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San Francisco DUI defense attorneyAbout two years ago, the state of California had its first-ever “scooter DUI” conviction. The accused pleaded no contest to one count of DUI and one count of hit-and-run. As a result, he was sentenced to 36 months of probation, a $550 fine, a three-month alcohol treatment program, and payment of restitution to the victim of the hit-and-run. In other words, in California, you can be charged with DUI from driving on a scooter under the influence. In fact, this particular DUI offense carries with it distinct legal guidelines and penalties different from most other DUI charges.

Scooter DUI Is Different from Most DUIs—and Can Be Defended More Easily

The DUI laws are slightly different for “scooting” around on scooters relative to other vehicles. While it is true that just like traditional DUI with other vehicles, you could be charged if suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both, there are some subtle differences that will alter the way the case is handled. Overall, these types of DUIs are different from other DUIs in the following ways:

  • While true that an officer can consider you “driving under the influence” if it seems as if your driving abilities are impaired by substances you have consumed, there is no prerequisite for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be at .08% or higher in order for the driver to be considered impaired. This means if pulled over on your scooter for driving under the influence, you will not be required to submit to a BAC test, be it a breathalyzer or a lab test of some sort (blood, urine, etc.) 
  • As a result, with no scientific tests supporting the arresting officer’s assessment, he/she must rely on his/her observations when pulling over the driver. If that officer does not have strong supporting data, such as vivid and documented observations of the driver’s appearance, attitude, behavior, physical and driving abilities, etc. at the time of the arrest, or if the officer fails to administer a sobriety test, there is no blood or breath test for the prosecution to rely  on in the courtroom in order to win the case.
  • In addition, overall, the punishment for scooter DUI tends to be less severe than other typical DUI cases provided it is not compounded with other charges. A scooter DUI charge alone is considered a misdemeanor with fines in the lower hundreds of dollars and no other serious penalties, although it does result in a criminal record by virtue of the misdemeanor count.  

Contact a Richmond County DUI Defense Attorney

Whether you have been accused of a scooter DUI or any other type of DUI, you are going to need to hire a knowledgeable Napa scooter DUI defense lawyer. Contact the talented team from Burglin Law Offices, P.C. at 415-729-7300 for a free consultation. They will thoroughly study your case and figure out the best strategies to help you get the best chance at a fair trial and a positive outcome.

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San Francisco DUI Defense attorneysDriving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense that should not be taken lightly. By driving under the influence, you not only put your own life at risk but also the lives of innocent passengers, drivers, and pedestrians. In doing so, you could also cause expensive and destructive damage to roads, vehicles, and property. As such, the penalties for DUI in California are severe, including revocation or suspension of your driver’s license, hefty fines, and substantial prison time. However, one area of concern that is particularly significant yet understated is the possible loss of your professional license. A DUI conviction—even a DUI arrest—could put your entire professional career in jeopardy. Here are some ways to minimize the damage to your professional licensure when planning your DUI defense. 

4 Tips for Developing Your Professional License DUI Defense

Despite California’s AB-2138 Law, passed earlier this year, making it more difficult for licensing organizations to revoke or withhold licenses from professionals, there are still plenty of situations when a DUI arrest or conviction could be a calamity for your career. If that is the case, consider these tips: 

  1. Respond with the appropriate attitude. The licensing board will know of the DUI almost as soon as anyone else does. Once they find out, they will probably issue inquiries and other requests of you to help them further understand the situation. While different California Business & Professions Codes allow revocation and suspension of licenses for DUIs, there are limitations, so you are not entirely out of luck, especially when given the opportunity to respond to the licensing agency’s questions. But you must have the proper attitude about it all: You cannot be unresponsive, but you also do not want to be so accommodating that you incriminate yourself with a wealth of information. If you refuse to be forthright or, at the least, cooperate, maybe even suggesting that you do not regret or even entirely understand the ramifications of the DUI, the licensing body will be less willing to fairly consider your side of the story.
  2. Be honest and straightforward in communication. Do not get caught in a lie. You are all professionals there (literally), so attempting to evade questions by being unprofessional is most unwise. It might even be a good idea to openly and swiftly alert the licensing agency of your DUI in advance so that they know you are being proactive and conscientious enough to care about the outcome.
  3. Compile and provide convincing evidence. You do not want to go into too much  detail, but you should provide convincing evidence surrounding the case to suggest that the circumstances made it such that your DUI did not show an utter lack of responsible behavior on your part as it would potentially pertain to your profession. This awareness will go a long way with a discerning licensing board.
  4. Hire a lawyer. An attorney will not just help you with the small things like initiating correspondence with the licensing board and responding to their preemptive inquiries; an attorney will also handle even more substantial challenges of your case, such as coaching you if asked to respond to questions from the licensing agency and developing a comprehensive, winning strategy to make sure you get to keep your license and continue doing what you love for a living.

