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Areas of criminal defense

San Diego DUI lawyer

Updated on May 1st, 2024

San Diego DUI lawyer focus is on representing those accused of driving under the influence in the city or county.

The right San Diego DUI attorney offer experienced and aggressive criminal defense representation for anyone accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, the consequences can be severe in San Diego.

Penalties can include potential jail time, probation, fines, DUI classes, and license suspension.

In fact, if you do not request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest, then your California Driver's License will be automatically suspended, even if you are later found not guilty in the criminal case.

Call to be connected with The San Diego Criminal Defense Pros to speak with a DUI lawyer for a free consultation.

All to know about San Diego DUI attorneys, law, etc

San Diego criminal justice system uses the state's DUI laws that can be found under the California Vehicle Code.

The charge in each individual case and the potential punishment can vary, depending on a number of factors including but not limited to: prior convictions, the driver’s blood-alcohol content, whether anyone was injured or killed, and if there were children in the vehicle.

Below are more important topics related to DUI cases that you should be aware of.

DUI And blood Alcohol level in San Diego

San Diego uses the state's law as stated earlier.

California Law states that the following acts are illegal: Any driver may not drive with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Any driver may not drive while under the influence of alcohol or any drugs so that their ability to operate a vehicle safely is impaired.

Drivers under 21 may not drive with a blood alcohol concentration level (BAC) of .01 or higher.

 The driver of any vehicle requiring a commercial driver's license may not drive with a BAC of .04 percent or higher.

A driver under 18, may not drive with ANY measurable blood alcohol concentration.

Repeat offenders may not drive with a BAC of .01 or

Charges with have a BAC of over .08, speak to a San Diego law firm immediately.

Misdemeanor of DUI

California Vehicle Code section 23152 is the non-injury drunk driving statute.

For a San Diego first-time offense with no injury, this is a misdemeanor. Subdivision (a) of section 23152 makes it illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. 

Subdivision (b) of section 23152, the “per se” statute, makes it illegal to drive a vehicle with a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more.

The difference between subdivisions (a) and (b) of section 23152 is that evidence of alcohol or drug impairment is necessary for a conviction of violating subdivision (a), whereas, under subdivision (b), only a minimum level of blood or breath alcohol concentration need be proven.

In cases where there is no chemical test result, only (a) is charged because alcohol level is difficult to determine on the basis of impairment evidence alone.

Since some people are under the influence at alcohol levels as low as 0.05%, chemical test evidence indicating a blood or breath alcohol level of 0.08% or more would probably be necessary for there to be legally sufficient evidence of a violation of subdivision (b).

In most cases with chemical test results, both (a) and (b) will be charged, but a judgment of conviction can only be entered on one of them.

Felony DUI

In addition, to misdemeanor DUI, an individual may be charged with a felony offense if he or she has multiple DUI prior convictions, or if someone is injured or killed during the commission of the alleged DUI offense.

Felony DUI offenses carry a lot of penalty so make sure to speak to and retain the right criminal defense attorney.

 DUI penalties

First offense

On a first DUI conviction in San Diego, if you have a good San Diego DUI lawyer, you will likely receive no jail time, less jail time, or just probation.

However, you could be sentenced to a range of 96 hours of custody and no more than 6 months.

The court fine will range from $390 to $1,000, plus penalties will increase the total payment to approximately $2,500.

Your driver's license will be suspended for four months by the DMV, however, you may be able to receive a restricted license after 30 days.

Additionally, you will be required to complete a DUI class that will be either 3 or 9 months and complete a course with Mother Against Drunk Drivers.

Second offense

For a second DUI conviction in San Diego, you will likely receive jail time of no less than 96 hours and no more than 1 year. 

Additionally, the fines, penalties, and classes will also be ordered.

Third offense

For a third DUI conviction, you will likely get jailed for no less than 120 days and no more than 1 year.

You may be considered by the state a "habitual traffic offender" for 3 years following your conviction and have your license suspended for 2 years.

These are standard penalties for misdemeanor DUI in SD county. However, in any case, the penalty may vary.

Some judges may also require community service, public work service, an interlock ignition device, and other possible consequences.

Of course, if someone is injured or killed during the commission of the DUI, then prison time is a possibility in any felony case.

The job of any San Diego DUI defense lawyer is to simply make sure that you get the minimum sentence or better yet get your case dismissed.

Possible San Diego DUI attorneys defense strategies

The initial stop by San Diego police

The beginning of a San Diego DUI defense always begins with the initial contact with law enforcement.

The 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that we are all free from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement.

Therefore, the first aspect of your case that we are looking at is "why did the officer stop you?"

If the officer unlawfully stopped you, then all evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful stop should be suppressed and your case should be dismissed.

Secondly, even if the officer had reason to stop you, that doesn't necessarily give rise to probable cause to arrest you for DUI.

In other words, if the officer properly stopped you for speeding, there must be some other evidence, rising to probable cause to believe that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the arrest.

How the initial stop and contact with police is always the beginning of a potential DUI defense that an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney can use to build your case to your favor.

As mentioned earlier, DUIs in San Diego are mostly charged under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) or (b). When you are charged under these laws, a smart criminal defense attorney will come up with great defense strategies to defend you. Some of the defenses strategies that a San Diego lawyer can use for your DUI defense are:

  • You were not intoxicated when you were driving
  • Other factors like prescription drugs side effects may be the reason it seems like you are intoxicated
  • The breathalyzer was faulty or was not administered correctly
  • The officer didn't have probable cause to stop you

The science of criminal DUI defense in San Diego

In a DUI case, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant was driving "under the influence. Determining the BAC makes DUIs scientific in nature.

Your DUI lawyer must understand the principles of alcohol in the human body and the methods to determine the BAC.

For these reasons, it is very important to hire an experienced defense lawyer that understands the science of these complex cases

In each case, the defenses may vary, however, below are some general defenses related to the BAC:

Blood test

The inaccuracy of blood test machines is one of the defenses a DUI lawyer can use when looking to get your case dropped or reduced.

Rising BAC Defense: A lawyer can argue that the defendant's body was in the absorption phase with the alcohol at the time of driving.

Therefore the test results for the time of driving are much lower since the police did not test the defendant until after driving]

The Blood Test was inaccurate (i.e., upon retesting, it was not Defendant's blood type).

The police/crime lab used an improper amount of preservatives, rendering the BAC too high.

The police/crime lab improperly stored the sample causing the blood to ferment and produce alcohol, causing the test
results to be high.

Many other potential blood test defenses cane be used for your San Diego case.

Breath test

Rising BAC Defense the defendant's body was in the absorption phase with the alcohol at the time of driving.

Therefore the test results for the time of driving are much lower since the police did not test the defendant until after driving].

The breath test machine was not properly calibrated.

The breath test machine is inherently inaccurate.

Many other potential breath test defenses are provided by your lawyer scientists who own the same machine the police use to test a defendant's BAC.

San Diego DUI attorney - Get connected for a free case review

The best thing that is recommended for anyone with DUI offense case in San Diego is to speak to an experienced DUI lawyer so they can explain to you better the California criminal and DUI laws in person.

Contact now to speak with a DUI and DMV hearing lawyer in San Diego, CA.