First DUI California

First Offense DUI

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DEFINITION OF FIRST OFFENSE DUI IN CALIFORNIA

Most adults who are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI in California or DWI in some other states) in California or more specifically in Los Angeles are charged with violating two counts of the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and Section 23152(b). The “deuces” counts, as they are called, are charged because police officers determine that a driver fails at least some of the field sobriety tests and has at least 0.08% alcohol level in blood by weight. The (a) count is a generic DUI that does not require any specific blood alcohol level or any alcohol at all, for that matter. The (b) count is specific to 0.08% of alcohol by weight in the driver’s blood. If this is a first DUI within 10 years from the date of offense to the date of offense, the prosecution will charge the driver with a crime of “First Offense DUI (Driving Under the Influence)”. Many cases we handle involve first offender DUI‘s in Los Angeles. Although not as serious as subsequent DUI’s, refusal DUI’s, or Felony DUI’s, defending first offense DUI is as involved and as serious because a “not guilty” verdict or a successful plea bargain will protect your license, your work, and your freedom not only now but also in the future due to priorability of a DUI conviction at the administrative hearing level and at the Superior Court level.

HOW TO DEFEND A FIRSTS DUI

For DUI defendants in Los Angeles County, there are usually little incentives to plead guilty to a 1st offense DUI with no significant aggravating factors.  Considering the consequences of such a plea, our experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyers will often obtain great plea bargaining deals, litigate your case to get a dismissal or recommend setting your case for a jury trial. There are many defenses available for drivers accused of driving under the influence. The most common DUI defenses focus on undermining the results of a DUI chemical test that is used to prove the blood alcohol level (0.08%) at the time of driving or showing that the blood alcohol level does not match the level of impairment of the driver.  This can be achieved by extrapolating the test results to time of driving and arguing that at the time of driving the driver was below .08%.  Other defenses involve proving that the driver was not impaired at the time of driving and therefore the test results must be wrong.  Los Angeles DUI Attorney can concentrate his defense on questioning arresting officer’s training and observations because most people do well on at least some of the field sobriety tests.  During the trial or other evidentiary hearings, Los Angeles DUI Attorney can show to the judge or jury that the police used improper procedure to administer the chemical or field sobriety tests or on the unreliability of the test results.

For many people, being arrested for a first DUI in California is the very first time they are ever being arrested and faced with the criminal justice system.

DUI ATTORNEY EXPLAINS PUNISHMENT FOR FIRST DUI

This extremely scary experience can have devastating consequences for many people especially if there are aggravating factors, such as accident, presence of minors in the car, prior DUI cases, probation violations or high blood alcohol level.  The punishment statute for a first offense DUI is found in California Vehicle Code Sections 23520, CVC 23536, and CVC 23538. With a DUI probation, which is the case most of the time, the defendants may, but are not required to be sentenced to 2 days of jail and up to the maximum of 6 months.  Barring the presence of above mentioned aggravating factors, the sentence for a first offense DUI rarely involves any jail time.

As part of the punishment for a first offense DUI, a driver can be expected to be placed on unsupervised (court) probation for a period of 36 months.  Mostly, a minimal fine of $390.00 plus penalty assessments are imposed along with a requirement to complete an alcohol education program that is 3, 6 or 9 months long.  Some judges might add additional conditions depending on the severity of the DUI, such as MADD class, Hospital, and Morgue classes, and Alcoholic Anonymous meeting.  If a DUI involves an accident, the judge must also order a restitution hearing where the actual expenses of the victim can be ordered to be paid.  All these severe punishment consequences are part of negotiations and can be minimized by aggressive DUI defense.

AGGRAVATING FACTORS FOR FIRST OFFENSE DUI

Accidents and high blood alcohol levels can result in more serious punishment for even a first offense DUI.  Although most judges will not sentence first offense DUI drivers to jail time, it is certainly a possibility.  In addition, if drunk driving involves an accident, most defendants will be required to do community labor or Caltrans.  Depending on the severity of DUI, many judges will add additional conditions, such as MADD class, Hospital, and Morgue visits, possible attendance in Alcoholic Anonymous groups, and longer alcohol educational programs.  If the DUI involved an accident, the sentencing court must also order a restitution hearing where actual expenses of the victim or victims of the accident will be ordered to be reimbursed. All these more severe punishments are subject to negotiations with the prosecutors and the judges and can be minimized by a good DUI defense attorney.

DUI ATTORNEY EXPLAINS ALTERNATIVE PLEAS TO FIRST DUI

If the blood alcohol level is low or there is a problem with proof of the DUI case, a Los Angeles DUI attorney can negotiate a very favorable disposition in your case or recommend defending your DUI case at a jury trial.  When the prosecution case is weak, because of deficiencies in blood or breath alcohol evidence or because the driving can not be proven, the prosecutor is likely to offer to resolve the case by offering you to plead guilty to a lesser charge.  For example, when the prosecutor believes that it will be hard to prove driving, he will offer pleading to a non-driving offense, such as drunk in public, a violation of California Penal Code section 647(f).

(f) Who is found in any public place under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, controlled substance, or toluene, in a condition that he or she is unable to exercise care for his or her own safety or the safety of others, or by reason of his or her being under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, controlled substance, toluene, or any combination of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or toluene, interferes with or obstructs or prevents the free use of any street, sidewalk, or other public way.

In contrast, when the level of alcohol is close to .08 % BAC, the prosecutor can offer a plea to a “wet reckless” driving, a violation of California Vehicle Code section 23103 pursuant to California Vehicle Code section 23103.5.  If the alcohol level is even lower, the prosecutor can offer you to plead guilty to a “dry reckless” in exchange for a dismissal of DUI charges.  A “dry reckless” is a violation of California Vehicle code 23103.  The main difference between a “dry reckless” and a “wet reckless” is that it is not priorable to other DUI cases.  A dry reckless does not involve an alcohol education class or any other conditions of probation aside from DUI conditions and a fine.  A “wet reckless” can offer can include a 12 hours alcohol class that is an educational component of first offender alcohol program.  Of course, any negotiation can deviate from a standard offer and include a longer alcohol program in exchange to a plea that does not have a DUI component.

Los Angeles DUI lawyer can help you defend your DUI in court and if necessary will take your case to a jury trial.  Our extensive Criminal Defense, Traffic and DUI practice focuses on motion work and convincing the prosecutors that you are innocent of the charge or deserve a break and that your case should be dismissed or reduced to a charge with fewer consequences.  Only when that fails, Los Angeles drunk driving attorney will attempt to settle your case with the prosecutor or the judge.  When we are unable to get a fair deal for you, we will take the case to trial for often a nominal fee.  Call our office for a free non-obligatory consultation.  You will be able to talk directly to a DUI law specialist right now.  We are also seeing clients in several offices located near you.

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