Contact a San Francisco Professional License DUI Defense Lawyer

If you are worried about losing your professional license due to DUI, reach out to a Sonoma DUI defense attorney. It is no coincidence that Attorney Paul Burglin finds himself in court winning cases to help professionals get their career licenses back or prevent them from losing those professional licenses in the first place: he is an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who has literally written the book on California Drunk Driving Law. His three decades of experience helping professionals recover from the legal repercussions of licensure defense will be a great benefit to you if you are faced with such a difficult time in your career. Call Burglin Law Offices, P.C. at 415-729-7300 for a free consultation.

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Napa DUI defense lawyerYour goal after being charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is to prevent a conviction, but there are DUI cases where the evidence against you makes a conviction seem unavoidable. Sometimes, you must decide whether you will continue to fight the charge or take a plea deal if one is offered. Plea bargaining can reduce the punishment of a DUI conviction or reduce the charge, and a skilled DUI defense attorney can help

Common Plea Bargain Scenarios

Most defendants prefer to not have a DUI conviction on their record, even if it means accepting a lesser charge. There are three common plea deals that prosecutors may offer in a DUI case:

  1. Wet Reckless: A “wet reckless” plea deal means you are accepting a reckless driving conviction while admitting that alcohol or drugs were involved in the incident. The conviction on your record will indicate that you may have had alcohol or drugs in your system but does not say that those substances legally impaired you. The biggest advantage of a “wet reckless” plea is that the court might not suspend your driver’s license. However, the conviction will be treated as if it was a prior DUI offense if you are ever convicted of DUI.
  2. Dry Reckless: A “dry reckless” plea deal is a standard reckless driving conviction without mentioning alcohol or drugs as part of the incident. A reckless driving conviction is still a misdemeanor offense, but there are lower penalties and less stigma with having the conviction on your record. Unlike a wet reckless conviction, a dry reckless conviction would not count as a prior DUI offense if you are convicted of DUI.
  3. Exhibition of Speed: If you were pulled over for speeding before your DUI arrest, you may be able to negotiate an “exhibition of speed” plea deal. While also a misdemeanor offense, a speeding conviction is highly preferable to a DUI conviction.

Should You Accept a Plea Deal?

Taking a plea deal helps you avoid the risk of receiving the harshest DUI penalties if you allow your case to go to trial. However, you should be careful before accepting a plea deal. The first plea deal you receive may not be the best deal that the prosecution will offer. Also, getting your charge dismissed or a not-guilty verdict is still the best possible outcome. If the prosecution comes to you with a plea deal, it may be because they are not confident that they can win a DUI case at trial.

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Sonoma DUI defense attorneyBeing pulled over by a police officer can leave you at a loss for words. Before the officer reaches your vehicle, your mind is probably trying to figure out what you might have done to catch the officer’s attention. Driving under the influence (DUI) may come to mind if it is at night or you had a drink before getting behind the wheel. You have only seconds before you must talk to the officer, so what should you say?

The right answer during any traffic stop is the bare minimum. This may be difficult if you are the type of person who rambles or over-explains when you are nervous. If you are eventually charged with DUI, what you say to the officer can be used as evidence as the case proceeds.. The more you talk, the more likely it is that you will say something that draws suspicion or incriminates yourself. There are several questions that you can expect an officer to ask:

“Do You Know Why I Pulled You Over?”

Your answer to this classic question should always be “no.” Let the officer present their suspicions on their own. Trying to guess what they are thinking will suggest that you know you did something wrong.

