A DUI offense in the fourth category has priorable charges. It implies that a driver could be fond of committing the same crime often. It has severe forms of penalties that a person can experience, usually when a person commits the fourth DUI offense ten years after the first conviction. The penalties given are harsher because it is categorized as a felony.
In California, first, second, and third DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors making a 4th DUI a more severe offense. It is crucial to engage the Orange County Criminal Lawyer services to help you work on your case. We will help you explore all options to see your charges dismissed or have them reduced.
Overview of Fourth DUI Offense
When you drive under the influence, the offense falls in the priorable category. It implies that your penalties increase as you commit the offenses from the first offense convicted or another driving under the influence offense. If you commit a DUI and your history spanning ten years has a record of the other three previous drunk-driving offenses, chances are you'll be charged with a fourth offense categorized as a felony. For the crime to fall under DUI, you must have had prior convictions, which could be:
Having BAC levels at 0.08% or higher
Another state conviction
Expungement in a drunken-driving sentence for the earlier mentioned offenses
Elements of 4th Offense DUI
Under California's Vehicle Code Section 23152 VC, a prosecutor is tasked to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that a defendant violated California's Driving Under the Influence laws. The prosecution team is tasked to ascertain that:
You were driving a vehicle.
Your blood alcohol level while driving was higher or at 0.08%
You had three convictions under the vehicle codes’ records within ten years that fall under the Californian law.
Your three convictions are pivotal in a fourth DUI offense, which requires the prosecutor to establish through your certificates. The certification can be obtained through certificates of profitable accomplishment of compulsory education programs in drugs or alcohol, records from the Motor Vehicle Department, and other records obtained from the court.
California records are tasked with establishing California wet reckless and DUI convictions. On the other hand, records in the DMV strive to prove other state crimes that qualify to be drinking under influence sentences in the Californian state.
Critical Terms in DUI Crimes
When interacting with DUI offenses, there are key terms that must be present at all times. Here are the phrases you'll interact with:
Driving a Vehicle
For any arrest to be made, an arrest must be made when a person is operating a machine. If this is present, then the element is met. But in some cases, it is not the usual situation in all cases. For example, the motor vehicle was moving, but the suspect didn't drive the car, or someone was having a nap in a car.
There are different circumstances under which drunk-driving can present itself each day. It implies that the prosecutor must work hard to prove the drunkenness of a defendant. Their ultimate goal should be that you were driving while under the influence.
Besides, the vehicle should have been moving to establish driving. In other scenarios, a prosecutor must also produce circumstantial evidence surrounding circumstances while the crime was committed to proving that the movement was there.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
As outlined in VC Section 23152, a person can be termed intoxicated if he or she consumed alcohol. This means to be charged with DUI, you must have been drunk, and that impaired your judgment to the point of not driving soberly. In some cases, you may have been driving as a sober and reasonable driver would. However, the prosecution cannot use this as a decisive way to show that you were intoxicated while driving.
Evidence the Prosecution Has to Prove in Driving Under Influence Case
Since DUI offenses are subjective, the prosecution must present evidence showing the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol as per the arresting officer's observation.
Remember, your charges begin when the enforcing officer gives evidence on what transpired on the fateful day (the day of your arrest), from your conduct to the test carried on you and the results.
The officer will witness that you were deviating, unable to drive with caution like a reasonable driver, and driving unsteadily.
The officer testifying will also provide incriminating evidence demonstrating signs and other indications consistent with possible intoxication like difficulty in speaking, shuffling, and eye irritations.
Penalties for Fourth DUI Offenses
In California, felony DUI crimes are severe and require a strong defense to get a less hefty punishment. The fourth category offense comes from the other several previous sentences.
According to the blood alcohol content levels and other enhancing factors at the time of your arrest and the case's prevailing circumstances, the punishments differ from one case to the next based on the blood alcohol content levels and other enhancing factors.
The crime attracts the following penalties:
Sixteen, two or three-year conviction in prison
Fine ranges from $390 to $1,000
Revoking a driving license for up to four years
Having an HTO (Habitual Traffic Offender) status for three years
Besides, you may still enjoy driving. But, you must have an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle installed three years prior. The interlock device, a breathalyzer, helps stop the car from starting when you have traces of alcohol in your system.
Because California felony DUI crimes have a basis of multiple convictions, the cases are zealously prosecuted and require aggressive defense for you to succeed with them. You may be disturbed, but there is an option. If you or your loved one is charged with 4th offense DUI, you can contact us to confidentially discuss the case at our Orange County Criminal Lawyer offices.
Aggravating Factors and Other Penalties
These could be the aggravating factors present with a likelihood of increasing your penalties if they were present at the DUI arrest time.
