In most cases, drivers are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) if they are stopped by a police officer while operating their vehicles. However, this is not always the case in California. Some drivers can even be charged with a DUI after the fact.
If you question the legal validity of a DUI after-the-fact charge in California, read on to learn more. You can also review your legal options in this situation with a DUI attorney to get prompt legal assistance on your side.
After the Fact Charges for a DUI in California
While it may be difficult to believe, the court system in California has one year to prosecute drivers for a misdemeanor DUI offense. However, the court may charge you with a felony for up to three years after the initial crime. This means that a law enforcement officer can legally charge you with driving under the influence after the fact.
California uses many different charges to prosecute DUIs. You can face any of these DUI charges if you are accused of drinking and driving after the fact. You can even be charged with driving under the influence of drugs after the fact. The good news is that these charges are often easier to beat as the evidence is typically not as strong. An experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer may be able to get these charges dismissed outright.
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Why Would Police Wait to Charge for a DUI?
Police officers may wait to arrest and charge you for a DUI for a few reasons. First, though rare, it can and does happen.
One reason you may not be arrested immediately is that police were unaware that any crime or potential crime had occurred. They may have found out through supposed witnesses who reported something they saw or through apparent damage caused to private or public property discovered and reported to the police later on.
As an extension to the previous, officers may have had a report that you were driving drunk but had not collected enough evidence to justify an arrest or charges. After receiving what they feel is sufficient evidence, they can pursue you for the crime. Officers need probable cause to make an arrest.
Finally, if you were arrested and took a blood test, the officer may have needed time to receive the results before charges could be filed against you.
Legal Repercussions of After the Fact DUI Charges
An after the fact DUI charge will be handled like any other drunk driving offense in California. This means that you can face a number of harsh penalties if you are convicted. The severity of the penalties depends on whether your DUI is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Misdemeanors are lighter offenses, while felonies are more egregious, requiring more severe penalties. Most DUI cases in California are charged as misdemeanors. Still, they can be charged as a felony if someone was injured, you have a prior felony for any crime, or if you have three or more DUI misdemeanors convictions.
Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI Offenses
A first-time conviction for a DUI in California can result in:
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- Up to six months in jail
Subsequent misdemeanor offenses can result in up to $1000 in fines and up to one year in jail, depending on previous offenses.
You can also face restrictions on your driver’s license if you are convicted of a DUI in California. Your license may be suspended for up to three years, depending on the circumstances of your misdemeanor charges. However, you can obtain a restricted license to continue driving with a mandatory ignition interlock device. Additionally, all DUI charges in California are priorable. This means that the conviction will remain on your license for ten years. You will face harsher penalties if you are charged with a subsequent DUI in this time period.
Penalties for Felony DUI Convictions
A felony DUI charge can carry up to $5000 in fines and three years in state prison if no one is injured. You license may also be suspended for up to five years. If your first-time intoxicated driving in California leads to the injury or death of another person, you could be facing life in state prison, and up to $5000 in fines.
Make sure you take after the fact DUI charges seriously by contacting a criminal DUI defense lawyer in Los Angeles from our firm.
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Special Considerations for After the Fact DUIs
Many DUI cases in California are based on a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) tests or field sobriety tests (FSTs). However, police officers cannot use these tests if you are accused of an after the fact DUI, as they could not measure your BAC immediately.
After the fact DUI charges are often based on the witness testimony of others. If someone claimed that they saw you drinking and then saw you drive a vehicle, for example, it could lead to after the fact DUI charges. These charges may be bolstered if someone:
- Has pictures of you drinking and driving
- Has video evidence of you drinking and driving
- Discovered property damage caused by your vehicle (or what they believe is your vehicle)
- Alcohol containers in your car or the smell of alcohol inside the vehicle
However, some after the fact DUI charges come down to your word against someone else’s. In these situations, the advantage goes to the defense, as the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. A Burbank DUI lawyer will likely be able to beat the charges in this type of case.
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Drunk Driving Defenses for DUI After the Fact
A drunk driving charge is predicated on two essential facts:
- You were driving a car
- You were under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) at the time.
Officers and prosecutors have to prove those two facts. A defense to a DUI charge after the fact would be able to refute one or both of those things. You may be able to assert that:
- You were not driving – The car in question is not your car, and you were not in it, or the vehicle belongs to you, but you were not driving it at the time.
- You were driving, but you were not intoxicated – The sobriety tests or breathalyzer administered after the alleged drunk driving is inaccurate, or you got inebriated only after getting off the road.
A California DUI defense attorney at our law firm can investigate your charges and inform you of any legal defenses that can be raised in your case. We will put in the time and hard work to achieve your most favorable outcome.
Get Fast Legal Help with After the Fact DUI Charges
The experts recommend that you get professional help quickly if you are accused of an after the fact DUI. You should not discuss your charges with either police officers or prosecutors before you contact a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles.
You should know that anything you say regarding your charges can be used against you. Additionally, anything you post on social media about the charges could make it easier for prosecutors to secure a conviction. Speak with a criminal defense attorney to get legal advice about your DUI case.
Building a Defense to DUI Charges After the Fact
As we mentioned, after the fact DUI charges are often supported by witness testimony instead of hard evidence that your BAC was above the legal limit. A professional DUI lawyer in Los Angeles could be able to argue that:
- You are being falsely accused of drunk driving
- Witnesses were not aware of how much you drank
- You were acting relaxed at the party but were not drunk
A legal professional may even be able to dispute a picture or video evidence used by the prosecution. We can work on getting your charges reduced or even dismissed today. We are here to stand up for you in and out of the courtroom.
Speak to a Lawyer Today if You Have Been Charged with a DUI After the Fact
You can be charged with a DUI after the fact in California. Contact the professionals at Simmrin Law Group right away in this situation. Get legal advice about the best way to resolve your charges by filling out our online contact form or calling our office today.
Get started on constructing a strong defense today with a free consultation from our DUI attorneys in Los Angeles.