Charged With Drunk Driving In California? – Our Attorneys Answer 6 Frequently Asked Questions About Your DUI Case
1. How can the prosecutor prove that I was driving at the time of my arrest?
Driving may be established through circumstantial evidence. See Mercer v. Dept. of Motor Vehicles (1991) 53 Cal.3d 753, 768. Even though an officer may not have witnessed you driving, the prosecutor and DMV can rely on circumstantial evidence (as opposed to direct observation) of driving. Examples of circumstantial evidence used to prove driving include:
- The police officer found you asleep in the driver’s seat with the engine running;
- The police officer touched the hood of the vehicle and found it to be warm;
- You are the registered owner of the vehicle; OR
- You admitted to driving the vehicle.
2. What Are The Possible Reduced Charges To A Drunk Driving Arrest?
An experienced DUI attorney will first attempt to have all of the charges for drunk driving against you dismissed. If the charges cannot be dismissed in their entirety, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce any felony charges to misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanors have lighter penalties. An attorney can also try to reduce the charges to reckless driving.
3. What is a Wet Reckless?
A wet reckless is a plea-bargained crime from a DUI. It cannot be originally charged. It can only be given through a plea bargain reached with the prosecutor. A wet reckless indicates that there was alcohol involved when you were driving.
The penalties for a wet reckless include jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges, and enrollment in alcohol educational programs. However, a wet reckless conviction has less serious consequences compared to a DUI. For example, the loss of your driving privilege is not mandatory, attendance of a DUI class is required for a shorter period of time, the duration of the probation term is shorter, and the fines assessed for a wet reckless will be less than those for a DUI. In addition, you will not have to fill out a SR-22 form to show proof of insurance before receiving your driver’s license back.
A wet reckless is a reduced charge with lighter penalties, but it is still considered a functional equivalent of a DUI. If you get a subsequent DUI within 10 years, the wet reckless can be considered a prior conviction to increase your punishment. This means that if you have one wet reckless conviction, then your next DUI conviction will be considered your second DUI conviction. Another downside to a wet reckless conviction is that your insurance company will consider a “wet reckless” as a DUI for insurance purposes. The cost of auto insurance will most likely increase. See VC 23103.5.
4. What is a dry reckless?
A dry reckless refers to reckless driving without any alcohol involved. This is a misdemeanor offense under VC Section 23103. In some DUI cases, your skilled DUI defense lawyer may be able to convince the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a dry reckless. With a conviction for a dry reckless, you face the possibility of jail time, fines and probation. However, the beneficial element of this charge is that it is not “priorable.” A dry reckless conviction will not be treated as a DUI if you are subsequently convicted of a DUI offense.
5. I live far away. Do I have to be present during my case?
No. In California, a lawyer can appear on your behalf under PC 977. However, in rare instances, a court can order the defendant to be present in certain DUI cases.
6. When can the prosecutor use PAS test results as evidence?
A preliminary alcohol screening test (PAS) is used by law enforcement personnel to measure your blood alcohol level. The PAS is a hand-held breath-testing unit that gives an instant and accurate measure of your blood alcohol concentration.
The results PAS test are admissible upon a showing of either compliance with Title 17 or the foundational elements of (1) properly functioning equipment, (2) a properly administered test, and (3) a qualified operator.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a charge for drunk driving, it is important that you speak with the experienced DUI defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich. With over 40 years of experience, we can guide you through the entire process and fight to help you obtain the best possible result in your case.
With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at(877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for your free phone consultation.