A 21 year old resident of Downey was arrested Friday after striking a motorcyclist and knocking him into another vehicle on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. According to authorities, the 21-year-old driver was driving his pick up truck in the bicycle lane, attempting to pass traffic when the accident occurred. The rider of the motorcycle was seriously injured but is expected to survive. The 21-year-old man reportedly fled the scene before police arrived but was found and arrested several miles away.
This young man is facing serious charges of driving under the influence causing injury, possession of marijuana, hit and run causing injury and reckless driving causing injury. While he is a resident of Downey, California, he will need the legal representation of an experienced Orange County, California criminal defense lawyer.
Hiring the right criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California, can be the most important decision a person makes when being accused and/or charged with a criminal matter in the County of Orange.
The following are standard penalties associated with a conviction for driving under the influence or DUI, in Orange County, California:
DUI 1st Offense: Jail time (up to 6 months); fines (up to$1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; and driver’s license suspension.
DUI 2nd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.
DUI 3rd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $2,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.
In California we have what is called Sentence Enhancements. What this means is that if convicted of DUI, under certain circumstances the Court can impose a greater penalty. Those circumstances include: 1) Prior Convictions – If convicted of a DUI within the last ten years, jail time, DUI school and license suspension periods are increased. Two priors within ten years results in even further penalty increases and if you have three or more, you will be charged with felony DUI; 2) High Blood Alcohol Level: A BAC level of .15 or higher, results in an enhanced sentence; 3) Test Refusall: There are two consequences to refusing to take a chemical test. The amount of jail time is increased and the DMV will impose their administrative suspension of your driving privilege; 4) Speeding and/or Reckless Driving: At the time of arrest, a sentence enhancement will be imposed for 20 mph over the speed limit on a surface street and 30 mph over the limit on a freeway.
In this particular case, this young man is facing not only driving under the influence but also DUI/DWI with injury. This is technically considered a “wobbler” which means it can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony. However, most prosecutors pursue the charge that carries greater punishment. He also faces the enhancement charge of speeding and/or reckless driving, as well as DUI with injury. An experienced DUI defense attorney should explore the possible defense that the acts of another person or forces beyond the driver’s control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.
An experienced DUI Defense Attorney will look closely at the police report and at the conduct of the investigating officers. Specifically, any misconduct or violation of rights must be taken into consideration. Further, if a field sobriety test was performed, and this is what the arrest was based on, it should be challenged due to the fact that field sobriety tests are subjective, basically the opinion of the officer performing the test. If a roadside Breathalyzerr is used, this must also be looked at carefully as the results are unreliable and there are too many ways to skew the results. The law does require that anyone being arrested for suspicion of DUI must take a chemical test. Blood or breath, at the police station, are the two choices. However, there is no legal obligation for anyone to perform a field sobriety test. If a breath test was used at the police station, the maintenance logs of the breath machine need to be examined. If blood was taken, the attorney may want to employ the services of an expert to perform a “Blood Split”, which can help determine the blood alcohol level at the time of the stop rather than at the time the blood was taken. This can sometimes result in a lower blood alcohol level.
It is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.
If you would like to know more about Driving Under the Influence, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.