not only does it affect your freedom, but it also affects your professional and personal life.
If you’re not careful, you could lose everything. Your reputation will be ruined, and so will your career prospects. You’ll face hefty fines and steep legal counsel fees that are impossible to pay off on your own. And worst of all, you’ll have to deal with the shame of having a criminal record for the rest of your life, even if the charges get dismissed or reduced later down the line! Hire an experienced San Rafael DUI defense attorney at Summit Defense who is ready to help you get your charges dropped or reduced when they come up because we know how to work with judges and prosecutors in our area! We have over 120 years of cumulative and exclusive experience in criminal defense. Do not hesitate any longer – call our law office and receive a free consultation from an experienced San Rafael driving under influence attorney today! We uphold the value of an attorney-client relationship.
WHY SHOULD YOU HIRE OUR SAN RAFAEL DUI LAWYERS?
Police can make mistakes. If you are being accused of a DUI in San Rafael, CA, you need legal advice from a DUI lawyer to protect your license and records.
In San Rafael, California, individuals accused of aggressive driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs understand that the evidence is against them. And in which a competent San Rafael DUI Lawyer is required to defend them.
You may undoubtedly submit to and allegedly fail a field sobriety test. Or you completed either a breath or blood test, which revealed that your BAC was more significant than the legal limit of .08 percent. As a result, those accused of DUI are ready to give up without hesitation. They might believe that a DUI has a set penalty like speeding traffic tickets, which disappears from your driving record after several years. And in some cases, they understood that the consequences were harsh. Still, they nevertheless accepted their license suspension, fines, increased insurance rates, and criminal charges penalties without resistance.
At Summit Defense law offices, you don’t have to give up when facing a DUI charge in the San Rafael, CA area. Our experienced San Rafael DUI defense lawyer will serve as your legal representation during your legal issue at every stage of the criminal court case. The goal of the San Rafael DWI lawyer that you will hire is to dismiss all charges. But if not possible, we frequently work with our clients to reach solutions that allow them to avoid jail time or, in some cases, even prosecution. Fill in our contact form or call our law office now and receive a free consultation for your DUI case.
COMMON LEGAL DEFENSES AGAINST DUI CHARGES IN SAN RAFAEL, CALIFORNIA
The specific consequences of the occurrence determine cases of DUI defense. The following are some examples of successful DUI defenses:
- Possible Symptoms of Intoxication
After an officer stops a vehicle, they will endeavor to discover anything that will allow you for further detention. Suppose the officer suspects you of drunk driving. In that case, they will look for possible signs of impairment like flushed face, red eyes, poor pronunciation of words, mumbling, or other possible signs of intoxication. But, these signs can be far from impairment but caused by other issues. Medication could be one issue. Exhaustion and tiredness can result in unnormal speech. While fatigue, dust, allergies, poor sleep, or irritation can cause red eyes.
- A False Stop or Accusation by a Police Officer
Before law enforcement officers can stop someone, they have reasonable cause to believe that a person inside the car has committed a crime. In some circumstances, police may follow the driver for some time to discover possible intoxication indicators, such as lane weaving.
A law enforcement officer may also pull a vehicle over for an infraction, such as a missing tail light or an expired registration tag. Suppose the reason for the stop was bogus. In that case, all that followed after it may be deemed inadmissible if the DUI attorney contests the legality of the stop. Certain normal activities, such as pressing a GPS unit or adjusting the audio system, can cause brief distractions that seem to mimic those of an intoxicated driver.
- Imprecided Preliminary Alcohol Screening
Another potential DUI defense is that the breath test given on the side of the road isn’t reliable. San Rafael, California law enforcement personnel use the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) to determine whether or not a driver has been drinking alcohol.
The PAS tester is less accurate than the station house machines. When a margin of 0.01 can impact whether or not someone falls within the permissible limit, the test must be reliable. And because certain foods, beverages, medicines, or other items are consumed while using a portable machine, it might issue false positives.
Furthermore, a police officer must watch the suspect for several minutes to ensure they do not burp or puke. These actions can also result from a suspect having faulty results. It’s also possible that the officer’s attention was drawn away during this monitoring. Some reasons could be that they were engaged in conversation with another officer at the scene, observing oncoming traffic, or filling out paperwork. Also, a high blood alcohol concentration can be caused by various health problems, even if there is no actual impairment.