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What Happens If I Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in California?You have likely seen a Breathalyzer used in a traffic stop, either on television or by someone who has been pulled over. Since driving under the influence (DUI) is an important topic discussed in driver education classes, you may have even been able to try one out yourself. Many courses bring in the handheld machines to let students test them out by putting the small tube in their mouths, blowing, and seeing the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) record appearing at 0.00. While you were sitting soberly in class, you probably never imagined yourself being in a situation where you would have to take the test. Unfortunately, many drivers will be asked to submit to the test at some point in their lives, with possible criminal charges to follow.

Knowing the Law

When sitting in your driver’s education course, all of the seemingly minor details of California roadway regulations can start to blend together. What you may have forgotten over the years is the details of California’s DUI implied consent laws. Upon signing up for their California driver’s license, all Californians sign over their right to refuse a breath alcohol test when asked by law enforcement. According to this law, any driver who is lawfully arrested for a DUI must submit to a chemical test to measure their BAC. You may be wondering what is considered a “lawful arrest.” An arrest is considered lawful if the officer has probable cause to conclude that you are driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. 

So if you have yet to be arrested and a police officer asks you to submit to a breath test, are you required to do so? The general answer is no. The implied consent law does not extend to those asked to complete a chemical test before they have been arrested. This is known as a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). However, those under the age of 21 or on probation for a DUI must submit to the test since they are not allowed to drive with any alcohol in their system.

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How Does Getting a DUI Impact My California Car Insurance?Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is a treacherous but common mistake that is made throughout the U.S. on a daily basis. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 10,511 deaths from drunk driving accidents in 2018. Getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is rarely intentional — many people may not recognize how easy it is to surpass the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit. Typically, anyone who consumes one standard drink per hour remains under this 0.08 line, but it can be easy to get carried away without even realizing it. Being charged with a DUI has serious consequences, many of which can impact your finances and your future.

Financing My Security

As is the case in most states, California requires all car owners to have proof of insurance of their vehicle. This shows that they are able to provide financial assistance for any injuries or damages that may have been caused by their driving. California’s average auto insurance rate is slightly higher than the national average — around $1,868 as compared to the national average of $1,548. However, this marginal difference increases significantly upon a DUI conviction. On average, insurance rates nationally increase by 65 percent if convicted of a DUI charge. In California, this insurance price rises to $4,937, a 164 percent increase from the state’s average rate. DUI charges typically result in the highest rate increase of any driving charge.

Other Consequences

The price of your car insurance will likely be the least of your worries if you are convicted of a DUI in California. For first offenders, their license will be immediately suspended for at least four months, an ignition interlocking device will be installed to the vehicle, and a $125 license reissue fee will be required. The guilty party can also face up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. The driver is required to attend a DUI program and file an SR-22, labeling themselves as a high-risk insurance holder. This will affect their insurance rates, as described above, and make it difficult for them to find affordable insurance rates. Any subsequent DUI convictions have the same requirements with increased jail time and fines.

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Why Can You Be Charged with DUI for Using Marijuana in a Parked Vehicle?Though recreational marijuana is legal in California, there are still many restrictions on how you can use it. For instance, you are not allowed to have marijuana in an open container in your vehicle. When transporting marijuana, it must be in a sealed container. Using marijuana in a parked vehicle may be a violation if you are near a public place where use is restricted, such as a school. There is also the possibility that you could be charged with driving under the influence of marijuana if you are caught using the substance in a parked vehicle.

Marijuana DUI Without Driving

A police officer does not need to have witnessed you driving in order to arrest you on suspicion of DUI involving alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. There may be circumstantial evidence that you had recently been driving, such as:

  • Where your vehicle is parked
  • Whether the vehicle is still running or the keys are in the ignition
  • Whether you are sitting in the driver’s seat

Combining this evidence with a reasonable suspicion that you are impaired from marijuana use may be enough for the police officer to arrest you for DUI.

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What a Domestic Violence Charge Means During the PandemicFor more than a month now, California residents have been under a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order asks most people to stay home as much as possible, with exceptions for essential workers and activities. Staying at home has affected people’s behaviors in many ways. Unfortunately, it seems one of the effects may be an increase in domestic violence incidents. Police departments claim there have been more people reporting domestic violence since the stay-at-home order began. Some predicted an increase in domestic violence because people would spend more time at home with a potentially abusive family member or significant other. Domestic violence victims still have access to protection, such as emergency restraining orders and domestic violence shelters. Those who have been accused of domestic violence also need legal help in defending themselves against criminal charges.

Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge

Domestic violence includes acts or threats of physical, emotional, or psychological harm towards the victim. Thus, you can be charged with domestic violence without having physically attacked anyone. A domestic violence charge can be a misdemeanor or a felony – depending on the type of abuse that is alleged and whether the victim suffered injuries.

Before a criminal trial begins, your accuser can request a restraining order against you. A court may grant an Emergency Protective Order that lasts seven days if there is a credible belief that the petitioner is in danger. To extend the order beyond seven days, your accuser must file for a Temporary Restraining Order, which you would have the chance to respond to in court. A restraining order can place many restrictions against you, including requiring you to:

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What Are the Penalties for Having an Open Alcohol Container in Your Car?When it comes to criminal law, alcohol does not mix well with driving. Drivers should know that it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol, which California defines as having a blood alcohol concentration that is greater than 0.08 percent. It can also be illegal to possess an alcoholic beverage in a vehicle, depending on where the beverage is and what has been done with it. Violating the open container law in California is not as serious as being convicted for DUI, but the consequences can eventually add up to more serious penalties.

Defining Open Containers

An open container violation can occur if a police officer notices a container in plain view inside of a vehicle or discovers it during an authorized vehicle search. California law deems an alcohol container to be open if:

  • The top has been opened
  • A seal has been broken
  • The container is partially or totally emptied

The officer does not need to catch you drinking the beverage or driving the vehicle to issue a citation for an open container violation.

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Posted on in DUI

Compounding a DUI with a Hit-and-Run ChargeA person who gets into a vehicle accident may panic and flee the scene before police arrive – especially if they fear that the officer may arrest them for a crime such as driving under the influence. A hit-and-run charge involving personal injury or death can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the injuries and the circumstances of the accident. The same applies to DUI with injury and DUI vehicular manslaughter charges. The penalties become more severe when you combine a DUI charge with a hit-and-run charge. However, California is trying to fix a loophole in its criminal code that can benefit people suspected of DUI who flee an accident.

Hit-and-Run vs. DUI

It is difficult for prosecutors to prove that someone charged with a hit-and-run was also under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. It may be hours or days before the defendant is arrested for the hit-and-run, by which point there is no longer chemical evidence of DUI. While a hit-and-run is still a serious charge, consider the difference in penalties:

  • A felony hit-and-run causing basic injury carries up to three years in prison, and a felony hit-and-run causing serious injury or death carries up to four years in prison.
  • A felony DUI with injury carries up to six years in prison, and a felony DUI manslaughter with gross negligence carries up to 10 years in prison.

Thus, a drunk driver who commits a hit-and-run could receive a lesser punishment than if they had remained at the scene. California legislators recently proposed a law that would increase the maximum prison sentence for a hit-and-run resulting in death to six years.

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DUI in California Can Cost Tens of Thousands of DollarsThere is a price to pay if you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Many people think of the possibility of jail time and the likely loss of their driving privileges, but there is also a monetary cost to a conviction or even being arrested. A DUI conviction in California costs between $10,000 and $15,000 on average, with the cost going higher depending on the severity of the charge and other circumstances. The cost includes fees that are directly related to your conviction and expenses that can be tied back to the conviction:

  1. Fines: Punishment for a DUI conviction includes a fine, which can be from $390 to $1,000. The fine for a DUI conviction involving an injury can go as high as $5,000.
  2. Court Fees: On top of the fine, the court will charge an administrative fee to help pay for its operating expenses. The exact amount will vary by court, but the fee can be more than $1,000.
  3. Victim Compensation Fee: Those who are convicted of DUI in California must pay a fee to the California Victim Compensation Fund, even if no one was injured during their incident.
  4. Legal Fees: The best way to prevent a DUI conviction and to avoid the related fees is to hire a criminal defense attorney. However, you will need to pay the attorney for their services.
  5. Vehicle Towing Fees: After you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, your vehicle will be towed and impounded at your expense. Paying to get your vehicle back will likely cost hundreds of dollars.
  6. Ignition Interlock Fees: The court may order you to install a breath alcohol ignition interlock device (BAIID) on your vehicle as a condition for allowing you to drive. A BAIID costs drivers an average of $70 to $100 per month, including the initial installation fee and ongoing maintenance fees.
  7. Class Fees: Many people convicted of DUI must attend classes on the dangers of drunk driving, which can cost several hundred dollars.
  8. License Reinstatement Fee: Applying to reinstate your driver’s license after it has been suspended will cost $125.
  9. Insurance Increases: Your auto insurance provider will likely increase your rate because you will be viewed as a higher-risk client. The increase could cost thousands of dollars over several years until you are able to establish a record of safe driving.
  10. Lost Wages: Attending court for your DUI case will likely interfere with your work, causing you to miss time. If you are convicted of DUI, you may lose your job, especially if your job requires you to drive.

