Los Angeles Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys
Charged with DUI? Call a Top Criminal Defense Team
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in California. Our state has some of the toughest laws in the country concerning DUI, and prosecutors are zealous in cracking down on offenders. If you have been charged with a DUI offense, you may be facing time behind bars, the loss of your license, and a hefty fine. Your best defense is to hire a talented DUI defense attorney to help you fight the charges.
With Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, you aren’t hiring one lawyer - you are hiring an entire team. We believe everyone deserves representation, and we’ll do everything we can to protect your career and reputation from harm. As skilled L.A. criminal defense attorneys, we have the expertise you need on your side. Contact us today at (213) 688-0460 to learn more.
What Constitutes a DUI in California?
Driving under the influence (DUI) takes place when a person operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is measured, at least when it comes to alcohol, by a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In the case of drugs, it is more subjective, and charges may be filed due to a saliva drug swab test and field sobriety tests.
In general, anyone 21 years or older is considered intoxicated with a BAC of .08% or higher. However, if you are operating a commercial vehicle, legally drunk is .04% or higher, while a person under 21 is considered intoxicated with a BAC of .01% or higher. California’s DUI laws include medications, even legally prescribed ones or over-the-counter medications. It’s illegal to drive if you are impaired by any sort of medication or illegal drugs.
The tests used for measuring a person’s BAC or level of intoxication are not always precise. In many instances, cases have been thrown out of court after it was discovered the police had not adequately inspected or properly administered a breathalyzer test. An experienced LA defense attorney can help ensure you do not become a victim of injustice due to an error in testing or failure on the part of the police to follow standard procedures.
Drugged Driving: Prescription Drugs, Illegal Narcotics, and Marijuana
Driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) carries the same penalties as a DUI, and the two crimes are generally considered synonymous. The law is defined in two sections of the California Vehicle Code:
- California Vehicle Code 23152(f) states: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.”
- California Vehicle Code 23152(g) states: “It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.”
In California, “drugs” are defined as any substance other than alcohol that has a serious effect on your nervous system and muscles. In other words, it’s a drug if it impairs your ability to think, react, and drive. There’s no distinction between legal or illegal drugs in this case, and you can be charged with a DUID if you are driving while affected by:
- Over-the-counter medications
- Illegal drugs and narcotics (methamphetamine, cocaine, etc.)
- Legally prescribed medications, including antidepressants, pain medications, sleep meds, etc.
Because there isn’t a direct correlation between the quantity of the drug in your system and impairment (as there is with alcohol), determining whether you are impaired by drugs may involve field tests or the assistance of a drug recognition expert (DRE) to evaluate your condition.
What Are the Penalties for DUI in California?
It’s important to act swiftly in a DUI case because the penalties for a conviction are severe, even for first-time offenders. First-time convictions carry the following penalties:
- Up to $3,600 in fines and court fees
- Up to six months in jail
- A 30-day license suspension
- A 90-day restriction on your license that only allows you to travel between your home and work
- A three-month mandatory California-sanctioned alcohol treatment program costing $500
- A requirement that your auto insurance must now carry an SR-22 insurance certificate for three years
- Three to five years of probation
- Possible installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
For a second offense within ten years of the first, the penalties go up:
- Up to one year in jail
- Up to $4,000 in fines and court fees
- Up to two years of license suspension
- A 30-month California-sanctioned alcohol treatment program costing an additional $1,800
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles you own
- An extended SR-22 insurance certificate requirement (plus significantly higher insurance rates)
- Up to 10 years of probation
For a third offense within ten years, the penalties are:
- Up to one year in jail (18 months for a fourth offense)
- Up to $18,000 in fines
- Up to three years of license suspension
- A 30-month California-sanctioned alcohol multi-offender program
- Forfeiture of your vehicle indefinitely
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles you own
- A further extended SR-22 insurance certificate requirement (plus significantly higher insurance rates)
- Up to 10 years of probation
In addition to the above penalties, there are also punishments for refusing to submit to a chemical test after being pulled over on suspicion of DUI. Punishments for refusing to be tested can involve a license suspension of up to one year for a first-time offender.
