Misdemeanor DUI Defense Lawyers
If you or a family member has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, we are here to help guide you through the process and put you at ease by helping you learn about the process, the options you have, and working together to develop the best strategy to move forward.
At the Phillips Law Offices, we strive to make a prospective client feel both comfortable and confident, and we do our best to alleviate any stress you may have about the uncertainty the criminal justice system. We understand that many of our clients have never been arrested before and are understandably very anxious. We focus on DUI defense to provide our clients with cutting-edge legal representation. We also use a client-centered approach, emphasizing teamwork and client communication to achieve the best result possible.
Almost all DUIs in California our misdemeanors. There are, of course, some exceptions where a DUI may be charged as a felony, such as a case where someone is injured or the driver has three prior convictions in the last 10 years. Generally, misdemeanors are viewed as less serious crimes and carry lower penalties than felony convictions. More importantly, on misdemeanors, most (if not all), of the jail time can be substituted for alternatives or treatment.
In California, a prosecutor can charge a driver with being under the influence of either alcohol or drugs under Penal Code Section 23152 (a) or (b). The statute defines driving under the influence as:
Vehicle Code 23152. (a) & (b)
(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
(g) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
What Does This Mean ?
A common misunderstanding is that it is o.k. to drive if below the “legal limit” which is .08. However, what the the law actually means is that if a driver is above the .08 they are presumed “to be impaired”. If there is circumstantial evidence of bad driving or impaired driving, even if the driver is below .08 it can still be a DUI. So the prosecutor always charges a DUI case both as a “driving impaired” under paragraph (a) and driving above .08 under paragraph (b).
California courts have held that you are under the influence, and guilty of a drunk driving, if your physical and mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that you no longer have the ability to drive with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same or similar circumstances. This means, the prosecutor will use any facts showing the person is driving poorly such as swerving, a vehicle code violation, or a traffic accident.
Most first offense DUIs are prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. The typical penalties for a first offense DUI include:
48 hours of jail, which is converted to alternative sentence.
Informal probation for three years.
Fines in the amount of $ 2,300.
A 3 to 9 month DUI program.
No driving for 1 month followed by 5 months on a restricted work license.
High-risk insurance for three years.
The court may require additional penalties if there are aggravating factors in the case such as, a prior conviction, a high blood alcohol, or a child in the car.