Accidents involving a drunk driver were responsible for the death of 10,265 people in 2015. Thousands more have been injured as a result of car accidents involving an impaired driver. In order to keep motorists safe on the roads, California has enacted strict laws regarding drinking and driving.
When Am I At Risk of a DUI?
Over a million people were arrested on charges of driving under the influence in 2015 alone. Many of these arrests happened in California. You can be charged with a DUI if a police officer finds that you were driving while intoxicated through either a chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test or through other means. Breathalyzers are the most commonly-used BAC test. If a motorist blows into a breathalyzer and the results show 0.08 percent blood alcohol content or more, he or she will be charged with DUI. At this time, the person’s driver’s license is suspended for four months. If the motorist is under age 21, any trace of alcohol is sufficient to warrant a license suspension of one year.
California DUI Criminal Penalties
The criminal consequences for those found guilty of driving under the influence are largely determined by prior DUI convictions and the circumstances surrounding the DUI. A first DUI offense in California is considered a misdemeanor. Those convicted can be fined up to several thousand dollars, and are at risk of being imprisoned for up to six months in jail. There is no mandatory jail time for first time offenders and many people convicted of a DUI for the first time in California are given probation instead of jail time. This probation generally lasts three years and includes a required three-month DUI school. Drivers who had a BAC of 0.20 or more must complete a longer program. There is generally a six-month driver’s license suspension for first-time offenders which can co-occur with the four-month suspension imposed by the Department of Motor Vehicles at the time of arrest.
Refusal to Take a BAC Test Results in a License Suspension of One Year
Those drivers who refused BAC testing at the time of arrest will have their driver’s license suspended for one year. Fortunately, after thirty days of suspension, a driver may request a restricted license for driving to school or work. In San Jose, those convicted of a DUI may also be required to have ignition interlock devices (IIDs) in their vehicles for up to three years.
Penalties for DUIs Involving Deaths or Injuries
If you were convicted of drinking and driving at the time of an accident which caused injuries, you will face much more severe penalties. Depending on the circumstances, the crime can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. Those convicted of a felony DUI must serve 16 months to four years in prison. If your intoxicated driving causes a death, you may be prosecuted under California’s vehicular manslaughter or murder laws which could result in increased jail time.
If you have been arrested on DUI charges, contact an experienced San Jose criminal defense attorney for help. Call 408-277-0377 for a free, confidential consultation with Wesley J. Schroeder, Attorney at Law, today.