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Strong defense for increased enforcement of California DUI laws

Driving under the influence of alcohol can be common, especially during the year-end holiday season. In recent years, 13 county law enforcement agencies in and around Santa Clara, California, have strengthened DUI enforcement through what has become an annual lookout program called "Avoid the 13."

In the last two weeks of 2012, Santa Clara County's law enforcement agencies made 432 DUI arrests. In 2011 during the same period, they made 448 arrests. In 2010 and 2009, they made 557 and 632 arrests, respectively, during the same period.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office alone made at least 30 DUI arrests. Sunnyvale's Department of Public Safety made at least 20 arrests, and the San Jose Police Department arrested at least 73 impaired drivers. The California Highway Patrol caught the most offenders in the county, reporting at least 77 arrests during the holiday campaign.

Criminal penalties for motorists convicted of drunk driving

It is unlawful in California for a person who has a 0.08 blood alcohol level to drive a car. Once convicted, the drunk driver will receive criminal penalties of jail time, fines or both. In addition, the court likely will order the driver to take alcohol education classes and may even require that an ignition interlock device be installed at the driver's expense.

Separate from any other penalties handed down after a DUI conviction, the California Department of Motor Vehicles can issue administrative sanctions and suspend or revoke licenses. For first-time adult offenders who submitted to a breath, blood or urine test the suspension period will be four months. If the driver refused to take the test, their license will be suspended for one year.

Drivers with multiple DUI offenses on their driving record within a 10-year period will receive longer suspension, even they submitted to a chemical test. If the driver believes that the suspension or revocation lacks a valid basis, he or she can contest the order, but has only 10 days to respond to the order with a request for a hearing.

Considering the number of possible penalties, it's important for anyone pulled over on the suspicion of drunk driving to be well aware of their individual rights.

The importance of legal advocacy for drunk drivers

California residents who have been charged with a DUI during these periods of increased enforcement should not delay in contacting a criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can negotiate on your behalf to possibly reduce the DUI charge and the penalties. In some cases, the attorney may even be able to win a dismissal.

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