There are other potential costs that do not apply to every case but could be expensive, such as having to post bail or an accident victim filing a lawsuit against you.

Contact a Richmond, California, DUI Defense Attorney

The cost of a DUI case will go down considerably if you can prevent a conviction. Schedule a free consultation with a San Francisco DUI defense lawyer at Burglin Law Office, P.C., by calling 415-729-7300.

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Using Video Evidence to Your Advantage in a DUI CaseWhen trying to prove whether or not a driver was intoxicated at the time of their arrest, video footage from the scene can be compelling evidence. Instead of relying on individual testimony, the court can see the circumstances leading up to the arrest and how the officer and arrestee behaved during the incident. If you have been charged with driving under the influence in California, you need to obtain available video recordings from your arrest to determine whether they would be helpful evidence during your case.

How to Obtain Video

Many police officers are required to have dashboard cameras on their vehicles and body cameras on themselves. Unfortunately, the state will not automatically provide this evidence to you for the purpose of your defense case. Your defense attorney must submit a discovery request with the court to obtain the video evidence. If the prosecution refuses to turn over the video, you will need to file a formal discovery motion to force them to comply.

There may be video evidence from a surveillance camera for a nearby property that recorded your DUI arrest. To obtain this video evidence, you will need to file a subpoena with the video’s owner.

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The Consequences of DUI for Commercial Vehicle DriversA conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is costly for anyone, but commercial vehicle drivers have even more at stake. You may lose your career as a commercial driver with a DUI on your record. Even being arrested on suspicion of DUI will disrupt your employment and put your job in jeopardy because of the automatic administrative driver’s license suspension. Challenging your license suspension and criminal charge is critically important for commercial drivers who want to protect their livelihoods.

What Qualifies as a Commercial Vehicle?

People who operate commercial vehicles in California must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). A Class B license allows you to operate large trucks, which are any vehicles that weigh more than 13 tons or three tons if they have three axles. A Class C license allows you to operate other commercial vehicles, including school buses, vehicles carrying more than 10 passengers, double trailers, and vehicles transporting hazardous substances.

Additional Consequences for Commercial Drivers

A person operating a non-commercial vehicle can be charged with DUI if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater or are deemed to be impaired because of alcohol or drug use. If you are operating a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit is lowered to 0.04 percent. Whether you are charged while driving a commercial or non-commercial vehicle, there are serious consequences for your CDL:

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California Man Gets Life in Prison for DUI Murder Involving InfantA 51-year-old man from Porterville, California, was recently sentenced to life in prison following his conviction for an incident of driving under the influence of alcohol that resulted in the death of a 1-year-old boy. A Tulare County court had previously found the man to be guilty of second-degree murder, which is the most serious criminal charge someone can face when they are accused of a DUI fatality in California. As opposed to DUI manslaughter, a DUI murder conviction requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant acted with malice. A second-degree murder conviction has a minimum of 15 years in prison. There are several aggravating factors that likely caused the defendant to receive the maximum prison sentence allowable for this conviction under California law:

