Common DUI FAQ
If you have been arrested in Vista for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including felony or accident DUIs, I can help you. I am attorney Peter M. Liss, and if you need skilled, experienced representation, I have a proven track record of success. Please call me at (760) 643-4050 for a free consultation. Answers to the most common Vista DUI FAQ are below. For more information about obtaining a top-quality DUI defense, please see this page: DUI Defense Overview.
Answers to Common DUI FAQ
What is a “DUI” charge? And why was I charged twice?
Most people who are charged with a DUI will actually face two charges: “driving under the influence of alcohol” and “driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.” Both crimes carry the same penalties (more on those later in these DUI FAQ), but while you can be convicted of both charges, you cannot be sentenced for both at the same time. Those who have been accused of driving under the influence of drugs will only face one charge, “driving under the influence of drugs.” If drugs and alcohol are both present, you will be charged “with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”
Each time you have a DUI conviction, the punishment becomes more severe, and can include large fines and jail or prison time. This DUI FAQ page will also cover more information about the laws, license suspensions, sentence increases, felony DUI charges, and possible sentences for the first conviction and each subsequent drunk driving conviction.
When will the DMV suspend my license after a DUI arrest?
When you have been arrested for driving under the influence, a police officer will take your license if your BAC is.08 or above on the breath test; you take a blood test for alcohol; you refuse to provide a breath or alcohol test (this is legally required under the state’s implied consent laws); or your BAC is .01 or higher while you are on probation or if you are under 21 years of age. When the officer takes your license, he then gives you a pink piece of paper that will serve as a notice of your suspension and as a temporary license for you to use over the next month. If you are not a California resident, the police cannot actually take your license, but if you do not request a DMV hearing within 10 days, you will still lose your driving privileges within the state of California 30 days after your arrest.
If my license was suspended, what should I do next?
As soon as possible, you should call an attorney. If you want to fight the automatic license suspension, you only have 10 days to file for a hearing with the DMV. If you or your lawyer do not call within the next 10 days, your license will be suspended for four months and you will not be able to fight this action.
If your hearing is scheduled more than 30 days after the date of your arrest, your lawyer can arrange for your temporary pink license to be extended beyond the initial 30 day period.
Will my court date and DMV hearing date be the same?
No. California DUI laws make these are two totally separate issues and will be scheduled on two different dates and in two different locations. The court date is given to you automatically when you are released from jail, assuming you post bail. You must request the DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest or you forfeit your right to a hearing.
Can you get a DUI with a BAC below 0.08%?
Driving under the influence is a crime even if your blood alcohol content was below the legal limit and the alcohol affected your ability to drive. If your BAC is a .05 or below and you are over 21, you are presumed innocent of DUI. If it is below 0.08%, but above 0.06%, then the case will largely rely on the police officer’s testimony, including how you fared on the Field Sobriety Tests if you agreed to take these optional tests.
You can also be charged with a DUI even if you did not drink, if the officer had reason to believe you have taken either legal or illegal drugs and it impaired your ability to drive. You could also be charged if the police officer believed a combination of alcohol and drugs impaired your driving.
What is a wet reckless charge?
A “wet reckless” is a reduced offense from DUI but It can still be used as a prior if you are charged with a DUI in the future and will result in two points being added to your DMV record. It will result in a lower fine and may reduce the probation period. The court and DMV record will show a conviction for reckless driving ( with alcohol conditions). The DMV will not take any further action to suspend your license for the conviction but you still face the four month suspension for having a BAC of .08 or above.
When is a DUI sentence increased?
There are some circumstances that can result in a DUI having additional penalties added to the sentence. These are known as sentencing enhancements and can include factors like having a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle, excessively speeding (at speeds more than 100 miles an hour or 30 miles an hour over the posted speed limit), having a blood alcohol content over .15% (even higher penalties will be added for BACs above .20%), having another DUI on your record from the last 10 years or refusing to take a blood or breath alcohol test when an officer requests you to do so.
In cases where the BAC was above .15% or if you were involved in a non-injury car accident, you may be sentenced to public work service. If your BAC was above .20%, you will be required to take a 9 month DUI class in addition to any other increased penalties the court may impose.
If you are facing any potential enhancements to your DUI charges, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain to help you avoid an increase in your sentence.
What makes a DUI a felony?
Most DUI convictions are misdemeanors, but a DUI can become a felony in two unique situations. The first is if you violated a traffic law or drove negligently and, as a result, another person was injured -even if the injury was minor. The second situation where a DUI can become a felony is when you already had three or more DUIs within the last ten years.
Sometimes, a DUI traffic stop ends with charges for other offenses, such as homicide, having a loaded or concealed weapon, or drug possession. Because the penalties for these charges can be very serious, you should immediately retain a skilled criminal lawyer who is experienced in serious criminal matters as well as DUI. I have tried over 100 criminal cases, and have handled many homicide, weapons, drugs, DUI and felony DUI charges. I can help you. Please call me at (760) 643-4050 for more information and a free consultation where I can answer any of your questions not covered in this set of DUI FAQ.
What are potential sentences for the FIRST DUI?
