We’ve all been there before. You’ve had a few drinks and, in a moment of sheer carelessness, you tell yourself that your blood-alcohol level is still within acceptable limits. So you decide to drive home, and just as you leave the parking lot, a police car stops you, a blood sample is taken and before you know it, you’re behind bars and wishing you had hired a cab to take you home. Driving under the influence is a criminal offense wherever you go and no matter how flimsy it may seem, it does perform a vital function in protecting the public interest. Moreover, the consequences flowing from such a violation of the law are best avoided. So if you find yourself facing prosecution for a DUI offense, don’t hesitate to pick up that phone and call a Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
Every Action Has A Consequence: Minimum Penalties
Even though a DUI charge is classified as a misdemeanor, a conviction can come with grave consequences. Depending on whether it’s a first, second or third offense, your license can be suspended or, in the most extreme cases, revoked. Yes, never again will you be able to drive a motor vehicle for the rest of your life.
When you’re eventually sentenced it does happen that you can be ordered to pay a fine, which normally takes the form of an admission of guilt. The fine normally ranges between $390-$1800. Furthermore, a third offense carries the steep penalty of imprisonment for up to 18 months in a state prison and a fine of up to $16 000. Then there is also the possibility of a court handing down a rehabilitation order for alcohol treatment. Getting carried away on the wheel is definitely not worth it, right?
Things Can Be Much Worse
It doesn’t end there, though. A court has a pretty wide discretion when it comes to DUI sentencing. You will find that, whilst wary of the danger of the duplication of charges -which can infringe greatly on the constitutional rights of an accused- a court can still sentence you to ‘cocktail’ of penalties that includes all the aforementioned.
However, if you kill someone in the process everything changes and you can find yourself fighting an additional charge for culpable homicide. Culpable homicide is a felony and carries a minimum sentence of up to 5 years in a state prison.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is as equally involved in a DUI case as the state prosecutors. After all, it is them who sign-off all the paperwork when your license is either revoked or suspended. In fact, proof of an arrest is all they require to take such drastic action. Now, this is where you ought to have your wits about you. You will only have 10 days to plead your case before a DMV panel eventually does so. With the aid of a lawyer, you should schedule a hearing with the DMV and state reasons why such order shouldn’t be granted against you.
Escaping By A Whisker
A DUI offense is not something you can simply wish away. It takes a smart lawyer who can manipulate all the available loopholes in the law to get you off the hook. A prosecution with hard evidence and strong witness testimony can have you being whisked away to prison in a flash. Nonetheless, it’s not all that bad. For many it’s little more than a slap on the wrist and life goes on. Charges can be dropped, or better still, the prosecution’s case can be dismissed on the basis of weak evidence. An acquittal -a finding of ‘not guilty’- is also another possibility. This is whereby a court finds that -on the available evidence- some doubt exists as to whether you are guilty. In this case, you walk away a free man.
A Look At Statistics
In a 2015 report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 10,265 people were killed in traffic accidents that involved a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. That figure represented almost 30% of the annual vehicle traffic fatalities. As the evidence suggests, drunk driving is a serious concern in modern society. The whole idea behind DUI laws is, therefore, to deter people from committing a crime that is potentially harmful to the people around them, that is, the public.