Driving under the influence is a very serious and expensive crime in the state of California. Unlike other crimes in the state, it carries secondary offenses. There are many ways to defend a DUI case since it has so many errors from the start. For an experienced DUI attorney, they would check on the evidence and capitalize on the weak pieces of evidence submitted to the court. Here at Orange County DUI Attorney in Costa Mesa, CA, our defense attorneys have wide experience from the many years of practice in the courtroom. We have the much-needed expertise that is essential in winning your DUI case. Our services are available to all residents of Costa Mesa, CA and surrounding areas.

What is DUI?

In the state of California, driving under the influence is a crime in which the driver is intoxicated to the extent of being incapable of operating a vehicle safely. For non-commercial drivers, you are expected to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Commercial drivers, on the other hand, are expected to have a BAC of 0.04 or higher to not get charged with a DUI which could ultimately lead to their driver’s license suspension. In addition, the state of California does not necessitate BAC results for you to get convicted of a DUI. For minors aged twenty-one (21) years and below, their BAC is supposed to be 0.01 or more to qualify for a DUI arrest.

The DUI Arrest

Taking note of the essential elements in your case is necessary when you are being charged with a DUI. It could be the difference between a serious case like a felony or getting off with just probation. From the very beginning, every DUI arrest will start with either a checkpoint, a traffic stop and in rare cases, an accident. The police officer will ask you to perform several tests, which include breathing through a breathalyzer after the arrest. The arresting officer might also ask you to perform a sobriety test after a few minutes in staged intervals. If you fail any of these tests, you will be arrested and with the recommendation of the officer, you will either be taken to hospital, jail or the police station. You will be required to take a chemical test in any of the places that you will be held after the arrest.

In the event that it is a misdemeanor, the officer in charge of your arrest will release you after a few hours of your sobering up and after booking you. Upon your release, the officer will hand you two (2) documents. One will be a temporary license that will expire within thirty (30) days of issue, while the other will be a citation for a court date. In the temporary license, there is a pink slip which gives you details of your DMV case; which you may choose to appear or not to.

With the many years of experience in handling DUI cases all over California, we recommend you get a hearing with the DMV and get yourself a competent Costa Mesa DUI Attorney. Additionally, your chance of getting a hearing with the DMV will expire within the first ten (10) days of your arrest. This hearing will also determine whether your driving license will get suspended or not. In case you are charged with DUI as a felony, the circumstances could be different from those of a misdemeanor case. The main reason being that if a death or injury of another individual should occur, the DUI will be charged as a felony.

What Is a DUI Under the California Law?

The DUI offense is explained in the vehicle code 23153 VC of the California statute, describing the driver as being intoxicated and incapable of performing like a sober individual. Under section (b) of the same law, it states that it is illegal for any adult to be driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. A DUI will be considered a misdemeanor if it did not include any exasperating factors such as fatal injuries or the death of another individual. The exasperating factors will lead the case from a simple misdemeanor to a DUI felony, which as per the California statute is a very serious and unforgiving crime.

Getting arrested for a DUI means that you will have two independent legal proceedings; a criminal charge with the courts, and the California Department of Motor vehicles (DMV). For the court case, the stakes are a little different from the DMV hearing. The court cases will deal with; criminal penalties, fines, potential jail time, probation and California DUI School. For the DMV the stakes are on your license suspension since it is an administrative procedure and it takes the mantle of deciding your driving privileges.

The DUI Court Hearing Process

There are the five chief players in the DUI court proceeding that will hear your case:

  1. The prosecutor: this is the government attorney in charge of bringing evidence against you.

  2. The defendant: that is the main proprietor of the crime, possibly you.

  3. The Judge: they will reach a verdict of whether you are guilty or not guilty of the alleged DUI.

  4. Possible jury.

  5. The Costa Mesa DUI attorney: the lawyer who represents you in court by challenging the evidence presented by the prosecutor.

During the DUI arraignment, the case will start with the prosecutor giving you an offer. The offer is the prosecutor’s way of getting you to agree to the events ensuring that you plead guilty to the DUI charge. In this case, you can choose to either plead guilty, not guilty or even no contest to the DUI charges.

