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Napa County, CA DUI Laws

American Canyon California DUI Laws Attorney

What Happens When You Get Charged with Drunk Driving in Napa County, California?

Like most states, California is very tough on drunk drivers. A DUI arrest can result in a driver's license suspension, fines, and and other penalties, and if you are arrested for drunk driving in County you will likely serve time in jail even on a non-injury, first offense case. Prior convictions result in even harsher consequences with the possibility of a state prison sentence if your DUI is charged as a felony.

Understanding California DUI Laws

If you are arrested for drunk driving in California, you are most often charged with two criminal offenses under Section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code:

  • 23152(a): Driving under the influence of alcohol. This makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle if you are physically or mentally impaired by alcohol to the point where you can no longer drive as carefully under similar circumstances as someone who is sober. In Napa, the District Attorney's office has been known to aggressively prosecute motorists under this statute even if their blood alcohol concentration is under the per se legal limit of .08 percent.
  • 23152(b): Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. This is known as "per se" DUI, meaning that if a motorist drives with a BAC of .08 percent or higher, they may be found guilty of drunk driving regardless of their tolerance for alcohol and whether or not they lacked the ability to drive with the caution and care of a sober person.

Be skeptical of DUI attorneys who claim they get charges dismissed in half or more of their cases. No one has that kind of a winning percentage--these lawyers are giving you misleading information based on the technical truth that one of the two charges normally gets dismissed with a guilty plea to the other charge. This is the kind of claim that gives all lawyers a bad reputation.

There are other statutes of the California Vehicle Code and Penal Code that deal with circumstances related to DUI, including:

  • 23152(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
  • 23152(g) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.
  • 23152(d): It is unlawful to operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04 percent or higher;
  • 23136: It is unlawful for a person under age 21 with a BAC of .01 percent or higher to drive a vehicle;
  • 23612: This is known as California's "implied consent" law and requires those arrested and charged with DUI to submit to a mandatory chemical test. Refusal to take the test can result in a minimum one-year driver's license suspension.
  • 23153: DUI resulting in injury. If a driver commits any act forbidden by law concurrently with drunk driving and it results in an injury, they may be charged under this statue. If it was a DUI resulting in death or serious injury, the charges could be upgraded to vehicular manslaughter (CA Penal Code 191.5) or in the most serious cases, DUI murder (CA Penal Code 187).

California Administrative "Per Se" DUI Laws

In 1990, California joined other states in allowing their Department of Motor Vehicles to automatically suspend the driver's license of a motorist who is suspected of drunk driving. The suspension period starts at four months and is increased if you refuse the mandatory chemical test or have prior DUI offenses. Your driver's license suspension goes into effect 30 days after your DUI arrest, and if you want to challenge your suspension, you have just 10 days to request an administrative hearing with the DMV.

Speak with a Board-Certified California DUI Attorney

Prosecutors in Napa County pursue drunk driving cases aggressively. That said, being arrested for DUI is not the same as a conviction. With the right defense strategies, it is possible to have your charges reduced or dismissed and the negative consequences minimized. Attorney Paul Burglin has successfully defended motorists charged for DUI in Napa Valley and throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1985. Attorney Burglin co-authors California Drunk Driving Law, a two-volume legal guide commonly referred to as the "Bible of DUI Defense." His in-depth knowledge of state DUI laws and successful track record are major reasons he is frequently sought out by prosecutors, judges, and DMV hearing officers when someone close to them is in legal trouble for drunk driving.

If you are facing DUI charges in Napa, it is important to have someone by your side who thoroughly understands the state laws and the inner workings of the Napa County Superior Court. For a confidential and discreet consultation with Attorney Paul Burglin, contact our office today at 707-320-4007. We serve clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Napa County, including Napa, American Canyon, St. Helena, Calistoga, Yountville, Rutherford, Pope Valley, Deer Park, Oakville, Angwin and surrounding Napa Valley communities.

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