In California, it only takes a few drinks to put you at risk for an arrest for driving under the influence. Not only is the limit for blood alcohol concentration low under state law, but you can also be convicted of DUI even if you register below the legal limit. And if you have been previously convicted of driving under the influence, the penalties you face under California law can be severe. To give yourself a chance at avoiding a conviction, contact a Sonoma County DUI attorney right away.
There are actually two different DUI offenses for alcohol under California law. The first, known as “per se” DUI, relates to your BAC at the time you are behind the wheel of an automobile on a California roadway. But California law also bars driving a vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.
If you are charged with a DUI in Sonoma County, it makes no difference which of the two theories the prosecutor pursues against you. If the court finds you guilty under either theory, the potential penalties are the same.
The most common route a prosecutor will take to convict you of DUI is by proving your BAC was above the legal limit at the time you were driving. Under California law, a BAC at or above .08 is enough to warrant a conviction for DUI.
According to California Vehicle Code 23152 (a):
It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
The sentence is broad by design, and intended to cover any driver who could be a risk behind the wheel due to intoxication even though their BAC is not above the legal limit. In order for the prosecutor to convict you, he or she must prove that you were driving a vehicle on a public road at a time that you were influenced by alcohol.
In California, there must be at least “slight movement” of the vehicle you are operating to meet the standard of driving under the DUI statute. If you are in a parked car that has not moved, you are technically not in violation of the statute. But even if law enforcement doesn’t witness you driving, the state can use circumstantial evidence to prove that you drove the vehicle.
Obviously, proof that you were driving alone is not enough for a conviction. The prosecutor must also show that you were under the influence of alcohol when you operated the vehicle. According to the California Model Jury Instructions, “under the influence” is:
A person is under the influence of an alcoholic beverage when as a result of drinking such alcoholic beverage, his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that he or she no longer has the ability to drive a vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same conditions.
For a second-offense DUI conviction, you face a minimum of 96 hours in jail. The maximum sentence for a second conviction is up to one year in jail. In some cases, the court may agree to allow you to serve your sentence under house arrest. The conviction also carries a maximum penalty of up to $1,000 plus over double that amount in county court fees, as well as a two-year suspension of your driving privileges.
If you were arrested for your second DUI, you still have the opportunity to fight the charge against you. With the right California DUI lawyer, you may be able to leverage a strong defense into an acquittal. The experienced DUI defense attorneys at the Wilber Law Offices, P.C. rely on a number of defenses when advocating for their clients. Some of the most common defenses include:
If you have been charged with your second DUI in Sonoma County, contact the DUI attorneys at the Wilber Law Offices, P.C. today.