HAVE YOU BEEN CHARGED WITH DUI IN LOS ANGELES OR ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA?
Almost every DUI client that we have had discusses the fear they immediately felt after seeing the police car lights come on behind them or awaiting them at a DUI checkpoint. A driver who has had anything to drink will immediately begin to panic after a police car’s lights come in their view. That moment of panic is for a good reason. The reality is that a driving under the influence charge can have severe consequences in California and can dramatically alter a person’s life moving forward. It is vital to speak with us as soon as possible after arrest to set up a defense and a strategy for how to deal with the situation as effectively as possible. The worst thing you can do is not contact an attorney because the reality is that nobody else in the courtroom will fight for your rights and guide you through this complicated process. As an experienced Manhattan Beach DUI attorney with experience on thousands of DUI cases, I am ready to help you through every step of the process from beginning to end.
DUI cases can be fought with numerous defenses but it takes a knowledgeable trial attorney to know when and how to use the appropriate defense. We have actual trial experience with cases involving alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, PCP, and prescription medication. We also have trial experience involving cases contesting whether it can even be proven the charged person was driving. Our clients have been arrested all across Los Angeles and Orange County. Our offices are in the South Bay but we serve across the entire region and have experience in courts across the state. DUI cases are time sensitive and a person who has been arrested needs to retain an attorney immediately to reach the best possible result. As detailed below, every step of a driving under the influence case requires a lawyer with the education, experience, and skill that we possess.
A police officer will conduct an initial investigation that will include questioning, field sobriety tests, and the offer to take a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test. After these steps, the officer will decide whether to arrest the driver. If alcohol is the reason for the arrest, then the driver will generally be charged with two counts in California. One count is for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)). The second count will be for driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater (Vehicle Code Section 23152(b)) Once a driver has been arrested, they will be given a choice of a breath or blood test. It is important to note that if the driver refuses to submit to either test, this can result in a lengthy mandatory suspension of their license if proven. This test is usually the conclusion of the investigative side of the DUI process. The driver’s license will often be seized by the police and the driver will be given a temporary license valid for only 30 days, after which the license will be suspended. A driver will either be given a citation to appear at a future court date or be required to post bail in order to be released. The clock is now ticking to contact us and allow us to schedule a DMV hearing.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT A DUI AND THE DMV
In California, the courtroom is not the only place that a DUI defendant needs to worry about consequences to their life. The reality is that Los Angeles is a city where it is often a necessity to drive, whether it be for work, family, or other reason. The idea of taking a bus or train from the South Bay to downtown Los Angeles or from Santa Monica to Pasadena is simply more difficult in Southern California. A driver has only 10 calendar days from their arrest to contact an attorney to schedule a DMV hearing. If a hearing is not scheduled within that period, then the suspension will go into effect 30 days from the arrest days and will not be stayed.
If a DMV hearing is scheduled, then any suspension will be stayed pending that hearing. Information from the police reports will be provided to us which will usually include the reason you were stopped, your performance on the field sobriety test, your answers to the officer’s questions, as well as the test results for your blood alcohol level.
If you are ultimately found responsible for a DUI, there will be a suspension for 30 days after which you can apply for a restricted driver’s license which will allow you to drive to work, school, and the alcohol program. Once again, there are specific steps that need to be followed to obtain a restricted license including enrolling in an alcohol program and filing a SR-22 insurance form with the DMV.
APPEARING IN COURT
Your first appearance in court will usually occur on the same date as the citation provided to you when you were released from jail. Occasionally, the prosecutor will not have made a filing decision by that date. Unfortunately, the prosecutor’s office has up to one year to make a decision on a DUI case although that usually is not the case. The good news is that on the majority of DUI cases across the Los Angeles area, we can appear for you on the first court date and often for all court dates.
CONSEQUENCES OF A DUI CONVICTION
The maximum penalties for a first time DUI are 6 months in jail and a $1000 fine (plus penalty assessments which will usually quadruple or quintuple that amount). The minimum penalty for a DUI will include a fine of $390 plus penalty assessments. As noted above, your license can be suspended by the DMV. Additionally, the court in Los Angeles County will often require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is a device that is installed in your vehicle and requires you to blow into it to operate your vehicle. If any alcohol is present in your breath, then the vehicle will be inoperable. The court will also require an alcohol program which can range from 3 months (AB 541) to 18 months (SB 38) in length depending on their blood alcohol level and prior history. The court may impose other conditions such as AA meetings, community service, and other DUI education seminars. Additionally, you will be placed on probation. If you receive additional DUIs in the next 10 years, then you will be treated as a repeat offender and consequences will increase exponentially.
TRIAL ON DUI CHARGES
Many Los Angeles and Orange County DUI charges never go to trial and some defendant have no interest in taking their cases to trial. But unless you have an attorney with experience who is skilled and prepared to take a case to trial, then you will never receive the best possible offer from the prosecutor. And if that offer is unacceptable, then our experience will give you the best possible chances at trial. I encourage you to contact me immediately so that I can personally guide you through every step of the legal process in California and fight for you from the beginning to the end of your case.