anaheim criminal defense attorney

DUI / DWI Cases

In the United States, it’s a crime for a individual driving to operate a vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol or drugs. The specific offense may be called driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating under the influence (OUI), and even operating a motor vehicle intoxicated (OMVI).

Whatever the appropriate title, DUI laws make it illegal for a person to operate a car, truck, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle if the individual driver’s ability to operate the vehicle in a safe manner is impaired by the effects of alcohol, illegal drugs, prescribed medications such as painkillers, or even over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines, or the driver is intoxicated at a level above established DUI standards, such as blood-alcohol concentration (BAC).


Field Sobriety and Chemical Tests

When a police or law enforcement officer makes a vehicle stop and suspects that the driver may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer will conduct a “field sobriety” test on the driver, and may ask for his or her consent to some form of chemical test for intoxication. A field sobriety test usually involves a police officer asking a driver to perform a number of tasks that assess an impairment of the person’s physical or mental ability. Examples of field sobriety tests include, but are not limited to; having the driver walk a straight line, heel to toe; having he or she recite the alphabet backwards; and the officer’s use of the “horizontal gaze nystagmus” (eye and penlight) test. Further tests can be conducted during the vehicle stop, using a Breathalyzer that measures a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC), or at a hospital, where urine and blood tests can be performed. Many states allow a driver suspected of DUI to choose which type of chemical test is administered.


Refusal of a Chemical Test: “Implied Consent” Laws


All states have “implied consent” laws which force vehicle drivers to acquiesce to some form of chemical test, such as breath, blood, or urine testing, if suspected of DUI. The logic behind such laws is that, by assuming the privilege of driving a vehicle on state roads and highways, drivers have effectively given their consent to DUI testing when a law enforcement office believes the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If a driver refuses, implied consent laws carry penalties such as mandatory suspension of a driver’s license, usually for six months to a year. Often, license sanctions for test refusal are harsher than those imposed after DUI test failure. In most states a driver’s refusal to submit to a chemical test may be used to enhance the penalties imposed if the individual is eventually convicted for DUI.


“Per Se” and “Zero Tolerance” DUI Laws


All states have DUI laws that deem “per se intoxicated” any driver with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) above a set limit (now .08 in all states). This means that drivers with a BAC at or above .08 are intoxicated in the eyes of the law, and no additional proof of driving impairment is necessary. All states also carry “zero tolerance” laws that target drivers under the legal drinking age. These laws penalize persons under 21 for operating a vehicle with any trace of alcohol in their systems (a BAC above 0.0), or with negligible BAC levels such as .01 or .02. Keep in mind that a driver may still be arrested and convicted for DUI without proof of “per se” intoxication, when there is evidence of impaired driving. For example, a driver, John with a .05 BAC level can be found guilty of DUI if an arresting law enforcement officer testifies that he observed John’s vehicle swerving badly, and that John exhibited both slurred speech and severe inattention during questioning after a vehicle stop.

DUI Penalties by Offense in California


1st Offense:

  • 3 to 5 years of Court Probation
  • A fine, including court fees and costs of $1400 to $1800
  • 6 month loss of California Driver License
  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence) School


2nd Offense:

  • 3 to 5 years of Court Probation
  • A fine, including court fees and costs of $1800 to $2800
  • 2 Year loss of California Driver License
  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence) School


3rd Offense:

  • 3 to 5 years of Court Probation
  • A fine, including court fees and costs of $1400 to $1800
  • 3 Year loss of California Driver License
  • DUI (Driving Under the Influence) School


4th Offense:

If this is your fourth or more DUI offense it may be considered a felony DUI. Punishment for such an offense includes upto three years in state prison, permanent loss of license and more. If anyone was injured in connection with a DUI, it may be charged as either a felony DUI or a misdemeanor DUI. These cases have substantial impact involving jail and loss of license. If your case is a fourth DUI offense, involves injury to you or another, or occurred within ten years of a prior DUI felony you need immediate help. Contact us at once.