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DUI Plea Bargains: Your Options

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

What Gets You Out Of A Los Angeles DUI Charge

You may be concerned about the fines you will face if you have been convicted of a DUI. Driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics in California is punishable by thousands of dollars in fines, lengthy periods of probation and DUI education requirements, and even prison time. The California DMV will revoke your license even before you are convicted.

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Sentences in California are being reduced.

A DUI conviction in California carries severe penalties. A first-time DUI conviction can result in up to six months in jail, and subsequent DUI offenses can result in up to a year in prison. For a DUI, you could face up to five years of probation and up to 30 months of mandatory DUI education courses.

California rule, on the other hand, gives judges some leeway in sentencing. For a first-time DUI offense, a judge can sentence you to as little as two days in prison. For certain prisoners, the judge can waive their right to a prison sentence completely in return for probation and 12 hours of DUI education courses.

Your DUI lawyer can be able to seek a sentence reduction on your behalf. You could avoid an expensive trial in exchange for a guilty plea and a guaranteed, lower sentence.

Is it Possible to Get a DUI at the age of 18?

Is it possible to be arrested for DUI at the age of 18 in Los Angeles, California? If you drive a car with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above the legal limit, you could face DUI charges. DUI charges may be brought against anyone, regardless of age.

In reality, getting a DUI is easier if you are under the age of 21. For drivers under the age of 21, California has different BAC levels. Find out all about the DUI charges that are used in California, the punishment for a DUI arrest for someone under the age of 21, and some potential DUI defenses right here.

California's "Zero Tolerance" Law for Drivers Under 21

Individuals under the age of 21 are technically prohibited from consuming alcohol in California. It is illegal to consume alcohol before reaching the age of 21. Individuals who drink while under the age of 21 in California are subject to "zero tolerance" rules.

If you are stopped for a DUI under the age of 18, you might be subject to one of these zero-tolerance rules. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.01 percent or higher, you can face charges. This means that even a single drink of alcohol will result in a ticket. Mouthwash can often be enough to push the blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Section 23136 of the Vehicle Code governs zero-tolerance DUIs. If you are convicted of a VC 23136 violation in California, your driver's license can be suspended.

In California, there are additional charges for underage DUIs.

Other special charges are used by the justice system for drivers under the age of 21 who are charged with a DUI. Let's presume the blood alcohol level is higher than 0.05 percent. You could face charges under Vehicle Code Section (VC) 23140 in this case. Convictions under VC 23140 have more severe consequences. If you are convicted of this crime, you can face the following penalties:

  • Fines

  • Restriction on the license

  • A period of time spent in an alcohol education program

A Los Angeles DUI lawyer may be able to assist you with these charges. Right now, your DUI lawyer will start working on your defense.

DUI Charges for Drivers Under the Age of 21

Even if you are under the age of 18, you can face "standard" – or adult – charges if you are arrested for a DUI. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds the legal limit for adults, the court will usually charge you with a regular DUI. Drivers over the age of 21 are required to keep their blood alcohol content (BAC) below 0.08 percent.

If your BAC is at or above 0.08 percent in California, you may face criminal charges under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a). A conviction under VC 23152(a) will result in the following penalties:

  • Thousands of dollars in fines

  • Up to six months in prison

  • Your driving rights can be limited

  • A period of time spent in an alcohol education program

In Los Angeles, a DUI arrest remains on your criminal and driving records. You will face tougher penalties each time you are accused of a subsequent DUI. If you are convicted of enough DUIs within a 10-year span, you can face felony charges. As a result, it's important that you treat all DUI charges in California seriously. Find a DUI lawyer to help you through the case.

DUI Marijuana in California

Although the use of medical marijuana has been legal in California for several years and restricted recreational marijuana was legalized in November 2016, it is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. When marijuana is used while driving, it makes no difference if it is recreational or medical marijuana. And if you had a prescription and were driving while inebriated, you could still face a DUI fee.

  • When dealing with a semi-legalized drug, it's important to note that communicating with a legal professional can be extremely beneficial. Marijuana laws are subject to change on a regular basis, and they are usually riddled with nuanced legislation, exceptions, and guidelines.

