Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is not only dangerous for you as a driver, but for everyone else on the road as well. The state of California does not take drunk driving lightly and thus, impose strict penalties for such behavior. If you were arrested for driving under the influence, contact a Ventura DUI attorney immediately for legal representation.
Penalties- First Offense
The first time a driver is facing charges for driving while intoxicated, the charges will almost definitely be a misdemeanor. There are extenuating circumstances that can make the charge a felony, such as someone else getting hurt, but under less severe circumstances, it’s a misdemeanor. Though it’s the less serious option, there are still some real penalties everyone should be aware of:
- Fines of up to $1,000. Additional “penalty assessments” can make the sum much greater.
- Jail time of up to 6 months. Most of the time, the judge will suggest probation, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to be sentenced to jail.
- Six months of license suspension. That’s the general rule, but actual results can vary. If the driver refused to take a blood alcohol content test (such as breathalyzer or a blood or urine test), he or she may lose their license for a year. There may be no license suspension (save the mandatory 30 days) depending on the outcome of the DMV hearing or the judge’s decision.
- Probation of up to five years. This typically includes DUI school that the driver must pay for. Some drivers may be required to install a device that requires a breathalyzer test to be performed before the car can be started called an ignition interlock device.
If you are facing your first offense of driving under the influence, consider contacting an experienced Ventura DUI lawyer for legal advice.
First Time DUI with Injury
Intoxicated drivers that injure another person can face steeper consequences even if it’s the drivers first time. This crime is considered a “wobbler” as it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The charge will depend on the exact circumstances of the accident and whether the driver has a past criminal history. In most cases, a first time DUI will be charged as a misdemeanor, even if another person gets hurt.
Wet Reckless and Dry Reckless
Often, lawyers will try to bargain with prosecutors for a lesser charge, such as wet or dry reckless driving instead of a DUI. Wet reckless is a term that describes reckless driving with some influence of alcohol, while dry reckless means there was reckless driving but no alcohol was involved. Wet reckless is a more serious charge than dry reckless. Though a wet reckless will have less severe consequences than a DUI, it serves the same function as a DUI on your record. That is to say, even if you are convicted of a wet reckless offense, if you are later charged with another DUI, it will be your second DUI. Because each situation is different, it’s best to speak to a Ventura DUI attorney who can better represent you in court and fight for the most optimal terms.
How to Stay Out of Jail
Your best bet on staying out of jail is knowing your rights and getting a good Ventura DUI attorney. Understand that you are obligated to take a blood alcohol test, but not a field sobriety test. A lawyer can help you bargain for a lesser charge or find flaws in the way the police or prosecution handled your case.
How to Get Into a Nicer Jail
There are a handful of jails that people can actually apply for. They are somewhat secretive and quite expensive, but if you are able to get a connection, it can certainly be worth it. They can cost around $80 a night, but are safer than the average jail and may even permit cell phones or laptops.
Penalties – Second Offense
Like the first DUI, second DUI convictions are also misdemeanors but the penalties are somewhat increased:
- Fines of up to $1,000, with additional fees.
- Up to one year in jail.
- Up to two years of license suspension.
- Up to five years of probation including up to 30 months (over two years) of DUI school.
Penalties – Multiple Offender
A third or subsequent DUI is typically a misdemeanor that can carry the following penalties:
- Again fines of up to $1,000 and additional fees.
- Jail for up to a year.
- Three years of license suspension.
- Up to five years of probation and the possibility of 30 months of DUI school.
Regardless of how many offenses you may have, it’s always best to have an experienced Ventura DUI attorney by your side, every step of the way.
DUI with Injury
If a third party is injured because a driver was intoxicated behind the wheel, that driver generally faces more severe penalties than a driver that didn’t injure anyone. Injury DUIs are what’s called “wobblers” as they may be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the details of the accident. Felony DUI with injuries may result in a prison sentence of up to 4 years and fines of up to $5,000.
If someone is killed during an intoxicated driving accident, the driver is typically charged with vehicular manslaughter or murder. The penalties vary widely as the circumstances may result in a negligent-vehicular-manslaughter-while-intoxicated charge or second degree murder. Such situations require legal representation for a highly skilled Ventura DUI attorney so don’t hesitate to call a lawyer if this is your case.
There are several conditions that may result in an enhanced charge or penalty for a DUI, such as:
- Injury or death of a third party
- Previous convictions
- Excessively high blood alcohol content (above 0.15)
- Speeding or reckless driving
- The involvement of a child
It may be possible for a person convicted of a DUI to avoid serving the complete amount of jail time they were sentenced to through alternative sentencing. This means the person serves time through other means, such as community service, electronic monitoring, sober living environments, rehabilitation, AA meetings, and participation in a MADD Victim Impact program.
Individuals may opt to have an ignition interlock device equipped in their car so they can’t drive unless they pass a breathalyzer. There are also ankle monitors that can detect the blood alcohol content of the offender.
Yet another alternative to jail time is work furlough, where the offender works during the day and checks into a dormitory-style housing facility at night. Having a skilled Ventura DUI attorney can help you negotiate a more optimal situation.
Record Clearance – Expungement
A DUI charge will automatically be erased from an individual’s driving record after 10 years, but stays on their criminal record indefinitely unless action is taken. As soon as a person completes their DUI probation, he or she may petition the court to expunge the record of the conviction. A judge will review the petition and decide whether or not to grant it. If granted, the offender either changes his or her plea to “not guilty,” or the judge sets aside the guilty verdict previously found by the judge or jury presiding. After that, the judge dismisses the case.
Call a Ventura DUI Attorney If You’ve Been Arrested for Driving Under the Influence
Getting arrested for driving under the influence can be an extremely stressful and scary experience. At Rose Law APC, we understand how overwhelming this difficult time may be for you. Thus, we prioritize client satisfaction about all to ensure the best results for you and your loved ones. Call us to speak to a Ventura DUI defense attorney about your situation and what the next best steps are.