Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

DUI Defense Representation in the Greater LA Area

Under California law, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious criminal offense that poses serious criminal consequences. Because DUIs are more common than other crimes, many drivers fail to realize just how serious the penalties can be.

In fact, individuals who have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can face the following consequences:

  • Fines and fees
  • Driver's license suspension
  • Increased insurance costs
  • Possible jail time
  • Criminal record
  • Difficulty obtaining housing or employment

Last year, 35% of all California defendants who were arrested for DUI kept their driver's license simply by requesting a DMV hearing within the allotted time period. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it is important to have a clear understanding of the California DUI process, be fully prepared, and secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Arrested? Retain the help of a Los Angeles DUI attorney from Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners. We are ready to put our knowledge and experience on your side.

What is Considered a DUI in California?

In California, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) refers to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, to the extent that it impairs your ability to drive safely.

The legal limit for BAC in the state is 0.08% for individuals 21 and over. For drivers under 21, the limit is 0.01%, and for commercial vehicle drivers, it's 0.04%. Exceeding these limits can result in a DUI charge.

DUI in California isn't limited to alcohol. It also includes driving under the influence of drugs, including prescription medications and illegal drugs. If a driver's ability to operate a vehicle is impaired due to any substance, they can be charged with a DUI.

Keep in mind that drivers are considered to have given their consent to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine) to determine their BAC if they are lawfully arrested for a DUI. Refusal to submit to such testing can result in penalties such as license suspension.

The Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI in California

The penalties associated with a DUI conviction will vary, depending on several different factors. The circumstances surrounding your arrest, the results of your breath or blood test and the number of times you have previously been convicted of drunk driving will all factor into your final sentence. DUI is a "priorable" offense in California, which means that the penalties will increase with each subsequent offense.

California Penalties for First DUI Offense

The penalties for a first DUI offense may include:

  • Up to six months in county jail (minimum of 48 hours)
  • Between $390 and $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments
  • Suspension of your driver's license for six to ten months
  • Enrollment in an alcohol and drug education program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Summary, or informal, probation for up to three years.

Penalties for Second DUI Offense in California

​​​​​​ The penalties for a second DUI offense may include:

  • Up to one year in county jail (minimum of 96 hours)
  • Up to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments
  • Suspension of your driver's license for two years
  • Enrollment in an alcohol and drug education program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Summary, or informal, probation for up to five years.

California Penalties for Third DUI Offense

The penalties for a third DUI offense may include:

  • Up to one year in county jail (minimum of 120 days)
  • Up to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments
  • Suspension of your driver's license for three years
  • Enrollment in an alcohol and drug education program
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Summary, or informal, probation for up to five years.
Fighting Criminal Charges In Los Angeles County & SoCal

When is a DUI a Felony in California?

Although a DUI is considered a misdemeanor in California, it can become a felony offense in certain circumstances.

In general, if you have three or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years, if the current DUI offense causes an injury to another person, or if it is your fourth DUI charge within 10 years, it will be considered a felony. Additionally, if you are convicted of a felony DUI and it involves a minor child in the vehicle, you could face an additional charge of child endangerment.

A felony DUI conviction carries with it a prison sentence, significant fines, probation, and other mandatory penalties. Furthermore, it can impact your ability to obtain employment or housing in the future.

The Penalties for Felony DUI in California

When compared to a misdemeanor DUI, a felony DUI is much more serious and can carry harsher penalties such as prison time–rather than jail time–more expensive fines, and longer license suspensions. If you are facing a DUI charge, it is critical that you consult with an attorney who can help defend your rights and minimize potential penalties.

Fourth DUI Offense in California

The penalties for a fourth DUI offense may include:

  • Up to three years in state prison (minimum of 16 months)
  • Up to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments
  • Suspension of your driver's license for four years
  • Enrollment in an alcohol and drug education program
  • Designation has a "habitual traffic offender" by the DMV
  • Possible seizure, or forfeiture, of your motor vehicle.

Enhanced Sentencing Factors for DUI in CA

Factors that Could Lead to Enhanced Sentencing

The penalties listed above are for standard DUI offenses. If certain aggravating factors are present in your case, you could face enhanced legal penalties. Some of these "aggravating factors" include:

  • You refused to submit to chemical testing
  • Your blood alcohol content was .20% or greater
  • You caused an accident while under the influence
  • You were driving recklessly or at excessive speeds
  • A child under the age of 14 was in the car

Common Legal Defenses Against DUI Charges

There are several common legal defenses that individuals may use when facing DUI charges. These defenses aim to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution or argue that the defendant's rights were violated. 

Here are some of the common legal defenses to DUI charges in California:

  • Challenging the Initial Stop: If the police did not have a valid reason to stop your vehicle, any evidence gathered after the stop may be suppressed. This could include challenging the legality of the traffic stop itself, such as arguing that the officer lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion.
  • Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs): Field sobriety tests, such as the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand, are subjective and can be affected by various factors unrelated to intoxication, such as weather conditions or physical disabilities. Defense attorneys may argue that these tests are unreliable indicators of impairment.
  • Questioning the Breathalyzer or Blood Test Results: Breathalyzer and blood tests are commonly used to measure blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Defenses may challenge the accuracy of these tests by questioning the calibration of the testing equipment, the qualifications of the person administering the test, or the handling of the samples.
  • Rising Blood Alcohol Defense: This defense argues that the defendant's BAC was below the legal limit at the time of driving but had risen above the limit by the time they were tested. This can occur if alcohol was consumed just before or during driving, and the body had not fully absorbed it into the bloodstream.
  • Violation of Miranda Rights: If the police failed to inform the defendant of their Miranda rights (right to remain silent, right to an attorney) during custodial interrogation, any statements made by the defendant may be suppressed as evidence.
  • Medical Conditions or Other Factors: Certain medical conditions or factors unrelated to alcohol consumption can mimic the signs of impairment, such as fatigue, illness, or certain medications. Defense attorneys may argue that the observed behavior was due to these factors rather than intoxication.
  • Violation of Implied Consent Laws: If law enforcement did not follow proper procedures when requesting a breath, blood, or urine test, the results of those tests may be challenged in court.
  • Illegal Search and Seizure: If evidence was obtained through an illegal search or seizure in violation of the defendant's Fourth Amendment rights, it may be suppressed.

Seek a Positive Result with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney

At Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners, we understand the seriousness of DUI charges and are committed to protecting the rights, freedoms, and futures of clients who reach out to our firm for help. We want to stress that the penalties at stake can be extremely serious – especially if this is a multiple DUI arrest or other aggravating circumstances are present. Because of this, we encourage you to discuss your case with our legal team as soon as possible after an arrest. Your initial consultation won't cost a thing!

To learn more about your case and how our Los Angeles DUI lawyers can help, contact us today for a free case evaluation.


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