Aggravating Factors for DUI Charges
When you are charged with a crime, you may assume that you will only face penalties for that one crime. However, prosecutors often rely on aggravating factors, as well as related crimes, to make your penalties harsher. Not all crimes are the same, and in some instances, the prosecution will find facts or circumstances that make your alleged DUI a worse crime. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Refusing a chemical test
- Speeding excessively
- Causing a collision
- Injuring or killing another person while driving
- Committing a DUI with a child under the age of 14 in the car
- Being under the legal drinking age during the DUI offense
The penalties that you face will depend on your prior DUI history as well, along with the punishments the prosecution seeks and the judge decides are appropriate. However, in general, these aggravating factors can result in a lengthened jail time, the loss of your license, the loss of your car, and steeper fines. Even a first DUI can be treated like a third offense if enough aggravating factors are present. These factors can also come up during your administrative hearing with the DMV, if the department chooses to have one.
DMV Hearings Following a DUI
Driving under the influence of alcohol with a BAC of over .08% is illegal under Californiaand federal, laws. However, the criminal justice system isn’t the only thing you will have to be deal with following a DUI arrest. You will also have to attend an administrative hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). A DUI is a traffic violation, so the DMV also has jurisdiction over your case. The DMV will not always choose to hold an administrative hearing and may leave the trial up to the district attorney. However, if you have been convicted of DUIs in the past, or your case involves certain aggravating factors, then the DMV will likely demand a hearing.
Once you have received notice from the DMV, you have ten days to respond. The hearing itself will be scheduled after your response, and may be in person or over the phone. If you do not respond or do not show up for the hearing, then the DMV will proceed without you and make a decision. You will be unable to present any evidence on your own behalf, so it is always in your best interests to show up to the hearing.
You do have the right to an attorney during this process. While this hearing may not seem as important as a DUI trial, you should take full advantage of this right. The hearing itself will determine whether your license will be revoked or suspended. While other penalties will be left up to the outcome of your trial, failing this hearing can have a severe impact on your life, especially in Los Angeles, where having a car to get around to key. Losing your license can impact your ability to support yourself and your family. If you are facing a DMV administrative hearing, then you should work with a skilled lawyer who can win your case.
Defending Against a DUI
Going into a trial without a defense ready is the fastest way to ensure that you lose your license, have to pay a high fine, and get stuck behind bars for an extended period of time. Thankfully, there are some strong defenses that you can implement during your trial and your administrative hearing.
- You were driving out of necessity and had no other options
- You were driving under duress, as in the threat of harm or injury
- You were improperly stopped by the arresting officer
- You were not given a chemical test
- The chemical test you were given was faulty
- You were not the one driving
- The officers that arrested you committed misconduct
The only way to find the correct defense for your case is to work with a skilled attorney who can launch an in-depth investigation on your behalf. Your attorney will be able to find new evidence, speak to witnesses, and poke holes in the prosecution’s case. However, this process will take time, so the sooner you contact an attorney, the better.
Don’t Wait to Get Help
The sooner we can start analyzing your case, the better our chances of getting you a positive outcome. Our team of Los Angeles defense attorneys will go to work immediately to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether.
We have experience handling cases that range from simple misdemeanor drunk driving to charges of felony DUI, vehicular manslaughter, and gross vehicular manslaughter. The legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is standing ready to help with your DUI. Call us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation.
- Roadside DUI Tests: Know Your Rights
- DUI Incidents Often Involve Other Serious Charges
- What to Know About a First-Offender DUI in California
- Beware Serious Penalties for DUI Repeat Offenders
- Driving Under The Influence (DUI)
- Vehicle Code 23152 - California Legislative Information
Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.