In the event that you plead guilty to the DUI case, you will be sentenced and the case will be closed. If you do not plead guilty, then your Costa Mesa DUI attorney will review and challenge the evidence presented to the court by the prosecutor. The evidence will include copies of the arresting officer’s report and maintenance reports of the chemical testing equipment used to determine your BAC.

Penalties for a DUI Conviction

If you are found guilty of DUI in California, your case will fall under one of the categories, though not limited to First DUI, second DUI, third DUI or a felony DUI. The penalties for each DUI category are determined by the judge with accordance to the statutes set by the state.

  • Fines:

    A California DUI carries fines ranging from three hundred and ninety ($390) dollars to a thousand ($1000) dollars. This does not, however, include penalty assessments that can lead to the addition of several thousand dollars. This fee is constant with the first, second and third DUI charge.

  • Jail time:

    For a first DUI charge, there is possible jail time of between forty-eight (48) hours to six months (6) in the Costa Mesa County jail. More often than not, you will get probation as a first-time DUI offender, meaning no jail time. For a second DUI, the jail time can be between ninety-six hours (96) to one year (1) in jail. You also have the alternative of going on house arrest, community service or jail work programs. For a third DUI, the possible jail time will be one hundred and twenty (120) days to one (1) year in the Costa Mesa County jail. In the event that the judge grants probation, it will be a maximum of thirty (30) days.

  • License suspension:

    For a first-time DUI charge in court, the defendant will get at least six (6) months of license suspension. A second time DUI will have your driver’s license suspended for at least two (2) years and for a third DUI charge, it will be three (3) years. You could, however, continue driving without restriction if you agreed to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. The time that you are required to use the device is six (6) months for a first time DUI offense, second DUI is one (1) year and third is two (2) years with the device.

  • Probation:

    For all three DUI counts, you will get between three (3) to five (5) years of informal probation. The probation will be from an agreement of certain conditions which brings in the reasons as to why DUI is an expensive case. They include three (3) months for a DUI school for a first-time DUI offender, eighteen (18) months for the second DUI offense and for the third the judge will give a mandatory thirty (30) months.

Penalties for DUI with Deaths or Injuries


If there were any injuries in the DUI, you will be facing severe penalties compared to a standard DUI. In a situation involving injuries, the DUI charge will be considered a wobbler. A wobbler offense basically means that you can be charged with an offense either as a felony or a misdemeanor. If it is a felony, the prison sentence will range from sixteen (16) months to four (4) years. Your criminal background will also matter a lot since it will reflect on the fines you will receive. The range of legal fees to be paid is a minimum of three hundred and ninety ($390) dollars to a maximum amount of five thousand ($5000) dollars.


If this is the case, the possibilities are that your case will be charged under vehicular manslaughter or murder laws. For vehicular manslaughter, while intoxicated, it is considered as a misdemeanor. Jail time is less than one year in the Costa Mesa county jail and legal fees stretching from one thousand and fifteen (1,015) dollars to ten thousand (10,000) dollars. This is excluding other legal fees.

DMV License Suspension

A DMV hearing in California is considered as an administrative case; meaning it is not a criminal trial. It is held at the DMV offices with the main purpose being either to suspend or not to suspend your driver’s license after being arrested for a DUI. Note: after your release, the officer will confiscate your driver’s license and hand you the temporary license.

The document gives notice of an entitled DMV hearing in ten (10) days of your arrest. If you do not attend the hearing within the ten days (10), your license will automatically be suspended within a thirty (30) day time frame.

It is possible to represent yourself at a California DMV hearing. However, due to the complications of being found guilty, it is better to have a Costa Mesa DUI attorney represent you. The reason is that experience is needed to sway the evidence in your favor in a legal manner, thus providing a legal defense with the knowledge of the California law. The inquiry will be concerned with three issues:

  1. The police officer who made the arrest had reasonable cause to arrest you with the vehicle code 23152.

  2. Were you arrested lawfully?

  3. Was your BAC level above or lower 0.08? The BAC should relate to your body weight.

There is also the case of submitting the blood DUI test or chemical breath test. It is a very important factor in the DMV hearings if the officer did read your rights to you. The key questions now become:

  1. If the police officer insisted that refusing to give both a blood test and breath test would lead to the suspension of your license for one (1) year or the license is being revoked for two (2) to three (3) years.

