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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

How do implied consent laws impact breath test refusal?

When drivers are pulled over for a DUI, they are often asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. Law enforcement officials use breath tests and other tests to help determine whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol. However, more than 20 percent of U.S. drivers suspected of a DUI refuse to take a blood alcohol test. While refusing a breathalyzer test may seem like the right thing to do when pulled-over, it also comes with consequences.

In any state, when you get your driver’s license, implied consent laws go into effect. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of alcohol, the officer may ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety or chemical test. Implied consent laws mean that you consent to these tests to determine your level of impairment.

California drivers risk license suspension for one year if they refuse to submit to these tests. The driver may receive a citation for the refusal, but a driver who consents to a blood test after the initial breathalyzer refusal, may be exempted from a refusal charge. However, if the driver has a history of DUI convictions, a refusal may mean an even longer license suspension or, in some cases, jail time.

License suspension may not be your only penalty for a breath test refusal. Some car insurance companies will cancel your policy as a result of the refusal-related license suspension. Refusing a breath test and later being found guilty of the DUI could be more serious. Seeking the opinion of a DUI defense attorney may be beneficial in determining the best course of action for your particular situation.

California bill proposes new technology to drug test drivers

While many DWI charges occur as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol, many occur as a result of driving under the influence of drugs. In California, lawmakers are considering a proposal by California Assemblyman Tom Lackey: Assembly Bill 1356. This bill would allow law enforcement officers to use a new technology to determine whether someone is driving while impaired by drugs. It would also change California law to state that all drivers have automatically consented to the chemical testing of their blood or oral fluids.The DDS 2 Mobile Test System can supposedly detect drugs in the body with just a swab of saliva. Within minutes, the device can purportedly determine whether the driver is under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines or certain other illegal substances.Lawmakers have insisted that the test results from this device are not meant to be the final say as to whether someone is intoxicated. The results are intended as a screening tool to help officers make the tough call as to whether to arrest someone who was driving recklessly. However, there are still some concerns. According to some experts, there are inconsistencies regarding the scientific evidence supporting the accuracy of the test results.

While the test is about as sensitive as blood alcohol tests for detecting past use, it does not measure actual impairment. This means that drivers under the influence of medical marijuana may be at risk. As with blood alcohol content tests, the results of these tests could mean serious penalties for those accused of DUI. Thus, contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney is likely to be a top priority for someone subjected to testing.There are potential issues that lie ahead for the bill if it becomes a law, including lack of funding. Lackey has ideas on how to drum up the money needed, but he is focused on getting the bill passed first. The measure was voted on by three Assembly Public Safety Committee members in May, who voted 2-1 in favor of it. Since four members of the committee did not vote, though, the bill failed but was given reconsideration. The re-vote was not immediately rescheduled, so it remains to be seen how California drivers will be affected by this new technology.

DUI charges can have a huge impact on your future

Car accidents are unfortunately a common occurrence in Palm Desert. Some of these accidents will result in a driver being charged with driving under the influence. A first offense DUI charge is a misdemeanor, but if someone was injured or killed in the accident, that charge may become a felony and the penalties for a conviction become more serious.

In California, the court may add one year of jail time to a DUI sentence for each person injured in the accident. In cases where someone is seriously injured in a DUI accident, the prosecutor on the case may charge the defendant with DUI resulting in great bodily injury. In those cases, the court may add three years to the person’s prison sentence. If the injured person ends up in a coma or dead, five years can be added. Whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, a DUI of any kind can have a major effect on your life. Consequences can be severe and change the course of your entire future. The steps you take after the initial arrest can play a major role in what happens to you. Protecting yourself from these serious consequences is essential.

Attorney Dale Gribow has years of experience investigating DUI cases and picking up on the mistakes made by law enforcement officials when they arrest and charge drivers with DUIs. Finding those mistakes can mean the difference between years in prison and freedom. For more information on how Attorney Gribow defends people accused of DUI, please visit our website.

Blood alcohol content is not the only evidence of DUI

When a California driver is pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence, they may be asked to submit to a blood alcohol content test. One common misconception is that if the test shows the driver’s blood alcohol content is under the legal limit of .08, the driver will not be charged with a DUI. Unfortunately, many drivers with blood alcohol levels under .08 face DUI charges.

Drivers who are pulled over for suspected DUI will typically be asked to take a breath test to determine their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. Under implied consent laws, drivers are required to submit to a chemical test when asked to do so. If they refuse, their driving privileges will be suspended automatically. If a driver takes the test and the results fall between .05 and .07, they may still be charged with a DUI if there is other evidence that you were impaired at the time of the accident.

The National Highway Traffic Administration has found 20 symptoms that could indicate that a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These symptoms give law enforcement probable cause to stop a vehicle and possibly arrest the driver for a DUI. These symptoms may be used as evidence for the prosecution. If a driver makes a statement regarding how many drinks they consumed, that statement may be admissible as evidence. It is important to be aware of this and avoid answering any questions without first speaking to an attorney.

However, it is also important to note that breathalyzers are not always accurate. With the inaccuracies and drawbacks of the equipment, the results are often not enough to convict someone of DUI without other evidence. Proving the test was administered under less than ideal conditions could help a driver defend against DUI charges.

When does a DUI become a felony in California?

In Palm Desert, most drunk driving charges are classified as misdemeanors. However, in certain situations, a DUI charge can be upgraded to a felony. Generally, felonies carry much more serious penalties than misdemeanors and can have a major impact on a person’s future. A felony DUI conviction in California can result in a lengthy prison sentence and a significant fine, in addition to driver’s license revocation.

A driver with multiple DUI offenses within a set period of time may also face a felony DUI. In California, a fourth DUI within the same ten-year period as the three prior convictions will be charged as a felony.

Another way that a DUI charge can become a felony is if the driver injured or killed another person while driving under the influence. Prosecutors may be able to decide whether the DUI should be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony. In California, prosecutors are required to show that the driver facing DUI charges caused the injury in question. For example, if someone else crashes into the drunk driver and suffers injury, the charges against the drunk driver will remain at the misdemeanor level because the drunk driver did not cause the injury.

Felony DUI charges can result in major consequences and should be taken very seriously. Fortunately, like anyone charged with a crime, a person facing felony DUI charges has the right to an attorney and the right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. An experienced California DUI attorney can advise the client of their options and represent them in court.

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73-061 El Paseo, Suite 220