Palo Alto is a busy charter city with a high standard of living located in Santa Clara County. With close ties to Stanford University and home to many high-tech Silicon Valley companies including Hewlett Packard, VMware, Tesla, and Ideo, Palo Alto was ranked the second most expensive city in the United States.
Palo Alto’s neighbors are East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Stanford, Menlo Park, and Portola Valley. Palo Alto has a population of 64,403, but 7000 businesses with around 98,000 employees collectively call it home.
Palo Alto has a bustling, upscale nightlife that serves Stanford’s student body, as well as the residents of numerous cities in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties that have smaller downtowns. Crossed by numerous creeks, Palo Alto is accessed by Highway 101 and Interstate 280.
DUI Laws in California
Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Palo Alto is a criminal act that is prosecuted through the criminal justice system, not handled through the DMV. Police officers will test a driver’s breath, urine or blood to determined if a driver’s “blood alcohol content” is 0.08% BAC or higher. The “BAC” is a measurement of how much ethanol as opposed to blood is found within the bloodstream by volume and how many drinks it takes to reach that limit varies by size and weight. Certain groups of drivers face more stringent limits. For example, drivers under 21 have a legal limit of 0.01% BAC. Commercial driver’s license holders have a limit of 0.04% BAC.
When a driver doesn’t meet the legal limit to be charged with a DUI, he can still be charged with reckless driving under certain circumstances. Moreover, the District Attorney will charge a high blood alcohol allegation if a defendant’s blood alcohol level is .15% or greater. Such a charge carries severe penalties: a longer DUI program and a longer jail sentence.
Being Convicted of a DUI in Palo Alto is Serious and Expensive
A DUI conviction lasts ten years. If you receive more than one conviction in ten years, you will be marked as a second or third or fourth offender, facing increasingly harsh penalties. Therefore it is imperative that you choose lawyers who have specific DUI defense experience to receive the most vigorous defense possible right from the start.
In criminal court, a convicted driver that has no prior DUI convictions may receive a 30-day to 10-month suspension of driving privileges. If he has not injured anyone, he may receive fines that run from $390-$1,000. Jail time for a first offender ranges from four days up to six months. Over ¾ of first-time offenders must enter a first-offender DUI program.
Second and third offenders who are convicted of misdemeanor DUIs face the possibility of greater penalties than do first time offenders. The driver’s license of a second offender may be revoked for one to two years and he can be sentenced to time in jail for 90 days to one year. Fines again start at $390 and go up to $1000.
Third-time offenders may be sentenced to 120 days-1 year jail time. They may be fined $390-$1,000. They may be sentenced to complete an 18 or 30-month program. Additionally, their licenses can be revoked for three years and any subsequent license can be conditioned on the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that does not allow drivers to start their vehicles without first passing a breath test. The IID is not imposed only in third offenses; depending on the circumstances of the arrest and conviction, it can be required even after one offense.
If a person is injured as a result of a DUI or in the case of felony DUIs, sentencing is harsher. For example, someone convicted of a felony DUI with an injury may face a sentence of 16 mo.-10 years in prison. He may also receive an additional sentence based on the number of injured persons and the severity of their injuries, including between $1015-5000 in fines, mandatory treatment in an alcohol or drug program, habitual traffic offender status for three years, and restitution to the persons injured.
Palo Alto Enforces California’s Strict DUI Laws
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. Palo Alto is in a low arrest county: Santa Clara County, which averaged .5 arrests per 100 licensed drivers.
In 2010 there were 6447 arrests for drunk driving in Santa Clara County. Although Palo Alto is small, it has a high number of DUI convictions for its size. In 2009, there were 1027 misdemeanor DUI convictions and four felony DUI convictions in the court in Palo Alto. 822 of the total DUI convictions in Palo Alto were first offenders. 173 of the total DUIs in Palo Alto were second-time offenders. Thirty-five of the total DUIs in Palo Alto were third-time offenders. One was a fourth-time offender.
Palo Alto and the rest of Santa Clara County law enforcement usually crack down on DUIs most harshly during the holiday season. Palo Alto’s busy downtown area with numerous bars and restaurants that serve as sites for holiday parties is also the home of its police department.
In 2012, there were 302 arrests between December 14 and December 28, with a plan to have extra patrols on watch for drunk drivers all the way through New Year’s Eve. At the same time in 2011, there were 317 DUI arrests in Santa Clara County. Although DUI arrests were down in 2012, CHP recorded that fatal collisions were up on the week of Christmas. On a nationwide basis, it is believed that checkpoints can reduce alcohol-related car crashes by about 9%.
If You Need Help Challenging a DUI Charge in Palo Alto, Contact the DUI Attorneys at Dudek & Cintean, LLP
The penalties for a DUI can be severe. The Palo Alto DUI Defense Attorneys at Dudek & Cintean, LLP can help you fight a DUI charge. We have extensive experience handling criminal defense cases, and we have helped many clients get 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.