- Faulty Field Sobriety Tests
Suppose a law enforcement officer suspects that you are under the influence. In that case, they may demand that you perform a field sobriety test. There are several versions of the field sobriety test, each of which aims to assess a person’s attention, ability to understand and follow instructions, as well as proper balance. The majority of these tests entail the suspect performing various activities, including chanting the alphabet, counting, signing a paper, following a flashlight with their eyesight, and so on.
The three stages of the field sobriety test are:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus examination
- Walk and turn, and
- Eye-tracking test
In California, police may perform non-standardized field sobriety tests such as finger-to-nose, hand pat, reciting the numbers backward, finger counting, and doing the Rhomberg balance test. A law enforcement officer gives these tests to present them as evidence against the defendant. The findings of these tests will then be presented as evidence of intoxication against the defendant.
But if you have tunnel vision, the law enforcement officer may not consider elements that may cause poor test performance. Even if a person has had nothing to drink, is wearing boots or heels, has a foot problem, or has lousy coordination might fail these sorts of tests. Communication difficulties, as well as a lack of comprehending instructions, can all have an impact on an individual’s performance. Meanwhile, a suspect’s ability to carry out these activities could be due to certain factors such as poor weather, slippery roads, heavy traffic, or lack of payment.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) Defense for DUI
The GERD defense is a medically-related one. When an alcohol breathalyzer test is administered, it is presumed that the quantity of alcohol in a person’s mouth corresponds to the amount of alcohol in their body. Some people might have a medical condition that causes their lower esophageal sphincter to open, which allows the stomach acids and stomach contents to circulate back into the esophagus. As a result of this, their BAC reading is higher. But GERD, acid reflux, or heartburn can produce mouth alcohol, which means the BAC reading is more significant from the mouth sample than the stomach sample.
- Defective Breathalyzer Test
After administering a brief alcohol screening test, many law enforcement agencies transport a suspect to the station house to administer another breathalyzer test. A potential defense to the validity of this breathalyzer test may be that the machine isn’t functioning correctly or hasn’t been carefully set or adjusted. This DUI defense may support inadequate maintenance records. Another possibility is that the person who performed the test did not do so correctly.
- Increased in BAC Level
The increasing BAC is a compelling excuse for DUI charges. This defense claims that the defendant’s BAC was below the legal limit when driving, but it rose after the traffic stop and throughout the breath test. A common occurrence can happen when a defendant has just consumed alcohol, and the beverage is still being absorbed.
- Unethical Police Conduct
A law enforcement official may have conducted part or all of the investigation or evidence collection unethical in certain circumstances. A San Rafael DUI defense attorney may investigate the law enforcement officer’s actions and any prior misconduct to see whether this may be related to the DUI arrest.
- Extenuating Circumstances
A San Rafael DUI lawyer may argue that the defendant was not intoxicated or that the tests were incorrect instead of stating that they were not drunk or that the results were inaccurate. A criminal defense attorney may also claim that severe or exceptional circumstances caused the defendant to drive while impaired when they would otherwise not do so.
Examples would be: a defendant who drove in this state to avoid significant injury or death, or to transport an injured relative to the hospital, is just one example. Or a person may have become intoxicated without realizing it, such as drinking a drugged beverage.
- Inappropriate Administration of a Blood Test or Protocol
Suppose the prosecution is using blood test results in their case. In that case, a criminal defense attorney may challenge the blood test’s administration. A criminal defense lawyer may even look to see whether the blood test was kept in its chain of custody or if it was in a location where it could have been tampered with (or falsified).
CALIFORNIA DUI LAWS, PENALTIES, AND SENTENCING
Two principal DUI laws govern California:
- Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC – a California drunk driving law that makes it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08% or greater.
- Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC – a California drunk driving law that makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol.
Most people arrested for DUI in California are charged with these subsections.
In Vehicle Code 23152(f), driving under the influence of drugs is stated.
These two major factors determine the penalties for driving under the influence (DUI):
- If you have an existing DUI conviction on your record, or
- If anyone was injured due to your intoxicated driving.
