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San Jose CA DUI defense lawyerNo matter the circumstances, a DUI is always a serious charge that can carry pretty serious circumstances. When you cause the death or bodily injury of another while you are driving under the influence of alcohol, all of a sudden those charges become even more serious and you will probably face felony charges, rather than misdemeanor charges. When you are charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, you could face years in jail, among other consequences.

DUI With Injury: VEH 23153

If you cause injury to another person while you are driving under the influence, you can be charged with a DUI with injury as per the California Vehicle Code. In order to be charged with this crime, it must be proven that you violated at least one of California’s DUI laws, that you broke another law or acted negligently while driving and that the negligence caused an injury to someone else. DUI with injury can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. Typically, a misdemeanor charge will carry a sentence of five days to one year in county jail, informal probation for three to five years, up to $5,000 in fines and a suspension of your driving privileges.

Vehicular Manslaughter and Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated: PEN 191.5(b) and PEN 191.5(a)

If you cause the death of another person while you were driving under the influence, you may be charged with either vehicular manslaughter or gross vehicular manslaughter. Essentially, these two charges are the same thing, but with a gross vehicular manslaughter charge, it must be proven that you acted with gross negligence when you caused the death. Gross negligence occurs when you act in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury and most people would have known that the reckless act created the high risk of death or bodily injury.

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San Jose CA DUI-field-sobriety-testing attorneyEven if you have never been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, many people are aware of field sobriety tests from popular television programs such as “Cops,” which shows police pulling over DUI suspects and asking them to walk in a straight line or recite the alphabet starting at a certain letter. While shows like “Cops” can entertain us with failed sobriety tests, a DUI conviction is a serious matter and field sobriety tests are used as legitimate evidence in a court of law. 

What are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests were developed to help police officers determine if a person had consumed enough alcohol that it affected their ability to drive. There are two categories of field sobriety tests: standardized and non-standardized. Most police officers will use a combination of both types to determine impairment, but usually only standardized tests hold up as evidence in court. Standardized field sobriety tests were developed in the 1970s, and their effectiveness has been studied and found to have identified impaired drivers 90 percent of the time.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test

One of the first tests that an officer might use is the HGN test, which measures the involuntary jerking of your eyeball. Nystagmus is the term used for the normal and involuntary jerking of the eyeball. When a person is not intoxicated, nystagmus typically only occurs when the eye is at a high peripheral angle. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, the angle at which nystagmus begins is much less. When the test is conducted, the officer will have the suspect follow a moving object with their eyes in order to observe when nystagmus begins. Intoxicated suspects will typically have difficulty tracking the object as well.

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Consequences of Underage Drinking and Driving in California

San Jose underage DUI attorneyDrinking and driving is a deadly crime. In 2016, alcohol-related driving fatalities accounted for 28 percent of all traffic fatalities in the United States. Though the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities has decreased for underage drinkers, juvenile drunk driving remains a problem. In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers and about a fourth of those car crashes involved an underage drinking driver. Underage drinking and driving is a serious offense, which is why perpetrators face strict punishments. Understanding these punishments is vital if you or your child are facing juvenile DUI charges.

Laws Regarding Drinking and Driving

There are a handful of laws applicable to juvenile DUI cases, with some of them targeting underage offenders. Teens who choose to drink and drive are subject not only to the underage DUI laws but also the regular DUI laws.

“Zero Tolerance” Law - VEH 23136 

This law states that a person under the age of 21 can be charged with a civil offense if they are caught driving with a BAC over .01%. Violating this law can result in an administrative license suspension of at least one year, but up to three years if the person has a history of DUI.

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Legal Repercussions for California Juvenile DUI Offenders

San Jose underage DUI defense attorneyLike many states, California has stringent laws when it comes to underage drinking and driving. The legal drinking age for all states is 21 years old, but according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 24% of car accident fatalities for drivers in the 15 to 20 age bracket involved alcohol. From that statistic, 82% had a .08% BAC or higher, which is the legal limit for adults over 21 years of age.

Not only do many juveniles occasionally make improper judgment calls, such as when drinking in driving, but also their bodies do not process alcohol the same as adults. These differences increase the necessity for alcohol regulations for California’s youth, such as the Zero Tolerance law for underage DUI. If you or your child currently face juvenile DUI charges, it is essential to understand the allegations and what potential penalties those charges carry.

Underage-Specific DUI Laws

In California, there are two specific laws geared toward underage drunk drivers- VEH 23136 and VEH 23140. Both ordinances are only applicable to individuals under the age of 21 choosing to operate a vehicle after drinking alcohol.

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Posted on in DUI

San Jose criminal defense attorneys, DUI charges, suspended license, DUI cases, DUI penaltiesDriving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, or any illegal substance is a serious matter in California. The state has some of the harshest DUI penalties, which include heavy fines, lengthy driver’s license suspensions, and potential mandatory minimum jail sentences.

If you are arrested and charged with any type of DUI, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney working on your case. While you may think you are saving yourself money and can defend these charges on your own, it can have long ranging impacts on every area of your life, jeopardizing your freedom and financial security.

California DUI Laws

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