Being charged with a DUI can feel like the end of the world. You may have your license suspended for months, and the penalties brought on by conviction can be severe. Your first DUI charge in Fresno impacts every aspect of your life, from getting to and from work to the emotional distress suffered by you and your family. In order to fight the charge, you need a professional to identify your options and help you obtain the best outcome.
Fresno DUI attorney Michael McKneely has worked as both a prosecutor and as a criminal defense lawyer. He understands how the criminal justice system works. He will evaluate every detail of your case and make sure the system hears your side of the story. Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442 to see how Mike can defend you in court.
Driving Under the Influence Defined
You can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) if you are driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. If you are driving a non-commercial vehicle and have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above, or if you are driving a commercial vehicle and have a BAC of .04 or above, you may be arrested. Even if your BAC is lower than the legal limit, you can still be arrested and charged if the police think you are impaired.
California also has a Zero Tolerance Law that applies to drivers under the age of 21. Any BAC over .01 is a DUI for someone 20 and younger. Minor drivers convicted of a DUI face stronger penalties, including expensive fines and a prolonged license suspension.
Mitigating and Aggravating Factors of a First DUI Charge in Frenso
There are many factors that affect the sentence for a first DUI charge. Mitigating factors may lesson punishment, and aggravating factors will usually increase the penalties.
Mitigating factors include:
- Impairment as a result of prescribed medication
- First time offense
- Being barely over the .08 legal BAC limit
- Certain life circumstances
Aggravating factors include:
- Reckless driving
- Driving with a measurable BAC while on probation
- Driving with a child in the car
- Prior DUI convictions
- Accidents causing injury
One of the most prominent aggravating factors is a BAC of .15 or above. If the government can prove this, then you could receive higher penalties. Courts are less likely to be lenient and prosecutors are not as willing to negotiate. Other special factors that may lead to a harsher sentence in California include refusal to take a breath or blood test, speeding, causing injury or death, having a minor passenger, and prior DUI convictions.
The Consequences of Your First DUI
Administrative License Suspension
Separate and apart from the criminal court process, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend your license for 4 months if you are found to be driving with a BAC of .08 or above. This suspension is separate from the court penalties. If you refuse a blood or breath test, you will face the possibility of a 1-year license suspension.
The DMV suspension can be challenged by a knowledgeable attorney, but you only have 10 days from arrest to initiate the process or you lose the opportunity. Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today to fight your DMV suspension.
Penalties for a Fresno DUI Conviction
People are often surprised by the severity of the sentence for DUI. It will usually include a combination of jail time, fines, alcohol education classes, and license suspension. The basic consequences of a standard DUI sentence are:
- 96 hours to 6 months in county jail
- Up to $2,000 in fines and fees
- Up to 6 months of license suspension
- Mandatory DUI classes
For minors, the consequences of a DUI are also significant. Because of California’s Zero Tolerance Law, the license suspension period for those under 21 is longer. The penalties for those under 21 include:
- 1-year license suspension
- Mandatory DUI school
- Hundreds of dollars in fines
Experienced Fresno First DUI Attorney for Your Defense
In cases involving your first DUI, a skilled attorney should start work immediately to find mistakes that could lead to charges being dropped before they ever reach a court of law. With the help of a knowledgeable and experienced Fresno criminal defense lawyer, many strategies may be available to prove your innocence and defend your freedom. To speak with a criminal defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today call (559) 443-7442