San Mateo DUI Attorney
Like all states, it is unlawful in the state of California to drive under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. DUI is a criminal charge, not a traffic infraction like speeding or going through a stop sign. Consequently, if you have been arrested or charged for DUI, it makes sense to hire an attorney to represent and defend you, particularly if you believe that the charge is unjustified in any way, or the process by which you were arrested, charged, or tested was unfair.
Nationwide, the legal limit that defines DUI is 0.08% BAC, or “Blood Alcohol Content,” a measure of the amount of ethanol compared to blood within the bloodstream by volume. For drivers under 21, the legal limit is 0.01%, and for commercial driver’s license holders, it is 0.04%. BAC may be determined by a chemical test of breath, urine, or blood. Even when a driver is under this limit, however, he is not immune to charges—he may still be cited for reckless driving if he was pulled over on suspicion of DUI for driving erratically.
For an individual who weighs a sleight 100 lbs., the legal limit can be reached after less than 2 drinks. For an average male who weighs under 200 lbs., BAC can reach 0.08% after four or five drinks. In California, according to the DUI Management Information System statistics, the median BAC of drivers arrested for DUI is 0.15%—nearly twice the legal limit.
Being Convicted in San Mateo of DUI is Very Serious—and Costly
The vast majority of DUI arrests in California are for first-time offenders, and over 90% of the DUI charges brought are for misdemeanors. But that does not mean that a first-time DUI offender should take the matter lightly.
A driver with no prior DUI convictions or suspensions, may, upon conviction, receive a 30-day to 10-month suspension of their driving privileges. Nearly all first offenders spend some amount of jail time, from four days to up to 6 months, depending upon the circumstances, and over three quarters of them enter a first-offender DUI program. Fines for first offenders range from $1,400 to $2,600.
For a second-time offender, the license will be revoked from one to two years. Jail time can range from 10 days to one year, and fines range from $1,800 to $2,800. Third-time offenders can receive jail sentences from 120 days to one year, fines from $1,800 to $18,000, and license revocation for 3 years. In addition to these penalties, any subsequent license issuance may require the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that will not allow a driver to start his vehicle without passing a breath test. (Depending upon the jurisdiction and the circumstances, an IID may be required after the first offense, or it may be a required for an individual to obtain a restricted license.) Incidentally, criminal fines are in addition to any other court fees and DMV fees for processing your case or special DMV license processing. In other words, DUI’s can become very expensive.
What is more, the “lookback period” for DUI offenses is 10 years. That is, if an individual gets arrested for a DUI, and he was convicted of a DUI within the last 10 years, he or she is a second-time offender; similarly, a third offense uses the same lookback period.
San Mateo Vigorously Enforces California’s DUI Laws
San Mateo County extends from the San Francisco Bay in the East to the Pacific Coast, from San Francisco in the north and south to Menlo Park. It covers 741 square miles, and has a population of 718,000 residents.
In 2010, there were 295 alcohol-involved collisions in San Mateo, leading to 7 fatalities and 395 injuries. In California as a whole, there were 17,856 alcohol-involved collisions, leading to 1,072 fatalities and 24,343 injuries in 2010. Overall, alcohol-related fatalities account for nearly 40% of all traffic fatalities in California, and over 10% of all crash injuries. In an effort to reduce alcohol-related accidents, and particularly accidents that cause death and injury, periodically, the California Highway Patrol and local police departments together participate in “crackdowns” of DUI offenders by setting up sobriety checkpoints. Statewide, over 2,000 sobriety checkpoints are set up annually.
These law enforcement agencies usually set up sobriety checkpoints during holiday periods, such as Labor Day weekend or the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years Day when many people engage in parties that involve drinking alcohol. These checkpoints also operate late at night, and are frequently set up near the egress of a particular area where drinking is common—sporting events, concerts, downtown bars, etc. When these checkpoints are operating, either every driver or drivers chosen at specific intervals are required to comply with a sobriety test that may include quick “breathalyzer” tests—that is, using machines that test BAC by breath—or physical tests, such as roadside balancing tests. San Mateo police regularly participate in setting up these periodic checkpoints, and they have often yielded significant results. One holiday checkpoint campaign from August 17 to September 3, 2012, yielded 129 DUI arrests in San Mateo County alone.
In 2010, there were 3,682 DUI arrests in San Mateo County, with comparable numbers in previous years. It takes an average of 100 days from arrest to conviction for a typical San Mateo County DUI case, and less than 2% of DUI cases that are brought to trial result in a dismissal of DUI charges. In 2010, 77% of those arrested for a DUI in California were convicted; over the last decade, the conviction percentage has ranged between 70% and 80%.
If you are arrested or charged with a DUI, it is important to obtain a DUI Attorney for legal advice and representation in dealing with your DUI charge, particularly if you believe that the charge is unjustified, or the procedures used by law enforcement were unfair. Because a DUI is a criminal offense rather than a civil offense or traffic infraction, you need to mount a good defense, and the better your preparation, the greater the likelihood that you will be able to overcome the charge or, alternatively, to reduce the penalties that you may face. As noted above, the state of California takes DUI’s very seriously, and the penalties can be significant, particularly if you have multiple offenses.