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San Jose CA DUI defense lawyerIn California, getting a DUI is an extremely serious matter. In addition to fines and criminal penalties, there is also the impact on your driver’s license, the increased costs, and the potential damage to your job or reputation. When considering whether you need legal help in defending yourself against these charges, it is important to consider these ramifications. The following outlines what to expect based on whether you have any prior DUIs on your driving record, along with some of the defenses our San Jose DUI defense attorneys may be able to raise in your case.  

Could You Be Facing a Jail Sentence for a DUI? 

Under California law, it is illegal to drive with a blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 or greater. Law enforcement officials have the authority to pull you over, detain you, and press criminal charges in the matter if they have a reasonable suspicion you are operating the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance. 

As drunk driving is a leading cause of car accidents and injuries throughout the state, California takes a strong stand against suspected DUI drivers. Penalties you face depend on whether you have previously been convicted on a DUI offense or whether anyone was injured as the result of your actions. These penalties include: 

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San Jose CA felony DUI defense attorneyTypically, a DUI will be classified as a misdemeanor offense when you are charged for your first, second or third DUI. However, there are circumstances that will lead to felony DUI charges usually if there is an “aggravating factor” present. It is important to understand how the specific circumstances alleged by police and prosecutors will affect your legal situation and the kind of penalties you might be facing.

DUI Causing Great Bodily Injury or Death to Another

One of the more common ways that a DUI will be classified as felony charge is by causing bodily injury or death to another person while you are driving. California Vehicle Code Section 23153 states that you do not have to have a certain BAC to be convicted of this felony charge. In order to be charged with this felony, you must have a measurable amount of alcohol in your system while driving and have committed a crime or an act of negligence that caused great bodily injury or death to another person.

Three or More DUI Convictions Within the Past 10 Years

The first three times you are charged with a DUI will more than likely be charged as misdemeanors. In California, there are what are known as “priorable offenses” a priorable offense is one that gets gradually more strict with each conviction. DUI is a priorable offense, so if you get more than three offenses within 10 years, your fourth offense will become a felony.

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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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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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San Jose DUI defense attorney, DUI charges, BAC, legal blood alcohol content, DUI defense attorneyIt is not uncommon to want to go out and have a few drinks over dinner or when visiting neighborhood bars and taverns with friends. Unfortunately, while you may think you are safe to drive if you spread out the amount of alcohol you consume over the course of the night, or stick to beer or wine rather than hard liquors, you could still be at risk for DUI charges.

While the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08 percent in California may seem high, our DUI defense attorneys have handled numerous cases where just one or two drinks put someone over this limit.

How One or Two Drinks Can Put You Over the Legal Limit

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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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Posted on in DUI

DUI expungement, San Jose criminal defense lawyer, felony DUI, DUI conviction, DUI chargesDriving under the influence, i.e. operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol to the extent that you are not able to drive as cautiously as a sober person, is a serious crime in California. Those convicted of driving under the influence (commonly referred to as “getting a DUI”) in California can be fined, sentenced to serve time in prison, ordered to complete a drug and alcohol awareness program, have their driver’s license suspended, and/or have an ignition interlock device installed on their car. But these are just a few of the potential consequences that DUI offenders face.

Additionally there is a social stigma that often accompanies having a DUI on your record, and such a blemish may impact your ability to find work, especially if you were convicted of a felony DUI (opposed to a misdemeanor DUI). However, there is some good news; under certain circumstances a California DUI conviction can be expunged.

What Does it Mean to Have a DUI Conviction Expunged?

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San Jose DUI defense attorneys, DUI defense strategiesWhile each DUI case is different, there are several defense strategies utilized by experienced DUI defense lawyers. Hence, understanding the five DUI defenses commonly asserted in California is essential.

1. I was improperly stopped by the police.

In the United States, the U.S. Constitution prohibits police officers from pulling over or stopping individuals without reasonable suspicion. A police officer has reasonable suspicion, and can therefore legally pull over a driver, if he or she reasonably suspects that the driver is engaging in illegal activity. For example, if a police officer is driving along and notices the car in front of him or her swerving in and out of their lane, then it is reasonable for the police officer to suspect that the driver is intoxicated and to briefly stop the driver in order to investigate.

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