  • Consultation with a drug recognition specialist, called a drug recognition evaluator, is becoming a common procedure during marijuana DUI investigations (DRE). These officers have received advanced training to assess (1) disability; (2) if a medical condition or drugs contributed to the impairment; and (3) if drugs contributed to the impairment, what class of drug it was.

The DRE procedure is a collection of measures that physicians have used to assess drug and alcohol-induced disability for decades. Either at the scene or later at the police station, the test takes place. In the end, these assessments are based on 12 variables, including the officer's accuracy, training, and experience.

Typically, the DRE would recommend that the driver submits to a lab examination of blood, saliva, and/or urine. This may serve as further evidence of disability.

California's Legal Marijuana Laws and DUI

The fact that California has legalized marijuana has no bearing on DUI laws. Adults over the age of 18 can possess, use, and cultivate marijuana, but they cannot legally drive afterward.

It is illegal in California to drive a motor vehicle when under the influence of any drug that affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles. Marijuana use has been shown to impair healthy and fair driving capacity, putting other people at risk.

Medical Marijuana Legalization and DUI

Since recreational marijuana usage is now legal in California, some people will mistakenly believe that driving restrictions will be relaxed as well. This is a misconception.

If you're using medical marijuana or recreational marijuana, DUI laws remain the same. The California marijuana DUI law is extremely preventive, but even if a driver has a legal prescription, he or she will face DUI charges.

Driving while medicated will be a violation of California's DUI law since marijuana can affect a driver's ability to safely operate a vehicle. Your DUI lawyer can explain more details of the new legislation.

DUI with Prescription Medication

A drug that needs a prescription DUI happens when a driver's ability to drive is harmed by the effects of prescription drugs. The disability could occur before the driver gets in the vehicle, or it could develop as the medication takes effect while driving. Regardless of whether the legal drug was administered by a doctor, whether the driver takes a substance that has a "substantial impact" on them, they would be considered "under the influence."

The prescribed drug will have to have a significant impact on the driver's ability to safely navigate a vehicle in order to be deemed a DUI. The DUI disability law covers all drugs that can make a driver intoxicated, which means that the impairment may be induced by alcohol or a prescription drug from a doctor.

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Even if you take the correct dose, a variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs can impair your motor skills and coordination. The following medication side effects can impair a driver's ability to operate a vehicle:

  • Nauseous

  • Feeling dizzy

  • Drunkenness

  • Inability to focus or pay attention

  • Fainting

  • Sluggish movement

Different drugs, on the other hand, may have different effects on different individuals. Prescription medications that impair attention, motor skills, concentration, or judgment may be just as dangerous as alcohol. Any of the above signs of disability can lead to slowed reaction times, risky driving, or even an accident.

DUI with Ambien (Sleeping Pill)

It is possible to be arrested for a DUI after taking an Ambien sleeping pill. Ambien is a sleeping pill that is taken before bed to help people sleep through the night. If Ambien is taken before driving, the driver should prepare to be pulled over and arrested for an Ambien sleeping pill DUI, as drivers must be alert while behind the wheel.

However, taking Ambien can often result in "night driving." Sleep driving is described by the FDA as operating a vehicle while partially asleep after taking a sedative-hypnotic product.

People have been known to take Ambien, fall asleep, wake up, and fall asleep again while driving their car in some cases.

Other Sedative-Hypnotic Sleeping Medications-Related DUI Charges

Any sedative-hypnotic drug has been known to induce sleepwalking and, on rare occasions, sleep-driving. These drugs are prescribed on a daily basis and are used to help people sleep. If a driver operates a vehicle after taking some kind of sleeping drug, the same DUI penalties apply.

DUI for Gamma-Hydroxybutyric Acid GHB

GHB is a neurotransmitter that causes euphoria, relaxation, and lowered inhibitions. It's used lawfully as a prescription, illegally as a party drug, and illegally as a means of committing sexual harassment.

Inadequate GHB intake can lead to dangerous and impaired driving skills. It's important to keep track of how much medicine is consumed; if too much is consumed too quickly, a person can pass out, become less alert, or lose concentration.

People who are unaware that the substance has been slipped into their drink may feel capable of driving, but the effects may become troublesome once the car is moving. Another cause for concern is that GHB when combined with other drugs or alcohol, has the potential to be lethal.

What Happens If GHB Isn't Taken Intentionally and a DUI Charge Is Filed?

