DUI Defense Lawyer

DUI and DWI Defenses in Riverside and Los Angeles

Riverside DUI Attorney

Riverside Attorney Stephen SweigartBeing charged with DUI or DWI, however, is a far cry from being convicted. Every day, people are wrongly accused of crimes, including DUI and DWI, and face penalties far more severe than what is deserved.

This definitely does not have to happen to you. By leveraging the skills and expertise of a defense lawyer skilled in California DUI and DWI law, and with a history of successfully defending those and associated charges, you’re in a much better position to walk away with your charges being dropped altogether or, at the very least, having your penalties significantly reduced.

Here, you’ll find:

  • a comprehensive explanation of DUI and DWI laws in California, and how drugs such as marijuana, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs come into play;
  • clarification about how police test for DUI and DWI, and the potential for testing errors;
  • explanations of the potential penalties you’ll be facing;
  • rationale for why it’s absolutely critical that you partner with a skilled defense attorney if you’re facing such charges; and
  • examples of successful defense strategies.

What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?
The law addressing driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is Vehicle Code section 23152.

Generally speaking, the term DUI means driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, or both. Interestingly, the word “drugs” includes illegal as well as legal prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs.

DWI, meanwhile, refers to driving while intoxicated, usually, by alcohol.

When am I considered to be impaired?

About alcohol, California law has a zero policy about operating a vehicle if you have “0.08% or more, by weight, of alcohol” in your blood. The alcohol in your blood is measured in terms of Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).

The BAC is measured by dividing grams of alcohol by 100 milliliters of blood and then converted into a percentage. The .08% legal limit means that for every 100 milliliters of blood, there are eight (8) grams of alcohol in the bloodstream.

As for how alcohol is thought to impair your ability to drive, consider this breakdown:

.02% Some loss of judgmentAltered mood


Slight body warmth

Decline in visual functions, such as ability to rapidly track a moving objectWeakened ability to perform 2 tasks at the same time
.05% Impaired judgmentLowered alertness and inhibition

Exaggerated behavior

Weakened coordinationDifficulty steering
.08% Muscle coordination becomes poor (problems with balance, speech, vision and reaction time)Self-control, reasoning and memory become impaired Ability to process information (recognizing traffic signals, etc.) is reduced significantlyAbility to concentrate is reduced

Short-term memory is affected

.10% Speech become slurredIncreasingly poor coordination Decreasing ability to stay in proper traffic laneInability to brake appropriately
.15% Significant loss of balanceVomiting

Much less muscle control

Serious lack of ability to control vehicle or to maintain attention to drivingSubstantial impairment in processing visual and audio cues.


Driving Under Influence of Drugs
California law defines a drug to be practically any substance that can impair your ability to drive a vehicle. That includes illegal drugs as well as legally prescribed medications and over-the-counter drugs.

The phrase to remember is “under the influence.” Since we’re all different, there appears to be no threshold of amount to determine conclusively whether or not someone is truly “under the influence.” Instead, the amount just has to be enough to result in you being impaired to the point of not being able to drive a vehicle with the caution and care of a person who is sober.

Do I have to submit to a DUI/DWI test if I’m pulled over by police?
It actually depends on the type of test police want to conduct. If you are asked to submit to a breath, urine or blood test, you’re obligated to do so.

That’s because by simply driving a vehicle in California, you’ve given police officers “implied consent” to testing of your breath or blood. If such a test is not possible at the time, police can test your urine. In most cases, you’ll have the option of deciding between either a blood or breath test.

Testing for Drugs

Just before it became legal to purchase and consume recreational marijuana in California, many law enforcement agencies deployed a new mouth-swab device that tests for marijuana and other drugs. Before that, a marijuana breathalyzer became a popular testing method for police.

Field Sobriety Tests; Avoid Them At All Costs
Field sobriety tests, however, are another matter entirely. They are 100% voluntary, and you should never partake in one. The accuracy ratings for either of the three (3) main field sobriety tests (eye test, walk-and-turn, and one-leg stand) are notoriously poor.

When you are asked to take a field sobriety test, the police officer is actually most likely looking for incriminating evidence against you. There’s no penalty for not taking a field sobriety test and virtually no potential positive payoff for agreeing to participate. 

What are the penalties for DUI or DWI in California?

Whether you’re charged with being under the influence of either alcohol or drugs, the penalties are essentially the same, and depend on how the case is prosecuted and whether or not you have a history of such charges.

Keep in mind that charges of DUI and DWI can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony.

1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
License suspension Immediate and lasting for 6 months (but can be reduced w/ participation in DUI education program) Up to 2 years (but can be reduced to about 1 year w/ participation in DUI education program) Up to 3 years (but can be reduced to about 2 years w/ participation in DUI education program)
Possible Jail Time 6 months 1 year 1 year
Fines $1,000 $1,800 $1,800
Interlock Ignition Device Possible Yes Yes

If you are charged with a felony DUI, you could be facing either sixteen (16) months, two (2) years or three (3) years in the California State Prison; loss of your driver’s license for four (4) years; and up $1,000 in fines.

What are examples of successful defenses to DUI/DWI charges in California?

Again, being charged and being actually convicted are two entirely different things. To ensure you’re positioned for the best possible outcome in your situation, having on your side a defense lawyer skilled in the way California DUI/DWI law works is by far your best bet for having your case cleared or having the penalties severely lessened.

Here’s a sampling of common and effective defenses to charges of DUI and DWI.

  • You were confused and your driving reflected that.
    In order for a police officer to legally pull you over, he/she must have a reason, such as observed erratic driving. Perhaps you were lost or confused by your surroundings, and made a slight turn in the wrong direction or failed to correctly use your turn indicator.
  • Test results that are incorrect or inconclusive.
    There are a host of variables that can affect DUI and DWI tests. Such variables can include your body temperature, respiration rate, hormone levels, etc.
  • Unlawful stop by police.
    In order to legally pull you over, an office must have reason for suspecting you of driving under the influence. Those reasons must be later proven in court for any conviction to be made.
  • Medical conditions affected your driving.
    There are a host of conditions (fatigue, neurological issues, etc.) which can affect your speech, cause watery or red eyes and other conditions. Another example of a medical issue triggering charges of DUI or DWI is when a diabetic person experiences ketosis.

If you’ve facing charges for a DUI or DUI Drug violations in Riverside or the Los Angeles area, call Sharp Criminal Lawyers immediately.

If you are convicted of a DUI charge, you could be facing jail time, a suspended driver’s license, fines, classes, and more. Many times a DUI conviction can jeopardize your ability to work or take your kids to school.

By hiring an attorney skilled in defending all DUI charges, you’re in a much better position to increasing your chances at a favorable outcome. We will walk you through the entire process and make sure your rights are protected. We want to help you get your life back on track. We accept many DUI cases with an affordable payment plan so you can afford to hire the best representation possible.

Call us 24 hours a day for Free legal info by phone at 951-777-1111 or you can reach us via email.”>

We are available 24x7 for you

Call Us Now 951-777-1111