A common criminal charge many people in Sacramento have faced is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, commonly known as a “DUI.” Assuming you are over the age of 21, you can be charged with a DUI if your blood alcohol content was over .08% as measured through breath, urine or blood tests. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, enlisting the help of a knowledgeable Sacramento DUI attorney can make the difference between keeping and losing your driving privileges, and prevent the courts from imposing even stiffer consequences.
Drivers in Sacramento who are convicted of a DUI face a number of harsh penalties including a 30-day to 12-month suspension of driving privileges, fines ranging from $390 to $1,000, jail time from 4 days to 6 months, a requirement of participation in a first-offender DUI program, and a license conditioned on Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installation. Consequences are more severe if you also injured someone while driving under the influence or if you are a second or third time offender.
Sacramento is one of four counties in California that are currently participating in an IID pilot program, which means that drivers who are convicted of a DUI in Sacramento are required to install an IID on every vehicle they own. An IID is a mechanism that requires drivers to take and pass an alcohol breath test every time they start their vehicles. A driver’s number of prior offenses impacts the length of time he or she must keep an IID installed on a car. Convicted drivers must file a form with the DMV verifying the installation of the IID, pay a $45 administrative service fee, and meet other requirements to have their licenses reinstated.
Sometimes prosecutors allow defendants who are under the influence of alcohol and drive recklessly to make a plea of nolo contendere for reckless driving with a notation that alcohol was entailed; those are called “wet reckless” convictions. Although they may carry smaller penalties, they still count for purposes of calculating prior alcohol-related offenses should you be caught driving drunk later.
Most DUIs in California are charged as misdemeanors, but a felony DUI may be charged if:
- Your DUI caused injury or death to somebody else;
- You have three or more prior DUI or wet reckless convictions within a 10 year period; or
- You have one or more prior felony DUI convictions.
DUI and Homicide
If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence and someone dies as a result of a collision you may be charged with a range of charges, including manslaughter or even murder. These cases pose challenges for the courts and counsel as they often times involve accidental behavior which resulted in tragic consequences. Michael Wise has handled several DUI related homicides through the years and has the experience to both help you understand the consequences of DUI homicide as well as your rights and potential defenses and equities which may be relevant to the District Attorney if you were drinking and driving and killed someone.
When someone is injured as a result of a DUI, or in the case of felony DUIs, the penalties described above increase in severity. For example, someone convicted of a felony DUI who has caused injury may face 16 months to 10 years in prison, as well as a sentence based on how many people were injured and the severity of those injuries. The additional sentence may impose between $1015 and $5000 in fines, mandatory treatment in an alcohol or drug program, habitual traffic offender status for three years, and payment of restitution.
There are a number of strategies that an experienced California criminal defense law firm like the Wise Law Group can employ in order to get a DUI charge dropped, a sentence reduced, or to win at trial. Among these strategies are examining the prosecution’s evidence to find an impropriety to try to get the case dismissed. While breath and field sobriety tests are usually accurate, they are sometimes administered incorrectly or misinterpreted; testing equipment must be properly maintained and protocol followed. Additionally, under California law, the police must follow certain procedures before and during the arrest. We examine all the evidence to mount the most forceful defense possible.
If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DUI, you should consult with an experienced Sacramento DUI attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Wise Law Group at 916-498-9473 or via our online contact form.