If you are arrested for driving under the influence after an accident that caused property damage or injuries, your DUI charge will be a felony.
You will need the help of an experienced DUI Lawyer in Vacaville. The consequences of a DUI accident vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and can include:
- 1 to 3 years in a state prison
- mandated court-approved alcohol and/or drunk education program
- court fines and penalties
- restitution penalties to the injured party
- 4 to 10 years of driver’s license suspension
The most common opening offer by the prosecution for the DUI accident arrest is 2 year prison term. Without an experienced attorney by your side that is the bargain plead you will receive.
To protect your rights and improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome for your case, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced DUI lawyer.
Odor of Alcohol During DUI Arrest
The smell of alcohol is often cited as a contributing factor in the officer’s determination of intoxication.
However, alcohol is odorless, so the officer is actually testifying about the flavoring inherent in most beverages. Ironically, beer and wine have significantly stronger odors than hard liquor so a person can drink far less beer and wine yet smell worse than someone consuming large quantities of hard liquor.
The odor has no correlation to the amount of alcohol consumed, so an officer cannot testify about how much alcohol was ingested or when it was consumed. There are other sources that contribute to the smell of alcohol. Products that remain in the throat for extended periods of time are contributing factors, such as mouthwash, cough syrup, or deodorizing throat spray. Syrupy alcoholic beverages—Kahlua or other liquids—tend to remain in the throat for longer periods of time so the smell will be stronger.
Moreover, certain illnesses can create a breath comparable to the “odor of alcohol” and belching causes gaseous odors to remain in the throat for approximately ten minutes. Most chemical breath tests prohibit operation within ten minutes of belching, so some defendants have delayed the test by swallowing air to facilitate a belch. This is especially useful to possibly avoid the driver’s license suspension for a test refusal.
If a test is given, the result is inadmissible; if no test is given, the defendant was cooperative, but has a legitimate excuse—uncontrollable belching. Alcohol generally requires one hour to have the maximum effect on the body. If the officer claims that a strong smell of alcohol indicates recent consumption, then DUI defense attorney can argue that the defendant was not legally drunk at the time of driving because the alcohol did not have time to absorb into the bloodstream.
It is important to note that the smell of alcoholic beverages usually triggers police suspicion of a possible drunk driver. Thereafter, the officer will search for additional evidence of intoxication to substantiate a criminal charge.
To protect individual privacy from overly intrusive officers, motorists must learn to conceal their breath. There are numerous products on the market designed for breath concealment, so make an informed selection. Nu-Breath works for some, while others prefer red-hot cinnamon, pungent candy or gum. Using the appropriate product before initiating contact with an officer will help conceal offensive breath odors.
Long-Term Consequences of Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence is never a good idea for obvious reasons and in fact, is against the law. Driving while intoxicated not only puts the driver at risks, but everyone else on the road at risk. The consequences can essentially be your death. Regardless of how many times it’s etched into our brains throughout our lives, driving under the influence still proves to be an issue that has touched us all in some way. If you have had a driver’s license suspended because of a DUI conviction, speak to a DUI defense attorney who can help you take legal action.
DUIs, on top of being costly, also has other life-altering consequences. If anyone is killed in one of these accidents, the driver could be found guilty of a felony, and serve at least a year of jail time. DUIs are the most common form of criminal conviction in the US today. Despite being so common, the ways that a DUI can come back to haunt you are seldom discussed.
Most DUI convictions are typically coupled with hefty fines and a possibility for jail time. On top of this, a drunk driver could be facing some of the below:
Driver’s License Revocation
In most parts of California, a car and driving are your ticket to work, home, social events, and leisure time. Not having your license can have an effect on your life in more ways than one.
It’ll show up in future background checks
From babysitting jobs to full time employment to college scholarships, background checks are increasingly common and could jeopardize your future: albeit employment or financial aid. DUIs depict a type of recklessness that is hard to shake off. Even long after you’ve made a life change, the paper trail will follow you around.
You might put your current job at risk
In addition to jobs that require you to drive, any sort of jail time or court dates that cause you to miss work can put you over on personal days, not accounting the severe loss of trust that can ensue between yourself and your employers after a conviction. Depending on your employer’s policies, your employer may choose to terminate your employment after a DUI conviction.
Your Auto Insurance Rates will likely rise
DUI convictions turn you into a “high risk” driver by standards of most auto insurances, which unfortunately means higher rates. You may even be dropped by your current insurance in some cases.
Overall, the only way to avoid these consequences is not getting behind the wheel while under the influence, because the repercussions are greater than immediate inconvenience. If you are facing a DUI conviction, it’s best to seek legal representation from a skilled Sacramento DUI defense attorney.
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The DUI Court Proceeding
After your DMV hearing, you have another challenge separate from the hearing and even more significant to overcome. While the DMV hearing is a privilege and an opportunity to convince the DMV to, at least temporarily, return your license to you, the California DUI court proceeding is a mandatory event in which you must face the charges brought against you by the State.
The individuals involved in a California DUI court proceeding include:
- Your DUI defense attorney
- The prosecutor
- The judge
- A jury
The general outline of the DUI criminal case court proceedings are as follows:
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Prosecution’s arguments – Including witnesses which your lawyers can cross-examine
- The defense’s arguments – Including witnesses which the prosecution may cross-examine
- Closing statements
The Pretrial Phase
The period of time between the arrest and when the trial actually begins is called the “pretrial” phase and is the longest. Courts are notorious for taking a long time and for good reason. It can take weeks or months to get on the Court calendar for a DUI case. During this time, your attorney will investigate the details of your case and create arguments in your defense.
