Facing an arrest in California for driving under the influence (DUI) can be frightening, particularly for those unfamiliar with the penalties and consequences. Skilled Pleasanton DUI lawyer John W. Noonan has been protecting the rights of the accused throughout the East Bay for over 46 years. He tailors every DUI defense to the specific facts and legal issues presented by each case, maintaining clear communication with clients so that they understand their legal rights. It is our goal to develop a strong DUI defense on behalf of drivers we represent, ultimately protecting our clients’ futures.Misdemeanor and Felony DUI Charges
In all states except for Utah, a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.08% will be considered under the influence and may be charged with the crime of driving under the influence. DUI cases may be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the specific factors involved in the arrest. Generally, felony charges are brought when an individual has been charged with a fourth DUI within a 10-year period, when the DUI resulted in injury to another party, or if there is a previous felony DUI. DUI offenders who have caused the death of another may be charged with DUI negligent vehicular manslaughter, DUI gross vehicular manslaughter, or second-degree murder. Felonies carry potentially long prison time, large fines, and the lifelong consequences that can accompany a felony conviction.
The majority of people in California arrested for DUI receive charges for two separate offenses, according to California Vehicle Codes 23152(a) and 23152(b). These two misdemeanor offenses include driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or greater. Most DUI arrests will be charged as misdemeanors, and first-time DUI convictions are generally charged as misdemeanors. While these cases have less severe consequences than felonies, they still carry grave ramifications. Misdemeanor DUI convictions can result in thousands of dollars in penalties as well as jail time, probation, and community service. Additionally, a first-time DUI conviction results in license suspension.
For some defendants charged with DUI, there may be the option of reducing the charge to a “wet reckless.” As part of a plea agreement, California Vehicle Code Sections 23103 and 23103.5 include charges that imply the defendant was involved in a driving offense related to alcohol. A wet reckless charge counts toward previous DUI convictions. As an alcohol-related reckless driving offense, the penalties fall between those for a DUI and a reckless driving charge. A knowledgeable DUI lawyer serving Pleasanton can help you determine whether this type of plea may be an option in your case.Dismiss or Reduce Charges for Improperly Obtained Evidence According to Law
California Vehicle Code section 23612(a) states that drivers give their consent to a BAC breath and/or blood test when there is reasonable cause for law enforcement to request it. These tests may be used to determine either drug or alcohol content in the person’s blood. Drivers are in fact permitted to refuse testing. In that case, the arresting officer must provide the driver with information concerning the consequences, including a fine, a one-year suspension of their license, possible imprisonment, and use of their refusal as evidence in court.
Those facing DUI charges may have the strong defense of having had their privacy rights violated during blood, breath, or urine testing. Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations make clear who can perform a blood draw, what types of agents may be used, and how to properly store the blood sample, among other requirements. Multiple individuals are typically involved in the process of collecting and handling a blood draw, and as a result, breaches and accidents take place. Title 17 also states that DUI breath tests must remain accurate, with machines properly calibrated and trained operators knowledgeable in how to operate the testing instruments.
According to law, the athorities are required to obtain a search warrant if they want to force suspects to submit to a DUI blood draw. California law maintains that search warrants are issued only for felony DUIs, such as those involving injury, or where the driver had three or more previous DUIs in the past 10 years. If you were charged with a misdemeanor DUI and refused to submit to a voluntary blood draw, you may have had your constitutional rights violated if law enforcement directed this test to be performed against your will. Alternatively, if the test was conducted according to law, but the protocols were rushed or disorderly, law enforcement may not have followed the law concerning how to collect, preserve, or store the sample.
An experienced Pleasanton DUI attorney can recognize flaws in the collection, storage or preservation of your blood or breath sample. As a result, the evidence may be mitigated or eliminated. For example, the law requires that blood be drawn by a qualified nurse, doctor, or trained medical technician in a hospital setting, using clinically accepted procedures for collecting blood samples.Other Potential DUI Defenses
Police officers must have probable cause before stopping a driver for an alleged DUI traffic halt. According to California Penal Code section 836(a), when officers lack probable cause, they cannot legally create a DUI traffic stop. A skilled lawyer will be able to assess whether there was a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights due to lack of probable cause.
Additionally, law enforcement is required to read drivers their Miranda Rights before making an arrest. Miranda Rights are important because they notify the individual of their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, and their right to receive an appointed attorney. When an officer fails to read the driver their Miranda Rights, statements made by the driver before their arrest should not be admissible in court.
Finally, those charged with a DUI may have been asked to perform a sequences of field sobriety tests for law enforcement. While performing these tests, the officer may monitor the person’s balance, coordination, and motor skills. However, an individual that performs poorly on these tests may not necessarily be intoxicated. Reasons for failing this type of test and rendering them inaccurate include medical conditions, poor instructions, and slippery road conditions.Consult a Skilled Pleasanton Lawyer to Help With Your DUI Charges
As a criminal defense attorney working to protect the rights of those accused of DUI, John W. Noonan recognizes when test results or a law enforcement error may lead to dismissal or reduction of your indictment. For defendants facing a felony DUI, it is particularly important to understand the potentially dire consequences of this serious charge. Throughout the East Bay, people in need of dedicated representation and efficient service can rely on Mr. Noonan and his team to help them understand their legal rights. We help clients throughout Dublin, Manteca, and other East Bay communities. Contact us by calling 877-463-3390 or reach us online to set up a free consultation.