Per California’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any of the following blood alcohol concentration (BAC) percentages:
- 0.08% or higher― 21 years old or older operating a regular passenger vehicle.
- 0.04% or higher―operating a commercial vehicle.
- 0.01% or higher―younger than 21 years old.
Driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), drunk driving, driving or operating any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drinking while driving the car, are all a criminal offense in California.
DUI/DWI is a criminal charge in which a person was ALSO found to be operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, a drug other than alcohol or a controlled substance, or a combination of them. The effects of the intoxicating substance must be enough that they cause impairment of the driver physically and mentally, affect decision-making and the person’s ability to control the vehicle.
Koreatown has one of the highest DUI arrest numbers in Los Angeles, according to data from the Los Angeles Police Department. A total of 1,995 DUI arrests, 63 DUI-related accidents and 17 DUI-related deaths occurred between Jan. 1 to Oct. 24, 2015, according to records from LAPD Central, West, Valley and South traffic divisions.
Probable Penalties & Consequences
DUI convictions stay on your driving record for 10 years.
DUI/DWI charge may carry penalties such as up to one year in jail, fines, community service, license suspension, psychological counseling or a combination of these. Severity of the punishment will often be increased if the driver has a prior DUI/DWI conviction.
Assuming there is no bodily injury or death resulting from the DUI, the minimum terms for a misdemeanor first conviction are as follows:
- $390 fine plus over $1,000 in ordinary penalty assessments, plus additional DUI-only assessments for a total of approximately $1,800.
- 48-hour jail sentence or a 90-day license restriction allowing you to drive to and from your work—and for work—if required, and to and from an alcohol treatment program. If the 90-day restriction is imposed, it begins after your DMV four-month suspension or 30-day suspension followed by a five-month restriction.
- Attendance and completion of a $500, three-month alcohol-treatment program (nine months if your blood alcohol level was 0.20% or higher. Completing the program is a requirement for ever being able to drive again following a “per-se” DMV license suspension and for minimizing that suspension to 30 days (plus five or eight months of restricted driving) instead of the six- or ten-month flat suspension that would otherwise be imposed.
- Loss of your driver’s license for at least 30 days, followed by either a five-month restriction to drive to, from, and for work and to and from an alcohol treatment program, or an additional two-month restriction that allows you to drive only to and from the program.
The maximum penalties for a misdemeanor first DUI conviction in California is a $1,000 fine plus over $2,600 in penalty assessments, six months’ imprisonment in the county jail, a six-month license suspension; ten months for blood alcohol level of 0.15% or more, having your vehicle “impounded” (stored at your expense) for 30 days, and being required to attach an “interlock” breath device to your vehicle that will not allow the car to start if there is any alcohol on your breath.
The California Driver Handbook describes penalties for second and subsequent DUI offenses as “increased,” meaning you will face longer jail time and more expensive fines, in addition to the DUI program and SR-22 filing requirement. Your license suspension and revocation periods increase as well.
Some California DUI offenses fall under the Three Strikes Law. These include the most serious offenses―those that involve severe injuries and death. Not only do you face extended jail time, longer (or even permanent) license revocation, and higher fines and court costs, but you might also face civil lawsuits.
Having a DUI/DWI charge brought against you can also affect other aspects of your life including employment, relationships, probation and child-custody arrangements.
If Arrested or Jailed
Many of Mark Waecker’s clients have sought his legal guidance immediately following an arrest, while still incarcerated. Those clients use the clock to their advantage, as time is still on their side. Acting quickly and efficiently, Mark Waecker will use assertive strategies to have cases dismissed or substantially reduce potential consequences.
If Stopped by the Police
First and foremost, absolutely exercise your right to remain silent at all times, under all circumstances. Many cases are prosecuted when clients, contacted by a law enforcement agent, mistakenly believe that they can talk their way out of the situation. Often, these are undercover agents acting like ordinary people.
Challenging the skill and training of a law enforcement officer by attempting to discuss your alleged driving under the influence with them is never a good idea. Instead, immediately assert your right to remain silent and call Mark Waecker directly, or have someone else make the call for you.
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