Individuals who have been victims of sexual harassment should not be punished as criminals. However, an individual may be arrested for DUI if they were driving a motor vehicle while inebriated.

It would be important to ascertain if any drugs were used prior to driving, if the driver felt impaired prior to driving, and if there were any witnesses who saw someone sneaking a drug into a drink.

Which Prescription Drugs Have an Effect on Driving?

Drugs come with warnings about possible side effects like drowsiness and driving dangers, but these warnings don't always provide information about how the drug may interact with other drugs. When two or more drugs are taken together, the side effects can vary.

However, not all drugs have an effect on your driving ability. The following are the most popular groups of drugs linked to DUI:

  • Antidepressants are medications that are used to treat depression

  • Antihistamines are medications that are used to treat allergies

  • Anti-anxiety drugs

  • Medication for high blood pressure

  • Medications for cough

  • Decongestants are substances that help in digestion

  • narcotic pain relievers

  • Pain relievers on prescription

  • Medications for sleep

  • The use of stimulants

  • Tranquilizers are substances that help people relax

If a person gets behind the wheel after taking any of the previous drugs and their ability to drive is impaired, they can be charged with DUI.

What Do I Do If I Have to Drive and I'm Taking Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drugs can never be taken without the consent of a doctor, and your doctor, as well as your pharmacist, will provide you with advice that does not require driving while inebriated. For new drugs that you haven't tried before, it's particularly important to have precise instructions.

Tell your doctor what you're doing, like what drugs you're taking and what you need to be driving. Your doctor can change the type of drug or the dosage, but he or she will come up with a safe solution.

Is Your Driver's License Suspended Immediately After a DUI?

California has quick and harsh sentences for those convicted of a DUI in an attempt to prevent drunk driving. Anyone arrested for a DUI offense, however, faces an additional layer of fines. The DMV will revoke your license within 30 days of your arrest under California's automatic administrative suspension law. This timeline places the suspension in front of any criminal proceedings.

Losing Your Driver's License When You're Arrested

When you are arrested for DUI in California, officers have the authority to seize your license. They will not, however, take away your driving rights at this time. You will now be given a conditional license that will expire after 30 days.

The DMV should still grant you a temporary license if the officer does not take your license at the time of your arrest. Rather than getting a temporary license from the officer, the DMV will mail one to the address listed on your driver's license. It will be valid for 30 days, but only from the day, the DMV processes the document, not from the date of your arrest.

Process of Administrative Suspension

The DMV is notified of your pending DUI fee when the officer removes your license and issues you a temporary one. This starts the automatic administrative procedure, also known as "admin per se," which will result in the suspension of your license. The duration of your probation will depend on your criminal history, but it could last up to four months for a first-time offender. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.

There are two important deadlines in this process:

  • The DMV will revoke your license for 30 days from the date of your arrest.

  • The deadline to request a hearing to appeal the disciplinary suspension is 10 days after your detention.

Even if you're not sure how you'll handle the criminal side of your DUI, moving rapidly is crucial if you want to reduce the effect of the arrest. Only by seeking a meeting with DMV officials within 10 days of your detention would you be able to stop this suspension. You will consult with a DUI lawyer about the specific details of your case during the time between the request and the hearing.

Hearing at the DMV

Instead of a judge or other member of the judiciary branch, the hearing will be conducted by a DMV administrative officer. It is a formal procedure, but not one that is purely legal. The DMV official will examine the administrative suspension to determine whether it is justified. It will deal with facts in the same way that a courtroom does.

A DMV hearing, on the other hand, may be an important part of your DUI protection strategy. The DMV hearing is an opportunity for you to discuss the evidence against you, in addition to possibly helping you to hold your license prior to the official judicial proceedings. You have the option of having a DUI Attorney represent you at the hearing, which may work in your favor.

Suspension in the Event of a DUI Conviction

A DUI conviction will result in the loss of your license in addition to the administrative suspension that the DMV imposes. Two variables will decide how long you will be without your driver's license:

  1. DUI convictions on your record

  2. Factors that make it worse

For a first conviction, your license will be revoked for six to nine months, with the latter being an option if you don't complete the standard two-day prison term. Repeat offenses will result in longer suspensions, and the driving privileges can be revoked entirely.