  2. Did you willfully refuse to submit the chemical and blood test after being asked by the police officer?

The DMV will consider those issues, and will either have the following ruling:

  1. Suspension of the license based on the alleged DUI.

  2. Not to suspend or reverse the suspension of your driver’s license.

Common DUI Defenses

The following are some of the common DUI defenses from a skilled Costa Mesa DUI attorney that are presented on your behalf at both the DMV and court hearing:

  1. The fifteen (15) minute observation

    Under the California code of regulations title 17, it clarifies that the arresting officer must strictly adhere to the regulation. The regulation administers on the collection, storage and analyzing of both breath and blood tests. According to the regulation, if you are suspected of a DUI the officer must observe you for at least fifteen (15) minutes prior to a breath test. There are several reasons as to why this has to be followed to the letter with the first being so that you don’t compromise the results of the test by vomiting or drinking. Note the list is not limited to the two. If the officer did not conduct the observation, then the Costa Mesa defense attorney will argue the results were not 0.08 or higher and the conduct was not observed as stated by law.

  2. The equipment was either not calibrated correctly or was poorly maintained

    Title 17 also gives clear regulations on the maintenance and operation of breathalyzers. The law states it should not pass the one hundred and fifty (150) blow or ten (10) days check, before undergoing accuracy checks. If the instruments did not follow the standards, it means that the measurements were inaccurate. Additionally, if the equipment was faulty, it would result in producing false results of the breath tests.

  3. Field Sobriety tests are inaccurate

    The prosecutor will rely on the statements made by the officers who made the arrest. There is also a possibility of the prosecutor using the said statements, mostly relying on the sobriety test made by the officer as a defense to find you guilty of the crime. An experienced Costa Mesa DUI attorney can relate the findings of studies done by health care providers to your defense. For example, the test will associate how physical stability and health conditions are affected by the tests. Mostly affecting nerves, fatigue and having flat feet will affect the FST.

  4. Signs of the DUI Being related to natural conditions

    Most DUI symptoms are actually connected to natural conditions of someone’s body. This can be explained by an experienced Costa Mesa DUI attorney through the innocent description; showing the results were signs of weariness, allergies, eye irritation, among other health conditions.

Related Charges to California DUI

Boating under the Influence (BUI):

This law is found under the harbors and navigation code 655(b). It makes it an offense for an individual found boating/piloting under the influence of illegal drugs, alcohol or a combination of the two. The BAC for non-commercial boating should be lower than 0.08 and for commercial boating, the captain should not exceed 0.04. If you are found guilty under this law, the penalties are charged under the following codes: 655 BUI and 23152 VC.

Driving under the influence of Drugs (DUID):

This is Similar to a DUI in the vehicle code. If you are driving under the influence of drugs and can no longer drive like a sober individual, then you are in violation of DUID. The law mentioned involves:

  • Any drug, prohibited, prescription or over the counter.

  • A combination of both drugs and alcohol.

It is considered a misdemeanor in the state of California carrying penalties similar to those of a regular DUI. The probations for a DUID range between three (3) to five (5) years, plus license suspension, fines of at least one thousand eight hundred ($1800) dollars or possible jail time.

Find a Costa Mesa Attorney Specializing in DUI Near me

If you are charged with DUI, it is highly recommended that you get an experienced attorney. The laws on a California DUI are strict and may lead to ruining of a perfect reputation or career. At Orange County DUI Attorney, we offer experienced DUI lawyers who have studied and practiced California law in the Costa Mesa area for years. Visit us at our offices in Costa Mesa, CA or call us today at 949-377-2280 and talk to a specialized Costa Mesa DUI attorney.