Misdemeanors are the most common way to punish someone who has been arrested for a DUI. However, if someone is hurt due to your driving, or you have four or more DUIs on your record, the crime may be prosecuted as a felony. San Rafael, California DUI convictions may result in jail time. In many circumstances, offenders can keep driving as long as they have an ignition interlock attached to their vehicle.
1ST OFFENSE MISDEMEANOR DUI
The following are the possible penalties for a first-time defendant convicted of a DUI:
- Being held in the county jail for up to six months;
- Three to five years of informal probation (also known as ‘summary’);
- The defendant must complete a three or nine-month court-approved alcohol or drug crimes treatment program;
- Minimum fine amounting to $390-$1,000;
- Maximum penalties could reach up to $3600;
- The judge may oblige the defendant to install an IID in their automobile for six months to drive lawfully without limitations. Or else, the defendant will have six to ten months of driver’s license suspension. And this suspension may turn into a ‘restricted license.’ A restricted license means you are still allowed to drive while working during commute time. And in between work and school, or California DUI school.
If you have been arrested due to a San Rafael drunk driving offense, you must request a DMV hearing from the California Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days. A license suspension is usually set aside to show that the administrative per se hearing will be resolved without being appealed. Hiring a San Rafael DUI defense attorney within ten days of filing your claim will allow them to plea the hearing for you. And they will also legally represent you during the DMV hearings.
2ND OFFENSE MISDEMEANOR DUI
The penalties for a second California drunk driving conviction within ten years are as follows:
- Being held in the county jail for 96 hours (minimum) to one year (maximum);
- Three to five years of informal probation (also known as ‘summary’);
- The defendant must complete an eighteen or thirty-month court-approved alcohol or drug treatment program;
- Minimum fine amounting to $390-$1,000;
- Maximum penalties could reach up to $4000;
- A one-year mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and if installed, the defendant can drive anywhere. Or else, the license will be suspended for two years, which may turn into a restricted license after a year.
3RD OFFENSE MISDEMEANOR DUI
California’s punishment for a third drunk driving conviction within ten years can include:
- Being held in the county jail for 120 days (minimum) to one year (maximum);
- Three to five years of informal probation;
- The defendant must complete thirty-month court-approved alcohol or drug treatment program;
- Minimum fine amounting to $390-$1,000;
- Maximum penalties could reach up to $18000;
- The defendant may be designated as a “habitual traffic offender” by the DMV;
- Two years mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and if installed, the defendant can drive anywhere. Or else, the license will be suspended for three years, which may turn into a restricted license after 18 months.
DUI WITH INJURY (MISDEMEANOR)
Aggressive drunk driving resulting in bodily injury under Vehicle Code 23153 VC is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. But it varies depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your criminal record.
If you are convicted of drunk driving and someone else got hurt, you’ll be facing the following misdemeanors under California law:
- Being held in the county jail for five days (minimum) to one year (maximum);
- Three to five years of informal probation;
- The defendant must complete a three, eighteen, or thirty-month court-approved alcohol or drug treatment program;
- Minimum fine amounting to $390-$5,000;
- Compensation to all parties that are being injured;
- Six months mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and if installed, the defendant can drive anywhere without restrictions. Or else the license will be suspended for one year.
1ST OFFENSE DUI WITH INJURY (FELONY)
- Being held in the Californian State Prison for sixteen months to ten years. Plus an additional (and) consecutive one to a six-year sentence in prison. These will all depend on how many people are injured and the severity of their injuries;
- A probability of ‘strike’ on record under California’s Three Strike Law;
- Between $1,015-$5,000 in fines;
- An eighteen to thirty-month court-approved alcohol or drug treatment program;
- Three years status as a ‘Habitual Traffic Offender’;
- Compensation to all parties that are being injured;
- Two to three years of mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and the defendant can drive anywhere if installed. Or else the license will be suspended.
DUI PROBATION IN CALIFORNIA
Probation is an essential component of every DUI sentence. Hence, it’s not simple and easy to comprehend.
During your probation period, you are given a chance to prove yourself to the law to clear your name. And it’s a time when you’re under particularly close watch to ensure you don’t drink and drive again.
While not as severe as jail time, DUI probation is still difficult. You must fulfill several obligations and actions you must take to fulfill your probation. Below are the two types of probation that you should be aware of:
- The general probation – which is commonly charged to all DUI offenders, and
- The “alternative sentencing” can be charged to the defendant rather than jail time.
