Drinking and driving in Los Angeles can have serious consequences. This is true even if you are involved in a single car accident that involves no reported bodily injuries. Rapper Mac Miller recently learned this the hard way after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.
According to reports, Miller was driving his SUV in Hollywood Hills when he lost control of the vehicle, hit a curb, and struck a utility pole. The accident caused significant damage to the area and, fearing the consequences, Miller and his two passengers fled the scene on foot. Police promptly found Miller and placed him under arrest for drunk driving.
Driving Under the Influence in Los Angeles
There are two ways you can be arrested for driving under the influence (“DUI”) in Los Angeles.
Per Se Intoxication
The first is if chemical testing shows that your blood alcohol level (“BAC”) exceeds the legal limit. For adults, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle if your BAC exceeds .08 percent. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, your BAC cannot exceed .04 percent. Drivers who haven’t yet reached the legal drinking age of 21 cannot drive if their BAC exceeds .01 percent. Chemical tests can include roadside breath tests and/or more conclusive blood tests.
The second way you can be arrested for DUI is if police have reason to believe that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In fact, you can be arrested for DUI even if your BAC does not exceed the legal limit. This type of DUI is left solely to the discretion of the arresting officer.
In order to make an arrest for this type of DUI, however, police must have probable cause to believe that it is unsafe for you to drive. Police may have cause to believe that you are under the influence if you:
- Fail field sobriety tests
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Cannot communicate effectively
- Or the vehicle smell like drugs or alcohol
- Have slurred speech
- Cannot keep your eyes open
- Cannot balance or stand still
- Have drugs and/or alcohol in plain sight in the vehicle.
Police will thoroughly document why they executed the traffic stop as well as why they believe you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The state will rely heavily on the officer’s report and testimony during your case.
Consequences of a DUI in Los Angeles
How serious is a DUI arrest in California? The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of each case. Absent any aggravating factors, most first and second DUI offenses will be charged as misdemeanors. Misdemeanor DUIs are punishable by time in jail, significant fines, probation, and the suspension of your driver’s license. The more times you’re convicted of DUI, the harsher the consequences.
- First DUI Conviction: maximum of 6 months in jail, $1,000 in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for 6 months
- Second & Third DUI Conviction: maximum of 1 year in jail, $1,000 in fines, and the loss of your driver’s license for 1 year.
If DUI results in serious bodily harm or if an offender has multiple DUI convictions, the crime may be charged as a felony. In California, felony DUI is punishable by between 16 months and 3 years in prison, $25,000 in criminal fines, and the possible revocation of your driving privileges.
Defending DUI Charges in Los Angeles
Just because you’re arrested on suspicion of DUI does not mean that you’ll be charged, tried, and convicted of the crime. You have the right to defend yourself by presenting arguments on your behalf. These arguments should help to explain your behavior and/or undermine the prosecution’s case against you. Defenses that may be helpful in a Los Angeles DUI case include:
- You were not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol
- Police did not administer chemical test or field sobriety tests correctly
- There is no proper chain of custody of the evidence in your case
- Police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle
- You have been falsely accused
- The results of the chemical testing are inaccurate or flawed, or
- Your Constitutional rights were violated in some way.
If your rights were violated the state should not be allowed to benefit from its own misconduct. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress any evidence that has been tainted by the state’s unlawful actions.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys
Have you been arrested on suspicion of DUI in Los Angeles? Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Law Center to schedule a free consultation. Our skilled Los Angeles criminal lawyers will review your case, explain your rights, and devise a strategy to protect you from the consequences of your arrest. The state will start to build its case against you immediately, so it is important to call us now.