Criminal Law

Criminal Law

DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (D.U.I.) AND DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (D.W.I.) OVERVIEW

Driving under the influence (D.U.I.), of either alcohol or drugs (illegal or prescription) occurrs when a person drives a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.  A driver is presumed intoxicated if his or her blood alchol level is at .08 or above at the time of driving (lesser amounts for truck drivers and minors).  The consequences of D.U.I. and D.W.I. are essentially the same.  To obtain a conviction, the district attorney must prove all elements of D.U.I. or D.W.I.  beyond a reasonable doubt and to a unanimous jury of 12 people.  One example of evidence of driving impairment would be an officer's observations of a veicle drifting while inside or weaving in and out of a driving lane.  Typically, evidence of D.W.I. is obtained by an officer after a vehicle is pulled over for a traffic infraction and the officer observes the objective signs of intoxication ie. odor of alcohol, red wattery eyes, etc.

Usually you will not have to go to court. In most instances wherein you are charged with misdomeanor D.U.I., I will be able to make all appearances in court on your behalf.  This is especially important for out-of-state drivers including professional truck drivers and others living outside of California.  Defendants must personallly appear in court if charged with Felony D.U.I / D.W.I.

The first order of business is to obtain a copy of the report from the investigating agency, usually the local police department and / or the California Higway Patrol.  Once the police reports are obtained, I will anylaze the case to determine if there are any possible defenses.   Thereafter, we will fully discuss the matter so that you will have the information necessary to make an intellegent decission as to weather or not to fight the case.

If you are charged with D.U.I. or D.W.I. for the first time and mitigating circumstances such as a low blood alcohol exist, I may be able to obtain a reduced sentence on your behalf. 

DUI Defense Strategies.

The evidence against you may be challenged using expert testimony,  police reports and witness statements,  I will explore every option to defend you against DUI and DWI charges.

Tests: Blood alcohol tests and field sobriety tests are used to measure a driver’s level of intoxication and often provide the basis for an arrest and charge. The test may have been improperly administered or the Breathalyzer machine may be wrongly calibrated. Not all officers are properly trained on the equipment they are using. Even experienced officers make errors in testing and preservation of evidence.

Were you driving? Was the stop legal? Were you home when officers came to the door? Were you parked? In California, the prosecution must prove that a DUI defendant was driving. If you were driving, did the police have good cause to stop you ?

Sentencing and Record Expungement

Let me explain available alternative sentencing options, including alcohol recovery programs, that can help you stay out of jail, protect your license and preserve your liberties. If you were convicted of a DUI in the past and it is hurting your job search, we may be able to help you pursue an expungement.

PENALTIES AND DISABILITIES OF  D.U.I. / D.W.I.

A first time conviction for D.U.I. or D.W.I. requires a minimum sentence of 2 days in jail (usually served outside of jail on the Sherriff's alternate work program).  $1,650 or more in penalties and fines.  A 15 week to 9 month drinking driver counseling program.  3 - 5 years of probation and a 4 - 12 month suspension of your driving privledge (possible restricted driving priviledge to and from work and to and from the alcohol program). 

A second conviction for D.U.I. and or D.W.I. ,within 10 years of the first conviction, carries a minimum 10 day jail sentence (usually served outiside of jail on the Sherriff's alternate work program).  Approximately $1,850 or more in penalties and fines.  An 18 month to 2 year drinking and driving counseling program (Approximately $1,800)  .  3 - 5 years of probation.  An ignition interlock device installed on your automobile for one year.  A 1 - 2 year suspension of your driving privledge.  2 points against your driving record.

A third sucsessive conviction for D.U.I. and or D.W.I., within 10 years of the first two convictions, carries a minimun of 4 months to 1 year in jail (Usually served outside of jail on the Sherriff's alternate work program).  $2,000 or more inpenalties and fines.  A two year drinking driver alcohol counseling program.  3-5 years of probation.  A 3 year license suspension.  2 points against your driving record.  A 1 year igition interlock device installed on your vehicle.      

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         Drunk Driving Accidents

        .Drunk driving accidents and DUI charges can result in serious penalties. When you or someone you love faces DUI or vehicular homicide charges,

        A drunk driving accident is an aggravating circumstance

        Getting pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence will normally result in a DUI charge. However, if you are arrested for driving under the influence after an accident, you may face more serious charges and extremely severe penalties. If any injuries were involved in the accident, the charge will almost certainly be elevated to a felony and you will face a potential state prison sentence.

        Drunk driving accidents and repeat offenders

        While a drunk driving accident alone is considered an aggravating circumstance, your need for immediate legal assistance is even greater if you face a second drunk driving offense. If this is your fourth drunk driving offense in 10 years, you may be facing felony DUI charges. Any time you are being charged with a subsequent offense, you need clear and immediate advice from an experienced DUI lawyer.

