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San Jose criminal defense lawyerDrunk driving is a problem throughout the country, and California is no exception. According to the most recent data provided by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, California had 1,120 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2017 and saw a 9.3% increase in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities from 2008 to 2017. Driving under the influence (DUI) is taken very seriously in California, and a recent death has prompted legislators to propose tighter restrictions on those who drive with alcohol in their system. 

Liam’s Law

On September 3, 2016, 15-month-old Liam Kowal died from traumatic brain injuries after being struck by a drunk driver. His death prompted his parents to advocate for tougher legislation on drunk drivers, including a stricter blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) standards for those on the road. Almost three years later, on February 22, 2019, California Assembly members Autumn Burke and Heath Flora proposed Assembly Bill 1713, also known as “Liam’s Law”.

If passed, the law will lower the BAC state tolerance level from 0.08 to 0.05. In other words, drivers may face DUI charges much sooner than before. This bill has resulted in different opinions from both sides. According to an ABC7 report, supporters claim that the restriction would reduce deaths by 11% yet many do not think that such a change is the right action to be taken to keep people safer on the roads. For most, this BAC reduction will put drivers over the legal limit after just two drinks.

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San Jose DUI Defense AttorneysDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal in all 50 states. In California, if a driver has a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more, he or she is considered impaired or under the influence. Penalties for DUI can carry serious consequences. If an individual is convicted of a DUI in California, the court may order completion of an Alcohol and Drug Education and Counseling program provided by a state-licensed service provider. The duration of the program depends on whether this is a motorist’s first or subsequent DUI offense within a 10-year period.

California DUI Classes

The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) licenses more than 400 DUI education program services across the state. The programs are designed to provide participants with the necessary tools to reflect on attitudes and behavior, promote positive lifestyle changes, and reduce or eliminate the use of alcohol and/or drugs altogether.

For eligibility in one of these programs, a person must be referred by either the court or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The state of California offers different levels of DUI education programs to those drivers who are ordered to attend them. In some situations, classes can be as short as 12 hours for first-time offenders with low BACs or as high as 30 months for repeat offenders.

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San Jose criminal defense lawyerDriving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is illegal. California has some of the strictest DUI penalties in the United States. A first DUI offense can result in fines ranging from $390 to $1,000 along with driver’s license suspension. Offenders can spend days to months in jail, and they may also be ordered to do community service or attend a treatment program or DUI school. It is imperative to understand your rights if you are pulled over for drunk driving in the state of California. In addition, seeking assistance from a qualified and competent lawyer can increase your chances of possibly having the charges reduced or dropped altogether.

Steps to Take During a DUI Traffic Stop

Being pulled over by law enforcement can be scary, and although the initial reaction might be to panic, it is important that an individual remains calm throughout the traffic stop. Not complying with an officer’s order to exit the vehicle could result in a charge of resisting arrest. Another thing to note is that a person stopped for DUI can invoke his or her right to remain silent even if the police officer does not mention Miranda rights. 

It is also crucial to know the laws regarding drunk driving. Under California law, if someone is over 21, he or she does not need to submit to a field sobriety test during a DUI stop. California has an implied consent law, which means possessing a driver’s license indicates a driver has given his or her consent to submit to a chemical test in case the individual is arrested for driving under the influence. However, the motorist has the option of taking a breath or a blood test. Blood tests are typically more accurate than breath tests are. 

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San Francisco DUI defense attorneyIn the state of California, a driver who has been arrested for a DUI has 10 days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to keep his or her driving privileges. A DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding involving the suspension of your driving privilege only. It is a completely separate matter from a criminal case for a DUI charge. If a motorist fails to request a hearing, his or her driver's license will be suspended. It is important to know you are not required to request a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest, so you may want to discuss the potential advantages with a skilled DUI lawyer.

Due Process

In California, due process of law entitles you to a notice if the DMV intends to revoke your driver’s license and gives you an opportunity to be heard. The DMV hearing focuses on the details of your arrest and your driving privileges. It does not decide your innocence or guilt of a criminal act. Some of the issues discussed at a DMV hearing include the following:

  • Whether or not you took a blood, breath, or urine test.
  • Did the police officer have reasonable cause to pull you over if he or she believed you were in violation of the law.
  • Was your placed under lawful arrest?
  • Were you operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher in your system?
  • Whether or not you refused or failed a blood, breath, or urine test.

