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DUI In California

Drinking and Driving Laws In California

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In California, an individual is considered to be “under the influence” if their blood alcohol concentration is .08% or more. There are also additional laws that prohibit riding bikes and scooters while intoxicated, which are called boating under the influence (BUI).

Commercial drivers have a stricter BAC standard applied to them. They can get arrested if they have a BAC of .04% or more. Lastly, California implements a very strict law of “zero tolerance” for underage drivers (under 21 years old) getting behind the wheel with a BAC of .01% or more.

  • Make Sure Everyone is Okay. The first thing you should do after an auto accident is to make sure that you and your passengers are okay. If anyone is injured, call 911 to request an ambulance.
  • Call the Police. Even if no one appears to be injured and you believe the damages are minor, you should call the police so they can make an official report of the accident. Some law enforcement agencies will not take a report if no one is injured, so you should make sure to communicate your injuries to the officers who respond to the accident.
  • Exchange Information with Other Drivers. Make sure that you get the names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers and insurance information for all parties involved in the accident. You should also write down the make, model, year, color, and license plate number of all vehicles. The easiest and fastest way to accomplish this is to take pictures with your cell phone.
  • Get Contact Information from Witnesses. Talk with witnesses and write down their names and phone numbers because you may need to get in touch with them in the future.
  • Be Careful What You Say. While you may be flustered or angry, it is important to watch what you say after a car accident. You should never apologize for the accident or admit or claim anything. Statements you make at the scene of an accident can be used against you and may hurt your case later on.
  • Take Pictures. Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved in the accident, as well as the road conditions and traffic signs and signals. If you don’t have access to a cell phone or camera, make sure that you take photographs of your car and the accident scene as soon as possible after the accident.
  • Contact a Lawyer. After an accident, it is important to get in touch with an attorney experienced in handling car accident claims even before you report the accident to your insurance company. Additionally, you should consult with your attorney before making any statements to the other driver’s insurance company. Accident victims often make the mistake of discussing their case with an insurance company before they have spoken with qualified legal counsel. An experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer can protect your rights and help you take the right steps to obtain the financial compensation you deserve.

Blood Alcohol Concentration Limit

Determining the level of a driver’s impairment comes along with a few factors including:

  • Gender.
  • Body size.
  • Amount of drink consumption, along with the strength of the drinks.
  • Time of consumption.
  • Time of food consumption before being arrested.
  • Medical condition(s) that may contribute to how the body metabolizes the alcohol consumed.

California DUI Penalties

There are various penalties that are implemented after getting a DUI in California. Each one is determined based on different circumstances. Potential sentences may include:

  • Jail - First offense is up to 6 months. Second offense is 96 hours up to 1 year. Third offense is 120 days to 1 year.
  • Fines and Penalties - First offense is from $390 to $1,000. Second offense also has the same fine. Third offense is up to $1,800.
  • License Suspension - First offense is 6 months. Second offense is 2 years. Third offense is 3 years
  • Interlock Ignition Device (IID) - First offense is up to 6 months or a 12 month restricted license. Second offense is 1 year. Third offense is 2 years..

A judge or prosecutor will carefully review the situation and determine the most appropriate punishment for the driver who was under the influence while they were behind the wheel.

Penalties For Death Or Injuries After A DUI Charge

Injuries. If your reckless driving behavior resulted in an injury, you can expect to face penalties that are more severe. Such defendants are sometimes referred to as “wobblers.”
Wobblers can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony for driving under the influence. If charged as a felony, the injury caused by the DUI will carry a prison sentence of 16 months to four years. Depending on the past history of the individual charged with driving under the influence, fines may range from $290 to $5,000.

Death. Reckless drivers who were under the influence and caused the death of another person may be prosecuted under California’s vehicular manslaughter or murder laws. Such an individual is expected to be charged with:

  • Negligent vehicular manslaughter
  • Gross vehicular manslaughter.
  • Second-degree murder.

Penalties for these types of offenses differ greatly. A less severe punishment for situations including a misdemeanor-negligent-vehicular-manslaughter-while intoxicated conviction- could include a maximum $1,000 fine along with one year in jail. However, a second-degree murder conviction may carry 15 years to life in state prison.

Implied Consent And Rejecting Blood Alcohol Tests

In California, the implied consent law applies to drivers who have been lawfully arrested due to driving under the influence. They are required to do a BAC. Drivers may choose to do either a blood or breath test. Those who refuse to take part in this test will have to pay a $125 fine and will have their license suspended. Licence suspension varies depending on the offense:

  • 1st Offense - 1 year suspension
  • 2nd Offense - 2 year suspension
  • 3rd Offense - 3 year suspension

There are two types of labels given to drivers who are pulled over for reckless driving. One term is called “wet reckless.” Wet reckless is when a reckless driver is pulled over with intoxicating substances, such as drugs or alcohol in their system. Another term is called “dry reckless.” Dry reckless is when a reckless driver is pulled over, but there are no drugs or alcohol involved.

Getting A Plea Bargain For A DUI

In California, it is not prohibited to initiate a plea bargain for a DUI case. However, there are certain restrictions, depending on the circumstances. Typically, plea bargaining is allowed when:

  • The evidence is not sufficient enough for the prosecution to prove the DUI charge.
  • The testimony of an important witness can’t be acquired.
  • A plea deal won’t create a substantial change in the sentence.

If a prosecutor decides to reduce a DUI to a reckless driving charge, he or she is required to explain their reasoning for the reduction in court. They are also expected to state whether the offense included alcohol or drugs along with the facts supporting their conclusion.

SR-22 Requirement
To restore your license suspension, it is essential to notify your insurance company. They will file an “SR-22” with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). SR-22 is a certificate that confirms you have met the minimum insurance requirements.

Also, this certificate is a requirement for acquiring a “hardship license” to have the accessibility of driving to places including work or school during a DUI suspension.

Available Damages

Economic Damages
Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries.
A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages
Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life
  • More

Punitive Damages The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

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If you or someone you know has been injured, reach out to our legal team 24 hours a day by calling us at (213) 927-3700 or emailing [email protected].

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