Certainly, most everyone understands the importance of refraining from drinking and driving. However, if you should err, end up behind the wheel after a few drinks and get into a fender-bender, you obviously wouldn’t want to spend years behind bars. Did you know that, even if the injuries suffered in your crash are very minor, those injuries could result in your doing years of prison time, even for a first offense? Or that you could possibly face these penalties even if no one was hurt all? A pair of recent cases, one from the East Bay and one from nearby Sonoma County, highlight the very substantial and life-changing penalties you can face and the importance of dealing with these charges in the appropriate manner to minimize the impact they will have on your life long-term. Part of dealing with your felony DUI arrest in the Bay Area is reaching out and retaining knowledgeable San Francisco DUI defense counsel.
The first of the two cases referenced above was from Alameda County. In that case, East Bay Times reported that an off-duty Oakland police officer was charged with DUI. Even though no one was hurt in the accident, the driver was still hit with a charge of felony DUI. According to the police, the off-duty officer was speeding across eastbound on Interstate 580-when he was arrested, the Times report stated.
More recently, a 65-year-old woman was driving in Sebastopol when she turned in front of another driver, according to a KPIX report. The two vehicles collided and each driver suffered minor injuries. There was no evidence that either driver was speeding. However, because the other driver was injured (even though her injuries were slight), the 65-year-old woman was charged with felony DUI.
The difference between a felony DUI and a misdemeanor DUI can be significant. Penalties for felony DUI can include up to $5,000 in fines and four years in prison. If more than one person was injured in your accident, those penalties are even stiffer (again, even if the injuries were minor). You can also lose your driver’s license for up to five years.
So, what are your options if you have been charged with felony DUI? Certainly, you can take your case to trial. If, for example, your case is like that of the woman from Sebastopol, then the prosecution must prove that you were under the influence and that you caused the crash. This means that you can attack the evidence of your intoxication (such as challenging breath/blood test results), or attack the assertion that you caused the crash. If the other driver actually caused the crash, then you cannot be guilty of felony DUI in those circumstances. If you’re charged with felony DUI because you were speeding (like the Oakland man), then you may be able to win your case if you can prove that the state lacks sufficient evidence that you exceeded the speed limit.
Another option is working out a plea agreement. For some drivers, it may make the best sense to work out and accept a plea deal that involves pleading guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge, especially if that plea bargain comes with an agreement that you will not receive a conviction that carries a sentence enhancement.
Whether you are in the East Bay or Marin County or anywhere in the Bay Area, and whether you are pursuing a plea deal or are going to trial, chances are that you have never (or, at least, rarely) been through the process before. You need an experienced attorney who has led clients through the process countless times and knows how to get the most out of your plea bargain and/or your trial defense. Talk to the skilled San Francisco DUI defense professionals at Uthman Law Office about your criminal case and your potential DMV issues. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Put our knowledge of the law and the system to work for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.
More blog posts:
New Bill Effective July 1 Changes the California’s Legal Limit for a DUI Charge for People Operating as Rideshare Drivers, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, July 13, 2018
Military Diversion: One Extra Option Available to Some Veterans Charged with DUI in California, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, June 6, 2018