On the first DUI conviction, if probation is granted, a potential sentence includes attending an alcohol or drug program of 3 or 9 months and a $390 to $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments of an additional 180% of the fine; a jail sentence of 48 hours to six months may be imposed, but is not mandatory. The DMV will impose a driver’s license suspension of 6 months but it can be ended with installation of an ignition interlock device.
On the first DUI conviction, if probation is NOT granted, a potential sentence includes 96 hours to 6 months in jail, a $390 to $1,000 fine, and a 6-month license suspension.
With or without probation, your vehicle may be impounded for 6 months, and the court may, but is not mandated to, require you to install an ignition interlock device on your car for up to 6 months. If you have any questions about DUI probation, be sure to ask your 1st time offense DUI lawyer in San Diego.
What are potential sentences for the SECOND DUI?
On the SECOND DUI conviction (within 10 years) a potential sentence includes attending an alcohol or drug program for 18-36 months; a $390 to $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments of an additional 180% of the fine; and 96 hours to 1 year in jail.
If probation is granted, the DMV imposes a 2-year license suspension which may end with an ignition interlock device. A 2nd time offense DUI lawyer in San Diego can be critical in helping you to secure these terms.
If probation is not granted, a potential sentence also includes a 2-year license suspension, with no possibility of receiving a restricted license during that time.
With or without probation, your vehicle may be impounded for 12 months, and you will be required to have a ignition interlock device on your car for 12 months.
What are potential sentences for the THIRD DUI?
On the THIRD DUI conviction (within 10 years) a potential sentence includes attending an alcohol or drug program for 18-36 months; a $390 to $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments of an additional 180% of the fine; 120 days to 1 year in jail; and a 3-year license revocation by the DMV which can become restricted with an ignition interlock device. A 3rd time offense DUI attorney in San Diego can help you get the minimum sentencing possible when facing these serious charges.
You may also have your vehicle impounded for up to 12 months and you will be required to have a ignition interlock device on your car for 24 months.
What are potential sentences for the FOURTH OR LATER DUI?
A FOURTH OR LATER DUI (within 10 years) is almost always charged as a felony, so it is critical you work with a 4th time offense DUI lawyer in San Diego if you have been charged with this crime. A potential sentence includes attending an alcohol or drug program for 18-36 months; a $390 to $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments of an additional 180% of the fine; and a 4-year license revocation.
If probation is granted, a potential sentence also includes 180 days to 1 year in jail, plus a 4-year license revocation by the DMV which may allow a restriction with an ignition interlock device.
If probation is not granted, a potential sentence also includes up to 3 years in state prison; the exact time will be left up to the decision of the court.
Your vehicle may also be impounded for 12 months, and you may be required to have a ignition interlock device on your car for 36 months.
What are potential sentences for a FELONY ACCIDENT DUI?
A FELONY ACCIDENT DUI is charged when the drunk driving was negligent or violated a traffic law, AND injured (even slightly) another person. A potential sentence includes attending an alcohol or drug program for 3-9 months and a $390 to $1,000 fine, plus penalty assessments of an additional 180% of the fine, plus a 1-year license suspension by the DMV which can be restricted with an ignition interlock device.
If probation is granted, a potential sentence also includes 5 days to 1 year in jail, plus a 1-year license suspension.
If probation is not granted, a potential sentence also includes up to 3 years in state prison; the exact time will be left up to court to decide.
Your vehicle may also be impounded for 6 months, and you will be required to have a ignition interlock device on your car for 12 months.
What happens if you get caught driving when your license was suspended for DUI?
If you drive when your license is suspended or revoked for DUI, on a first conviction for driving on a suspended license, you face 10 days to 6 months in the county jail, and a fine of $300 to $1,000. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your car.
If you are charged with driving on a license suspended due to DUI a second or subsequent time, you will face a minimum of 30 days to a year in jail.
What are alternative sentences?
Alternative sentences are usually only available as part of a plea bargain, where you agree to plead guilty to one or more criminal charges. Whether or not you can receive an alternative sentence depends on the particular facts of your case, the charges you plead to, the agreement that your attorney reaches with the prosecutor, and whether the judge is willing to accept that agreement. Alternative sentences can include alcohol or drug rehabilitation programs, community service, counseling and/or attending AA meetings, probation, electronic monitoring under house arrest, and other sentences.
How can a DUI lawyer help me?
Because the potential result of a DUI conviction is severe, the quality of your defense is extremely important. A top-rated attorney, who is experienced in handling DUI cases and knows the courts, prosecutors and judges, will be able to present your strongest defense and negotiate for the best results available under the facts and law. To learn more about how I can help you in a DUI case, please see the DUI Defense Overview page.
I have personally defended many people charged with driving under the influence in Vista, California. I have also defended many people in accident DUI, felony DUI and DUI cases with other offenses, such as gun charges or drug possession. If you have a question not answered in these DUI FAQ, or if you or someone in your family has been arrested on one of these charges, please call me to learn how I can help you. I provide top quality representation for a reasonable fee, offer a free initial consultation, and accept all major credit cards. I consider all DUI cases urgent and will respond immediately.
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