Not all traffic violations are created equal, and the type of violation you face can have different consequences for your record, insurance, and drivers license. Today we’ll explain the differences and help you understand your options for each.
Misdemeanor Traffic Violations
The usual and more common traffic violations are called “infractions” and would include speeding, improper stop at a stop sign, failure to signal, and even minor collisions. These are not classified as misdemeanor offenses, and as such are usually more minor in consequence (points on your license, fines). The following will often bump your violation into the class of misdemeanor:
- Someone is injured by the traffic violation
- Property is damaged by the traffic violation, such as another’s car or mailbox
- Driving without a license or insurance
- Reckless driving
- Disorderly conduct
Misdemeanor traffic violations will go on your criminal record and can include court and legal fees.
Felony Traffic Violations
If you’re guilty of committing a more serious traffic offense, you may be charged with a felony traffic violation. While these charges can depend on the severity of the incident and the local traffic laws, a felony traffic violation is usually associated with a DUI but can also include:
- Vehicular homicide or manslaughter
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
- Fleeing law enforcement
- Repeated offenses of driving without license or insurance
Felony traffic violations incur much more serious consequences, such as permanent felony marking on your record, a breathalyzer for DUIs, suspension or revocation of a drivers license, criminal court proceedings, and legal fees.
If you’re facing a traffic violation, whether misdemeanor or felony charges, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation to protect your rights and minimize any consequences. We’re practiced and ready to help you.
Now that voters in California have decided that marijuana will be legal for recreational use, some lawmakers are trying to regulate what that means in relation to traffic safety. The Associated Press reports that three large California counties are piloting a testing program that uses a driver’s saliva to see if there are any drugs present in their system.
But everyone is not convinced that the test is conclusive. For example, at least one member of the California Highway Patrol believes that neither saliva or breath tests are accurate enough to use. For alcohol, any amount below .08 blood alcohol is legal. However, there is currently not a level deemed acceptable of any drug in a driver’s system, which means that the law has not yet determined what level constitutes driving while intoxicated. Despite these concerns, a judge in Kern County accepted the results of a saliva-based drug detection test as evidence in a case last year.
But drivers under the influence of drugs is a growing concern in the United States. In fact, according to The Atlantic, drugged driving has surpassed alcohol as the leading reason drivers die in an accident: 43 percent of fatal crashes had drivers with drugs in their system, compared to 37 percent who had blood alcohol levels above .08 percent. Prescription drug use while driving is also on the rise. A study found that 20 percent of drivers had taken some form of prescription drug in the past 48 hours. Law enforcement officers stress that all prescription drugs are not safe to take before getting behind the wheel: just because a drug comes from the doctor does not mean it can be taken before driving.
Many in Encino often wonder what may be the differentiating factor between one facing misdemeanor and felony DUI charges. Factors such as one’s personal history of DUI-related offenses may come into play when making such a determination, yet often it is the circumstances in which a DUI arrest was made or the results that come from an accident caused by one who was allegedly driving while intoxicated. One might be at a greater risk of being charged with felony DUI if it is believed that he or she was involved in other crimes or moving violations while also being under the influence.
A recent case in Sonoma County could very well end up producing such a charge given the wide array of offenses allegedly involved. At the center of the incident is a Nevada man whom authorities questioned after noticing that the windshield, side mirrors and headlight on the U-Haul truck he was driving were shattered. Upon approaching the vehicle, they noticed the smell of alcohol on the man. He claimed that a “crazy person” attacked the truck with a bat, causing the damage. Also in the vehicle were his wife and three children, none of whom were wearing seatbelts. He was subsequently arrested for DUI and child endangerment. A charge of vehicle theft may soon follow, as it was revealed that the U-Haul he was driving was stolen.
Even with one facing a myriad of charges in relation to a DUI, he or she should still be protected from facing harsher penalties that what his or her alleged actions may have warranted. One may ensure him or herself such protection by securing the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Source: Sonoma Valley Patch “Reno Man Driving Stolen U-Haul Arrested For DUI With Kids, Wife In Truck: CHP” Avants, Maggie, June 30, 2017
Say you were out and about in Encino, had a couple of drinks with friends, then decided to drive home and ended up striking another vehicle, causing injuries to its occupants. What you have described has happened to many of the clients that we here at [nap_names id=”FIRM-NAME-3″] – Law Offices of Amir Soleimanian and Associates Inc. have worked with in the past. Depending on the exact circumstances of your accident, you could be facing criminal charges. The question then becomes how severe those charges may be, and whether or not they are merited by the law.
Section 23153 of the California Vehicle Code states that it is unlawful for you to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and concurrently doing any other act forbidden by law that results in injuries to another. If you are involved in such an accident, you could potentially face a charge of DUI Causing Injury, which could result in a prison sentence for up to 10 years, followed by a five-year revocation of your license.