Your license may be revoked for reasons unrelated to the DUI crime. If you refuse a chemical test after being arrested, for example, your license can be suspended. Even if you are not convicted of a DUI crime, refusing a chemical test will result in your license being revoked.

Is a First DUI Likely to Land You in Jail?

California's DUI penalties can be serious, as the state tries to prevent dangerous driving. Both DUI offenses carry the risk of incarceration. A first DUI will result in jail time even though you have a clean record.

A first-time DUI offender is typically sentenced to prison under California Vehicle Code Section 23536. An individual convicted of a DUI is expected to spend time in the county jail under this law. This time in prison must be no less than 96 hours and no longer than six months.

Although the letter of the law is straightforward, several factors will influence how much time you spend in prison. If you have a clear set of evidence and the right counsel by your side, you will not have to spend much, if any, time in prison. Aggravating factors, on the other hand, will increase the probability of you being sentenced to prison as well as the duration of your sentence.

How Do Difficult Factors Affect Jail Time?

The jail time range listed in the previous section implies that your DUI arrest was "easy." A "easy" DUI is one that occurs without the presence of any aggravating circumstances. You can face additional months or even years in prison if aggravating factors are present, on top of the sentence you will receive for an "easy" DUI.

The following aggravating factors will influence how much prison time you are likely to get as a result of a DUI:

  • Dangerous driving

  • A display of speed

  • Refusing to submit to a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine)

  • When a minor is present in the car, it is illegal to drive under the influence.

  • Excessive alcohol in the blood (BAC)

  • Driving when your license is suspended

  • Injuring someone else

The aggravating factors in both of these cases will result in significant rises in your prison time. This is in addition to any other punishments you can face for a DUI, such as fines and license suspensions.

DUI Involving Injuries

A first-time DUI that results in the injury or death of another person or people will significantly increase the penalties you face. Even if it's your first DUI arrest, you could face the following charges, depending on the severity of your injuries:

  1. DUI-causing damage is a felony.

  2. DUI manslaughter is a felony.

  3. DUI murder is a felony.

You are facing more than a year in prison in any of these cases. In addition, rather than serving your time in county jail, you will serve it in state prison. When taken as a whole, a DUI with injury entails a significantly longer sentence at a hospital that is farther away and less fun.

What is a Plea Bargain in a DUI Case?

When a defendant is charged with DUI in California, a plea bargain is given to them. The agreement is a give-and-take: they agree to a lighter punishment in return for you agreeing to no contest, which means pleading guilty. Plea bargaining is the term for this form of negotiation.

The first plea bargain offer you receive from a DUI lawyer is usually not a successful one since the prosecution might be testing your willingness to plead guilty to a serious crime. In certain cases, a plea deal can be extremely beneficial, particularly if you have a professional DUI Attorney on your side.

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The following are examples of potentially advantageous plea bargains:

  • You were arrested on a serious offense, such as causing an injury in a DUI accident, but the prosecutor agrees to reduce the charge to a simple DUI.

  • The prosecution agrees to reduce the charge to reckless driving.

  • The prosecution agrees to a punishment that does not require mandatory prison time, or they agree to drop a sentence enhancement.

These plea deal results can be beneficial to your case, but they aren't as beneficial as winning your case outright. This is where plea bargains get complicated because they are just a good idea if you don't think you have a good chance of winning in court. As a result, it's critical to consult with a DUI lawyer before agreeing to some kind of contract.

Wet Reckless Plea Bargain

Following a DUI conviction, a plea deal known as "wet reckless" is used to reduce a crime to a less serious offense. Situations involving drugs or alcohol, as well as reckless driving, are given the moniker.

Only when the prosecution decides to reduce the DUI charge to a misdemeanor is wet reckless allowed.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Wet Reckless Plea Bargain

There are a number of benefits to pleading guilty to a wet reckless charge:

  • Penalties have been reduced.

  • It carries a lower social stigma than a DUI.

  • There is no requirement for ignition interlock.

  • Your driver's license will not be suspended by the judge.

There are some drawbacks as well, such as:

  • For a period of ten years, a criminal record is maintained.

  • If you are convicted of DUI again, it will be reported as a previous crime.

  • Your DMV driving record will be docked points.

