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Holiday Fun in San Diego (Hold the DUI)

By Criminal Defense Attorney on November 16, 2018

The holiday season is upon us! For many, that means going out and enjoying all San Diego has to offer. But whether that means attending a friend’s house party or hitting up one of San Diego’s many microbreweries, there is a good chance that alcoholic beverages will be part of that fun. And what starts out as “just one drink” can quickly turn into several, or many bottles of wine shared between friends.

When that happens, it is important to remember not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle, even if you think you are okay to drive. Chances are, you are not—at least, not to the San Diego police’s satisfaction.

And one DUI arrest can quickly spiral out of control without help.

Police Will Not Go Easy on Drunk Drivers, Holiday or Not

There seems to be a misconception that the police will go easier on people who are caught drinking and driving during this time of year. But this is most certainly not true.

In fact, it is the opposite. The police know that this time of year, people are more tempted to drink and drive. Because of that, they crack down on drivers under the influence to show other drivers just how severe the consequences can be.

Look at Thanksgiving weekend two years ago in San Diego, for example. Over a four-day period, there were 798 arrests made for drunk driving. The closer it got to Christmas, the more people were likely to drink and drive. In one single weekend over the Christmas holiday, a two-day period, 41 people were arrested for drunk driving; that number increased from 34 the previous year.

Perhaps it is the “party vibe” that runs throughout the city, particularly around the holidays and on weekends. But the fact of the matter is, if someone chooses to drink and drive, the chances are very good that he or she will be caught. And sudden holiday cheer and goodwill towards man will not overcome the arresting officer.

What Will Cops Be Looking For?

San Diego, and all of Southern California for that matter, is known for its large amount of speed traps. Contrary to popular belief, there are not a lot of restrictions on police officers in regards to setting these traps. Oncoming vehicles do not have to be able to see the officer’s vehicle lights, and officers do not need to be out in plain sight. Officers simply have to be in a location that allows them to measure a vehicle’s speed, and be on a local street that has had a survey performed on it within the last five years.

When people are stopped by a speed trap, the officer has plenty of opportunity to determine if the driver has been drinking. But speed traps are not the only way officers stop people for drinking and driving. While it is true that police officers cannot stop a vehicle without reason, officers are trained to watch for signs of drunk driving. These include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Weaving, particularly when a driver is crossing the lane line
  • Straddling, or continuously driving down a lane line instead of the space marked between them
  • Swerving, particularly in an exaggerated motion or for no reason at all
  • Hitting or nearly missing a vehicle or object
  • Speeding or drastically slowing down for no reason
  • Driving very slowly, typically 10 miles or more under the speed limit
  • Stopping erratically, such as stopping too soon, or waiting too long to stop
  • Traveling the wrong direction on a road
  • Not responding to traffic signals, such as running red lights or sitting for long periods at green lights
  • Stopping in the middle of a lane for no reason
  • Using a turn signal improperly or not using it at all
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Driving off the road
  • Erratic behavior in the vehicle
  • Turning improperly, such as turning too quickly

If an officer notices any of these signs, he can stop a vehicle for suspected DUI. If the driver of the vehicle is arrested — or worse, convicted of the crime — he may feel some serious consequences for the rest of his life.

The Penalties for DUIs

California takes DUIs very seriously; it is not a minor traffic infraction, even for a first offense. After a conviction on a first-time DUI, a person will lose his license for at least four months. However, on a second-time DUI, your license can be suspended for a year. Even when not convicted, many people lose their licenses right away while the criminal case is still pending. However, with a good DUI attorney, this does not have to happen.

The penalty that most people are afraid of is jail time, and 48 hours in jail is the minimum amount a judge may order after a first offense. A conviction can carry up to six months of jail time, which could have consequences such as job loss and a ruined reputation. In addition to having to spend time in jail, a person will have that conviction on his criminal record, which could prevent him from obtaining future employment. (And make subsequent offenses worse.)

Lastly, the fine for a DUI conviction is not cheap. For even a first-time offense, the fine could be as high as $1,000! On average, the San Diego Superior Court fines people approximately $2,200 for a first-time DUI. On top of that, the person will also have court costs and other state costs that he will be ordered to pay. He may also have to pay to attend mandatory DUI courses, which last up to 9 months from the date of conviction for a first-time DUI, and up to 18 months for a subsequent DUI.

It Is Always Expensive to Drink and Drive

Considering all of these things can really put a damper on any party. But they are important things to think about. San Diego has a number of ways for people to get home after having a few too many, and those in the city are wise to take advantage of them.

If you do not, and are arrested on suspicion of DUI, we highly recommend you seek representation right away. There are far too many consequences when a person chooses to represent himself in court or throughout the arrest and conviction process. Those consequences can be avoided by simply having the right person by your side representing you throughout the entire process. At jD LAW, San Diego DUIs are somewhat of a specialty, and we offer a special rate for first-time misdemeanor DUI cases—$3,000 for a one-time payment, and $3,500 in two installments of $1,750. But we can be flexible if clients need more time to pay for their defense.

Regardless, your consultation is free, and we will be happy to point you in the right direction. Give us a call at (760) 630-2000. Remember, try not to drink and drive during the holidays! If you do, we understand the temptation of the season; give us a call and we will get to work putting your life back on track.

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