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A Comprehensive Overview of DUI Laws Los Angeles

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Los Angeles DUI Law Guide

If you have been arrested for DUI in California, you may seek answers to your questions regarding the primary DUI laws, fines, and other penalties for a DUI arrest or conviction.

Penalties for every California DUI offense can range from minimal punishment to severe penalties, including state prison. However, every DUI case in Los Angeles County is different, and the severity of the punishment can depend on the unique circumstances of drunk driving cases.

This guide provides you with information that you may need regarding your situation and explains your rights.

The Basics of California DUI Laws

DUI refers to driving under the influence. Driving while intoxicated is considered a severe offense in most states. Why is it considered a serious offense? Driving under the influence usually results in impaired judgment and driving capacity, endangering one’s life and other road users.

California’s DUI laws (Vehicle Code 23152(a, b, f, g)) state it’s illegal to drive in the following circumstances:

  • Under the influence of an alcoholic beverage
  • If you have 0.08 percent or more BAC in your blood
  • Under the influence of drugs
  • Under the influence of alcohol and a drug combined

The law prohibits motorists from operating a vehicle while impaired by the effects of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medications. Getting convicted of DUI offenses usually results in severe penalties, determined by the extent of the crime.

In Los Angeles, law enforcement agencies have the right to investigate and apprehend drivers suspected of driving under the influence. They can also administer sobriety tests to determine whether the driver is intoxicated. Drivers who refuse to submit to a sobriety test may also be arrested for DUI.

Once arrested, the driver is subjected to a DUI process and may have their driving privilege revoked. The process includes an arraignment hearing, a pre-trial conference, and a trial.

The consequences of a conviction may vary depending on the circumstances of the case and include imprisonment, fines, license suspension or revocation, probation, community service, alcohol education classes, and installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID).

Can You Drink and Drive in LA?

California’s DUI laws in Los Angeles prohibit all drivers from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and passengers from keeping an alcoholic beverage inside the vehicle in an open container while the car is being driven. Failure to adhere to this may lead to an arrest and other severe penalties.

What Happens When You Break DUI Laws in Los Angeles?

Drinking and driving are not uncommon, as many people get behind the wheel after a drink or three and think they are perfectly safe to drive. Unfortunately, the laws in Los Angeles don’t agree with this. Failure to comply with DUI laws usually results in very harsh consequences.

If you receive a DUI conviction, chances are you will face jail time and a driver’s license suspension. Getting a DUI attorney will help minimize your chances of facing these severe consequences.

Processes Involved After a Dui Arrest in Los Angeles

The California DUI process is complex. This is because the California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and the criminal court are usually involved. Below is an overview of what you should expect if you have been arrested for a suspected DUI in Los Angeles County.

Fighting for Your License

As soon as you get arrested for drunk driving in Los Angeles, CA, you will usually have ten days to request a hearing from the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) or risk a driver’s license suspension.

If you request a hearing, you will be granted permission to remain with your license until the hearing date. However, you will still have to make a case. For assistance in handling the DMV hearing, it’s advisable to get a DUI lawyer to handle it for you.

The hearing usually takes place after several months. If you are lucky enough to win your criminal case in the meantime, you won’t have to attend the hearing at all.

Criminal Case Proceedings

Once you are arrested for a DUI, you must have a hearing with a judge. This is where you can suitably enter your appeal. It may take several weeks from the date you were arrested, but it’s essential to get a lawyer before the initial hearing.

In the meantime, your criminal defense attorney will execute a thorough investigation, file legal motions, and have a negotiation with the prosecutor. This usually takes a couple of weeks and can go up to months until your trial date.

California DUI Penalties

Being convicted of a DUI is something you should always try to evade. The penalties are usually very severe and may significantly impact your life in many ways, including your employment opportunities, for a very long time.

This is where DUI attorneys give you legal advice and the needed assistance. With the right Los Angeles DUI attorney, it’s possible to avoid some or all of the DUI penalties associated with DUI convictions.

Here are some of the California DUI penalties one can be sentenced with depending on the number of times one has been convicted.

First-Offense DUI

  • Summary DUI probation of three years
  • A $390 fine, including penalty evaluations
  • An AB541 drug or alcohol program for three months
  • A six-month California driver’s license suspension

For a misdemeanor DUI offense, offenders can usually continue to drive if they have agreed to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for six months. Drivers can obtain a restricted driver’s license after a mandatory 30-day period of no driving.