General Probation for DUI
The length of the DUI punishment in California ranges from three to five years. This is referred to as “summary probation,” which means it is not governed. There should be no probation officer you must contact during this period, and no one will come by your home or workplace to see what you’re doing from time to time. During the whole probation period, you have a unique legal status that may affect you and are not permitted to do.
The following are some of the conditions of DUI probation:
- If you are arrested on suspicion of a new DUI charge, you must agree to have a chemical test (blood, breath, or urine test) done.
- You agree not to commit any unlawful acts during your term of probation. The penalties will be more severe if you do so than if someone not on probation committed the same crime. Speeding or parking tickets do not exceed your sentence if they are not connected to a larger crime. While driving without a license or car insurance will be included in violation of your probation.
- You agree not to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
Last but not least is your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). In California, a person can drive with alcohol in their system if it’s less than.08% blood alcohol concentration, as long as they have had one or two drinks. Many adults may consume one or even two drinks without coming close to the limit. But this limit does not apply to you. If you are stopped for having a measurable quantity of alcohol in your system, it is considered a probation violation.
California’s Alternative Sentencing Probation
Alternately, the court may impose another kind of probation known as “alternative sentencing.” This simply implies you were supposed to go to jail, but the judge has agreed to allow you to demonstrate that you do not deserve it. However, if you fail to abide by the alternative sentence imposed on you, you will go to prison.
Alternative sentences in California are typically given in one of five varieties:
- Mandatory participation in community service;
- A roadside work for Caltrans (known as California’s transportation agency);
- Compensation to all parties being injured, including property damages;
- Attendance at alcohol treatment programs and/or education courses;
- House arrest and/or electronic monitoring. An ankle bracelet will be used in electronic monitoring to track your blood alcohol level. This is similar to being advised not to drink at all and is only utilized for repeat offenders and persons with an alcohol problem.
Depending on the circumstances, you could still be sentenced to any number of terms, including fines, probation, and/or prison time. The judge has a lot of discretion in determining your sentence and may impose any combination of penalties not listed here.
If you’re given a type of alternative sentencing, you’ll have to finish both the formal and the regular “general” probation terms.
AGGRAVATING FACTORS THAT WILL INCREASE YOUR DUI SENTENCE
There are facts and circumstances that, if present when you are arrested for driving under the influence, will increase your county jail or state prison sentence. These aggravating facts will increase your penalties, regardless of whether you’ve been convicted of a first, second, third, or subsequent drunk driving charge.
- If you caused an accident;
- Not cooperating to submit a mandatory chemical test;
- If you have been drinking and your BAC is 0.15 percent or higher (it could be less in some counties);
- Driving at a very high speed;
- If you are underage (under 21 years old) during your first DUI offense;
- If you are driving under the influence with a child under 14 (this can also lead to an additional charge of Penal Code 273a – known as child endangerment).
The severity of your DUI sentence will be determined by a number of factors, including the kind of enhanced penalty you may expect to face for any of these aggravating circumstances.
SAN RAFAEL DUI FAQS
Is a DUI a felony or a misdemeanor in California?
A first-time DUI that does not involve injuries will be charged as a misdemeanor.
How long does a DUI stay on your driving record?
All criminal convictions stay on your criminal record for life. You can file a petition to expunge the record under penal code section 1203.4. This will allow you ONLY to tell an employer that the case was dismissed.
What happens when you get a DUI in California?
A DUI arrest triggers two separate actions: a criminal case filed in the superior court and an Administrative Per Se Hearing with the California DMV. You must request a hearing with the DMV within ten days of your arrest.
What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
There is no difference between driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated.
What is aggravated DUI?
An aggravated DUI can mean several things, including:
- A high BAC reading (above .15 or .20 BAC)
- Refusal to submit to a breath or blood test
- Driving at high speeds while driving under the influence
- Having a minor in the vehicle while driving under the influence
- Causing an accident while driving under the influence
- Causing an injury while driving under the influence
- Prior DUI convictions within ten years
- A fourth DUI conviction within ten years will be charged as a felony
How much is bail for a DUI?
A first-time DUI usually results in release without the need for bail.
How much does a DUI lawyer cost?
