The city of Berkeley, located in Alameda County, is one of the nation’s most progressive cities. Home to a University of California campus, Berkeley is 17.7 square miles with a population of approximately 112, 580. It is accessible by Interstate 80, Interstate 580, and Highway 13.
The area around the university is heavily-trafficked both by residents and visitors. It is accessible by foot, car, the BART train, and AC transit buses. There are numerous landmarks and cultural points of interest including the Berkeley Marina, the Berkeley Rose Garden, Tilden Park, Lawrence Hall of Science, Telegraph Avenue and People’s Park, Hearst Greek Theater, La Pena Cultural Center, The Freight and Salvage, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the Pacific Film Archive.
In addition to its liberal reputation and bustling college campus, Berkeley is known for its unusual and pioneering businesses, some of which no longer exist. Among these businesses are: Chez Panisse, Peet’s Coffee, 924 Gilman, Cody’s Bookstore, and The Nature Company.
DUI Laws in California
If you are stopped by police for suspected drunk driving in Berkeley, police officers will measure your “BAC” or blood alcohol content through breath, urine, or blood tests. If you refuse to submit to a test after you are arrested there are additional penalties. The legal limit for most drivers is .08% BAC. However, drivers under 21, such as most UC Berkeley college students, have a legal limit of 0.01% BAC.
In instances where you don’t meet the legal limit to be charged with a DUI, you may still be charged with reckless driving if you are at all under the influence. The District Attorney may charge a high blood alcohol allegation if a defendant’s blood alcohol level is .15 percent or greater. This type of charge can carry penalties such as a longer DUI program and a longer jail sentence.
Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Berkeley is a criminal act prosecuted through the criminal justice system. A DUI stays on your record for ten years. The penalties for those convicted of one or more DUIs in a ten year period are increasingly severe. Because the stakes are so high, it is imperative that you hire an experienced and accomplished Berkeley DUI defense attorney to mount the best possible defense.
Being Convicted of a Berkeley DUI Charge Is Serious and Extremely Costly
In February 2013 the Berkeley City Council reevaluated its DUI policy. As a large college town with limited campus housing, Berkeley has a unique need for harm and risk reduction, as well as a high number of underage drinkers. At the City Council meeting, the Peace and Justice Commission noted that a harsh DUI policy chases offenders who cannot afford to pay the penalty fine and that offenders who can afford the costs of private attorneys were more likely to be acquitted. Critics believe the data mentioned is outdated, so no changes were made at the meeting. The commission is now in the process of gathering data on whether there is a need to alter local DUI policy. Meanwhile, however, an arrest in Berkeley can lead to the same harsh penalties as the rest of Alameda County.
As mentioned above, Alameda County is one of four counties in California that is participating in an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) pilot program. What is an IID? An IID is a device that requires drivers to pass an alcohol breath test before starting their vehicles. It can be expensive to install; there are modifications to the cost for people below the poverty line. The pilot program mandates that every individual convicted of a DUI in Alameda County (or one of the other three counties participating) on or after July 1, 2010, must install an IID on every vehicle they own or drive.
Convicted individuals must also do the following: provide the DMV with a form verifying the installation of the IID, pay a $45 administrative service fee (ASF), and meet other reinstatement requirements before the DMV can reinstate, reissue, or restrict their driver’s licenses. If successful at combatting drunk driving after five years, this pilot program may be implemented in other California counties.
Drivers facing a first-time DUI charge have the potential to receive other onerous criminal penalties designed to deter and punish drunk driving, too. In criminal court, a convicted driver that has no prior DUI convictions may receive a 30-day to 10-month suspension of driving privileges. First offenders convicted of misdemeanor DUIs can receive fines that run from $390-$1,000. Jail time for a first offender can range from 4 days up to 6 months and over ¾ of first-time offenders enter a first-offender DUI program. As set forth later in this section, these consequences are more severe if you also injured someone while driving under the influence of alcohol.
Second and third-time offenders face increased penalties. A second offender has the following potential punishments: revocation of driver’s license for one to two years; 90 days to one year in jails; fines of $390- $1000. The sentencing of third-time offenders may include: 120 days-1 year jail time; fines of $390-$1,000; mandated 18 or 30-month program; revocation of driver’s license for 3 years.
On January 1, 2012, a new law went into effect. It allows a court to order that a license be revoked for ten years if an individual has three or more DUI convictions in the past ten years.
When someone is injured as a result of a DUI or in the case of felony DUIs, the penalties are increased. Somebody convicted of a felony DUI with an injury faces 16 months to 10 years in prison. On top of this, he will also receive a sentence based on how many people were injured and the severity of those injuries. The additional sentence can include: $1015-5000 in fines; mandatory alcohol abuse treatment; three years of habitual traffic offender status; and payment of restitution to injured parties.
People who are convicted of a Berkeley DUI must also pay court fees and DMV fees, which can be expensive. A drunk driving record lasts a decade. This means that if an individual is arrested for a DUI, and he was convicted of one or more DUIs within the last 10 years, he or she faces charges as a second or third-time offender.
According to the 2012 Annual Report of the DUI Management Information System, there were 1072 alcohol-related crash fatalities in California or 39.1%. The statewide average rate of arrest in 2010 was .8 arrests for every 100 licensed drivers. Berkeley is in Alameda County, which has an average number of arrests. In 2010 there were 7966 arrests for drunk driving in Alameda County, up slightly from 2009’s 7837 drunk driving arrests, but down from 2008’s 8203 drunk driving arrests.
Although Berkeley is liberal, Alameda County District Attorneys take drunk driving very seriously. Until local policy changes, you are better equipped to face DUI charges if you have the best attorneys with DUI defense experience on your side.
If You Need Help Challenging a DUI Charge in Berkeley, Contact the DUI Attorneys at Dudek & Cintean, LLP
As described above, the penalties for a DUI can be severe, but the Berkeley DUI Defense Attorneys at Dudek & Cintean, LLP can help you fight a DUI charge. As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we have helped many clients get their DUI charges dropped or reduced based on faulty tests, improper procedures, unlawfully acquired evidence, and many other reasons. For a confidential consultation, call Dudek & Cintean, LLP at our San Francisco office at (415) 946-4020 or our Contra Costa office at (925) 335-6444, or you may use the online form here on this website.