If you are facing DUI charges, you might be thinking you have no options and you might as well plead guilty and be done with it. Maybe you knew you were over the legal BAC limit of .08% and can see no reason to fight an inevitable conviction. California prosecutes DUI cases aggressively and has set in place many programs and laws designed to harshly punish offenders. While facing DUI charges may seem hopefully, don't plead guilty until you've explored all your defense options. The best way to do this is to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney. Many will provide free phone consultations and can advise you on how best to proceed with your case. There is a lot to know about California DUI penalties and laws and a lot to consider when thinking about how to fight the charge. First, consider the evidence against you. The prosecution must prove you drove while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. If you are pulled over, it can be clearly noted that you were driving. Then, there are a number of ways an officer can find signs you were driving under the influence. The police report and a statement from the arrest officer, to include the results of any roadside sobriety test you took, along with any BAC test results, will be reviewed by the prosecution and is usually what your conviction will be based on. Keep in mind, tests aren't always accurate and police officers make mistakes. Breathalyzer test results have been successfully challenged in court to dismiss DUI charges. The machines themselves need to be properly maintained and calibrated and must be used by someone trained on their use. Police stations should keep good records of when the machine was maintained and/or calibrated so there may be proof the machine you blew in to was not in proper working order. The prosecution also may consider what you said at the arrest, which could have been incriminating. However, if you were not read your Miranda Rights before being interrogated, what you said could be deemed inadmissible as evidence. Another possible point of defense is the rising BAC, or blood alcohol content, defense. Generally, your BAC lowers over time. However, it may rise for a short period of time immediately after drinking. So, if you had a drink and immediately got in your car and started driving, your BAC may still be on the rise. If you are pulled over shortly after that and the police officer waited 15 minutes, the standard observation period, before administering a breathalyzer test, your BAC at the time of the test could feasibly be higher than it was while you were driving. This is especially relevant if you were given a BAC test at the police station, after being arrested. At that point, your BAC could have risen above the legal limit, even if it was not at that point when you were driving. While newer breathalyzer machines are getting better about not producing false positives from mouthwash, acid reflux and other things that increase mouth alcohol, it could be the case that a medical condition, medicine or even a kind of food you ate resulted in your BAC reading higher than it really is. If you cannot find a strong defense against any of the evidence in your case, you might want to discuss the possibility of a plea bargain with an attorney. Sometimes, a DUI charge can be reduced to a wet reckless charge. A wet reckless charge is usually used a plea bargain for first time DUI offender. However, while it isn't technically a DUI, and so doesn't come with the standard set of DUI penalties, it is counted as a DUI for the purposes of sentencing you if you get an subsequent DUI charges. For example, if your DUI was reduced to a wet reckless charge, your first DUI after that will be considered a second offense and you will face the punishments for second time DUI offenders. Regardless, a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate your charge down, saving you a DUI conviction and lots of time and stress dealing with the penalties of a DUI. There are options to fight your DUI charge in California; be informed of your rights and know what evidence is being held against you. Speak to an attorney if you want to learn about your defense options and to strategize your defense today.
Have you or a loved one recently been arrested for a DUI and are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area? DUI defense attorney Christopher Martens knows DUI defense and will fight for your rights. Mr. Martens has 10 years experience handling thousands of criminal defense cases and will not be afraid to take your case all the way. Serving the Visalia and Fresno areas, The Law Offices of Christopher Martens can provide expert DUI defense counsel. Call our office at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.