San Rafael DUI lawyers charge $2500 to $6500 for a DUI offense.
Do you lose your license immediately after a DUI?
No. If you don’t request a DMV hearing, you will lose your license 30 days after the arrest. If you request a DMV hearing, the suspension will go into effect only if you lose the hearing.
Can you be charged with a DUI after the fact?
The Statute of Limitations for DUI is one year. However, it is rare for evidence of DUI to surface after the fact.
Do you go to jail for a DUI?
The minimum sentence for a first-time DUI does not involve actual jail time but may involve jail alternatives. Third DUI offenses carry a minimum sentence of 120 days in county jail and may involve actual custody time.
How do I get my license back after getting a DUI?
To get a restricted license after a first time DUI suspension, you must: DUI, you must:
- Enroll in DUI class
- Install an interlock device (some jurisdictions)
- Pay a reissue fee
You must complete the DUI class and pay an additional reissue fee to get your license back.
Can you get a DWI for marijuana?
- Yes. Driving under the influence of marijuana violates Vehicle Code section 23152(a).
What is the DMV hearing?
To avoid having your license revoked, you must request a DMV hearing. This hearing is only provided if you ask for it. You only have ten days from the time of your arrest to file a request, and it’s also a good idea to obtain legal counsel from your attorney at the same time.
The hearing itself is short. It can be done in person or over the phone. At this hearing, the DMV officer will ask just three questions:
- Was your BAC more than 0.08 percent?
- Were you arrested lawfully?
- Was it fair for the officer to believe that you were driving while intoxicated?
But how can you answer these questions when determining whether your blood alcohol content is above the legal limit? Even if you’re not guilty, the police usually have a compelling reason to suspect DUI. And even if you do know your blood alcohol level precisely, it may be challenging to determine.
Blood tests can take weeks to return. Most average people are unaware of the DMV officer’s expectations or how to build convincing responses unless they have been trained in DUI law.
What if I refused a breath-blood test?
When you are arrested for driving under the influence, most likely, you will be compelled to submit to a blood-alcohol test. This test is not discretionary, implying that you agreed to take it when you applied for your driver’s license. It is against the law to refuse the test.
Say you refuse the breath test. You still have legal options. The cops are obligated by law to advise you that refusing the test is an offense. They must also offer you the option of taking a breath or blood test. If they did not deliver this information, your Redwood City criminal defense lawyer might fight the refusal charge on your behalf.
Will I go to jail?
Many DUI offenders are afraid of prison. There will be jail time if you are convicted. However, that jail term might be reduced to just a few days and does not have to end your career. With the help of your San Rafael DUI attorney, you should be released free and clear if found not guilty.
DUI offenders may face jail time at two distinct stages in the legal process:
- Immediately when you’ve been arrested. You’ll be called for the night in county jail if you are arrested. The majority of people are set free the next day in one of two ways. If your criminal record is clean, you may be given an “on your own recognizance” release. As a result, you have given your word in writing to appear at all of your court dates and are free to go. In other circumstances, bail is necessary.
- If you’re found guilty. All DUI charges result in a jail or prison sentence at some point. It might be as short as two days or as long as six months for a first-time violation. Your DUI criminal defense lawyer will make reducing your jail time a priority if you’re convicted. In certain jurisdictions, you may be able to reduce your punishment by arranging a settlement in which you confess to the crime. Alternatively, your San Rafael DUI attorney may be able on behalf of you to negotiate a reduced charge that does not involve jail time.
TOP DUI LAWYERS NEAR ME | CONTACT SUMMIT DEFENSE TO SPEAK TO A SAN RAFAEL DUI ATTORNEY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
One of the most crucial options you will make is selecting an experienced DUI attorney to represent you in court. You should look for a San Rafael DUI lawyer who is both skilled in court and attentive to your worries. Credentials are critical, but so is the capacity to hear and respond to clients’ demands because the attorney-client relationship is significant.
Summit Defense is proud to receive the highest possible rating for customer service, with an “A+” for the past six years. We have offices around California, such as in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, San Jose, and Burlingame. Call our law office now in San Rafael and speak to a defense attorney at (408) 333-9622. You’ll get a free, confidential consultation. Or visit our website and feel free to fill in the contact form. Our DUI lawyers will try our best to accommodate you on your free schedule.
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