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Posted on in DUI

Santa Cruz DUI attorney license suspensionDrinking and driving is against the law, and an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) can have a wide variety of negative consequences. In fact, even a first-time DUI can have far-reaching effects that may follow you for the rest of your life. If you are facing DUI charges, you will want to work with an experienced attorney to determine your best options for defense. 

Effects of a DUI Charge

Following a DUI arrest, you may not fully understand your rights, and you may be unsure about what will happen during your case. A DUI charge can affect your life and your reputation in a variety of ways, including:

  • Driver’s license suspension: Upon a DUI arrest, your license will typically be confiscated by law enforcement. Even if you are not formally charged or convicted of DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles will issue an automatic driver’s license suspension. To contest this suspension, you must request an administrative hearing within 10 days after you receive notice of your license suspension. 
  • Use of an ignition interlock device: For a first-time DUI offense, your driver’s license can be suspended for six months. However, you may be able to regain your driving privileges by having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle. An IID is an in-vehicle breathalyzer that will only allow the car to start if the driver is sober. Repeat DUI offenders and those who cause injury to others when committing DUI may be required to use an IID for one to four years. 
  • A criminal record: Even after completing a sentence for a DUI conviction, including serving jail time or probation, paying fines, or completing other requirements, your DUI charge will remain on your criminal record. Information about your arrest will show up in any background checks, allowing others to learn details about the alleged offense.
  • Mug shot: When you are booked following an arrest, your “mug shot” will be taken. This picture could end up on one of the websites that post such information, so that a mere computer search of your name will return your mug shot.
  • Employment: Because a DUI will show up on background checks, prospective employers may choose not to hire you, even if you only had a single offense that occurred several years in the past. The loss of your driver's license following a DUI arrest could affect your ability to work in a career that involves driving. A DUI conviction may also result in the suspension or revocation of a professional license. 
  • Child custody: DUI arrests or convictions may play a role in decisions about child custody made in family courts. If you are getting divorced, a recent DUI may cause a judge to question your fitness as a parent, which could result in the loss of custody or restrictions on the time you spend with your children.
  • International Travel: During a period of probation after a DUI charge, you may require special permission to travel. In addition, some countries prohibit entry by those with a DUI conviction. In Canada, for example, a person is restricted from entering the country for at least five years after a DUI conviction.

Contact a Santa Cruz DUI Lawyer

Being arrested for driving under the influence can be a frightening experience, and it can have a huge impact on your life going forward. To ensure that your rights are protected, you should contact an attorney immediately following your arrest. At the law office of John W. Thornton, we will work to help you minimize the potential consequences you may face, and we will do everything we can to preserve your reputation. Contact our experienced Santa Cruz, CA DUI defense attorney at 831-426-5800 to schedule a free consultation. 

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Santa Cruz, CA DUI attorney for license suspensionOne of the more common questions folks who are curious about DUIs ask is whether to take a breath or blood test, or whether to refuse testing. The answer is different for different situations, but one answer is easy: do not refuse the “chemical test” of breath or blood unless you do not care about having a driver’s license.

California law states that a driver has agreed to both agree to and submit to a “chemical test” after an arrest for DUI. The phrase “chemical test” can be misleading - it simply refers to a blood or breath test following arrest. They will not be putting chemicals in you, and at least here in Santa Cruz, the blood test is typically done at a hospital. There is a pre-arrest breath test called a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening test) that you can, by law, refuse - and the officer is bound to tell you that. After arrest, though - even an arrest that seems unlawful, off base, or just plain wrong - a refusal to take the “chemical test” will likely lead to a driver’s license suspension of at least one year. That is zero driving and zero sympathy, with your license gone for a year, no matter your need to drive.

Moreover, what the DMV can deem a refusal to take a chemical test is often ludicrous. Silence can be seen as a refusal, even with no physical resistance. If you politely state “Please just note that I object” – the DMV will call that a refusal. Saying “I will take a test if you get a warrant” is refusal as far as the DMV is concerned.

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Santa Cruz, CA DUI attorney child endangerment

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and can result in serious consequences. However, having a passenger in the car under the age of 14 will increase the severity of the punishment. The laws of the state of California are meant to keep everyone safe, and violating these laws by committing DUI with a child in the car can be considered child endangerment.

California Laws and Child Endangerment

According to California Vehicle Code 25372, a person who drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child under 14 years old in the car is subject to increased punishment. While a first-time DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor, this is considered a very serious misdemeanor – not only in court, but with Child Protective Services. Child Protective Services may be called to the scene of arrest, and they have the ability to take your child/children into their protective custody as you go off into police custody. There is follow up with CPS to make sure the children are in an acceptable home, and they will likely notify you that they are seeking to place you on a list of child abusers (Child Abuse Central Index). They will also inform you of your right to fight that designation.

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Santa Cruz criminal defense lawyer

Although medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, it has only recently become legal for recreational use. In 2016, California legalized the adult use of marijuana, joining several other states, including Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. This was done through Proposition 64, the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act. However, while marijuana has been legalized, it is important for California residents to understand what is and is not legal, as well as the potential consequences that may come with being charged with DUI while under the influence of marijuana.

Marijuana Laws in California

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Posted on in DUI

Santa Cruz DUI defense attorney traffic stop arrestUnless it occurs at a sobriety checkpoint, a DUI traffic stop is often an unexpected incident for a driver. Getting pulled over can cause anxiety for anyone, but being pulled over for driving under the influence can lead to criminal charges, steep fines, and the loss of driving privileges. For many drivers, an arrest for driving under the influence is the first time they are in trouble with the law, aside from minor traffic tickets or parking violations. When you are pulled on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, is important to be prepared for what will happen. 

The Process Followed in a Traffic Stop

When a police officer pulls a driver over, they must have reasonable cause to do so. This means that there must be a reasonable suspicion that a law is being broken. Reasonable causes for pulling over a driver include erratic driving or other traffic violations, such as speeding or running a red light. A traffic stop for a minor violation, such as a missing tail light, could lead to a DUI arrest if the officer suspects the driver is impaired due to drugs or alcohol. 

When asking for a driver’s license and registration, an officer will also take note of their speech and actions. If the officer suspects impairment, they may ask the driver if he or she has been drinking. While cooperation with police is often recommended, these questions are voluntary, and the driver has the right to decline to answer any questions. 

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