We Are Here to Serve You from Bail Hearing to Jury Trial
Escondido DUI Attorney
DUI Defense in Carlsbad, Oceanside, Poway, Rancho Bernardo, San Marcos, and Vista
Everyone knows you should not get behind the wheel while intoxicated. However, you can make every effort to drive responsibly and still misjudge your level of impairment after a social drink or two. Before you know it, you may be asked to pull over and be arrested for DUI. Should this occur, you will understandably be wondering what happens next and what you should do to protect yourself.
Do not panic. While even a first-offense DUI is a serious criminal offense, you should not assume you will be convicted. With help from a capable legal professional, you may be able to reduce the charges, negotiate a more reasonable sentence, or even walk away with little to no penalties. Our Escondido DUI lawyer is committed to representing the little guy and can advocate for you in these difficult scenarios. At Sterger Law Group, we will carefully evaluate all elements of your case and pursue a defense strategy designed to secure the best possible outcome.
If you have been charged with DUI, contact an Escondido DUI lawyer online or call (760) 280-7900 to schedule a free initial consultation. Flexible payment options are available, and we offer our legal services in English and Spanish.
Understanding California’s DUI Laws
In the state of California, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any motorist with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher is automatically assumed to be unlawfully intoxicated. The good news is that, unlike in some states, a California motorist cannot be convicted of DUI unless they were actively driving their vehicle while intoxicated. You cannot be convicted of DUI if you were merely sleeping in your car, for example, an act that can lead to a conviction in other jurisdictions.
Can You Refuse to Take a Field Sobriety Test?
If you are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the law enforcement officer will almost certainly ask you to take a breathalyzer test or complete a “field sobriety test.” Do not take the breathalyzer test offered when pulled over unless you are absolutely confident you are under the legal limit. Despite what the officer may imply, you are not required to take a breathalyzer test until you are arrested for DUI.
Field sobriety tests tend to be flawed, as they do not do a good job demonstrating whether someone is actually intoxicated. You might fail a field sobriety test because you are clumsy or forgetful, not because you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You should also assume the officer is looking for any reason to arrest you, so there is no guarantee the test will be administered fairly. Therefore, you should politely decline to participate in a field sobriety test if asked. There is no legal penalty for refusing.
Refusing a Breathalyzer in California
If you are arrested for DUI, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer test. Under California’s implied consent law, you agree to take these tests in these specific scenarios when you receive your driver’s license. Though law enforcement officers cannot force you to take the test, refusing at this stage will trigger additional penalties.
Ask to speak to a DUI lawyer if you are pulled over or arrested. Our Escondido DUI attorney can assess the facts and recommend what you should do to protect your rights.
Whether your DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or felony will depend on whether you have been convicted of DUI before, as well as whether anyone was injured as a result of your conduct. If this is your first DUI arrest and there were no aggravating factors, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor.
In California, you will generally only be charged with felony DUI if:
- You have previously been convicted of felony DUI
- You have been convicted of three misdemeanor DUI offenses in the last 10 years
- Someone else was injured as a result of your driving
Misdemeanor DUI is still a very serious charge that can lead to life-changing consequences if convicted. In many cases, a convicted motorist will need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their vehicle if they wish to continue driving. The severity of the penalties will depend on the number of prior convictions and the presence of any aggravating factors.
Penalties for DUI in California include:
- First Offense, Misdemeanor: up to six months of jail time, up to $1,000 in fines, up to nine months of DUI school, six months of IID installation
- Second Offense, Misdemeanor: up to one year of jail time, up to $1,000 in fines, up to 30 months of DUI school, one year of IID installation
- Third Offense, Misdemeanor: up to one year of jail time, up to $1,000 in fines, up to 30 months of DUI school, two years of IID installation
- Misdemeanor Offense with Injury: up to one year of jail time, up to $5,000 in fines (plus restitution), up to 30 months of DUI school, one year of IID installation
- Felony Offense: up to three years of prison time, up to $1,000 in fines, up to 30 months of DUI school, up to five years of license suspension
- Felony Offense with Injury: up to 16 years of prison time, up to $5,000 in fines (plus restitution), up to 30 months of DUI school, one year of IID installation
Our Escondido DUI lawyer will fight for the best possible outcome in and out of the courtroom. Inadmissibility of evidence, lack of probable cause to arrest, improper administration of a breathalyzer test, and faulty machinery are just some of the legal arguments we can make to protect your interests. Depending on the circumstances that apply to your case, our team at Sterger Law Group may be able to avoid a conviction or reduce the penalties.