A California DUI Isn’t the End of the World, If…

California DUIYou’re driving home one night after having a few drinks with your coworkers, and you’re a little tired. Maybe you’re blinking a little slower than usual, or you just aren’t focusing as well and you drift into the other lane. You quickly jerk the car back into the correct position, but there was a witness and now you see the flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. You’re getting pulled over. You think, no big deal, I only had two drinks tonight. I’m under the legal limit. You take the breathalyzer, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .04%, and you think you’re safe, but you aren’t.

Most people don’t realize that having a BAC of .08% or above is not the only way you can be charged with a California DUI. If your BAC is anything above zero and you’re exhibiting signs of driving under the influence, you can be charged. You’ve made it apparent that you are a danger on the roads. You also can be held to higher penalties in certain circumstances, such as a BAC of over .20%, and you will likely have an ignition interlock requirement, no matter your BAC.

If you are under 21, you should be especially careful. Underage drivers only have to have a BAC of .01% to be charged with a DUI and if you are under the age of 18, it’s zero tolerance. Zero tolerance means if your BAC is anything except zero, you will receive a California DUI charge. If you are underage and you choose to drink, be certain you have a way home that includes a sober driver.

CDL drivers should also exercise extreme caution as anything .04% or above will result in a California DUI charge. This will have the domino effect of losing your CDL license therefor losing your job. You don’t want to mess with your livelihood, have a sober driver and don’t operate a vehicle while under the influence.

Now that you’ve been charged with a California DUI, what happens next? The first thing you should probably do is contact a reputable attorney. Having professional help to navigate the often tricky legal system is always a good plan and California DUI penalties can be steep. Having someone on your side to help reduce jail and ignition interlock device time could help you get your life back on track faster.

Your Bartender May Save You From a California DUI

California DUI prevention bartenderAfter a few drinks, it gets a lot easier to convince ourselves that we are okay to drive. After a few drinks, however, it is never okay to drive. It is, however, embarrassing for some to wait out an Uber, taxi, or friend for a ride home. A new California DUI law has made that decision and process easier because now you can ask your bartender or server for a ride home if you have been drinking… and they can provide it.

Technically, the California DUI law says vouchers can be handed out for free rides home to intoxicated patrons.

That means that when it comes time to head home after happy hour, you may be able to score a free ride from your bartender. Your server may be able to swing the same deal. You may never have to worry about those moments of indecision, and you shouldn’t.

California DUI law has other big changes on the horizon.

In 2019, anyone with a first-offense DUI will have an ignition interlock requirement. The law changed in 2017 and will be fully implemented next year. The success in reducing subsequent drunk driving offenses in the original, four-county all-offender ignition interlock pilot program, was a launching point for this new law. Between these new consequences for driving drunk, and the even easier ways the state allows an impaired driver to find a safe ride home, we expect California DUI numbers to drop significantly, and for good.

It is never okay to drive after drinking, and with states like California showing the rest of the country how easy it is to provide safer solutions, that message is being understood, loudly and clearly. The choice to drink and drive is still a choice, but one that is made much easier when we make it a lot easier to opt for a safe way home than face the frustration of a California DUI.

Your California Ignition Interlock is No Joke, Fool

California ignition interlockPeople who drink can be funny. Not funny, like a comedian or golf superstar funny, but funny in the way that they sometimes think they can drink and drive. In a land known for its entertainers and performers, we can all take a little sage advice from those who have faced a very unfunny future: California ignition interlock devices are no laughing matter.

A California ignition interlock requirement means that you have been convicted of drunk driving at least once. There is nothing funny about drunk driving, which is why you now have an interlock; so that you don’t try for an encore incident. The California ignition interlock device is designed to keep you from drinking and driving by measuring your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If your BAC measures above a preset limit, then your ignition is temporarily disabled. If the BAC comes back too high during a rolling retest (after you have started the vehicle and are driving), then you will be gently reminded to pull over and shut off your vehicle.

Trying to fool your interlock device will just get you into more trouble. There is no amount of air from a balloon, a friend, fangirl, or fanboy that will get you out of a new role: ignition interlock violator. You may think it isn’t a big deal to blow your test like that, but you’ll either end up with no interlock and a suspended license, a longer time requirement with the device, or consequences like jail.

Jail isn’t funny, neither is drunk driving.

Instead of being the funny face behind the wheel, you can pretty easily turn things around by finding a safe ride home. When you fiddle and fool with your California ignition interlock, you become a punchline that nobody really gets anyway. Be smart, silly, and sober, and keep your ignition interlock drama to a minimum.

A California Aggravated DUI Results in Aggravated Penalties

California aggravated DUIMany states have different levels of DUI offenses. These can include zero tolerance laws for those under 21 or a DWI for a person whose BAC is below the legal limit but who is still driving impaired with a BAC of .02% or more. Most states also take into account mitigating and aggravating circumstances when it comes to DUI charges and penalties. In the state of California you can be charged with a California Aggravated DUI under several circumstances.

BAC Above .15%

California state law considers a BAC that is double the legal limit to be a ‘special factor’ and will impose stricter penalties, such as requiring the installation of an ignition interlock device on a first offense.

