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Napa County DUI Charges and Penalties

Napa County DUI Charges and Penalties Attorney

What are the Consequences of Being Arrested for Drunk Driving in Napa County?

The potential sentencing consequences for a California DUI conviction are always dependent on the facts and prior criminal and driving history of the individual. That being said, even one with a clean history and no injury or death involved in the DUI arrest is still subject to up to six months in the county jail and a one year license suspension in some circumstances. In Napa, a first offender can typically expect some kind of jail sentence along with fines and assessments, a drinking driver school, court probation, and sometimes the requirement of an Ignition Interlock Device in their car.

Most of these conditions are subject to some negotiation with the prosecutor, and thus, even though there may not be a viable defense to the underlying charges, it is important to retain a DUI defense attorney who is not only trained on spotting potential defenses, but is knowledgeable about sentencing alternatives and skilled at negotiation.

Administrative "Per Se" Driver's License Suspension

One of the first penalties that goes into effect after a Napa DUI arrest is an automatic driver's license suspension through the California DMV. Even before you have had a chance to defend yourself, the officer confiscates your California driver's license (if you have one) and gives you a notice indicating that your driving privilege in California will go into suspension 30 days from the date of your arrest. The length of your suspension depends on the circumstances of your case.

For first-time DUI offenders, this administrative suspension is usually for four months with the possibility of obtaining a restricted driver's license after serving 30 days of this suspension period (it is one full year with no restricted license eligibility if you are found to have improperly refused a chemical test). A second DUI offense within 10 years triggers a one to two-year suspension with restricted license eligibility after 90 days of suspension time in limited circumstances. A chemical test refusal can result in a three year license revocation for those with two or more prior DUI convictions or APS suspensions in the previous ten years.

The only way to contest these administrative license suspension actions is to request an administrative hearing with the DMV within 10 days of being served with the suspension order (this usually means 10 days from the date of your arrest).

Out-of-state defendants who do not have a California license are strongly advised to contest these license suspension actions as well as California residents. These actions can not only prevent you from lawfully driving in California, but can result in suspension of your home state license.

Criminal Penalties for Napa DUI

A drunk driving arrest usually brings with it two criminal charges; driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above. In Napa Valley, police often arrest drivers on suspicion of drunk driving even when they are below the .08 BAC threshold. This is especially common at DUI checkpoints that are set up near one or more of the local wineries.

Even a first-time DUI conviction carries with it harsh consequences. The fines and penalties alone can add up to $2,300. On top of that, you could be looking at up to six months in Napa County jail, attendance at AA meetings, three to nine months of DUI school, and community service. Multiple DUI offenses and aggravated circumstances such as driving with a BAC of over twice the legal limit, child endangerment, driving with a suspended or revoked license, hit-and-run, and being the proximate cause of an accident involving death or serious injury can result in enhanced fines, assessments, and other penalties.

Defending a Napa County DUI

Charges are not the same as convictions, and there are ways to effectively fight the charges against you to avoid a conviction or to at least minimize the negative consequences. For example, there may be weaknesses in the District Attorney's case that can be used to have the charges dropped or at the very least reduced to something less severe. Some common DUI defense strategies include:

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion to detain you;
  • Improperly administered field sobriety tests;
  • Lack of probable cause to arrest you;
  • Improper admonishments concerning chemical testing obligation;
  • Failure to read you your Miranda rights;
  • Faulty or inaccurate breath or blood testing; and
  • Continued absorption of alcohol after driving due to recent consumption.

Consult With A Board-Certified DUI Defense Attorney on Your Napa County DUI Charges

The consequences of a DUI conviction in Napa County are serious. With a strong defense, however, you may be able to avoid most (if not all) of the drunk driving penalties you are facing. Attorney Paul Burglin has been a DUI defense lawyer in Napa since 1985, and he is one of only five lawyers in the California who is Board Certified by the National College of DUI Defense (as approved by the American Bar Association). He has a strong track record of success and has been lead counsel in over 120 DUI jury trials. His depth of experience and proven track record are major reasons judges, prosecutors, and DMV hearing officers frequently seek him out when one of their own family members or friends is charged with drunk driving.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Napa, call 707-320-4007 for a personalized consultation with attorney Paul Burglin. He serves 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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