California prohibits not only driving under the influence (DUI) but also boating under the influence (BUI). And in the areas of Lake Havasu and Needles, California (which borders the Colorado River), police set their sights on the water as well as the roads when hunting down people to arrest. On this page, our California criminal defense attorneys discuss the following information about DUI & BUI laws and what we can do to help your case:
If you have been arrested for California DUI or BUI around Needles or Lake Havasu, do not wait to contact our San Bernardino criminal defense attorneys at (760) 430-0400 for a consultation free of charge. Our office is located at 432 N. Arrowhead Avenue.
Needles BUI / DUI attorney Michael Scafiddi draws on his past career as a prosecutor, police officer, and DUI investigator to craft the most foolproof defense possible for your case. Police frequently make mistakes, and their breath-testing equipment is often faulty, so Attorney Scafiddi searches for these and other holes in the state's evidence in an effort to dismiss or reduce the charges against you.
Lake Havasu BUI/ DUI lawyer Michael Scafiddi enjoys nearly 25 years of law enforcement and criminal defense experience. His experience covers the entire spectrum of California "under the influence" law, including California misdemeanor DUI, California felony DUI, California Boating Under the Influence (BUI), and California vehicular manslaughter cases. Scafiddi is also a participant in the California DUI Lawyers Association and the National College for DUI Defense.
A BUI arrest does not jeopardize your driver's license, but DUI arrests do. Right after a police officer arrests you for driving under the influence in California, he/she will confiscate your license and issue you a thirty-day temporary one. Meanwhile, you have only ten days from the date of your arrest to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to request a "DMV Hearing," which is where you may contest the license suspension.
The DMV is notoriously difficult to deal with, and DMV Hearings are very tricky since they are like mini-trials. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you hire a criminal defense attorney ASAP to request the hearing and appear on your behalf. Either way, your license usually will not be suspended for more than six months as long as it is your first California misdemeanor DUI; subsequent DUIs may result in a two-to-three year license suspension.
If the DMV does suspend your license, it is very likely we would be able to secure you a "restricted" driver's license. This would allow you to commute to work and school without fear of arrest.
Note that the DMV and courts may allow DUI defendants to continue driving anywhere as long as they install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a predetermined period of time. (California Senate Bill 1046)
A DUI arrest creates two cases: One in the DMV (discussed above), and one in criminal court. They are usually charged as misdemeanors as long as no one is hurt, though a fourth DUI in ten years is automatically charged as a felony.
Since DUI cases tend to last up to a year or more, we use the time to investigate your case, collect evidence, and bargain with prosecutors in the hopes of throwing out or at least reducing your charges. Most of the time, we can make all your court appearances for you unless you wish to take the case to trial and testify.
For a first-offense California misdemeanor DUI, the typical sentence consists of the following:
- two days to six months of jail (which we can usually get suspended)
- three years probation
- a three-to-nine month DUI School program (scroll lower for more information)
- six-month driver's license suspension (though we are usually able to secure a restricted license that allows driving to and from work, and you should be able to continue driving without restrictions if you agree to get an ignition interlock device installed)
- fines of $390 to over $1,000
Subsequent DUIs carry harsher sentences, such as mandatory jail time, greater fines, longer alcohol & drug education programs, and ignition interlock devices installed in your car.
As with DUI, California Boating Under the Influence (BUI) laws prohibit operating a motorboat, aquaplane, jet ski, and water skis with a BAC of 0.08% or more. The Colorado River (bordering Needles) and Lake Havasu are patrolled by various law enforcement agencies, including the Coast Guard, that are constantly looking out for erratically-driven boats, etc. If the authorities suspect you of being intoxicated or high, they will ask you to perform field sobriety tests and submit to a breath or blood test.
Penalties for a typical California misdemeanor BUI ("simple BUI") include up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, and DUI School. Successive BUI convictions have longer jail terms and steeper fines. And BUI causing injury ("aggravated BUI") may carry up to three years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
For misdemeanor DUI and simple BUI, arrestees in Needles and Lake Havasu are often released from the nearest sheriff's substation as long as they can post bail. Otherwise, they may be taken across San Bernardino County to be booked at such jails as:
West Valley Detention Center
9500 Etiwanda Ave.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
Adelanto Detention Center
9438 Commerce Way
Adelanto, California 92301
And now that the Needles Courthouse no longer handles criminal matters, DUI and BUI cases are currently heard in the Bartow Courthouse, Department Five, located at 235 East Mountain View Avenue. The number is (760) 256-4758.
The San Bernardino County D.A.'s Office prosecutes all DUI and BUI matters, and all court appearances and hearings usually take place on Fridays. You can ask the front desk for information about DUI School.
For convictions of either driving or boating under the influence, judges always include an alcohol and drug education program as part of the sentence. First-time offenders are often ordered to complete only three-to-nine months (depending on their BAC level), while second- or third-time offenders may be required to take eighteen- or thirty-month programs. One local DUI School in Needles that offers both First Offender and Eighteen-month programs is:
Needles Center for Change,
Mental Health Systems, Inc.
300 H Street
Needles, CA 92363
Arrested for a BUI or DUI in Needles or Lake Havasu, California?
It is our job to make this process as painless as possible. We want to keep you out of jail and save your driver's license, and we will do everything to maximize your chances of success. Please phone our Needles and Lake Havasu DUI & BUI Lawyers at (760) 430-0400 to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.