  1. Reckless Driving: According to reports of the incident, the defendant caused the crash by attempting to pass the victim’s vehicle. He was driving at a high speed and crossed over two solid, yellow lines in order to use the left lane of oncoming traffic. At the same time, the victim’s vehicle was making a left turn into a private driveway.
  2. Hit-and-Run: Following the collision that crushed the victim’s vehicle, the defendant reportedly attempted to flee the scene on foot. Bystanders at the scene followed him, allowing police to apprehend him. Along with second-degree murder, the defendant was convicted of felony hit-and-run that resulted in death or injury.
  3. Multiple Victims: Besides the infant who died, two women in the vehicle were injured. One woman suffered serious injuries that required extensive treatment.
  4. High Level of Intoxication: According to a blood alcohol concentration test, the defendant has a 0.13 percent BAC two hours after the incident. This is well above the 0.08 percent BAC limit and left little doubt that he was impaired at the time of the incident.
  5. Prior Convictions: On the date of the incident, the defendant was still on probation for a 2015 DUI conviction. He had also been convicted for DUI in 2000 and 2010. Prosecutors often use prior DUI convictions when pursuing a second-degree murder conviction because it proves that the defendant was aware of the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol.
  6. Human Element: When deciding on the length of a prison sentence, a judge will consider the circumstances of the case and the likelihood that the defendant may repeat the offense. The fact that it was an infant who was killed in the incident likely affected the judge’s decision. The mother read a statement during the sentencing hearing that spoke of the profound impact of her son’s death and asked for the maximum sentence because she claimed the defendant had not taken responsibility for the incident or shown remorse. Given that this was his fourth DUI conviction, the court likely agreed with her.

Contact a Sonoma, California, DUI Defense Attorney

Every defendant in a DUI trial is entitled to a skilled defense attorney, even if all of the evidence seems to point against them. If a not guilty verdict seems unlikely, the attorney can still help the defendant get a fair sentence. A San Francisco DUI defense lawyer at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., will represent you and your best interests during your trial. To schedule a free consultation, call 415-729-7300.

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Posted on in DUI

How Does a Wet Reckless Conviction Relate to DUI?When charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the defendant’s goal is to be acquitted or have the charge dismissed or reduced. Prosecutors may offer a reduced charge before you go to trial if you agree to not contest it. For a DUI, this could be reducing an aggravated DUI to a standard DUI or a standard DUI to reckless driving. A DUI charge that has been reduced to reckless driving is commonly called a “wet reckless” because it is reckless driving that acknowledges that alcohol was involved. A wet reckless conviction is favorable to a DUI conviction, but there are still consequences.

Advantages

In California, a wet reckless conviction often results in lighter penalties than a DUI:

  • A reckless driving conviction can include up to 90 days in jail, a fine of $145 to $1,000, one-to-two years of probation and no mandatory driver’s license suspension; and
  • A first-time DUI conviction can include up to six months in jail, penalties of as much as $2,300, three-to-five years of probation and a six-month driver’s license suspension.

A wet reckless conviction has lower maximum penalties and no minimums in some cases. You may be able to continue driving without any restrictions or the need to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You will have a reckless driving conviction on your criminal record, but a DUI conviction would look worse in a background check and possibly hurt your chances at employment and obtaining a loan.

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California Drivers Need Greater Clarity on Marijuana DUI ViolationsCalifornia had time to prepare for the legalization of recreational marijuana since voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016. Even before that, there was legalized use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, California has yet to answer an important question related to recreational marijuana use: How much marijuana must a driver have in their system in order to be legally impaired? Drivers know that the legal limit for alcohol is a 0.08 blood alcohol concentration and approximately how much alcohol they can consume before they reach that limit. California drivers and police officers can only guess how much marijuana is needed to make someone legally impaired, which puts marijuana users at a disadvantage when they are trying to be safe drivers.

Uncertain Answer

To be fair, it is difficult to quantify the point at which marijuana in a person’s body impairs a driver’s function enough to be a violation of DUI laws. The scientific consensus is that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels are the closest equivalent to BAC levels, but THC can linger in a person’s body for weeks after marijuana use, by which point any impairing effects have subsided. Amongst the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, only Colorado has created a THC limit. Prosecutors in that state can bring DUI charges against a driver who has five nanograms of active THC in their blood. Still, Colorado says that officers should primarily rely on observational signs of impairment when determining whether to arrest someone for DUI.

Upcoming Studies

California officials have recognized their lack of knowledge about the relationship between marijuana use and impaired driving. California recently enacted a law that authorizes the California Highway Patrol to conduct a study of the effects that marijuana has on driving. The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego, is also researching driving under the influence of marijuana. Through controlled tests involving drivers with different levels of THC, researchers hope to understand:

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The Penalty for Cycling Under the InfluenceThere are several modes of transportation others than cars and trucks that are illegal to operate while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You could be charged for being under the influence while operating a boat, riding a motorcycle, or even riding a horse. Then there is the criminal offense of cycling under the influence. Unlike many other states, California has a separate law that addresses CUI offenses. The consequences are not as severe as being convicted for driving under the influence, but it is still not a conviction that you want on your criminal record.