These factors include:
Refusal to give in to a test leading to an additional eighteen-day conviction
Driving recklessly or at high speed, like driving on roadways at 20 kilometers per hour or 30 kilometers per hour on roads, warrants an additional sixty days from the initial sentence in prison.
Having ninety days more in prison for carrying a minor who happens to be under fourteen years as a commuter at the time of your arrest. In some instances, you may also be punished for child endangerment (Penal Code 273a) that warrants a maximum of six years in state prison.
Under VC Section 23153, DUI with injuries, having charges leveled against you for this offense would attract more than two years in state prison. If the accident resulted in serious bodily harm, you would be sentenced to three or six years and a sentence between one to three years for each injury, with a fine of not more than $5,000.
California's Section 191.5 PC, DUI manslaughter, spells the punishment as sixteen months, two to four years in state prison, and a fine amounting to $10,000.
For Watson murder categorized under PC Section 187 PC, the charges are of murder second degree that warrants a fine of $15,000 and fifteen years to a life sentence.
Court Process in DUI
Like other cases, the 4th DUI offense starts with the perpetrator being arraigned before a court of law. It further proceeds to sentence or you being cleared of the charges. When you are prosecuted, the prosecution presents you with the first settlement offer. At this point, the team tries to convince you to agree and commends that you confess to the charge.
It's upon you to decide at this juncture. The prosecution gives a chance that you plead guilty of committing the offense, no contest or even innocent to the charges leveled against you. If you give in and plead culpably, chances are you may be sentenced to jail and be fined. If not, pleading innocent will give you the time to analyze the prosecutor's evidence and challenge it.
Legal Defenses in Fourth Offense DUI
DUI cases can be challenging, more so when dealing with the fourth stage. It may be an uphill task for you to walk the case alone, given that California driving under influence laws are complicated and keep on changing as time goes. Thus, it's a noble idea to seek the Orange County Criminal Lawyer's services to help you argue the unique case.
A competent criminal attorney will use these defenses to argue the case:
Objective Indications of Drunkenness Were Different from DUI
When an arresting officer presents evidence linking you to drunk-driving, it may be because of an unsteady gait, red and watery eyes, slurred speech, and even alcohol smell from your breath. Your attorney can have this as an effective way to fight the DUI charges. They can challenge the prosecution by using the signs to show drunkenness at the time of the arrest.
The attorney can argue the said signs aren't alcohol-related and may have resulted from allergies, fatigue, icy, physical harm, eye irritation, or even sun exposure. As a backup, they may also tell the prosecution that the alcohol smell from the breath came from other foods with alcohol content and soft beverages like malt in beer.
Arresting Officer Failed to Adhere to Chemical Test Regulations
When a law enforcement officer is exercising their mandate, there is a protocol they should follow. Title 17 shows the requisites on how tests should be done, and they include:
The officer carrying out blood, breath, or urine tests should be properly trained.
Chemical test equipment should be regularly maintained and calibrated.
Correct administration of tests
Blood and urine samples to be correctly collected, stored and handled
The arresting officer administered observation time to a drunk-driver in fifteen minutes.
If the officer fails to adhere to the above guidelines, it might tarnish the test results. If you hire expert DUI attorneys, they can use the officer's failures to challenge how the investigation was conducted. Even if one of the guidelines was not considered, you could fight the drunk-driving accusations.
Mentally Alert, Thus Not Driving Under Intoxication
This can be a legal defense used to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. Prosecutors should differentiate between a person who is mentally impaired and physically impaired for a standing case. Ideally, the prosecutor will show that the suspect exhibited signs of impairment and prove the same signs as mental impairment.
Again DUI experts will reiterate the difference when a drunken person is physically impaired and when impaired mentally. This happens because alcohol impairment manifests itself first as a mental disability. Due to this reason, your attorney can contend that the defendant had no signs of being mentally impaired and showed physical indications that look like drunk-driving.
The Arresting Officer Failed to Adhere to the Procedures
Failure to comply with the outlined procedures when arresting an offender can be an effective defense like in other offenses. A DUI probe is guided by measures that should be adhered to to protect the defendant from arresting police misconduct. The procedures are:
As per the requirement, the law enforcer’s possible reasons for a traffic checkpoint, drunk-driving arrest, or a 4th offense DUI probe.
Procedures as outlined in the Title regulations
Police prioritized Miranda rights before commencing DUI questioning. In this case, Miranda rights are alerts given by the officer before questioning the offender after making an arrest. For example, it may be a statement like remaining silent is your choice.
If the procedures aren't followed, your attorney may request a PC 1538.5 hearing, also known as a suppression hearing. The trial will help you to:
Eliminate craftily acquired evidence
Award your lawyer a chance for a pre-trial to question the prosecuting case gaps and woe the courtroom to lessen the charges or drop them altogether.
