Walnut Creek is an incorporated city near Mount Diablo in the San Francisco Bay Area. The community was set up in December 1862, when the United States Post Office was established. It grew when the Southern Pacific Railroad Service arrived in 1891. A branch of the railroad passed through Walnut Creek until the 1970s. The city was incorporated in Contra Costa County in 1914.
In 2012, CBS Money Watch and U.S. News named Walnut Creek one of the 10 best places to retire in the United States. It has the most open space of any community in California. Among its parks are the Diablo Foothills Regional Park and the Castle Rock Regional Recreation Area. With cultural attractions, the first major retail center in Contra Costa, as well as its status as headquarters for the Pac-12 Conference, Walnut Creek sees a lot of traffic from residents of neighboring cities.
DUI Laws in California
Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Walnut Creek—or anywhere in the country—is against the law. In California, the criminal justice system handles DUIs. These charges are not handled through the DMV, like mere traffic tickets. DUI cases must be vigorously defended by lawyers who have specific DUI defense experience.
To be charged with a DUI, your “blood alcohol content” must be 0.08% BAC or higher. The “BAC” measures how much ethanol as opposed to blood is found within the bloodstream by volume. Drivers under 21 have a legal limit of 0.01% BAC, while commercial driver’s license holders have a limit of 0.04% BAC. To determine BAC, an office may test a driver’s breath, urine, or blood.
If a driver doesn’t meet the legal limit to be charged with a DUI, he can still be charged with reckless driving when appropriate. Moreover, the District Attorney will charge a high blood alcohol allegation if a defendant’s blood alcohol level is .15 percent or greater; this can carry increased penalties such as a longer DUI program and a longer jail sentence.
Being Convicted of a DUI in Walnut Creek is Serious and Expensive
Even if you are facing a first-time DUI charge, the criminal penalties can be onerous. A convicted driver that has no prior DUI convictions can still receive a 30-day to 10-month suspension of driving privileges. First offenders convicted of misdemeanor DUIs who have not injured anyone can receive fines that run from $390-$1,000 and additional penalty assessment fees of at least two to three times that amount. Jail time for a first offender can range from 4 days up to 6 months. Over ¾ of these enter a first-offender DUI program.
Second and third offenders who are convicted of misdemeanor DUIs may face even greater penalties. The driver’s license of a second offender can be revoked for one to two years. Jail time ranges from 90 days to one year. Fines again start at $390 and go up to $1000 plus thousands in penalty assessment fees. Third-time offenders may be sentenced to 120 days-1 year jail time and fined $390-$1,000 plus the required penalty assessments. They may have to go into an 18 or 30-month program. Additionally, their license can be revoked for 3 years and any subsequent license can be conditioned on the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) that does not allow a driver to start his vehicle without 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 1 offense.
If a person is injured as a result of a DUI or in the case of felony DUIs, all of these terms increase. For example, someone convicted of a felony DUI with an injury may face 16 mo.-10 years in prison, and an additional sentence based on how many were injured and how badly, between $1015-5000 in fines, mandatory treatment in an alcohol or drug program, habitual traffic offender status for three years, and have to pay restitution to the persons injured.
On top of these criminal penalties, people who are convicted of a DUI must also deal with court fees and DMV fees and a record that lasts 10 years. 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 is a second or third-time offender.
Walnut Creek Vigorously Enforces California’s 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. Walnut Creek is in a low arrest county: Contra Costa, which averaged .6 arrests per 100 licensed drivers. However, as described above the penalties for first time offenders in Contra Costa County can be severe.
In 2010 there were 4464 arrests for drunk driving in Contra Costa County. In 2009, there were 1718 misdemeanor DUI convictions and 20 felony DUI convictions in Walnut Creek. 1244 of the total DUIs were first offenders. 388 of the total DUIs were second-time offenders. 99 of the total DUIs were third-time offenders. 9 were fourth-time offenders.
DUI checkpoints are often created in the holiday season in Walnut Creek to deter motorists from drinking and driving. 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 Walnut Creek, Contact the DUI Attorneys at Dudek & Cintean, LLP
The penalties for a DUI can be severe. The Walnut Creek 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.