DUI

Vehicle Code Sections 23152, 23153

Driving under the influence charges (DUI) can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. If the case involves serious injury to a person or the client is charged with a fourth misdemeanor conviction within 10 years of three previous convictions then the fourth case can be filed as a felony.

A person can be charged with the crime of DUI if they have a 0.08 blood alcohol level in their system OR if they have any amount of alcohol in their system and it effects their driving. In addition, a person can be charged with driving under the influence even if no alcohol is present but they have ingested some other mind-altering substance to include prescription drugs.

Defenses to DUI charges include: a bad stop, meaning the police officer did not have a good reason to initiate contact with the client; the arrest was unlawful or lacked probable cause; the client burped, vomited or regurgitated prior to giving a breathe test; there is a chain of custody issue with a blood sample; the blood sample was somehow compromised and other defenses.

The client can choose either a blood or breathe test or can choose to take both. A urine test is no longer an option.

A refusal to take a blood or breathe test can lead to an automatic license suspension and depending on the facts of the case usually makes the client worse off. However, the client can refuse the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test without any negative repercussion. The PAS test is usually a hand held device given to the client to breathe into as part of the DUI investigation conducted prior to arrest. The client should be read an admonition prior to taking the PAS. This test is usually given at the individual’s vehicle. BUT BEWARE BECAUSE NOW SOME AGENCIES HAVE DEVICES IN THEIR PATROL UNITS WHICH CAN BE USED AS THE FINAL CHEMICAL TEST. MAKE SURE AND ASK THE OFFICER WHETHER THIS IS A PAS TEST OR THE ACTUAL CHEMICAL TEST.

In Orange County a 1st time DUI usually does not include any jail time as long as there is no bodily injury;

A 2nd time DUI (within 10 years of a first conviction) requires a minimum of 96 hours in jail but in Orange County most courts require between 30 and 90 days (with exceptions-see home confinement);

A 3rd time DUI (within 10 years of 2 prior convictions) requires a minimum of 120 days in jail but most persons convicted of this crime do between 6 and 9 months in Orange County;

A 4th time DUI (within 10 years of 3 prior convictions) requires a minimum of 180 days in jail but most people do a year in county jail or 16 months in state prison.

Effect of a Drunk Driving Charge on the DMV

For every DUI that goes to court there is a DMV component which includes a hearing separate from what occurs in court. It is possible to win the court portion of the DUI but lose the DMV portion and have your license suspended or revoked and vice versa. That is why you must make sure that whomever you hire to defend your DUI case also has experience with the DMV portion of a drunk driving case. PLEASE NOTE, YOU MUST CONTACT THE DMV WITHIN 10 DAYS OF BEING ARRESTED OR YOU WILL LOSE YOUR RIGHT TO A HEARING; IF YOU HIRE MR. BRUZZO, HIS OFFICE WILL CONTACT THE DMV FOR YOU.

The DMV must prove three things in order to take action against your license in the event you are stopped for driving under the influence:

  • That the officer who stopped you had reason to believe that you were driving in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152 a or b (23152 is the drunk driving code section and this element requires essentially that the officer observed you weaving, speeding or some other articulable traffic offense that justifies you being stopped.).
  • That you were lawfully arrested;
  • That you were driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or greater.

While it may seem that these elements are easy to prove in fact the DMV has several vulnerabilities. First and foremost is that there is generally no testimony at these hearings and thus the hearings are restricted to what is contained in the police report. Thus if the report omits certain critical facts then there is no one to testify at the DMV hearing to correct them. An experienced attorney like Mr. Bruzzo can exploit these vulnerabilities in an effort to help the client keep his driving privilege.

If the DMV hearing is lost then the following can occur to your license.

1st DUI: 4 month suspension (no driving) OR 1 month suspension + 4 month restriction (limited driving) if the client presents to the DMV with (1) proof of enrollment in an alcohol school for first time offenders; (2) an SR-22 insurance form and (3) a $125.00 fee after the 30 days suspension period is over.

2nd DUI: 1 year license suspension. As long as client is enrolled in 18-month alcohol school they can get back at least part of their driving privilege after the 1-year suspension is elapsed even if they have not completed their alcohol school.

3rd and 4 th DUI: Revocation of license for 3-5 years. A revocation requires that once the revocation period has elapsed the client must apply to get his driving privilege back.

Mr. Bruzzo has successfully argued many DMV hearings.

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