These issues may seem fairly straightforward, but there could be factors that made your arrest unlawful or without probable cause. For example, the arresting officer could make a mistake in the police report or fail to note an important detail.

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Posted on in DUI

San Jose DUI lawyer defense strategiesIn the age of technology and connectivity that we live in, the potential for drunk driving has been reduced. While getting to your destination after consuming alcohol may have previously required planning and a lot of hassle, it can now be completed with a simple order of an Uber on your cell phone. Because of this, many law enforcement officials do not take DUI charges lightly and will punish offenders to the full extent of the law. In California, even a first DUI conviction can carry possible jail time, large fines, and a driver's license suspension. A solid defense strategy can be key to getting a fair outcome in your DUI case. 

Elements of a DUI Case

Before you can begin building a solid defense, you must first understand a few things about your DUI case. When you are charged with DUI, the prosecutor has the burden of proof, meaning he or she must prove that you were in fact driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. Knowing that the prosecutor must prove that you were impaired at the time you were driving, you and your attorney can construct a solid defense.

DUI Defense Strategies

Though there are many ways you can defense against a DUI charge, you and your lawyer should talk about your specific case and come up with a plan that is best suited for you. Here are a few strategies that may be of benefit if you are charged with a DUI:

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San Jose DUI attorney FAQsNo matter the offense, when you are in trouble with the law, it can be a scary and intimidating experience. When it comes to DUI, the state of California takes these charges very seriously and will usually prosecute offenders to the greatest extent of the law. The consequences for DUI vary greatly depending on the circumstances surrounding a specific case, and those who are facing charges should be sure to understand how the laws affect them. Here are some answers to four of the most frequently asked questions about California DUIs:

How Long Will I Lose My License For?

It depends. There are many factors that can affect how long your driver’s license suspension is in effect. If you are arrested for drunk driving, you may face an administrative per se suspension of your driver's license. If you are convicted of a DUI, you may also have to serve a criminal license suspension. However, if this was your first DUI offense, you will be able to keep your full driving privileges if an ignition interlock device (IID) is immediately installed and used for at least six months. If you do not use an IID, you will be able to drive with a restricted driver's license for 12 months.

Will a DUI Affect My Insurance?

More than likely, yes. If you are arrested or convicted for a DUI, it is not unusual to see your car insurance rates go up to double or even triple what they previously were. In California, you are required to obtain SR-22 or high risk insurance after a DUI. Your insurance provider must send proof of insurance to the California DMV.

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San Francisco DUI defense lawyerThough the United States is one country, there are 50 states that make up the country - and each can make their own laws. Because of this, many DUI laws differ from state to state, and that can cause confusion over what kinds of penalties will be given for a DUI conviction. Whether you are a new resident to California, a new driver on the road, or just are not clear on what the laws are surrounding DUI license suspensions in California, everyone can use a refresher on current laws and punishments for driving under the influence.

Can I Still Drive While DUI Charges Are Pending?

Yes, but only if you request a DMV hearing within 10 days after your arrest. If you do so, you will be able to retain your driving privileges until your case has been resolved.

In California, the state has put into place what is called an “admin per se” license suspension, which is carried out by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and is an action that is independent of any criminal DUI charges you may be facing in court. If you were pulled over for a DUI and the officer asked you to complete a chemical test, you face an admin per se license suspension if:

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Santa Clara County DUI defense lawyer, DUI, DUI stories, DUI statistics, DUI chargesDUI is a serious subject. Driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other mind-altering substance is extremely dangerous and can even be deadly. Though DUI should not be taken lightly, there are stories you may hear about and will make you think, “Wait ... what?” Many people think you can only be arrested for DUI if you are driving a car; however, as some of these stories will tell, that is not always the case.

Here are some of the strangest DUI tales that have taken place around the world:

  • A Kentucky man was arrested for having a blood alcohol level of over twice the legal limit, which is .08. This would not be as strange of a tale, except police say he was riding a horse when they found him in possession of marijuana, a couple of beers, and a mason jar full of moonshine.

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Boating Under the Influence Charges in California

San Jose boating under the influence attorneyWith California’s year-round mild weather, it is no surprise that nearly four million people enjoy recreational boating in the state each year. Unfortunately, dangerous boating accidents can occur, and nearly 25 percent of all motorboat-related fatalities involve alcohol in some way. California has laws governing alcohol use and consumption while you are aboard boats, much like the laws governing motor vehicles. Charges of boating under the influence (BUI) are similar to DUI charges, and an arrest can affect your driver’s license privileges, which is why it is important to respond to BUI charges as soon as possible.