Yet would such an accident warrant such penalties? Notice how the law says that you must be driving under the influence while doing another illegal activity in order to meet the standard set by this statute. To clarify this law, let’s return to the scenario mentioned in the beginning of this post. If you struck the other vehicle while under the influence and also speeding, then the law may apply as the court may cite speeding as the cause of the accident. However, if you were not speeding, you may end up only facing a misdemeanor charge as it may be difficult to prove that any other actions caused your accident.
You can discover more information about disputing felony DUI charges here on our site.
For drivers in California, flashing red lights in the rearview mirror is one of the least welcome sights, especially for those who have been drinking. DUI citations can lead to a loss of privileges, opportunities and income, and are a big incentive for motorists to avoid driving drunk. While most people refrain from drinking too much alcohol to avoid the consequences of intoxication, there are some who find this unavoidable and have been cited for multiple DUIs. CNN reports that new studies are shedding light on a condition called auto-brewery syndrome, in which a person’s gut acts as an internal brewery and can cause a raised blood alcohol level simply from the foods that have been eaten.
While the discovery is still new, scientists have discovered that patients with this disease usually have an overabundance of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or brewer’s yeast, in their intestines. The overgrowth may occur after a round of antibiotics kills off good bacteria and allows the yeast to grow unchecked, or it may have another unknown culprit.
As the patient ingests sugars, alcohol or bread products, the yeast ferments the starches to create ethanol. This is the same type of alcohol that is found in beer, wine and other drinks and can lead to the same levels of intoxication.
One woman was monitored for 12 hours and researchers discovered that her BAC rose to over 0.3 percent simply from the foods she ate. After discovering this, her DUI case was dismissed by the judge. NPR reports that another man was watched for 24 hours and reached a blood alcohol concentration of 0.12 percent without a single drink.
You’re young, and your friends love to head out to clubs throughout L.A. County. While most of the time you are the designated driver, last time you opted to have a drink or two while you were out. You felt fine when you got into your car, but after you had to slow down quickly for a hidden stop sign, a police officer pulled you over thinking you were intoxicated. The breath test came up as .08, but there’s no way you could have been that intoxicated. What can you do?
Question the validity of the test
The first thing you can do is to question the accuracy of the test. If you only had two drinks and waited an hour or two before driving, it’s not likely that your blood alcohol concentration was that high. Did you burp or have indigestion during the test? This can make the test read out higher than the true BAC. The Breathalyzer could also be damaged or working incorrectly, which could cause an inaccurate reading.
Question the administration of the test
If an officer was not properly trained in administering a breath test, it’s possible you could have the test removed from evidence. If other factors could also be at play, like the failure to calibrate the test, the courts should consider this.
Question the chain of custody
To make sure a blood test hasn’t been tampered with, the officer and testing facilities keep track of where the test is at all times. If there is no information on where the test was or tampering is evident, then you can ask that the evidence is sealed and not used to prosecute you.
Your attorney has several options for defenses, depending on your situation. Be honest, and you can come up with one that helps your case.
Christmas parties and New Year’s Eve parties are on the horizon. While you might be tempted to consume alcohol at these parties, your best option for avoiding drunk driving charges is to either avoid those drinks or find a designated driver to bring you home. If you end up leaving a holiday party after drinking and you get pulled over, you will start going down the path of facing DUI charges in California. You should think about these five penalties of drunk driving in California before you start the ignition after the party.
Driver’s license suspension
One of the most life-altering effects of being caught driving drunk in California is the driver’s license suspension. You are facing a minimum of four months without your driver’s license if you opted to take the chemical test when requested and this is your first DUI. If you didn’t take that test, you are facing a year without your license if it was a first offense. The suspension terms increase with each subsequent DUI, so remember this if you have already been convicted of a DUI and are thinking of driving drunk again.
Fines and assessments
The fines for drunk driving in this state are astronomical. For a first offense, you face almost $2,000 in fines and assessments. A second DUI within a 10-year period would increase the fines and assessment total to around $18,000. Without your ability to drive since your license will almost certainly be suspended, you might find it difficult to pay these costs.
Even on a first offense, you will spend time in jail. That first offense comes with 48 hours in jail. A second offense within 10 years could land you in prison for 16 months. The period of incarceration can increase from there with each subsequent offense. You might also see increased incarceration periods if you are charged with an excessive blood-alcohol concentration percentage, which is .16 percent or above.
The social stigma of a DUI is something that is hard to overcome. The mere charge can mean that your car insurance increases. You might not be able to work if your job requires a clean driving record. These can make it hard for you to have a social life at all.
California law allows a vehicle to be confiscated. If you are facing your third DUI, you must have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle once you are legally able to drive again. You may be required undergo alcohol education classes, an alcohol treatment program, or a combination of both. Other penalties might also be imposed by the court.