In California, drunk driving arrests tend to spike in the summer, particularly on and around certain holidays. The Fourth of July is no exception. In 2016, more than 1,110 drivers across the state were arrested on suspicion of DUI on the Fourth of July. That same night, at least 35 fatalities were tied to drunk driving incidents.
This year, police have already indicated that they will be out in full force to find and arrest anyone who is driving while under the influence. If you are thinking about heading out to celebrate the Fourth, you should seriously consider catching an Uber or taking public transportation. If you’re arrested on suspicion of DUI, your future could be in serious jeopardy.
What Counts as a DUI?
Contrary to popular belief, you do not necessarily have to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is above the legal limit to be arrested for DUI. While having a BAC above .08 percent will certainly land you in handcuffs, police also have the authority to arrest you if they have reason to believe you’re not fit to drive.
Evidence that may be used to support DUI charges include:
- Breathalyzer or blood test results (showing some trace of drugs or alcohol in your system)
- Open containers and/or drugs in the passenger compartment of the vehicle
- Failed field sobriety tests
- Difficulty speaking or communicating clearly
- Confusion or inability to focus, and
- General demeanor or attitude in conversing with police.
Any or all of these pieces of evidence, when considered together, could be enough to prove that you were driving under the influence in violation of California state law.
Can I Drive After Using Marijuana?
No. California DUI laws apply not only to drivers who have consumed alcohol, but also to drivers who are under the influence of legal or illegal drugs. Just because recreation marijuana is now legal in Los Angeles does not mean that it is legal to get behind the wheel and drive after you’ve consumed some of the drug. You can be charged with Marijuana DUI if you:
- Drive a vehicle
- While under the influence of marijuana.
Police will use evidence of the drug in your system from a blood test, as well as circumstantial evidence that indicates you are under the influence, to support any criminal DUI charges.
Are Police Checkpoints Legal?
Yes. Los Angeles police are preparing to set up DUI checkpoints on and around the Fourth of July holiday. Checkpoints will reportedly involve the use of breathalyzers and blood testing devices to aid in finding unsafe drivers. Checkpoints are legal as long as police adhere to strict guidelines and regulations.
California law requires all drivers to stop at posted checkpoints and comply with officer requests. This can include the requirement to provide a sample of your blood or breath for chemical testing. However, there is no law that prevents you from avoiding a known checkpoint by taking alternate routes or turning around before the stop. Be warned, however, that police can still have the right to pull you over if they see you break the law or believe you are intoxicated.
What Happens If I Get a DUI?
Absent any aggravating factors (e.g., causing injury or death, driving with a minor in the vehicle), most first-time DUIs will be misdemeanors. Punishments for first-time DUIs can include:
- 6 months in a Los Angeles jail;
- Up to $1,000 in fines; and
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to 6 months.
If you have a prior DUI conviction, you will be required to spend at least 96 hours, but no more than 1 year, in jail. You’ll also lose your license for a period of 2 years and face additional fines. If you have two prior DUI convictions, you will be required to spend at least 120 days, but no more than 1 year, behind bars. At this point, you’ll also lose your license for 3 years and face fines of nearly $2,000. Multiple DUI convictions may also require the installation of an ignition interlock-device on your vehicle.
Fight DUI Charges in Los Angeles
Just because you are arrested on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles does not mean that you are guilty of a crime. The state has the burden of proving that you have violated a law beyond a reasonable doubt. DUI cases are often based on police testimony and faulty evidence that may not stand up in court.
Hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to handle your case will help you secure the very best possible outcome. Call the Rodriguez Law Group to learn more. Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys are prepared to help you protect your future from the consequences of a criminal conviction.