Lying between the San Andreas Fault and the Calavaras fault in Santa Clara County, San Jose is the third largest city in California. Nicknamed “Capital of Silicon Valley,” San Jose spent 150 years as a Bay Area farm community, until just after World War II. The explosive growth of the tech sector since the 1990s led to huge population growth in San Jose and neighboring cities. The population was approximately 958,966 in 2012.
Three Interstate freeways and one U.S. route flow through San Jose. Traffic congestion peaked during the tech growth in the late 1990s as employment and housing prices rose. Although it fell when the tech bubble burst, it rose again when the tech sector bounced back around the mid-2000s. The congestion on San Jose freeways has led to several expansion projects, including expansion of the state highway 87.
San Jose’s downtown area is on a flight path toward the Mineta San Jose International Airport. San Jose is home to the Children’s Discovery Museum, Tech Museum of Innovation, the San Jose Sharks, Opera San Jose, numerous professional and youth performing arts organizations, and a thriving nightlife. It is also the base for numerous large corporate employers, including Adobe, Cisco Systems, Fry’s, Knight Ridder and Pay Pal. The suburban sprawl and freeway traffic that now exists around San Jose is akin to the sprawl around Los Angeles in Southern California.
DUI Laws in California
You may be under the mistaken impression that driving under the influence is handled through the DMV, like blocking an intersection or failing to stop at a stop sign. However, driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in San Jose is a criminal act that is prosecuted through the criminal justice system. If you are charged with a DUI, choose lawyers who have specific DUI defense experience to ensure that you receive a thorough defense.
District attorneys can charge a DUI if your “blood alcohol content” at the time you were picked up by police was 0.08% BAC or higher. “BAC” measures how much ethanol as opposed to blood is found within the bloodstream by volume. The limits are even more stringent if you are under 20 (0.01% BAC) or if you hold a commercial driver’s license (0.04% BAC). A police officer may test a driver’s breath, urine, or blood to determine your BAC.
Even if you don’t meet the legal limit to be charged with a DUI, you may still be charged with reckless driving if driving under the influence. Moreover, the District Attorney will make a high blood alcohol allegation if your blood alcohol level is .15 percent or greater. This allegation carries increased penalties such as a longer DUI program and a longer jail sentence.
Being Convicted of a DUI in San Jose is Serious and Expensive
Even if you are facing a first-time DUI charge, criminal penalties in California can be burdensome. They are harsh because it is believed that these penalties have deterred many drivers from driving under the influence, leading to lower arrest rates for misdemeanor DUIs. If you are a first offender in criminal court facing a DUI charge, you can still receive a 30-day to 10-month suspension of driving privileges. First offenders convicted of misdemeanor DUIs whose driving has not harmed anyone can still receive fines that run from $390-$1,000. Jail time if you are a first offender ranges from 4 days up to 6 months. Over ¾ must enter a first-offender DUI program.
Second and third offenders convicted of misdemeanor DUIs face the potential for greater penalties. A second offender’s driver’s license may be revoked for one to two years and they may face jail time for 90 days up to one year. Fines may be assessed at $390-$1000. Third-time offenders may be sentenced from 120 days to 1 year of jail time. Fines run from $390-$1,000. Third-time offenders may be required to enter an 18 or 30-month program. Additionally, the license of a third-time offender can be revoked for 3 years and any subsequent license can be conditioned on the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This device will only allow a driver to start his vehicle after passing a breath test.
The penalties are increased if you injured someone as a result of your DUI. If you are convicted of felony DUI with an injury, you may face 16 months to 10 years in prison. You may also receive additional sentence based on how many people were injured and how badly. You can be fined $1015 to $5000, mandated to receive treatment in an alcohol or drug program, given habitual offender status for three years, and required to pay restitution to anyone you injured.
On top of these criminal penalties, if you are convicted of a DUI, you will also have to pay court fees and DMV fees. Your record for the DUI lasts 10 years. If you are arrested for a DUI, and you were convicted of one or more DUIs within the last 10 years, you will be considered a second or third-time offender.
San Jose 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. San Jose is in a low arrest county: Santa Clara County, which averaged .5 arrests per 100 licensed drivers. However, San Jose covers a wide geographic area, and with a large population and high traffic congestion, DUI charges are vigorously prosecuted.
In 2010 there were 6447 arrests for drunk driving in Santa Clara County. In 2009, there were 1001 misdemeanor DUI convictions and 5 felony DUI convictions in the court in Pleasanton. 3339 of the total DUI convictions in San Jose were first offenders. 917 of the total DUIs in San Jose were second-time offenders. 172 of the total DUIs in San Jose County were third-time offenders. 8 were fourth-time offenders.
San Jose and the rest of Santa Clara County law enforcement usually crack down on DUIs most harshly during the holiday season. 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 San Jose, Contact the San Jose DUI Attorneys at Dudek & Cintean, LLP
The penalties for a DUI can be severe. The San Jose 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.