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For your Future
and your Freedom

DUI Defense Lawyers in Rialto, CA

Addressing Common Questions and Concerns About DUI Charges

Being charged with a DUI can be a life-altering event, putting you in the midst of the criminal justice system and potentially having a long-lasting effect on your future. It’s important to take on this challenge with a clear understanding of the California DUI laws and the options for defense — and for that, you need an experienced DUI attorney in Rialto.

At the law offices of Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, our team has extensive experience helping drivers in Rialto, San Bernardino, and the surrounding area fight back against DUI charges. We offer a free consultation to new clients so you can understand how we would approach your case and what your legal options are.

What Are the Possible DUI Charges in California?

In California, operating a vehicle — or intending to — while under the influence of an impairing substance means you can be charged with a DUI. Many of the DUI charges in California are related to drunk driving, but it’s possible to get a DUI if you have taken prescription or recreational drugs that impacted your ability to drive.

The legal limit for noncommercial drivers over the age of 21 is a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent. The legal limit for commercial drivers is half of this at 0.04 percent. Those under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI if they have a BAC of over 0.01 percent, which effectively means there is no legal amount of alcohol they can consume and then drive.

While it can be helpful to know the legal limit for your age and situation, DUI charges don’t actually require you to have a high BAC. If an officer notices that you appear to be impaired through your actions or how you’re speaking, they can charge you with a DUI from that alone. However, you do have to either be driving the vehicle or showing intent to drive, such as sitting in the driver’s seat of a running car, to get a DUI conviction.

If you have questions about the DUI laws in California or what is required to charge someone, the DUI attorneys at Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, can help.

How Are DUIs Punished in Criminal Law?

The main factors that influence the potential sentence if you are convicted of DUI in California are whether you have any prior offenses and whether there were any aggravating factors. DUI convictions can result in jail time, fines, and your driver’s license being suspended, even if it’s the first time you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence. But in general, the more prior convictions you have, the higher the penalties. For the sake of sentencing, only convictions in the past 10 years usually count as prior offenses.

The potential sentences include:

  • First offense: Up to 6 months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines; 6-month license suspension
  • Second offense: Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines; 2-year license suspension
  • Third offense: Up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,800 in fines; 3-year license suspension

If it’s your first offense and no one was seriously injured, talk to one of our DUI lawyers about the possibility of pleading your case down to a reckless driving charge. This can help you avoid a DUI conviction and make it possible for you to keep your driving privileges.

When Is a DUI a Felony?

DUIs are generally charged as misdemeanors in California unless there are aggravating circumstances. These include having at least three prior convictions in the past 10 years, driving under the influence with a minor in the car, or causing an accident while impaired that resulted in serious injury or a fatality. Any of these scenarios can result in felony DUI charges, which are much more serious.

The criminal justice system takes felony charges very seriously, and these are aggressively prosecuted. The potential sentences for a conviction are also harsher. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your charges, a felony DUI could result in up to 3 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If someone was killed in a drunk driving accident, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

What Is the Role of a DUI Defense Lawyer in Rialto?

When you’re charged with drunk driving after a DUI arrest, you are instantly thrown into the criminal justice system. Officers and prosecutors work together to try to secure a conviction, and you need aggressive legal representation that is devoted to ensuring your rights are upheld. It is possible to defend yourself against DUI charges, but your best chance of beating the charges is with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Criminal defense lawyers who have experience working with DUI cases know what it takes to dispute the charges or strike a plea bargain that preserves as much as possible of your freedom. They understand how evidence is collected and used by the prosecution and what strategies can undermine that evidence.

Criminal defense attorneys will find out what the evidence is against you and then explain your options honestly. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of any defense strategy and what the chances of success are so that you can make educated decisions about how you want to proceed. Most importantly, a DUI defense attorney is there to be your advocate as you go through this difficult process.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Rialto, CA, Patrick Silva, Attorneys at Law, can help. Schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney to discuss your DUI charges by calling 909-500-4819.