The prosecution will say this is the best time to negotiate for a plea bargain, but that’s because no one knows what the other side knows. Before the trial begins, it’s hard or impossible to understand the other side’s case and what evidence they have, even if they claim to have evidence. Once the initial phase of the trial, the arraignment, begins, that’s the best time to negotiate with the prosecution. At this point the defense team (you and your lawyer) will hear the prosecutor’s evidence and will then know the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
The more evidence in your favor and the more holes your lawyer can poke in the prosecution’s case, the better chance you have of the judge reducing or dismissing charges. There are several pretrial motions that your lawyer can run depending on the details of your case. These pretrial motions include:
- A probable cause hearing – This is to call into question the validity of the initial stop by the officer
- A motion to suppress hearing – To request the blockage of any evidence that was obtained illegally or that would unjustly prejudice the judge or jury against you
- A pitchless hearing – In this hearing, the complaint history of the arresting officer is examined in order to discredit his or her actions and testimony
After gathering all possible evidence, conducting whatever pre-trial motions your lawyer deems are appropriate, and consulting with defense expert witnesses, your lawyer is in a prime position to negotiate on your behalf. This knowledge makes it possible to find the holes in the case against you, causing the prosecutors to lose confidence in their arguments. The State may be willing to decrease your charges to lesser offenses such as reckless driving.
If your attorney is unable to collect enough evidence to support your case, the prosecution may be unwilling to propose an appealing plea bargain and you may be headed to trial.
This is the first stage of court proceedings in a DUI case where the prosecutor makes his or her first official suggestion of what the sentence should be if you plead guilty and is the first opportunity for you to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
If you were to plead guilty, you must serve the suggested sentence and the case is closed, except in regards to your probation after your sentence. If you plead not guilty, the case continues through court proceedings and you and your lawyer are able to review and challenge all evidence brought against you. Evidence may include:
- The police report
- Maintenance records of chemical testing equipment
Winning the DUI Case
Hiring a private lawyer with extensive experience in DUI criminal cases can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. An experienced DUI attorney may use any of the following as defenses:
- Illegal or otherwise flawed police investigations or procedures
- Chemical test equipment that is not working or calibrated properly
- Inaccurate scientific calculations
- The defendant was not driving
- The chemical test results have a legal explanation
DUI criminal court proceedings are very stressful and the laws are complicated. Hiring an attorney who understand this section of law thoroughly and will work tirelessly on your behalf can help keep you out of jail and might prevent a life-changing DUI conviction. First time offenders can spend up to 6 months in county jail, pay up to $1000 in fines, lose their license for up to 10 months, and pay for and attend nearly a year of DUI school. Don’t leave your fate to chance!
What is a Federal DUI?
In 200, President Clinton signed into law the federal DUI legislation. A federal DUI is when an individual drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on federal property. This is considered a federal crime as it is a criminal act that occurs on federal property or on property that is under federal jurisdiction. It is important to realize that the federal government owns millions of acres of land, in fact nearly 30% of the land that makes up the US is owned by the federal government. The most common places for individuals to get charged with a federal DUI are:
- National parks
- Military bases
- Some airports
- Post offices
- Government compounds
- Parking lots on federal land
- Land associated with national monuments
If the DUI occurred in a national park, the driver will be charged under the Code of Federal Regulation. If the DUI occurred on any other federal land or land under federal jurisdiction, the driver is charged and tried under the DUi laws and penalties of the state in which the DUI occurred through the federal Assimilative Crimes Act.
Though individuals may believe themselves to be safe in secluded areas of national parks, federal authorities regularly patrol national parks, lakeshores, battle ground parks, and other federal land, sometimes even using ATVs to quickly patrol more remote sections. Some areas may set up checkpoints during the busier summer months to check for drunk drivers.
Two Types of Federal DUI
There are two kinds of federal DUIs that a driver may be charged with when driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol on federal land.
- Driving with a BAC of 0.08 or over – As is true in most states, the federal law limits a drivers blood alcohol content to 0.08%. This indicates that there can be no more than 0.07 grams of alcohol in 100mL of blood or 210 liters of breath.
- Under 21 – The federal government has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. An underage driver with a BAC of 0.001 can be arrested and charged with a federal misdemeanor crime.
What are the Punishments?
For DUIs that occur in National Parks, the DUI is classified as a class B misdemeanor with the following potential penalties:
- Up to six months in jail
- Fines of up to $5,000
- Probation for up to five years.
For DUIs that occur on federal land other than National Parks or military bases, the DUI is prosecuted according to the laws of the state in which the DUI occurred. Though the laws of the state are relevant to prosecuting the crime, the criminal court case will occur in Federal Court and will be prosecuted by federal prosecutors.
There are several details that can affect the severity of the charge, such as:
- Being significantly over the legal blood alcohol limit
- Reckless driving
- Having a passenger that is under the age of 14 in the car at the time of the arrest
- Having been convicted of previous DUIs
Just as is the case on non-federal property, drivers who operate a motor vehicle on federal property do so under an Implied Consent law. This means that when a person gets behind the wheel, he or she implies consent to being tested for alcohol and drugs. This means submitting to a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test. Refusing a chemical test is a misdemeanor under federal law that is punishable by:
- Up to six months in federal prison
- The loss of the privilege to drive on federal land for a year
A typical DUI arrest is a very stressful and complicated event. Add on the pressure and weight of the federal government and you have a very serious situation on your hands. It’s important to seek legal advice and representation from a skilled lawyer with experience fighting federal DUI charges. Though you may think hiring a lawyer is an expense you don’t want to pay for, the fines and lifelong effects of a DUI conviction add up to something much more significant than lawyer fees. Don’t put your future up to chance – be sure to find a lawyer that can put up the best defense on your behalf.