San Jose is a major port city in California and the third-largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area with a population of 390,724. Located in Alameda County, it is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States, as a result of a large influx of immigrants and African-American war workers from the Deep South during World War II.

Although it was historically known as a city with a high crime rate, over the last few years, San Jose has been viewed as a great place to live, with great restaurants, cultural diversity, a rich art scene, and the country’s first wildlife refuge (Lake Merritt). High prices in San Francisco as a result of the high-tech boom has forced many artists and creative professionals to move to San Jose over the last decade.

San Jose has more than 50 distinct neighborhoods and is connected to other parts of the Bay Area by Interstate 580, Interstate 1-880, and Interstate 980. As the principal city of Alameda County, San Jose sees heavy traffic both from its own residents and those of neighboring cities like Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, Emeryville, and across the Bay Bridge, San Francisco. It is served by San Jose International Airport, just south of downtown San Jose.

Drunk Driving in California

If you are stopped by police for suspected drunk driving in San Jose, 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 have a legal limit of 0.01% BAC and commercial driver’s license holders have a limit of 0.04% BAC. Even if you don’t meet the legal limit to be charged with a DUI, you may still be charged with reckless driving under certain circumstances.

Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in San Jose is a criminal act prosecuted through the criminal justice system. It is not handled through traffic court. A DUI lasts for ten years on your record and 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 important that you hire an experienced and accomplished San Jose DUI defense attorney to mount the best possible defense for you.

Being Convicted of a DUI in San Jose Is Serious and Extremely Costly

Drivers facing a first-time DUI charge have the potential to receive onerous criminal penalties. The penalties are designed to deter drunk driving and are believed to reduce the arrests for misdemeanor DUIs. In criminal court, 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 can receive fines that run from $390-$1,000. Jail time for a first offender can range from 4 days up to 6 months. Over ¾ 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 offenders face harsher penalties than first time offenders do. 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. Furthermore, on January 1, 2012, a new law became effective. The new law 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.

As mentioned above, San Jose is located in Alameda County, one of four counties in California that is participating in an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) pilot program. An IID is a device that requires drivers to pass an alcohol breath test before starting their vehicles. It costs the driver money to install it, though 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 to install an IID on every vehicle they own or drive. The length of time the individual must install the IID varies depending on the number of prior offenses and other circumstances of the DUI.

Convicted individuals must also: 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 after five years, this pilot program may be implemented in other California counties.

When someone is injured as a result of a DUI or in the case of felony DUIs, the Alameda County District Attorney may ask for a harsher sentence. For example, someone convicted of a felony DUI with an injury may face 16 mo.-10 years in prison. They will also receive a sentence based on how many people they injured and how badly. This additional sentence can range between $1015-5000 in fines, mandatory treatment in an alcohol or drug program, habitual traffic offender status for three years, and payment of restitution to anybody they injured.

On top of these criminal penalties, people who are convicted of a DUI must also pay court fees and DMV fees. Their records last 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, with all of the increased penalties listed above.

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 Alameda County, which has an average number of arrests. Although Alameda County is known as a liberal jurisdiction for certain matters, as you can see from Alameda County’s participation in the IID pilot program, drunk driving is considered a grave offense.

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. San Jose administers criminal justice through multiple courts. In 2009, there were 2272 misdemeanor DUI convictions and 31 felony DUI convictions in San Jose. 1593 of the total DUI convictions in San Jose were first offenders. 526 of the DUIs in San Jose were second-time offenders. 127 of the DUIs in San Jose were third-time offenders. 57 were fourth-time offenders.

If You Need Help Challenging a DUI Charge in San Jose, Contact one of the DUI Attorneys

As described above, the penalties for a DUI can be severe, but the San Jose DUI Defense Attorneys can help you fight a DUI charge. As experienced criminal defense attorneys, they have helped many clients get their DUI charges dropped or reduced based on faulty tests, improper procedures, unlawfully acquired evidence, and many other reasons.