in Riverside, CA
DUI Defense Lawyers in Riverside, California
In California, over 100,000 individuals are arrested annually for drunk or drugged driving. In 2018, the California Department of Motor Vehicles recorded 127,437 arrests for DUIs, with 4,919 of those being for felony DUI offenses. While DUIs are a common charge, they can still lead to severe consequences upon conviction. These may include incarceration, license suspension, significant fines, and other penalties.
If you have been charged with a DUI, it is crucial that you obtain the assistance of a skilled DUI attorney from the Fontes Law Group in Riverside as soon as possible. Our team of criminal defense attorneys has successfully represented numerous individuals facing DUI charges and other criminal offenses. We can provide you with information on the potential penalties you may face and the potential defenses available in your case.
Understanding DUI Charges
The California DUI statute is found at Cal. Veh. Code § 23152. Under § 21352(a), it is illegal to drive a vehicle when you are under the influence of alcohol. It is also illegal under § 21352(b) to drive a vehicle if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. \
Under subsection (a), you can be charged with a DUI even if the police do not obtain a breath or blood test if they believe that you are intoxicated. The police can also charge you with a DUI under subsection (a) when your BAC tests lower than 0.08% if they believe you are under the influence.
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher on a breath or blood test, you will be charged under both § 21352(a) and § 21352(b) of California’s DUI law, as outlined in Cal. Veh. Code § 23152. However, even if you are convicted under both subsections, it will only count as one DUI conviction.
Subsection (f) of the DUI statute makes it illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of any drug. This means you could face DUI charges if your ability to drive is impaired by illegal or legal drugs, such as prescription medication or marijuana. It is also against the law to operate a vehicle while under the influence of a combination of alcohol and drugs, as outlined in subsection (g).
Meet DUI Lawyer
What Prosecutors Must Prove
When you are stopped by the police on suspicion of DUI, they may ask you to perform standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs). These tests are designed to indicate whether you might be intoxicated. While the police may make it seem as if you are required to take these roadside tests, you have the right to refuse them. However, the police may still take you into custody and ask you to take a blood or breathalyzer test to measure the concentration of alcohol in your blood within two hours of when you last drove.
In order to prove DUI charges beyond a reasonable doubt, prosecutors must present evidence that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even if you refused a breath or blood test, the prosecutor can try to present evidence of intoxication and may use your refusal to test as evidence against you.
In many DUI cases, the prosecution relies on circumstantial evidence, such as the testimony of the arresting police officer, to demonstrate impairment. An officer might testify that your driving was erratic or that you showed other signs of impairment when they approached your vehicle and spoke with you. These indicators of impairment may include:
- An odor of alcohol on your breath
- Sight of alcohol containers in your vehicle
- Disheveled appearance
- Bloodshot or watery eyes
- Slurred speech
- Slow or clumsy motor movements
- Difficulty maintaining balance when asked to exit your vehicle
- Failing the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs)
- Any admissions of alcohol consumption
Defending Against DUI Charges
If you have been arrested for a DUI, you may feel like you will automatically be found guilty. However, it is possible to defend yourself against a DUI charge, even if your BAC was above 0.08%. An experienced DUI lawyer at the Fontes Law Group can review the evidence and police report to identify potential defenses. Some of the possible defenses that may be available in your case include:
- The police officer did not have a valid reason to stop your vehicle.
- Your driving was not erratic.
- The police officer did not have sufficient cause to arrest you.
- The officer administered the standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) improperly.
- The administrator of the breathalyzer was not properly certified or did not follow proper procedures.
- There were issues with the chain of custody for your blood sample.
- The analyst made mistakes when testing your blood.
Your attorney will work with you to identify the most relevant defenses for your case and help you understand your legal options.
DUI Penalties in California
The penalties you may face for a DUI depend on whether this is your first offense within the past 10 years or if you have prior DUI convictions. Penalties generally increase with each subsequent DUI, and sentences may vary based on your county.
If this is your first DUI within the past 10 years, you may be sentenced to summary probation for three years and required to attend DUI school. Depending on your BAC, you may also be ordered to attend a certain number of hours of DUI classes: 30 hours for a BAC under 0.15%, 60 hours for a BAC between 0.15% and 0.19%, or 90 hours for a BAC of 0.20% or higher.
In addition, you may lose your license for six months. However, you may be able to avoid this automatic suspension by installing an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for six months. You may also face a jail sentence of 48 hours to six months and fines ranging from $390 to $1,000, plus additional assessments and costs.
If this is your second DUI within 10 years, you may face the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of 96 hours to one year
- Probation for three to five years
- DUI education classes for 18 months to 30 months
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000
- A two-year suspension of your license, or the requirement to use an ignition interlock device for one year
For a third DUI within 10 years, you may face the following penalties:
- A jail sentence of four months to one year, with a mandatory minimum of 30 days if probation is granted
- Fines ranging from $390 to $1,000
- DUI education classes for 30 months
The penalties for a DUI may be more severe if certain aggravating factors are present, such as having a minor under the age of 14 in your car, speeding while under the influence, or a BAC of 0.15% or higher. In addition, a DUI conviction may prevent you from entering Canada while traveling.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a prosecutor may offer you a plea deal for a wet or dry reckless charge under Cal. Veh. Code 23103.5 or 23103.
If you are convicted of a fourth DUI within 10 years, you can be charged with a felony that carries a maximum prison sentence of three years.
For a first DUI, you may not face jail time and instead be ordered to complete informal probation. However, if this is your second or subsequent offense, you will face minimum mandatory jail sentences. If you are placed on probation and violate the terms, your probation can be revoked, resulting in a jail sentence.
DUIs also carry collateral consequences, such as higher insurance premiums and the potential loss of your job. If you have a professional license, a DUI conviction may result in the suspension or revocation of your license and the end of your career.
Get Help From a DUI Defense Lawyer Riverside
If you have been charged with a DUI in Riverside, it is important to retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at the Fontes Law Group have years of experience defending people against DUIs and can help you understand your options. Contact us today to request a consultation at 714-571-0738 and speak with a DUI defense lawyer in Riverside.
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We quote reasonable fees for our criminal law matters. They are accepted on a flat-fee basis, and payment plans are available. Our sophisticated, efficient, affordable, and client-centered services separate us from other firms as we help our clients achieve their goals.