A total of 17 arrests were made for suspicion of drunk driving at two checkpoints in Orange County in the city of Garden Grove over the weekend before Christmas. Police have impounded 38 vehicles for drunk driving to include drivers who were driving without a valid license.
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) [VC 23152 (a)] prohibits any person from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Note that an amount of drugs is not specified so any amount of drugs or alcohol that impairs one driving as determined by the arresting officer and/or eventually a jury, can cause one to be convicted of that crime. Drugs can include prescription drugs taken as directed! This is distinct from California Vehicle Code 23152 (b) [VC 23152 (b)] which prohibits driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level over 0.08. The driver must be at or over the legal limit for vehicle code section 23152 (b) to apply. Also, it only applies to drivers under the influence of alcohol. A first time DUI carries a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail and a $1500.00 fine; however, most first time DUI offenders do no jail time as long as there was no accident or other aggravating factor.
In order for a “stop” to be valid at a DUI checkpoint, the police must follow certain rules. If they fail to follow the rules the stop can be ruled invalid and the evidence collected excluded which can cause the case to be dismissed regardless of the blood alcohol level or other evidence. The Law Offices of William W. Bruzzo has substantial experience working with checkpoint/DUI cases.
California Vehicle Code Section 12500 (a) states: “A person may not drive a motor vehicle upon a highway, unless the person then holds a valid driver’s license issued under this code, except those persons who are expressly exempted under this code.”
Driving without a valid driver’s license in California is a “wobbler” – meaning, depending on the circumstances, prosecutors can charge this offense as a misdemeanor or infraction. The police can charge you with a violation of this vehicle code section for any of the following: (1) never obtaining a driver’s license, (2) failing to renew your driver’s license after expiring, (3) failing to obtain a California driver’s license after establishing residency, or (4) being ineligible for a drivers license in this state (for example, being an illegal immigrant).
The main factor that prosecution looks at in deciding whether to charge you with a misdemeanor or an infraction is your driving record. If this is your first offense or if you subsequently obtain a valid driver’s license, they may charge you only with the infraction or even go on to dismiss the case with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
One can receive up to six months in jail for the above misdemeanor offense as well as informal probation for up to three years and a maximum fine of $1,000.
As the New Year Holiday begins, remember don’t drink and drive, use a designated driver. Happy New Year!