A Driving Under The Influence (DUI) Arrest Requires Immediate Legal Action
Failure To Act Will Impact Your Driver's License And Criminal Record.

Given San Diego’s lack of a comprehensive and efficient public transportation system, it is not surprising that DUIs are very common in our county. Despite their frequency, being charged with a DUI is a harrowing experience. Most people who are charged with a DUI have never seen the inside of a jail and have little to no experience with the criminal justice system aside from what they have seen on television.

First DUI Arrest

If this is the first time you have been arrested for a DUI in San Diego, there are a range of consequences you could be facing. Jail time can range anywhere between 48 hours and 6 months. Often times, however, first offenses can be resolved with limited to no additional jail time. The fine may range from $390.00 to $1000.00.

San Diego conviction statutes require the following as a minimum: three to five years of probation; completion of a First Conviction Program; and a 6-month driver’s license suspension. Many courts also require a drug and alcohol evaluation by a substance abuse assessor and completion of a MADD Victim Impact Panel.

Related information: I’ve been arrested for a first time DUI: what’s going to happen to my license?


With Attorney Jennifer Gerstenzang

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If this is your first time being arrested or charged with a DUI, you may be wondering why there are more than two Vehicle Code violations listed on your paperwork. This does not mean that you are charged with two separate DUIs. More likely than not, the District Attorney is prosecuting the same offense under two (or more) separate vehicle codes. Standard first-time DUI offenses are filed under Vehicle Code section 23152. If the prosecution is alleging you were under the influence of alcohol at the time of driving, they will often file the case under subsections (a) and (b) of the Vehicle Code.

san diego dui arrestThe “a” Count

With the “a” count, the prosecutor can go forward on a charge in the absence of a blood, breath, or urine test; thus, if a test was not conducted and this evidence never collected by the police, the prosecutor will pursue the “a” count.

In San Diego, you may be convicted of DUI if the prosecutor can prove that, as a result of alcohol consumption, your mental or physical abilities are so impaired that you are no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

In a typical “a” count case, prosecutors will attempt to use their observations during the contact to prove their case. For example, the prosecutor will present evidence regarding driving as observed by the officer (weaving, speeding, failure to maintain lane); manner of speech (slurring, mumbled); odor of alcohol; balance issues; divided attention tasks; field sobriety tests; and any admissions made by the driver.

The “b” Count

At some point during the arrest, the officer likely requested a blood or breath sample from you. If you agreed to supply the sample and that sample showed the presence of alcohol then the prosecutor will often attempt to prove the DUI under both the “a” count and the “b” count.

In San Diego, the law states that the jury may convict you of the “b” count if the prosecutor successfully proves you were over the limit within three hours after driving stopped (from alcohol consumed previously).

Breath test results will be available for your attorney soon after your arrest and are recorded the night of your arrest. Blood test results generally take close to 30 days to return from the lab.

Multiple DUI Offenses

San Diego County takes DUI cases very seriously. Therefore, if you are facing a second or subsequent DUI within a 10 year period, you are likely looking at mandatory jail time. For example: A second time DUI requires at least 96 hours in jail; a third time DUI requires at least 120 days in jail. Any additional DUIs within the 10 year period can be filed as felonies which could result in prison time and at least 180 days in jail.

Multiple DUIs will also result in an 18-month multiple conviction program and a 2-year or more license suspension. You could be labeled as a habitual traffic offender with three or more DUIs, and this can result in enhanced punishments.

If you are arrested for a DUI and have prior convictions, it is crucial to have an experienced and knowledgeable attorney represent you. The consequences increase exponentially in their severity and jeopardize your freedom.

Jennifer can talk to you about alternatives to custody and determine if they are viable options in your case. She can also talk to you about and connect you with treatment programs since multiple DUI arrests can be a signal that you may be struggling with a problem you can no longer handle on your own.

DUI Drugs

If you are charged with a violation of Vehicle Section 23152(e), the prosecutor is alleging you were under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of driving.

dui drugs arrest in san deigoThough the prosecution’s burden of proof remains the same, drug DUIs are different from alcohol-related DUIs. Drug DUIs do not have a “b” count. That is, there is no set toxicological level that is per se “over the limit.” Instead, prosecutors must prove impairment, not just consumption or ingestion of the substance.

An experienced attorney will understand and interpret the laboratory reports in a meaningful manner and anticipate the government’s argument based upon the results and the officer’s written observations. Mere presence of a substance in your blood is not enough to prove impairment. An attorney will be able to both explain your results to you and articulate this important distinction to a jury