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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

New grant provides money for DUI prosecution in Riverside County

We recently discussed the large number of arrests in the Riverside County area over Labor Day weekend. It looks like the number of DUI charges in Palm Desert won’t be slowing down anytime soon. The California Office of Traffic Safety just awarded a grant to the District Attorney’s office to assist the agency’s DUI Vertical Prosecution Unit.

The purpose of the Vertical Prosecution Unit was to go after drug-impaired drivers in an effort to reduce the number of drug impaired road fatalities and injuries. Former District Attorney Paul Zellerbach was responsible for activating the Unit.

The grant is worth $490,280 and must be expended by September 30, 2016. This money will provide more resources for prosecutors in the area to go after drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The grant will be used towards the western county region and will pay for a deputy district attorney. The new deputy district attorney will help handle misdemeanor cases involving drug-impaired driving, specifically from the criminal filing to the adjudication stage. The agency also intends to add three more deputy district attorneys to prosecute misdemeanor cases.

With these new prosecutors, drivers should be aware of what they may be facing if they get pulled over for a DUI. Standard DUI charges are typically classified as misdemeanors. A DUI can be raised to the level of a felony if there is an elevated blood alcohol concentration, bodily harm, children in the vehicle or prior convictions. If a charge is upgraded to a felony, that can mean more serious consequences for the driver.

Labor Day weekend results in many DUI arrests in Riverside area

Labor Day weekend is widely considered to be the last weekend of the summer season. In an effort to give summer a proper send-off, many California residents celebrate with a few drinks and brats by the pool. Unfortunately, some of these celebrations end with a party-goer getting arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Over the weekend, one officer reported that there were three deadly crashes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

During Labor Day weekend 2015, 122 people were arrested throughout the Inland Empire. The California Highway patrol announced a “maximum enforcement period” that went from Friday evening to Labor Day before midnight. Officers from Beaumont, Indio, Riverside and Temecula stations were out and about, focused on catching DUI suspects and other potentially negligent drivers.

This deployment happened to be at the same time as Riverside County’s weekend enforcement campaign. The campaign required law enforcement agencies all across the county to conduct saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints. The National Highway Safety Administration’s nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign was the basis for both of these local efforts.

With these increased enforcement efforts, more people find themselves facing DUI charges. If convicted of such a charge, a person may find themselves in serious trouble, even if it is just their first offense. Drivers can face license suspension, hefty fees, and possible jail time. While most first-time offenders are charged with a misdemeanor, in more serious cases, a DUI charge can be a felony. However, being charged with a DUI does not mean that you will be convicted. A legal professional may be able to advise you on some of your options.

Rights in regards to DUIs, implied consent and breath tests

Football season is right around the corner, and few things are considered more American than football, burgers and beer. But whether you’re at your friend’s house to watch the game, at a bar, tailgating before the game, or raising your glass following your team’s victory, it is important to know the law when it comes to DUIs and implied consent laws with regards to breath tests.

Driving is considered a privilege not a right, and when you receive your driver’s license, you also are consenting to a blood alcohol content test, often called a BAC, if you are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This test can come in many forms, including a field sobriety test, a blood test, urine test or a breath test, commonly known as a Breathalyzer.

If you are pulled over and suspected of DUI, refusal to take the BAC test essentially surrenders your driving privileges. This is referred to as the implied consent law. Every state in the U.S. has some form of this law, though how it is implemented varies by state.

In addition, every state in the U.S. has severe penalties for a DUI conviction. In California, the penalties and fines range from a four-month suspension of your license, fines, mandatory alcohol education and treatment and the possibility of the installation of an ignition interlock device. The penalties become even more severe for subsequent offenses, including a license revocation for two to three years, and even more for subsequent offenses.

What happens after a DUI arrest?

On this blog, we have discussed DUI stops and arrests. But what happens after the arrest? Many Palm Desert residents who get arrested for a DUI have never been involved in a criminal case before. It is in your best interest to learn about the court process and the penalties so that you can be prepared for what potentially lies ahead.

A significant part of most DUI cases is the arraignment. In many cases, if you are accused of a DUI and plead guilty, the arraignment will be the only time you will be in court. However, this will depend on the evidence in the case. The arraignment will occur after the arrest, booking and initial bail phases of the DUI process. The U.S. Constitution grants you a right to a speedy trial. Therefore, your arraignment should be held within a few days of the arrest.

The arraignment involves the DUI suspect coming to court and being called in front of a judge. The judge will typically read the criminal charges against the suspect, who will be referred to as the defendant. The defendant has a constitutional right to an attorney if he faces the possibility of jail time. Therefore, the defendant will be asked if he has an attorney or if he would like one appointed to him by the court.

At this point, the defendant will be asked how he pleads to the charges. He can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. The judge will then determine whether to release the defendant on his own recognizance or change the bail amount. The preliminary hearing and trial dates will be announced, though many cases are settled before that point. During the arraignment, the prosecutor will typically give any police reports, possible evidence, and other relevant documentation to the defendant and his attorney. The defendant’s attorney will look over all of the evidence and formulate a strategy considering what is in the best interest of their client.

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