While many of those charged with this offense fail to hire an Orange County DUI lawyer, only uninformed professionals would argue that you shouldn’t. A drunk driving conviction does not just affect a person’s criminal record; it affects a person’s life for several years. California is now one of many states that have implied consent laws. This means that if you have a valid California driver’s license you automatically agree to alcohol and drug testing if suspected by a police officer of driving under the influence.
California has very strict rules and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. A felony DUI conviction can land a person in prison, and the sheer amount of time that defendants have to devote towards their defense is a surprise to many. No matter what type of drunk driving incident or the circumstances surrounding an alleged offense, it is always a good idea to obtain an attorney to represent you in a court of law.
An attorney can provide a number of different benefits, he can help you to become more familiar with the process, help you better understand the charges you are facing, the laws pertaining to your alleged offense, and provide you with a realistic expectation of costs and time you will have to spend to put your offense behind you.
Two Ways an Arrest Can be Made
Southern California officers have two primary methods for arresting drunk drivers. The first is when your behavior indicates that you are impaired while driving because of the use of alcohol or drugs. The second way is referred to as per se DUI, and this is when your blood-alcohol content reading (BAC) is found to be .08 percent or greater (for a non-commercial adult – the limits are less for minors or commercial drivers).
Probable Cause as a Reason for Your Stop
It is not that difficult to be stopped for DUI in California, as the arresting officer only has to be suspicious or have probable cause that you are impaired, whether your BAC is found to be .08 and over or not. Probable cause can be alleged by a police officer through observing some aspect of your behavior when behind the wheel such as faltering at a green light, not staying in the correct lane on a highway, changing from one lane to another for no apparent reason, driving far too slowly for the road conditions, or exceeding the speed limit or a combination of these factors.
Once the officer has established probable cause then he or she will make further observations after you have been pulled over, such as visible signs of redness in the eyes, slurring of speech, dilated pupils, alcohol smell on the breath, and poorly co-ordinated behavior. If there are any obvious signs of intoxication, then, the police officer will require more evidence, which may take the form of sobriety tests undertaken by the side of your vehicle. These are supposed to test your motor and mental skills at that point in time and find out if you are impaired. One commonly used alcohol detection method is when an officer moves an object in front of your eyes in a horizontal back and forth direction. Another test is being asked to walk in a straight line and then turn and repeat the movement and a third test is being asked to stand on one foot with your arms kept to your sides. If there are sufficient grounds that you are impaired then an arrest will be made.
Aper se DUI charge in California may follow after a police officer has determined that a driver’s BAC is .08 percent or greater. A Breathalyzer is the most common device used to gain a BAC reading of a suspected driver. If the reading is .08 percent or more, then, an arrest will take place. Under the implied consent law, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you can have your license automatically suspended. If you are a repeat DUI offender and you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, you may face a jail sentence.
Penalties in California
The harsh penalties imposed in California, even for first offenders, could result in a period in jail and a hefty fine. For a first time offender, the time in jail is a minimum of two days but could be up to six months with a fine up to $1,000. There could be a three to five year probation period added to this and a suspension of driver’s license for up to six months, as well as attendance at DUI School.
If the offender is facing a second offense, then, whether any earlier convictions will be taken into consideration will be dependent on if the second conviction occurred within 10 years of the first offense. A second offense carries no less than 4 days in jail, but it could be 12 months, a $1,000 fine, attendance at DUI School, three to five years probation period, the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device installed in car, and a compulsory two years of driver’s license suspension.
Defending Your Charge
If you are arrested for drunk driving, you shouldn’t assume that you are guilty. These offenses can be defended. You may not have been treated correctly at the time of the charge. This includes the reason you were stopped in the first place: the improper recording of sobriety test results, how soon after the stop your BAC was tested, and the incorrect use of the breathalyzer or even a defective breathalyzer. If the BAC reading was taken in the police station a while after you were stopped, then it might mean that more of the alcohol will be found in your blood than at the time of the stop. It is important to record the time, which may well help in your defense. Breathalyzer machines are not infallible and can record inaccurate results. Your DUI attorney can insist an inspection of the machine before confirming the accuracy of your BAC. These are just some of the ways an experienced DUI attorney will mount a defense.
Costs of a DUI Attorney in Southern California
There are costs associated with hiring an Orange County DUI lawyer, which could be a flat fee for the whole procedure or based on an hourly rate. We provide flat rate fees and free initial consultations to all of our clients. For other lawyers, the hourly rate may be anything from $100 to $300. A retainer is required when the hire begins, but some attorneys do offer free initial consultations to establish the basic facts. How much it will cost will depend on whether you are a first offender or not. A repeat offender could attract a cost of $10,000 in attorney fees, but, if your case has to go to trial, then, the fees will be substantially more and could be up to $25,000 if the attorney has the grounds to fight your charge. Crucial witnesses may need to be brought in to support the defense, as well as expert witnesses to support complex claims.
Call (888) 250-2865 to speak with one of our lawyers. We can assist you in Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Diego County. We provide free consultations and flat rate fees for those in need of a DUI lawyer in Orange County..