Did You Get Pulled Over For Suspicion Of Intoxication?

If you've been arrested for driving under the influence or have been charged accordingly, you need to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Pleading guilty to a DUI can affect you in the future as it is a priorable offense and will stay on your record for a period of 10 years. Allow our team to conduct a thorough investigation of your arrest and DUI charge.

At Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP, we utilize a team approach and will bring in our investigator, as needed, to help clients achieve the best possible resolution. Our board-certified criminal defense lawyers provide our clients with a creative, aggressive criminal defense. You can rely on our over 40 years of experience to defend you in your DUI case.

What You Face With A DUI Charge

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious crime in California. You don't have to intend to break the law or even hurt anyone to face serious criminal charges that could put you behind bars and take away your driver's license. Having a skilled DUI defense attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case, and can be the difference between a costly conviction and a clean criminal record.

The Crime Of Driving Under The Influence

California law makes it illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or above. For drivers under the age of 21, the limit is even lower.

Unlike most criminal laws, you can be guilty of DUI regardless of whether you intended to break the law, or whether you knew you were over the legal BAC limit. You can be found guilty of DUI even if no one was hurt in any way. You can even be charged with a DUI if your BAC was under the legal limit.

Criminal And Administrative Aspects Of A DUI

One confusing part about DUI charges is that they involve both criminal and administrative aspects.

The criminal part of a DUI charge involves prosecutors and the courtroom as the state of California tries to punish you for violating the law. If you lose, you get convicted, pay fines, have a criminal record and could even face jail time.

The administrative aspect of a DUI charge involves you and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). They will try stripping you of your driving rights by suspending your license and putting obstacles in your way to getting it back. You only have 10 days after a DUI arrest to request a DMV hearing or you will automatically have your license suspended.

Penalties For DUI In California

If you get convicted for DUI in California, the penalties that you could face, from both the criminal and the administrative portion, depend in large part on whether you've been convicted for DUI before and whether there are any aggravating factors involved.

Type of DUIJail TimeFineLicense Suspension
Misdemeanor (First offense)Up to 6 months$390 - $1,0006 to 10 months (restricted license possible)
Misdemeanor (Second offense)4 days to 1 year$390 - $1,0002 years (restricted license possible after 1 year)
Misdemeanor (Third offense)120 days to 1 year$390 - $1,0003 years (restricted license possible after 18 months)
Misdemeanor (Resulting in injury)5 days to 1 year$390 - $5,000, plus restitution1 to 3 years
Felony16 months to 3 years$390 - $1,0004 years
Felony (Resulting in injury)16 months to 16 years$1,015 - $5,000, plus restitution5 years

A conviction for a DUI in California will appear on your record for 10 years. This can impact your insurance costs and your ability to find or hold a job, making avoiding a conviction absolutely critical.

How Police Enforce California's DUI Laws

DUI is a very politically charged crime: Advocacy groups have gotten the ears of local and state lawmakers, pressuring them to enforce drunk driving laws in the state. Police departments devote lots of time and resources toward finding intoxicated drivers.

This makes getting pulled over by police who suspect you of being under the influence a common occurrence. Once on the side of the road, police have several tools at their disposal to tease out evidence of a DUI crime. Unfortunately, they can be very unscientific and prone to inaccuracies that can get you in trouble, even if you are abiding by the law.

Both field sobriety tests, which test your body's reactions to set stimuli for signs of drunkenness, and chemical breath tests, which need to be properly calibrated and can be manipulated by law enforcement, can lead to false positives that create false evidence against innocent DUI suspects.

How To Defend Against A DUI Charge

Despite the field being tilted in favor of law enforcement, it is still possible to raise effective defenses against a DUI charge.

One of the most common defenses is challenging whether the arresting officer ever had probable cause to initiate the traffic stop. A traffic stop is both a search and a seizure, so police need to have a reason to do it or else they violate your civil rights. If the traffic stop is a violation, any evidence they get whether for DUI or for another crime will be thrown away.

Even if the police didn't violate your rights, there are still ways to challenge the evidence that they manage to go to trial.

Plea Deals Can Minimize The Penalties While Avoiding A Trial

In between the criminal charge and the trial, there will be an opportunity to discuss a plea deal. Prosecutors, and especially judges, often want criminal cases to be settled out of court.

In some of these cases, a plea deal can be negotiated by your defense lawyer who manages to protect your interests. Depending on your circumstances, this offer might be worth thinking about because you might be in a position to deal with the repercussions of the plea, but not a bad outcome at trial.

The help, knowledge and experience of a DUI defense attorney can be invaluable at this time as you make a decision that will have a significant impact on the rest of your life.

Free Consultations With An Aggressive DUI Defense Lawyer

The attorneys at Ernenwein & Johnson, LLP, provide professional legal guidance for clients facing criminal allegations. We have practiced criminal law for more than 40 years, and we know that there are alternatives to taking a plea deal. Rely on us to defend you as if your criminal allegation were our own.

We offer a free consultation at our office in Torrance; call us at 424-552-3901. You can also reach us by completing this online contact form.