DUI With a Minor Passenger Present

If a child younger than 14 years of age is present in your vehicle when you receive a California DUI, you will serve a mandatory 48 hours in jail, if not longer.

Refusal to Submit to Testing

If you refuse the breathalyzer test and are convicted of a DUI, you can expect to receive harsher penalties as the judge will assume your BAC was above legal limits and that’s why you refused to be tested.

Reckless Driving or Excessive Speed

If you are driving erratically or at speeds more than 20 MPH over the speed limit on regular roads and 30 MPH on highways, your jail time will be extended by 60 days that must be served concurrently. Even if you’re sentenced to probation otherwise, you will be required to first serve your 60 days of jail time.

Causing an Accident

If you cause an accident that leads to an injury while under the influence, you will be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony level California Aggravated DUI depending on the severity of the accident.

If you are convicted of a California Aggravated DUI, even if it’s your first offense, you can expect your penalties to more closely match those of a 4th offense DUI conviction. You will most likely receive fines, jail time, license suspension, and be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicles.

Got a California DUI? Get Back on the Road!

Got a California DUI?Even with the changes coming to California DUI law, there are still opportunities for everyone with a drunk driving conviction to be able to drive… and drive legally. Mandating ignition interlocks for all offenders is making the entire state of California safer. For those of you with a DUI, it is easier than ever to get back on the road. Here’s the scoop:

After your California DUI, you will receive a temporary license that is good for 30 days. Then the clock starts to tick.

Once you have your temporary driver’s license, your time is best spent following the following guidelines, so that you are never without your legal right to drive. That means you will need to:

  • Serve out any mandatory driver’s license suspension period.
  • Attend a DUI program so that you have a Proof of Enrollment certificate on file with the DMV.
  • Apply to have your driver’s license reinstated (remember, your current temporary license will not last forever).
  • File proof of insurance (SR-22) with the California DMV.
  • Pay your fines, follow any other directives of the court.
  • Get your ignition interlock device installed.

In most cases, you will not be able to legally drive unless you have an ignition interlock device installed. Once the device is installed, you will be given a certificate that verifies your installation. Take it on into the DMV, along with all other proof listed above, so that you can restore your ability to drive legally as soon as possible.

Driving is one of those activities that we not only feel is our right, but we also rely on for almost every aspect of our lives. By ensuring we have all of our boxes checked after a California DUI, there is less frustration and chance for things to go wrong once you are ready to get back on the road.

Can You Get Deported for a California DUI?

california DUI deportationThere can be problems with understanding the nuances of the law, particularly when it comes to immigration law. Different visas and permissions to live and work in the U.S. create confusion. Enjoying the occasional happy hour, is a favorite pastime of anyone who lives and works in California or anywhere in the U.S.  But when there are too many drinks and bad decisions that follow, a California DUI can turn into more than a paperwork problem.

It is possible to be deported for a California DUI.

Immigration law, even for those with Green Cards, does not guarantee permanent residency in the U.S., particularly if laws are broken. On top of the administrative penalties for a California DUI (license suspension, ignition interlock requirement) and legal consequences (community service, jail time), there are the consequences that are faced in immigration courts. There is an additional set of eyes on any immigrants in the U.S., and when laws are broken, those eyes can determine the fate of a California DUI offender’s future… including their residency in the country.

Common penalties for a California DUI, including the ignition interlock requirement, must be satisfied in order to resume legal privileges, such as driving. Those same requirements are often used to determine immigration status, so any refusals could weigh against an immigration court decision.

Just like with any other person, whether a U.S. citizen, Green Card holder, naturalized citizen or vacationer, there is no reason to tempt fate when drinking alcohol. The safety of others on the road is the biggest problem with drinking and driving, and when a person has worked so hard to become part of the U.S. population, that person is also responsible for making safe decisions. Losing a Green Card or a driver’s license has no comparison to losing a loved one.

Be safe, drive responsibly, and remember that freedom to drive is a privilege that we can all appreciate, especially when we are away from the dangers on the road.

California Ignition Interlock Violations for Everyone?

California ignition interlock violationsCalifornia DUI law requires an ignition interlock for most convictions, even some first-time drunk driving offenses. Interlocks are vital in reducing the number of repeat California DUIs,  so there are strict penalties for any ignition interlock violations that may occur. Those penalties not only apply to any DUI offender but any other person who is caught helping a DUI offender attempt to circumvent, tamper with or fake out their interlock requirement.

Ignition interlock violations in California include:

  • Driving or operating a vehicle that is not equipped with an approved ignition interlock device.
  • Removing, tampering with, or bypassing an ignition interlock device.
  • Failing to disclose an ignition interlock requirement to any person who rents, leases or loans a vehicle to the DUI offender.
  • Asking another person to provide a breath sample or to start the vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device.

It is not just California DUI offenders who can get in trouble for ignition interlock violations. A person without a drunk driving conviction or an interlock requirement can be held accountable for:

  • Renting, leasing or loaning a vehicle that is not equipped with an interlock to a person with an interlock restricted license.
  • Intentionally blowing into the device (submitting a breath sample) for a convicted DUI offender with a California ignition interlock requirement.

