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Driving Under the Influence Charges in Nevada County

In California, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is called a “DUI.” These charges may also be referred to as driving while intoxicated or driving while impaired (DWI). There are multiple types of Nevada County DUIs that you may face.

First Time vs. Multiple DUIs

A first-time DUI in Nevada County is a misdemeanor charge. You may receive a first-time DUI if you’ve never had one before or you’ve not had one in the last 10 years. That 10-year range is called a “look back period” because courts may consider any DUIs within that time when assessing penalties.
Consequences of a DUI in California will be more severe for second, third, and subsequent DUIs, and may include extended jail time and hefty fines.

Per Se DUI

You may be charged with a per se DUI under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher. This applies even if you are not exhibiting signs of impairment.

DUI with a High BAC

If your BAC is 0.15% or higher, you may be charged with a DUI with a high BAC under California Vehicle Code Section 23578 VC. This aggravating factor can result in more serious penalties.

Felony DUI

You may face felony charges for certain DUI offenses in Nevada County. There are multiple ways you can get a felony DUI, including:

  • A fourth DUI offense in the 10-year lookback period
  • One or more prior felony DUI convictions
  • Causing injury or death while driving under the influence

There is no “washout period” for felony DUIs. That means that a felony DUI can’t be removed from your criminal record and will always count against you if you receive another DUI in the future.

Underage DUI

If you are under 21 and caught driving under the influence, you may receive an underage DUI according to California Vehicle Code Section 23140 VC. It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with a BAC of 0.01% or higher, even if they show no signs of impairment.

Commercial CDL DUI

If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you may receive a commercial CDL DUI under California Vehicle Code Section 23152(d) VC. The BAC limit for CDL drivers is 0.04%, which is much lower than the normal legal limit for non-commercial drivers. CDL drivers are held to a higher standard because they often operate large and potentially dangerous vehicles, including 18-wheelers and buses.

Penalties for a DUI in Nevada County

The Nevada County Superior Court punishes DUIs harshly. However, the exact consequences you will face depend on the facts of the case and whether you’ve had prior DUIs. Additionally, if there are aggravating factors, such as a DUI car accident, injury, or death, then penalties may be more severe.

Jail Time

While first-time DUI offenders are not always sentenced to time in jail, it is possible to receive up to a six-month jail sentence for a misdemeanor charge. A second-time DUI can result in up to one year in county jail, and a third offense or felony DUI may result in up to three years in state prison. Your time in prison may be extended if your actions resulted in a death and you are charged with vehicular manslaughter.


Fines for a first-time DUI can reach up to $2,000 plus additional fees for court costs and other penalties. A second offense may result in up to $3,000 in fines, and a third offense may result in $5,000 in fines. Felony DUIs and CDL DUIs can have even higher monetary penalties.

Other California DUI Penalties

If you are convicted of a DUI, there are other penalties that you may also face, including:

  • DUI school or driving courses
  • Alcohol and/or substance abuse treatment
  • Required installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
  • Attendance at AA or NA meetings

It’s important to know that in most cases, you will have to pay for these additional penalties, which can be expensive ongoing costs.

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Why Hire a Nevada County DUI Lawyer?

Hiring a driving while intoxicated attorney can be beneficial for several reasons, especially considering the potential consequences of a DUI conviction in California. No matter what type of DUI you are facing, you need an experienced attorney who understands California drunk driving laws and local procedures.

Nevada County DUI attorney Chris Walsh is experienced in DUI defense. He has in-depth knowledge of California laws and courtroom experience. He aims to achieve a positive outcome for all clients, getting them the best possible conclusion in every case.

Walsh Law will discuss issues with your case clearly and honestly with you. We will work to protect your driver’s license and freedom.

Defenses to DUI Charges in Nevada County, CA

Nevada County prosecutors aggressively work against defendants in DUI cases. That’s why your DUI case needs a unique defense strategy that considers the individual facts. The drunk driving lawyers at Walsh Law will work with you to create a defense that best supports your case.

We may use one or more defenses, including:

  • You were not intoxicated. We may challenge blood tests, breathalyzer results, and field sobriety tests (FSTs) to prove you were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The police did not have probable cause that you were under the influence. They cannot have simply had a hunch. They must have an articulable reason for believing that you were intoxicated and driving.
  • Your constitutional rights were violated. This may include an illegal search and seizure, failure to read your Miranda rights before questioning, or other violations. Key evidence may be thrown out if your rights were violated.

What should I do if I’m arrested for a DUI in Nevada County?

If you are arrested, you should remain silent until you contact a Grass Valley DUI attorney. It’s important to exercise your right to an attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself. The police are not your friends, and they will use anything you say against you.

What happens when you get a DUI?

After you are arrested, you will be taken to the police station, booked, and retained in jail. You may be given a chance to bail out right away, or if you are held, you have a right to an arraignment within 48 hours of arrest. At the arraignment, a judge will tell you your constitutional rights and explain your charges. You may be released on your own recognizance. After you are released, the DUI process proceeds much like any other case where you can negotiate with the prosecutor to reach a plea agreement or take your case to trial. Your attorney can attempt to use pre-trial motions and tactics to get your case dismissed.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock device (IID), sometimes called a car breathalyzer, is a system installed in your vehicle that prevents you from starting the engine if you've been drinking alcohol. They are often required as a penalty for a DUI conviction in Nevada County.

Walsh Law Will Fight Your DUI Charges in Nevada County

The Nevada County DUI legal process is complex, and charges should not be taken lightly. Prosecutors often seek the most severe charges when possible. It’s important to get legal advice from an experienced Nevada County drunk driving lawyer who knows the prosecutors and local procedures so that you get the best outcome possible in your case.

Contact Walsh Law today to learn about your options in a Nevada County DUI case and move forward with life after a DUI charge. Call us at (530) 499-0645 to schedule a free consultation with our Nevada County, CA criminal defense law firm.

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