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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

What happens if you refuse a Breathalyzer test?

Drunk driving arrests and convictions have become all too common in Palm Desert. In fact, all across the country, many drivers are being pulled over under the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If a law enforcement officer pulls you over and suspects that you are intoxicated, they may ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test. A Breathalyzer test will determine your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. If a driver has a BAC level at or above .08, they are considered intoxicated according to the law and could be convicted of a DUI.

Breathalyzer results are given a great deal of weight in court, which leaves many drivers wondering whether they should submit to the Breathalyzer test. Refusing a test is an option, but there are consequences. All states have implied consent laws in place, meaning that drivers implicitly consent to a BAC test when they get their licenses. This means that if you don’t submit to a BAC test when asked, the state has the right to suspend or revoke your license for up to 12 months. You may even be required to pay heavy fines and face jail time.

Despite these consequences, approximately 20 percent of those accused of a DUI refuse to take a BAC test. Some of these drivers have been convicted of multiple DUIs in the past. These drivers find that the penalties for refusing a Breathalyzer test are less severe than the consequences they would face if they were convicted of yet another DUI. While there are some circumstances where a breath test refusal may be the right decision, you should be well aware of the consequences before making a decision.

License suspension after a DUI arrest

Palm Desert drivers are aware that being convicted or suspected of drunk driving could lead to serious consequences. Most know that an arrest results in suspension or revocation of a driver’s license. However, many people don’t understand what that means, how it plays out in practice and what they can do about it.

When a police officer makes an arrest on suspicion of DUI must immediately send a suspension or revocation order, along with an arrest report, to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV then reviews the order and the report, reviews any test results and decides whether to uphold or deny the order. The driver has 10 days to request a hearing in which the driver can contest the suspension. If the DMV decides that the suspension or revocation is not warranted, the license is returned.At the time of the arrest, the officer confiscates the driver’s license. Typically, the officer then gives the driver a temporary license card that is good for 30 days. If the driver is not successful in getting the DMV to reinstate the driving privileges will be suspended after those 30 days are up, if not sooner. Once any suspension period is up, the license is typically returned.

One factor that can affect the suspension period is a chemical blood alcohol test, such as a blood or breath test. If the test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, a first offense results in a four-month suspension for drivers over age 21. For drivers younger than 21, driving privileges are suspended for a year. Penalties are higher for repeat offenders. Those who refuse to take a chemical test automatically get a one-year suspension after a first offense.

In some situations, drivers can get a restricted license during the suspension period, allowing them to drive to and from work or other special purposes. They must request these from a DMV office.

Of course, these are only some of the penalties that can follow a DUI arrest. There may also be criminal penalties, some of them severe,

Because the consequences of even a first-offense DUI arrest can be so serious, it’s important to have the help of an experienced attorney. California attorneys with experience in DUI defense can help the accused to review their options.

18-year-old woman faces DUI after Palm Desert accident

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol carries severe consequences no matter what age a driver is. One young woman is now facing DUI related charges after an accident in Palm Desert earlier this month. The 18-year-old was driving with two passengers when she lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the center median. The car then flipped several times before coming to a stop. The woman and her passengers were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries. Police say that alcohol may have played a role in the accident.

The woman has been accused of driving under the influence and causing minor injuries. She is currently in custody and officers say that criminal charges will be filed once she gets out. After she is charged with a crime, her ability to legally get behind the wheel again may be in jeopardy.

All states are now targeting drivers under the legal drinking age with “zero tolerance” laws. Drivers over the legal drinking age of 21 are considered legally intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher. California drivers under 21 can face legal penalties if they exhibit BAC levels above .01. Interestingly, a driver can also receive a DUI if they have ingested certain amounts of specific medications, such as prescription drugs or even over-the-counter medications, without actually consuming alcohol directly.

It is also important to know that even if a driver has a BAC level under the legal limit, he or she can still be found guilty of a DUI if the arresting officer can offer additional evidence of impairment. Signs of impairment can include slurred speech, inattention during questioning, the smell of alcohol on one’s breath and of course, reckless driving. Dealing with DUI charges can be difficult in light of the potential consequences, but with an assertive defense a young adult’s rights can be protected.

Fatal Riverside County crash presumably caused by drunk driver

During the winter season, many Americans enjoy family get-togethers and parties to celebrate the holidays. Unfortunately, this time of year can also lead some people to drink and drive. Driving while intoxicated causes numerous fatal accidents in California every year.

One 33-year-old man is facing a felony DUI charge after his involvement in a car accident in Racho Mirage, a resort city near Palm Desert. County court records show that he has no prior DUI charges or convictions.

The accident occurred on Christmas Day when the man allegedly ran a red light and crashed his Chevrolet Suburban into a vehicle traveling south on a nearby road. He then crashed into a traffic signal pole, flipping his vehicle on to its side. The vehicle he hit proceeded to crash into a Volkswagen Beetle heading north on the same road. The 78-year-old woman who was driving the Beetle was transported to the hospital where she died shortly after. The driver and passenger in the other vehicle were not injured.

The man was arrested and booked at a county jail on suspicion of a felony DUI causing injury. He posted a $50,000 bond and will appear in court sometime in February. Felony DUIs carry more serious consequences than a standard DUI, which is typically a misdemeanor.

Each state has different rules for what it takes to raise a DUI charge to a felony. In California, when a DUI case involves bodily harm, prosecutors have the discretion to decide whether to prosecute as a misdemeanor or a felony. In order to go for the felony, prosecutors will also have to show that the person charged with the DUI caused the injury in question. If they cannot prove this, the DUI will likely remain a misdemeanor.

Those accused of a DUI should understand their defense options. They should seek advice in order to protect their rights and interests and develop an appropriate and timely defense strategy.

Why might a DUI charge be upgraded to a felony DUI?

It is pretty common knowledge that, California residents who are arrested for driving while impaired will face DUI charges. However, the circumstances surrounding the incident can have a significant effect on the severity of the charge and the associated penalties. Most DUI charges are considered misdemeanor offenses, but certain circumstances can result in increasing the charge to a felony DUI.

When it comes to a misdemeanor DUI offense, the penalties associated with this charge run the gamut from license suspension and fines to also including probation and/or jail time. The number of offenses on a person’s record will play a key role in the severity of the penalties ordered, if a conviction is ultimately secured. In order for a charge to be elevated to felony status certain circumstances must be present. Some of these include:

  • Elevated BAC
  • Bodily harm/death
  • Prior convictions
  • Children in vehicle
  • Driving on a suspended or restricted license

A conviction on a felony DUI charge can result in higher fines, lengthy jail/prison terms and a number of other consequences. These penalties may seem particularly harsh for those who are accused of causing bodily harm to others or endangering the lives of minors. For instance, the minimum sentencing for a felony DUI with injury includes a six to 10 year prison term, a fine up to $5,000 and restitution payments for the injured party.

California residents who are charged with a felony DUI have a lot at stake. Utilizing a strategic criminal defense may be the key to achieving the best possible outcome. Taking the right approach, whether that is seeking a dismissal of charges, conceding to lesser charges pursuant a plea agreement and/or seeking alternative sentencing, can help the accused resolve the issue in a manner that best meets his or her interests.

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