When an ignition interlock device is ordered as part of a DUI conviction, the failure to follow the court directive will result in harsher consequences, including court fines up to $5,000, a one-year license suspension, and/or up to six months in jail. For anyone helping an offender circumvent the interlock requirement, the consequences are the same as if they had the drunk driving conviction and requirement on their own license.

The High Cost of Multiple California DUI and Traffic Offenses

California DUI costWe talk about the $10k ride for a drunk driving conviction, a cost that has continued to rise for California DUI offenders over the years. So maybe it isn’t so shocking that a woman with multiple drunk driving offenses had a $185,000 bail; maybe there were just too many warnings by the court and DMV, and it was time to get a serious message across before her habits became a much bigger problem. Or, maybe the high bail was simply because she was breaking California’s habitual traffic offender laws on top of her multiple drunk driving offenses.

California habitual traffic offenders are designated by the court when they have a suspended license and any of the following occurs in a 12-month span:

  • Two or more serious offenses, like drunk driving.
  • Accumulate three points on a driver’s license.
  • Three or more traffic incidents that were reported to law enforcement.

Implied consent violations count against a driver’s record, just like speeding, reckless driving, DUI, and any other type of driving problem. The penalties for habitual traffic offenders increase the full impact of a California DUI, including increased jail time, fines and probation requirements. Because any California DUI carries at least a one-year driver’s license suspension, those violations that fall under the habitual traffic offender law are direct violations of the DUI penalties that are faced.

With a third California DUI within 10 years, an offender will be labeled a habitual traffic offender, also.

Rather than facing additional consequences for more traffic violations, there are options for anyone with a suspended license, especially California DUI offenders. In many cases, an offender may be eligible for a restricted license and ignition interlock device, rather than waiting an entire year to be able to legally drive. An interlock can keep an offender from making any further drunk driving mistakes, like the woman with the high bail did, as well as any further problems in court.

Your Second California DUI is No Dream

second california DUICalifornia is a pretty laid-back state, except when it comes to drinking and driving. Last year, the state passed a new law that expands access to ignition interlock devices for all drunk drivers. Currently, interlocks are only required for some first-time DUI offenses, but everyone with a second California DUI needs to install the device. On top of that, there are plenty of other consequences for a second drunk driving offense.

The look back period for drunk driving and DUI convictions in California is 10 years, so any second DUI or subsequent offenses are counted if they occurred within a decade of each other. As such, a second California DUI offender is subject to:

  • Jail time, the minimum time required varies by jurisdiction or county, but at least 96 hours (one year, maximum).
  • Alcohol education program enrollment for 18 months.
  • Two-year license suspension (highly restricted after the first year of suspension), but the offender is eligible to reinstate privileges after three months if an ignition interlock device is installed.
  • $2,800 in fines, minimum, not counting other associated costs for insurance, SR-22, administrative (DMV) costs, etc.
  • Probation for a minimum of four years, with strict guidelines for behavior while driving (once a license is reinstated).

Once you have obtained your freedom to drive, no matter how many DUI offenses you may have, you will want to have an interlock installed on all of your vehicles. The penalties for a second California DUI are strict, and they only increase in severity from there. Any subsequent offenses could even mean a felony conviction on your record, where you are no longer given the civil rights that most others enjoy. Keeping the streets safe is a priority in California and across the U.S., as we see in each year as more states increase penalties and expand interlock access. You have a choice about how you get home when you are drinking, so be sure to have a safety plan before you head out.

Uber Scary: We’re Paying California DUI Drivers?

California DUI Uber drivers? What?Uber is facing yet another controversy. This time regulators are claiming the company ignored reports about drivers who are under the influence and frequently allowed drivers facing multiple California DUI complaints to keep picking up passengers. In a complaint published to the Public Utilities Commission of California (PUCC), says it reviewed 154 zero tolerance complaints about Uber drivers between August 2014, and August 2015—and that the company only conducted any sort of investigation in 21 of those cases.

The PUCC also found Uber attempted to contact the driver in only 50 of those cases and that, in at least 25 cases, the company failed to suspend or investigate drivers facing three or more California DUI complaints. In multiple situations, data reportedly showed that drivers cited for impaired driving stayed on the road picking up Uber customers—even when the company had technically suspended them.

Recently, a Lyft driver made headlines by being seen with an ignition interlock device in their vehicle, giving passengers an interesting glimpse into California DUI consequences. Obviously, the device was a little unsettling, even as it guaranteed the driver was sober. Either way we look at the issue, stricter rules surrounding rideshare service drivers should become a priority soon.

Under California law, ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are exempt from a random drug and alcohol screening program imposed on other commercial driving operations provided the companies implement a series of zero tolerance measures to take action on impaired drivers. While Uber’s Community Guidelines do state that the company may suspend drivers if they receive multiple unconfirmed complaints of drug or alcohol use, the PUCC pointed out that this not only goes against the zero tolerance rule but that Uber didn’t even stick to their own policy.

The zero tolerance measures include providing customers with a way to flag drivers under the influence (including phone in-app contacts) and promptly investigating drivers who are the subject of complaints.