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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 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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Santa Cruz, CA drug DUI defense lawyerDriving under the influence of drugs can get a driver in as much trouble as driving under the influence of alcohol. In California, criminal charges related to the possession or sale of drugs can vary wildly, but when a person gets behind the wheel, they are likely to face serious consequences if they are intoxicated by any substance. Unlike alcohol, there is no legal limit for the amount of drugs a person can have in their system while driving, and if a drug test shows any amount of a controlled substance in a driver’s system, they may face DUI charges.  

The criminal charge of Driving Under the Influence refers to how a substance can affect a driver’s judgment and reaction time. The legal limit for a driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is .08%. For any BAC over that limit, a driver is presumed incapable of driving safely. While California law does not specify a legal limit for other drugs, including marijuana, a driver may be considered to be under the influence if they are intoxicated and unable to operate their vehicle safely. Controlled substances, prescription drugs, and even over the counter drugs can lead to a driver being considered intoxicated and charged with DUI, especially if these substances are combined with alcohol.

As with driving under the influence of alcohol, a first time offense for driving under the influence of drugs is a misdemeanor. A DUI conviction can lead to up to six months of jail time, fines well over $1,000, and driver’s license suspension for at least six months. This criminal offense will be on your record, which can be detrimental if your career requires driving in any way. 

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Santa Cruz DUI attorney parked carDrinking and driving inarguably puts everyone’s safety at risk. Sometimes, a driver leaves an establishment after consuming alcohol, only to realize that their intoxication was more severe than they originally estimated. Safety-conscious drivers may decide to pull their vehicle to the side of the road, find a rest stop, or even park at a gas station to take a quick nap. Although this decision ultimately prevents a potentially catastrophic accident, it also invites curious police officers to investigate the situation. DUI charges are possible in these cases, even when a drunk driver is parked and sleeping safely inside their vehicle.

DUI in a Parked Car

It is possible to be charged with DUI while in a parked car. However, a police officer must typically be able to show that you voluntarily moved your vehicle before the arrest. Voluntary movement may include something as minimal as a car rolling down a driveway after disengaging the parking brake. Other possible evidence that may show a driver moved their car while intoxicated includes:

  • The engine is warm.
  • The driver is in the driver’s seat.
  • The car is in drive.
  • The vehicle is at the scene of an accident.
  • The keys are in the ignition.

Santa Cruz Camping Ordinances

If someone is sitting in their car and behaving normally, a suspecting cop may not have reason to detain a driver, preventing them from obtaining evidence of a possible DUI. However, the city of Santa Cruz, along with many other California cities, has laws restricting sleeping in public. Many of these laws prohibit owners of registered vehicles from sleeping in their cars, except when there is written consent from the land or business owner granting permission, or in a designated camping area. 

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California DUI defense attorneyCalifornia’s nightlife is artistic, musical, fashionable, and fun. It also ends at two in the morning, which is a bit early for some. A bill, entitled “Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act” and introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, could change that by extending the last call until 4 a.m. Supporters believe that the bill’s passing could improve safety for the state’s nightlife crowd, but naysayers are concerned it could increase the volume of drunk drivers on the road. Who is right, and how might the extension impact your risk of a DUI charge? The following explains.

Safety, State Revenue, and Local Venues

Legislators and authorities have long considered California’s nightlife as a problem to “manage,” but that is starting to change. Finally, they see its true potential – a way to increase state revenue and the bottom line of local venues. Part of that could be related to the increasing number of people traveling in and out of the state for leisure activities, but it could also have something to do with the Ghost Ship warehouse fire that killed dozens of music fans. By keeping safe, licensed establishments open longer, similar tragedies are far less likely to occur.

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