Non-compliant DUI Sobriety Barricades
According to California law, driving under influence sobriety barricades should be compliant. They should follow the stern legal provisions like:
Supervision, organization, and overseeing of checkpoints by officers
Public advertisement of roadblocks
Ascertain that all field police officers observe a preset procedure when stopping vehicles
In any case, there was a violation of any of the procedures. Your lawyer can dispute your detention and the DUI charges as well.
Rising Alcohol Content in Your Blood
When you operate a vehicle after consuming alcohol, it's a breach of the law. It is so because you will be impaired when driving. Thus, you will not make sober decisions. When you consume alcohol before starting a drive, the alcohol content in your blood will rise steadily until it reaches the peak levels, and when a test is done, the BAC will read "increasing."
Maybe if you take alcohol and decide to have a drive, when a law enforcer detains you for a test, your BAC levels will rise. It is so because the chemical tests will show higher alcohol concentration in the blood than the initial one taken while driving.
Therefore, it is essential to contact a criminal defense lawyer to help you with a case if you have a 4th offense DUI. Our team of lawyers will attend the court sessions, and you’ll only be needed to give them the relevant documents and testimony of the occurrence on the fateful day.
How to Defend Against Drunk-Driving in California?
When faced with a DUI, your lawyer will always strive to get your charges reduced to a lesser offense like a misdemeanor or have the charges dismissed outrightly. If this mission cannot be possible, the lawyer might also try to review the prior DUI or wet reckless verdict based on requirements or evidence errors to settle for a viable defense.
If this can happen, DUI penalties and punishments can reduce because each offense is recorded. If even one charge can be removed from the records, it will substantially decrease your sentence, and the 4th offense DUI may be reclassified from felony to misdemeanor.
How to Protect Your Driver License from Revocation?
After you are arrested, the police officer will confiscate your driving license and issue a suspension notice, prohibiting you from driving. The notice is temporary, serving for thirty days. Besides, the notice gives you the go-ahead to a DMV trial that should occur in your arrest's earlier days.
Even though a DMV trial is not the same as a court hearing, your attorney may represent you. You may also examine any evidence presented by the prosecution against you and interrogate any witness statement offered. Besides, you can also bring evidence or witnesses to testify for your sake.
After attending your hearing, a decision in writing will be delivered to you. In some cases, the decision may revoke your driving license. If it happens, you can request the DMV to carry out an administrative investigation to re-check its judgment. You can as well appeal with the supreme court to check on the decision. If you fail to do so, your license will be revoked.
How to Acquire a Withdrawn License?
If you didn't appeal with the DMV, you could follow the due process to recover your driving privileges. Here are the steps you can use:
Know the Conditions for Revocation
To get your driving license active, you must know the reason it was withdrawn initially. You can reach the Department for Motor Vehicles and appeal to review their decision and let you know the action to take. You can call or walk to their offices with your driver's license details like number and everything sent to you by the DMV.
Do All Revocation Procedures
If the DMV during a hearing requires you to settle the fines, court-associated fees, and penalties, compliance is the best option. If there was sentencing, abide by it, and do well on any requirement. Besides, you may be obliged to provide SR-22 proof that happens to prove vehicle insurance.
Give Documentations to the DMV and Make Payments
After you have paid all the fines and court fees, you can apply to renew the driver's license. Again you must have served your sentencing to meet the requirements. If not, you can still be restricted from getting the license if revocation has not elapsed.
Can Fourth Offense Criminal Record Be Erased?
Like any other offense, the fourth offense may be erased from your records if you follow the guidelines given. The only way felony DUI will be sealed by expungement, where you appeal to the offense to be reduced from felony to misdemeanor.
As a start, file an expungement appeal through your attorney. But keep in mind to adhere to the guidelines outlined for eligibility of termination of the case. You can also make the application personally or make your lawyer do it. From there, the judge may:
Advise you to cancel the guilty plea and record the innocent plea
Overrule the guilty judgment you were convicted of after an innocent plea
If the judge presents you with the two cases, chances are your charges are dismissed. If so, your penalties and punishments will also be canceled, and then be a free citizen from DUI.
Find an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me
When found with 4th offense DUI, you can be upset about losing your driving privileges. It doesn't end at that. You may also be sentenced to prison and even fined heavily. It may not be out of your liking, but you may find yourself in situations making you guilty of the offense.
Orange County Criminal Lawyer comes to your aid with top-notch expertise in DUI offenses. We know you may be green on how to defend yourself before a court of law. Leave the legal battle to us. Our team of DUI lawyers will argue the case to settle on the best offer.
Besides, we have proven records of working for clients with drunk driving cases. It's no doubt you should hire our lawyers to help you argue your case at the hour of need. Our lawyers will analyze the evidence used to protect your rights. Call us today at 714-262-4833 to get sorted.