Harbors & Navigation Code 655

California law states that no person shall operate a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means that not only are you prohibited from using motor boats while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, but you are also prohibited from using:

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Posted on in DUI

San Jose DUI defense attorneys, DUI charges, DUI, California drunk driving laws, DUI chargesWhen most people think of going on vacation in the spring they imagine getting away from the grind of work or exams and enjoying time with friends or simply relaxing. However, what starts off as a fun vacation may quickly turn into a nightmare if you are pulled over for driving under the influence.

The Risks of Binge Drinking and Driving

Eighty percent of drunk driving incidents in the United States are related to binge drinking, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, and especially if he or she has been binge drinking, the person may experience negative effects such as decreased concentration, blurred vision, and a reduced coordination and reaction time, which can cause accidents.

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San Jose DUI defense attorney field sobriety testsWhen a police officer pulls someone over on suspicion of drunk driving, they will be looking for evidence of the driver’s impairment. In many cases, they may ask a driver to get out of their car and perform a series of field sobriety tests, and based on their observations during these tests, they may decide whether to arrest the driver for DUI. If you have been pulled over, it is important to understand your rights and possible defenses against field sobriety tests.

Standardized Field Sobriety Tests

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has defined three Standardized Field Sobriety Tests that it recommends officers use:

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Avoiding a Drunk Driving Arrest on St. Patrick’s Day

San Jose drunk driving defense lawyer St. Patrick's DayWhether someone is of Irish heritage or not, St. Patrick’s Day provides a great opportunity to get together with friends and enjoy a night out on the town. However, the large number of people who consume alcohol during this holiday has resulted in a spike in drunk driving accidents and deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that between 2011 and 2015, there were 252 fatalities in car accidents involving drunk driving on St. Patrick’s Day. Due to the increased level of danger from drunk driving, police will be conducting DUI checkpoints in hopes of making arrests for driving under the influence before drivers cause dangerous accidents. 

Avoiding a DUI Arrest

People who are planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day should follow these tips to avoid being arrested for drunk driving:

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What Should You Do if You are Pulled Over for Driving Under the Influence?

What to do if you are pulled over for DUIBeing stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence can be a frightening experience, because the penalties for DUI in California are severe. However, if you are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, the last thing you should do is panic. Instead, you should remember your rights and take certain actions that can later help you in court if you are arrested.

After you are stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of driving under the influence, there are a few steps you should take to ensure that the DUI charges against you have a weak basis in court:

  1. Remember that you are not free to leave. While you are not in custody, you are considered detained when stopped by the police. Therefore, you are not free to leave even if you have not been arrested yet.
  2. Decline to answer questions. You are permitted to refuse to answer any incriminating questions. Keep in mind, however, that you must provide the police with your vehicle registration, driver’s license, and auto insurance.
  3. Refuse participation in field sobriety tests. You can refuse to participate in any field sobriety test. Field sobriety tests are physical tests that may require you to stand on one foot or walk in a straight line. These tests do not accurately determine whether the participant is intoxicated. In addition, if a suspected person is nervous or is confused by the officer’s questions, he or she may perform poorly on the test, which may result in the officer deeming the suspected person intoxicated.
  4. Do not refuse a chemical test. Although you may refuse to take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test, you cannot refuse required chemical tests that determine your blood-alcohol content (BAC). If you do refuse to take a chemical test, you may be fined, imprisoned if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, and your driving privileges will be suspended for up to one year if it is your first offense. 
  5. You can choose which type of test to take. If you do agree to submit to a chemical test, you will be given the choice of either a breath or blood test. A breath test can be easily challenged in court; however, a breath sample cannot be retested, while a blood test can. You may be required to submit to a blood test if the police officer has reasonable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence of a drug or both a drug and alcohol.

Contact Our San Jose Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are being charged with DUI, contact the San Jose DUI lawyers at the Law Offices of Erik Steven Johnson. There are many possible defenses to a drunk driving test refusal or DUI charge. An experienced attorney can challenge the chemical tests used to determine whether a driver is under the influence. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 408-246-3004.

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DUI

California has some of the most restrictive DUI laws in the country. If you are an out-of-state driver, it is important that you understand these laws and what will happen if you are arrested on suspicion of DUI.

California DUI laws are applied to both in and out-of-state drivers. If you are from a state that is party to the Interstate Driver's License Compact, you may face consequences back home.

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