Second DUI Offense

  • Summary probation of three to five years
  • A fine of $390, including penalty evaluations
  • A mandatory minimum of ninety-six hours to a maximum of one year in the county jail. It has been the policy of prosecutors in LA County to seek ninety days of jail time on a second DUI offense.

For a second offense DUI, offenders will again be mandated to attend driver’s education courses and have an IID installed for a whole year.

Third-Time Offense DUI Arrest

  • Summary probation of three to five years
  • A fine of $390, including penalty evaluations
  • A mandatory minimum of 120 days in the county jail to a maximum of one year
  • Insertion of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for two years
  • A suspension of the driver’s license for three years

Third DUI conviction will mandate DUI offenders to attend a DUI school for up to two and a half years. However, a Los Angeles County judge may impose additional penalties, including community service or attendance at AA meetings.

Bear in mind that a fourth DUI is a wobbler offense. In other words, it can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor DUI. As a misdemeanor, a fourth offense DUI can be punished by 180 days to one year in county jail along with additional penalties. However, if prosecuted as a felony, a fourth DUI carries a state prison sentence of up to three years.

What Is the Law for Drunk Driving?

A Los Angeles DUI will typically be prosecuted when a person is above the legal limit. A permissible blood alcohol content is 0.08 for drivers of non-commercial vehicles and 0.04 if you are holding a commercial driver’s license.

Therefore, if your blood alcohol concentration is above the legal BAC limit, then it’s likely that you will face criminal penalties in court as well as administrative driver’s license suspension.

However, you can contact our DUI attorneys for assistance if you want to obtain your restricted license or need further assistance with DUI charges.

What to Know About DUI Laws Los Angeles

There are several laws regarding DUI in Los Angeles. Under California laws, it is illegal and considered a misdemeanor for anyone over 21 years to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. It’s also illegal for anyone younger than 21 to drive a car with a BAC of 0.01 or higher.

But, under California law, a DUI offense that involves certain aggravating factors can also be a felony. More precisely, Southern California drunk driving charges are prosecuted under California Vehicle Code section 23152 or 23153.

Depending on whether somebody is injured in the accident a drunk driver has caused, DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony DUI. Also, an individual could face felony DUI charges depending on prior DUI convictions.

Being arrested for DUI will cause you to pay high fines plus penalty assessments based on the number of prior DUIs on your record and whether anyone was injured. Penalty and assessments can add up to nearly $2000 for a second DUI and approximately $2500 for a third DUI conviction.

Facts and Statistics on DUI Laws in Los Angeles County

The DWI statistics usually reveal the extent of drunk driving or driving while intoxicated and its consequences in Los Angeles. It shows the number of traffic fatalities, alcohol-related deaths, and fatalities in crashes every year.

From 2003 to 2010, the rate of DUI arrests in California per every 100,000 licensed drivers hovered at 800-900 arrests. In 2011, the arrest rate began to decrease. In 2012 and 2013, the rates dropped radically to 651.

Since then, the arrest rate has been dropping, which is majorly attributed to the growing use of ride-sharing apps like Lyft and Uber.

Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney for Help

Drunk driving is considered a severe offense in LA. It usually results in dire consequences. To avoid facing harsh penalties and fines that may significantly impact your life, it’s important to avoid operating a vehicle under the influence.

However, mistakes happen. If, unfortunately, you find yourself facing a DUI in Los Angeles, it’s best to get in touch with a reliable Los Angeles DUI attorney.

DUI lawyers have extensive experience in DUI law and understand the legal processes involved. We can help with your case by providing legal advice, defending you in court, and providing you with the best options available.

Whether it’s your first or subsequent DUI offense, our lawyers can help you handle the DUI charge and minimize the potential consequences. A good attorney will evaluate your case carefully, determine the most viable drunk driving defense, and represent you in court.

Contact our Los Angeles DUI attorney now to protect your rights. We will work diligently on your DUI case and fight to get the best possible outcome for you.

Schedule Your Consultation

Regardless of your circumstance, you are not alone in your fight. We are ready to stand by your side and fight for your rights, freedom, and reputation. Contact us today to schedule a free remote or in-person consultation, and let us assist you in finding a solution to your problem.