Dry Reckless Plea Bargain

When agreeing to a plea deal for dry reckless, the result for a DUI offense in California is much better, but prosecutors are not always willing to suggest this as an alternative. If there was a problem with the chemical tests or if your BAC was near the legal limit, an experienced DUI lawyer will improve the chances of this being offered.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Dry Reckless Plea Bargain

There are a number of reasons why a charge of dry reckless is regarded as one of the better DUI plea bargains. When opposed to a DUI conviction, the following are some of the benefits of a dry reckless plea bargain:

  • It will not appear on your permanent record as a DUI.

  • Fines are reduced.

  • There will be no prison time or a reduced sentence.

  • There is no requirement for a driver's license suspension.

  • For a prior DUI, the consequences do not worsen.

  • The only drawback to this plea deal is the requirement of alcohol education classes.

Speed Exhibition Plea Bargain

While the exhibition of speed is widely used as a DUI plea bargain, it was originally designed to punish highway racers. Any kind of race, for any cause, is prohibited on a California street under the statute. Since speed contests are considered particularly dangerous, they require harsher penalties than those imposed solely for speeding.

The penalties, however, are not nearly as serious as those for a DUI. Though there are a variety of DUI plea bargains available, "exhibition of pace" is one of the most favorable outcomes.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Speed Exhibition Plea Bargain

When opposed to a DUI, negotiating a plea for a display of pace has various advantages:

  • The time spent in prison is reduced.

  • Instead of 3-5 years, probation was assigned for 1-2 years.

  • Fines are much smaller than those for a DUI.

  • It will not appear on your record as a DUI.

  • If a subsequent DUI happens in the future, it does not count as a prior DUI.

  • The fact that points will be added to your DMV record is a drawback.

Open Container Plea Bargain

Driving a car when a bottle of alcohol is open is illegal. You could face an open container fee, as well as the risk of a DUI. Regardless of whether the driving maneuvers led officers to suspect intoxication, the police usually search for an open alcohol bottle in the car when making a traffic arrest by pulling a vehicle over.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of an Open Container Plea Bargain

Although it may be inconvenient, an open container breach is much less serious than a DUI.

The benefits of this fee, which is much less severe than a DUI, are as follows:

  • It's considered a traffic infraction rather than a criminal offense.

  • There will be no prison time.

  • There will be no license suspension.

  • The penalty fee you'll have to pay is the only downside of an open container plea deal. Fortunately, there are much more benefits than drawbacks of this breach.

Traffic Violations Plea Bargain

A DUI charge is much more severe than a traffic violation. Traffic infractions are normally only offered by the prosecutor when they suspect police protocol was broken excessively at the time of the arrest or chemical samples were invalid due to insufficient equipment or lab handling issues.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Traffic Violation Plea Bargain

Ordinarily, traffic offenses are minor infractions of the rules. There are several benefits of agreeing to a traffic offense plea deal, including:

  • Violations of the traffic laws are not considered criminal offenses.

  • There will be no need for a hearing.

  • At the traffic clerk's office, traffic violations may be questioned.

  • Minimal points are deducted from the driver's license as a disadvantage.

Drinking in a Car Plea Bargain

The charge of consuming alcohol in a car is intended to discourage people from drinking alcohol when driving on a public road.

When the prosecution has a poor argument, this plea is generally accepted. For example, the driver's blood or breath test can show a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is only slightly higher than the legal limit.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Drinking in a Car Plea Bargain

Drinking and driving is another plea deal with more benefits since it is a much less serious crime than DUI. Here are a few examples:

  • There are no points attached to your DMV driving record.

  • It's a non-criminal offense.

One downside is that without a professional prosecutor, convincing the prosecution to offer drinking in a car plea can be challenging.

Drunk in Public Plea Bargain

Being intoxicated in public is a misdemeanor offense. The law makes it illegal to engage in drunken behavior that endangers the public or obstructs public roads, paths, or sidewalks. Due to the law's flexibility, it can also be used as part of a plea deal in DUI cases. When a DUI fee is reduced to a "drunk in public" charge, there are several advantages.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of a Drunk in a Public Plea Bargain

Pleading guilty to a Drunk in Public misdemeanor rather than a DUI crime has many benefits.

The following are some of the benefits:

  • This isn't a driving-related offense

  • A license cannot be revoked

  • Your license will not be docked any points

One drawback is that this plea deal is usually only offered if it is clear that you have consumed alcohol, so whether or not you were driving is more debatable.

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