Absolutely, in order to avoid more serious consequences you should seek the advice of an experienced lawyer that has handled many, many DUI cases. If you haven’t hired an attorney by your first court appearance, you should ask the judge for time to find an attorney. A well qualified attorney can assist you in searching for various DUI defense options including the pursuing of a case dismissal, plea bargain negotiation, and trying the case in court.
How Can I find a Qualified DUI Attorney? Good questions to ask when searching for a DUI attorney include:
What are the attorney’s qualifications? Did he or she attend a reputable school?
Does the attorney have experience with using expert witnesses in police procedures and blood alcohol content testing?
Whether or not you ultimately end up hiring a DUI attorney, it is probably a good idea to speak to a specialist in this highly complex field.
Can I Win a California DUI Case?
Yes. It is not only possible to get DUI charges reduced, but in some cases we are able to get them dismissed entirely. A number of DUI defenses have proven successful in prior cases including arguing constitutional violations and challenging blood alcohol concentration measurements. I systematically review police reports for inconsistencies and lapses in procedure. I also request complete disclosure regarding the device used to test your blood alcohol level, the personnel involved in the maintenance and operation of the device, and the lab certification.
What are the Penalties for California DUI Conviction?
Possible California DUI penalties include:
Incarceration from a few days in county jail to many years in state prison
Probation, either formal (with a probation officer) or informal
Monetary damages in the form of fines, penalties, and restitution
Restriction, suspension or revocation of your California Driver License
Mandatory attendance at treatment programs
Installation of ignition interlock device
The severity of these various DUI penalties varies depending on prior DUI convictions and the circumstances of the current case.
In addition to court sanctions, DUI convictions almost always result in significantly higher insurance premiums, and in some cases, adverse impacts on employment.
What Will Happen at Court?
On your ticket, or somewhere else in your paperwork, the date, time and location for your first court appearance will be listed. If you haven't hired an attorney, you must attend court on that date and time. Following the attorney-represented cases the judge will begin calling the non-attorney cases.
At some point the judge will ask you to enter a plea to the charges. At this time you must plead either guilty or not guilty. Depending on your plea the judge will ask you several questions aimed at determining whether you want to waive your constitutional rights, including your right to a speedy jury trial.
If you plead guilty, the judge will likely pass sentence immediately. Depending on the charges you face, the county you are charged in, and the specific judge, this sentence will vary. Most DUI crimes entail, at minimum, some time in jail or a program that counts as jail, a drinking driver program, a substantial fine, and probation.
Do I Need to Contact the California DMV within 10 days of My Arrest?
YES! After being arrested for a California DUI, you are facing two different proceedings - the courts and the DMV. You must contact the California DMV to request an Administrative Hearing within 10 days to protect your driving privileges. Temporary driver licenses issued to DUI defendants expire after 30 days, but driving privileges will be extended until a DMV hearing has been held and decision rendered.
If you win the California DMV hearing, your driving privileges will be protected until the courts render a decision (which also can be favorable).
Can California DMV Administrative Hearings be Won?
Yes. In order to restrict your California driving privilege, the DMV Hearing Officer must make three determinations:
Who was driving the vehicle
Whether the police officer had "reasonable cause" to pull over and arrest the driver (a complicated legal question)
Whether the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or above (which is open to many challenges)
A vigorous and knowledgeable defense possibly including expert witnesses can raise serious questions about one or more of these criteria.
How Long Does a DUI Case Take?
Unless you are willing to plead guilty at your first court hearing, a DUI defense will take a minimum of several months. More complicated DUI cases can easily last six months to a year as they wind their way through the court and DMV systems. Felony DUI cases (ones involving accidents) or cases with multiple priors may well endure for several years. Upon reviewing the individual circumstances of each case during a Free DUI Defense Consultation, I will provide you with a time estimate.
What are the Costs Involved with a DUI?
There are a number of potential costs involved with a DUI including court costs, fines, attorney’s fees, expert witnesses, DUI traffic school, and increased insurance premiums. I’ll provide you a complete education and quote following a Free DUI Defense Consultation.
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