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and your Freedom

DUI Defense Lawyers in Ontario, CA

Helping Clients Understand DUI Laws and Penalties

If you’re facing DUI charges, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the legal implications and the impact a conviction could have on your future. Understanding the laws involved and what defense options you have can help you feel more confident in what’s going on and your response. A skilled criminal defense lawyer who has experience with DUI cases can provide legal guidance and support to help you navigate this situation.

Being convicted of a DUI can mean you lose your driver’s license and have to pay fines or serve jail time. Coming up with a defense strategy that can help you avoid these penalties requires the assistance of an attorney who can advocate for your rights. Contact Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, to speak to one of our DUI lawyers.

What Constitutes a DUI in California?

DUI stands for “driving under the influence,” and while this is primarily used with drunk driving charges, it can apply to other substances as well. If you are operating a vehicle while under the influence of any substance, such as alcohol or recreational or prescription medications, that impairs your ability to drive safely, you can be charged with a DUI.

For DUI charges related to alcohol, the legal blood alcohol content in California is 0.08 percent. However, there are stricter limits for commercial drivers and those under the age of 21. Commercial drivers must have a BAC of less than 0.04 percent to be legal. Those under the age of 21 are subject to California’s zero-tolerance policy, which means that a BAC as low as 0.01 percent could result in DUI charges.

There are two specific points that are important to know when it comes to DUI charges in California. The first is that you must have an intent to drive to be able to be charged. If you are sitting in your car without any keys or the ignition turned on, this would not show an intent to drive. However, sitting in the driver’s side of a parked car that is on could. A criminal defense lawyer can help you understand how whether there was intent to drive may impact your defense strategy.

The second point is that you don’t have to have a BAC above the legal limit to be considered impaired. If an officer believes that there is evidence of impaired driving behavior, such as swerving, driving in the opposite direction, or slurring your words, you could be charged with a DUI regardless of what your BAC is.

What Are the Penalties If Convicted of a DUI?

There are three main parts involved in the consequences of a DUI conviction: fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. The severity of these penalties depends on whether it’s a first offense or you have prior DUI convictions. A first-offense DUI has a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail, and you could pay a fine of up to $1,000. The potential jail time is increased to up to 1 year for a second and third offense, and a third offense increases the maximum fine to $1,800.

Being convicted of a DUI in California results in an automatic license suspension. The period of suspension is 6 months for a first offense, 2 years for a second offense, and 3 years for a third offense. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get your driving privileges reinstated to commute to work, but this isn’t always possible.

DUI convictions remain on your driving record for a full 10 years.

What Are Aggravating Circumstances?

While most DUI charges are misdemeanors, a fourth DUI in 10 years can result in felony charges. In situations where there are aggravating circumstances, you could face felony charges even if it’s a first offense. In general, DUIs can be elevated to felonies regardless of prior offenses if there was a child present in the car or if someone was injured or killed in a DUI-related car accident.

Felony DUIs involving serious bodily injury or death may also count as a strike according to California’s Three Strikes Law.

Can You Refuse a Field Sobriety Test?

California operates under an implied consent law when it comes to testing for impairment. While you can refuse to take a field sobriety test that involves following directions like walking heel to toe or counting while standing on one foot, you cannot refuse a chemical test without losing your license for a period of 1 year. In most cases, it’s best to go ahead and take the chemical test, which can be a blood or breath test, and then work with an Ontario DUI attorney later on if the test shows you were over the legal limit.

What Are the Options for DUI Defense?

Some people mistakenly believe that they aren’t able to fight DUI charges if they showed a BAC over the legal limit. But there are always DUI defense strategies you can use to attempt to fight these charges. For example, you may be able to argue that the traffic stop wasn’t legal or that the officer didn’t have probable cause to administer a chemical test. In some cases, there may have been calibration errors with the Breathalyzer machine.

A DUI lawyer may also recommend a plea bargain in some cases. If it’s a first offense, you may be able to participate in a diversion program or plead guilty to a charge of reckless operation instead.

If you’re facing DUI charges, call the law offices of Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, at 909-500-4819. Our team of DUI attorneys can help you create a defense strategy and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.