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Driving Under the Influence – DUI

Of all criminal charges, driving under the influence may have the most immediate, direct effect on the defendant's life. If you're charged with intoxicated driving, police can take your driver's license away almost immediately -- before a conviction and before charges are even filed. In some areas, police will also keep you in jail overnight. Once released, first-time offenders face the possibility of more jail time or probation; alcohol education classes; heavy fines; and more. And that's just from the legal system.

If you're accused of drunk driving, we encourage you to talk to our Orange County DUI defense attorneys right away. Most importantly, you have just ten days (including weekends and holidays) to request a DMV hearing about whether your driver's license should be suspended. The sooner you call HOWARD LAW, PC, the better your chances of saving your license.

We also encourage you to contact us even if you believe the prosecution's case is airtight and you might as well plead guilty. The evidence obtained by law enforcement is not always as clear-cut as they would like you to believe. For example, incorrect handling, improper administration, an illegal initial traffic stop or even factors like what medications you take may taint blood-alcohol concentration test results. Our Los Angeles drunken driving defense lawyers comb through cases for issues like these, which can get the evidence thrown out and charges reduced or dismissed.

The DUI Process in California

As we said, defendants have just 10 days after an arrest to contact the DMV to request a license suspension hearing. During that request, you or your Riverside DUI defense attorney can also request a stay of the license suspension, which means you can continue driving until your case is heard. This hearing is not part of your court case -- it is a non-criminal administrative hearing focused only on whether your license should be suspended. The outcome of one case does not affect the outcome of the other. However, you can and should have an attorney represent you at the DMV hearing. If you lose this hearing, your attorney can also help you request a hardship license after 30 days of suspension, so you can still get to work or school.

At Howard Law, we always coordinate our defense at the DMV hearing with defense of your criminal case. Our next move depends on whether our client prefers to plead guilty or fight the DUI. We start every intoxicated driving case by combing through the case to look for flaws, mistakes or civil rights violations by police, because these could get the case dismissed or form the basis of a strong defense. We provide our opinion, but of course, the decision is ultimately up to the client. In cases where the client prefers to fight the charges, we will mount a vigorous defense in court. If the client chooses a guilty plea, we will negotiate for the fairest, lightest penalties possible.

DUI Penalties in Southern California

Thanks to strong public opposition, the penalties for driving under the influence are extremely serious. For a first-time offender in California, the law requires:

  • Up to six months in jail, with at least 96 hours mandatory
  • Possible three to five years of probation
  • Fines of $390 to $1,000, plus more in court costs and fees
  • DMV license suspension for six to nine months, in addition to any initial suspension
  • Alcohol education classes paid for by the defendant
  • Possible community service

These are for first-time offenders with an ordinary driver's license. Penalties are greater for people with one or more DUI convictions in the past 10 years, for people under 21 and for those with commercial driver's licenses. They may also be greater if police believe you were speeding, had a high BAC, had a child under 14 in the car or met certain other requirements. The more serious penalties include installation of an ignition breathalyzer at your own expense, more of every penalty and possible felony criminal charges on your record.

For most people, these are life-changing penalties. The loss of a license alone can cause trouble at work or even a job loss. And once the full effects of a first-time, no-injury DUI charge are taken into account, experts say the financial costs can reach $10,000 or more. Our San Bernardino intoxicated driving defense attorneys believe nobody should plead guilty to DUI without fully exploring their defense options. To tell us about your case and learn more about how we can defend it, please contact Howard Law right away. You can send us a message online or call 1-800-872-5925 toll-free.