DUI/DWI Attorney in Santa Cruz, California
Drunk driving is a serious issue everywhere in the nation, and California is no exception. In fact, California’s population alone means that a higher than average number of drivers are out on the road. This also means that driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence are far too common. Because DUIs and DWIs are so dangerous, it’s not surprising that those transgressions are punished severely under California law.
If you are facing DUI or DWI charges in Santa Cruz, California, you need to have an experienced DUI/DWI defense attorney by your side advocating for your rights. My firm, The Law Offices of Andrew Janecki, recognizes the seriousness of any charge involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. My firm also recognizes that everyone deserves to have their rights protected. From my Santa Cruz office, I help clients all throughout the area, including Palo Alto, San Jose, San Francisco, and Berkeley.
DUI/DWI Charges in California
In California, the terms DUI and DWI mean essentially the same thing. DUI stands for ‘driving under the influence,’ while DWI stands for ‘driving while impaired.’ For the most part, California uses ‘DUI’ to indicate a charge for driving under the influence of alcohol.
In some states, a driver can be charged with a DUI for being in "actual physical control" of a vehicle while under the influence. This refers to a scenario in which the person was in control of the vehicle, but not actually driving. In California, however, the law is clear that to be convicted of DUI, you must have been driving the vehicle.
DUI Tests and the Law
Commonly known as “field sobriety tests”, standardized field sobriety tests are tests and procedures that are supposed to help police decide if they should arrest a driver on suspicion of drunk driving.
Drivers can refuse to do a field sobriety test after a traffic stop in California. The three most common field sobriety tests utilized are:
the walk-and-turn test
the eye test
During a traffic stop, if the officer suspects the driver to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer may ask the individual to perform these tests. These tests are not mandatory and there are no penalties for refusing to do these field sobriety tests during a traffic stop. The PAS breathalyzer test that the police ask you to take when you are pulled over for DUI is also not mandatory and you can refuse this particular breathalyzer test without penalty. The main purpose of the PAS device test is for the officer to establish probable cause to arrest you for DUI. Keep in mind, however, that under California’s “implied consent” law, you will incur a penalty for refusing a chemical test (such as a breathalyzer test) after a lawful DUI arrest has been made.
Given the dangerous nature of driving under the influence, the penalties—if you are convicted—can be severe. In California, not only will you be facing criminal charges, but you will also be facing the suspension of your driver’s license and driving privileges. A DUI arrest will automatically trigger an administrative review within the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and your license may be confiscated by the arresting officer.
In California, the penalties for a first-offense conviction generally include fines, license suspension, three years of informal probation, and completion of an alcohol program. Unless aggravating factors are present, jail time is usually not imposed for a first-time DUI offense.
For a second offense DUI or beyond, the penalties are greater. Jail time is a minimum of 96 hours, although prosecutors may press and be granted more. License suspension may be up to two years, or beyond.
Ignition Interlock Program
California, as well as many other states, have also utilized “Ignition Interlock Program” (IID) devices to be installed on offending vehicles. An IID is about the size of a cell phone and wired to your vehicle’s ignition. After installation, the IID requires you to provide a breath sample before the engine will start. If the IID detects alcohol on your breath, the engine will not start. As you drive, you are periodically required to provide breath samples to ensure the continued absence of alcohol in your system.
Serving Santa Cruz, California
While driving under the influence is certainly dangerous, it’s also important to realize that you still have legal rights if faced with an arrest or conviction. Whether you are dealing with a first-offense misdemeanor DUI, a felony DUI with injuries involved, or you have prior convictions, The Law Offices of Andrew Janecki is ready to help you move forward. If you have been arrested for a DUI, contact me in Santa Cruz, California, for a consultation.