        DUI • DUI with Injury • Vehicular Manslaughter

        What is a felony DUI?

        A felony DUI usually involves an accident in which the driver suspected of driving under the influence, injures another person in the accident. The person injured may be in the driver’s own car, a pedestrian, or a passenger in another car. A felony DUI with injury is extremely serious. The penalty for DUI with one injury, ranges from 90 days to one year in the county jail or 16 months, 2 or 3 years in prison. For each additional injured party, one additional year in the state prison may be added. The District Attorney must prove, however, not only that the driver being charged was intoxicated, but must also prove that the driver was a cause of the injury. For instance, a driver who is intoxicated that is rear ended by another car may not be a cause of any injuries suffered in the accident.

        DUI resulting in death

        A DUI death case is even more serious when, it results in a death. It is even more serious still when the arrested party has prior DUIs. Often, our attorneys' approach in these matters must be two pronged. First, we must seek to prove that our client was not intoxicated beyond the legal definition of intoxication, and also prove that he was not a legal cause of the injury. For safety in sentencing however, we always suggest to our clients that they seek in-patient alcohol treatment whenever a DUI with injury is charged. This sort of treatment can be absolutely critical in terms of avoiding high bail, and in getting all possible consideration from the court should the client actually be found to be intoxicated and the legal cause of the accident. Often, investigators and accident reconstructionists are deployed to look for all possible evidence that the driver is not a legal cause of the accident. (Just being intoxicated is not a "legal cause of the injury or death"). A driver with a previous DUI conviction(s) will usually be charged with murder and could face a lengthy prison sentence or life in prison.

        Driving With Gross Negligence Involving a Death

        Should the police and prosecutor conclude that a driver was grossly negligent, a felony manslaughter charge would, usually be made. This is true whether or not alcohol or drugs are involved. The sentencing for one death in this type of vehicular manslaughter can easily result in a serious state prison commitment. It is in these types of cases that the driver being charged needs the expertise of experienced felony vehicular manslaughter attorneys. At Hinkle, Jachimowicz, Pointer & Emanuel, we have handled all types of manslaughter cases involving reckless driving, driving under the influence or even simple negligence. If this happens to you or someone you love, you will need an immediate consultation to discuss options to avoid jail or prison.

        Misdemeanor Vehicular Manslaughter

        A misdemeanor version of vehicular manslaughter is charged when a death occurs as a result of a simple driving infraction not amounting to gross negligence and not involving drugs or alcohol. The maximum sentence for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter is one year in the county jail, but immediate intervention is needed to determine all possible causes of the accident other than the negligence of the client. Our firm utilizes the finest private investigators and accident reconstructionists as well as experts in biomechanics if necessary to determine that our client’s fault is minimal if indeed, there is any fault at all.

        Driving Under the Influence of Drugs .

        Driving impairments: over-the-counter and prescription medications. Many individuals are charged with driving under the influence while using over-the-counter and prescription drugs with or without a small amount of alcohol. You may not have known that the drugs would impair your driving abilities or you may have been illegally stopped and tested. Whatever the circumstances, I have experience with these cases and know how to protect clients’ rights.

        An arresting officer MUST have a valid reason to stop you. I will fully investigate the facts of your case using police reports, witness statements and your account to challenge any evidence presented against you. Even if you tested positive in a blood, breath or urine test, the results may not be used in court if they were illegally obtained.

        I have defended clients accused of driver impairment involving a variety of narcotics and prescription drugs, including but not limited to:

         

        • Marijuana
        • Methamphetamine (meth)
        • Cocaine
        • Ecstasy
        • Painkillers: Valium, Xanax, Vicodin
        • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications
        • Mood stabilizers and sleep medications: Ambien, Nyquil

        Juvenile DUI • Underage Drinking • Defending Minors Charged with Drunk Driving

        Anyone under the age of 21 who is stopped with .01 (usually one beer) in their system will lose their licenses for one year (unless there is an extreme hardship in the family, even driving to school or work will be denied). If your child receives a ticket for driving with alcohol she has only 10 days to request a stay and hearing.

        The rights of minors who have been charged with DUI or underage drinking are different from those of adults. Juveniles do not have a right to a jury trial; they do not generally have a right to a public proceeding. They are entitled to full notice of all charges against them, the right to a fair hearing, and the right to confront hostile witnesses.

        If you or your teenager has been arrested for drunk driving, underage drinking, or any other crime, it is important to have a lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile system and highly experienced in DUI defense.

        I understand issues of addiction and law that offer tools that can help improve the outcomes of many of my clients' criminal cases. In addition to the legal defense of juveniles, I have a referral system for families in need of counseling for their children and themselves, including substance abuse rehabilitation programs and parenting classes which can help in the difficult teenage years.