Charge and Penalties

The rules of a bicycle traffic stop are similar to stops involving motor vehicles:

  • Police are allowed to stop anyone who they reasonably suspect may be under the influence;
  • The officer will look for signs that the cyclist is intoxicated, such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and lack of balance;
  • The officer will ask questions to better understand the cyclist’s condition;
  • The officer may arrest the cyclist if they have probable cause to believe the cyclist is legally intoxicated; and
  • The blood alcohol concentration limit for a cyclist is 0.08.

Cycling under the influence is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by a $250 fine. There would be no jail time, but the conviction would remain on your criminal record. People younger than 21 who are convicted of CUI may lose their driving privileges for a year or be prohibited from applying for a driver’s license for a year.

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Prescription Medicine Can Lead to DUI ChargeDriving under the influence in California applies to more than just alcohol. You can be charged with DUI for being under the influence of drugs. The penalties for DUID are the same, including fines, a driver’s license suspension, and possible jail time. Many people associate being under the influence of drugs with getting high from recreational drugs such as marijuana. However, drugs can include legally prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Police will not excuse your impaired driving simply because you have a prescription for the drug.

Side Effects

Many prescribed drugs can cause side effects that may impair a user’s ability to drive, such as drowsiness or dizziness. These medicines include:

  • Pain relievers;
  • Sleeping pills;
  • Antihistamines;
  • Decongestants;
  • Antidepressants; and
  • Medical marijuana.

Some people are more susceptible to these side effects than others. When starting a new medication, you should keep track of its effect on you to determine whether it is impairing your vision, motor skills, or ability to stay attentive. You should also heed warnings about mixing the prescription with alcohol because it may worsen the side effects.

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How DUI Convictions Are Treated Across State LinesThe consequences of a conviction for driving under the influence can follow you across the U.S., despite the fact that the conviction originated in one state. California is one of 45 states that are members of the Driver License Compact – an agreement in which states are required to share information about convictions for traffic offenses and to enforce the punishments instituted by other states. If you are a California resident who was convicted of DUI in another state, California is obligated to enforce punishments such as a driver’s license suspension. The same obligation applies if you are a resident of another state in the DLC and are convicted of DUI in California.

California Rules

Though all members of the same compact, each state has its own laws regarding what qualifies as a DUI offense and what the punishment for a conviction will be. California will enforce other state’s DUI convictions as long as they comply with California’s own rules. California will not enforce another state’s DUI conviction if:

  • The offense would not have violated California’s DUI laws;
  • The other state enforces DUI laws differently than California; or
  • The description of the offense does not match California’s definition of DUI.

For instance, Utah recently lowered its blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.04. California would not enforce punishment for a DUI conviction if the offender’s BAC was below 0.08.

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When Can Prosecutors Use Silence Against You in DUI Case?Silence has been the prevailing wisdom when stopped by a police officer on the suspicion of a crime such as driving under the influence. By not saying anything, you avoid potentially incriminating yourself with your words. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you the right to refrain from answering a question that may incriminate you, and the Miranda Rights that police must read after your arrest starts with “You have the right to remain silent.” Defense attorneys have long argued that silence cannot be portrayed as an admission of guilt during a case. However, a California Supreme Court ruling in 2014 determined that a defendant’s silence after a DUI stop could be used against him in court.

People v. Tom

In the case of People v. Tom, the defendant was charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated after being involved in a fatal car collision. During the trial, the prosecution mentioned that the defendant had not asked the responding police officers about the condition of the occupants of the other vehicle before his arrest. The prosecutor argued that the defendant was silent because he either knew he was guilty of DUI or had a reckless disregard for the safety of others. The jury convicted the defendant, who appealed in part because he claimed his silence should not have been allowed as evidence of his guilt. The California Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution was within its right to present that evidence because:

  • The defendant had not been read his Miranda Rights at the time of his silence; and
  • A suspect must expressly invoke his or her right to remain silent.

What It Means

Your right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination is always available, but the circumstances can determine whether the court will presume that you were invoking that right. The court will look at:

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