In San Jose and the rest of California, driving under the influence is a serious offense. If you have been drinking and end up getting behind the wheel, you might be pulled over by a police officer and arrested for DUI. You will want to know what to expect with your case and what may happen to you.
What charges might you face?
Per criminal law, in California, there are two different charges you can face if you are arrested for being impaired while driving. They include the following:
- Driving under the influence, or DUI: A police officer can charge you with a DUI if they believe you were driving unsafely, especially if you failed the field sobriety test. Your blood alcohol concentration or BAC doesn’t even have to be over the legal limit of 0.08 to receive this charge. If you are impaired due to alcohol or drugs and are operating your vehicle in an unsafe manner, you can be charged and arrested.
- Driving with a BAC over 0.08: You can be charged with driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
What circumstances can exacerbate your charges?
Criminal law determines that you can face harsher penalties based on certain circumstances being in place at the time of your offense. The following can exacerbate your charges:
- Your BAC was 0.15 or higher.
- You were driving with a minor younger than 14 as a passenger.
- You were driving recklessly and traveling 20 to 30 miles per hour over the legal speed limit.
- You’re under 21 years old and driving with any alcohol content.
You can be charged with a felony if you’ve had a prior DUI or you caused injuries or death. If you have had three DUI or “wet reckless” convictions within the past 10 years, that could also result in felony charges.
What can happen during your case?
Negotiations can occur during the pretrial conference. This happens during arraignment if you face misdemeanor charges. However, if you’re facing felony charges, it occurs before the preliminary hearing.
The preliminary hearing occurs within 10 days of arraignment and is done to show there’s probable cause. Witnesses will testify during this time. If you face arraignment, it lets you learn the charges against you. The case typically goes to trial within 15 days after the preliminary hearing.
During the trial, the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. If the jury finds you guilty, the judge will issue a sentence, which may include a fine, probation and a treatment program. You may also face prison time.
Your driver’s license is also suspended if you’re found guilty of a DUI. If it’s a first offense, it will be for six months. With a second offense, the suspension is two years.
DUI charges should be taken very seriously. You can face harsh penalties, so it’s important to present strong evidence to avoid a conviction.