DUI laws have become stricter to try and reduce the increase in traffic accidents. It is easy to find yourself caught up in a DUI arrest in Huntington Beach, California. Whether pulled over in suspicion for a DUI or at a DUI checkpoint, the situation can quickly escalate. SO, what happens after an arrest? What do you do? What type of help is out there that you can benefit from after a DUI arrest? As you read further, we will answer these questions as well as what we can offer to help you if you have been arrested for a DUI in Huntington Beach.
Who We Are
Orange County DUI Attorney is the legal firm to think about if you or your loved one has been arrested for DUI. We are a dedicated team that is here to ensure that we defend any DUI charges against our clients in an aggressive manner. With our skills and experience, we have several possible defense strategies we can use to give you a lesser sentence or even to have the judge drop your case. Our Huntington Beach DUI Attorneys use legal defenses such as inaccurate BAC results and improper procedures used by an arresting officer to arrest you or perform a field sobriety test.
When a person is facing any criminal charge, things can be very tough if they do not have the right defense by their side. The first thing you should do is to choose the right attorney, an attorney who will be with you all the time during the legal proceedings. Our attorney will take you through the legal process, object false evidence that the prosecutor may present against you, talk to the prosecutor on your behalf and also argue your case before the judge pleading for your release or a favorable verdict.
Our DUI Services
It is illegal for a person to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of 0.08% and above. Driving with that amount of alcohol in your blood is what the law terms as Driving under the influence (DUI). Getting convicted of this crime will carry a heavy punishment, which mainly depends on the presiding judge and the facts of your case. There are other factors that the court may consider in determining the best penalty for the offense, including your past criminal record and whether or not you caused an accident while driving under the influence.
An aggressive attorney will be able to use mitigating factors to lighten your sentence if you are charged with aggravated DUI. Some of the mitigating factors we can use in your defense include a spotless driving record, a BAC level that was exactly at 0.08%, you have successfully and voluntarily completed an alcohol education program and that this particular DUI case was your first incident. If your attorney can convince the court that your DUI case is an isolated occurrence, the court can be a little lenient when pronouncing your sentence.
It is important to note that there are elements that can significantly affect your sentencing. If, for instance, your DUI case was severer than other typical DUI cases or you have several other DUI charges in your criminal record, you may receive more severe punishment. These are the factors that are termed as aggravating factors, which can affect the line of sentencing even if your current DUI case was not so serious. You could end up facing a felony DUI because of those aggravating factors.
In the absence of these aggravating issues, a first DUI offender may not be required to serve time in jail. However, the judge has total discretion in determining how each of the aggravating issues will affect your sentencing. It helps a lot to have a highly skilled DUI attorney with you, to give you the best possible defense that could land you a more lenient sentence.
Here is a list of some of the aggravating issues that could affect your conviction, which professional attorneys in our law firm can help you with:
- You caused a DUI accident that caused damage of another car or property
- Another person was injured when you were driving with alcohol or drugs influence
- Your blood-alcohol concentration level was over 0.2%
- There was a minor below 14 in your car when you were drunk-driving
- Your drunk driving was endangering a child
- You declined to take a sobriety test
- Your arrest occurred when you were on probation for a similar offense
- During the arrest, you didn’t have your driver license, or the license was invalid, rescinded or suspended.
- You had previously been arrested for a similar crime
- You were driving over the required limit
- You were under 21, which is below the legally allowed drinking age, by the time you were arrested for DUI
- You committed a hit-and-run offense
Other than heightening your sentence, these aggravating factors can affect your personal and professional life, which is why you need to work with the right Huntington Beach DUI attorney, who may ensure that you don’t face a more serious punishment than your case deserves.
A first DUI offense is usually a misdemeanor and is punishable with up to six months of jail time and a fine of between $390 and $1000. You could also get a driver’s license suspension for a period of not more than 6 months. In addition to that, the DMV could give a first-time offender an administrative suspension of 4 months. If the offender refused to submit to blood-alcohol content testing, their DMV suspension would go up to one year. After serving their sentence for a month, the defendant may qualify to use their driver license for a restricted time, maybe to and from school or work.
First time DUI offenders could also get DUI probation of 3 years, which can go up to five years depending on the judge. The defendant will be obligated to complete a DUI school for 3 months as the condition for that probation. If the BAC level of the defendant were found to be 0.02% or more, the time you get for DUI School would be pushed to up to 9 months.
Since it is your first time to commit the crime, the penalties you get are not as severe as those that second-time offenders get. However, in the case of a juvenile DUI offender, a military DUI offender, or driving under the influence with a passenger who is under 14 years of age, the penalties could be steeper than what an ordinary driver would get for the first DUI offense. For a military offender, penalties could be as serious as getting incarcerated or getting negative reports on their performance or even a demotion and a pay cut. More severe punishments such as getting a dishonorable discharge from the service and paying high monetary fines could apply.
A second DUI offense can also be a misdemeanor, punishable through a fine of between $390 and $1000, which could go up to $4000 depending on the total penalty assessments. You could expect a jail time of up to one year too, and a driver license suspension for a period of two years. A second-time offender will also get an administrative suspension of one year for a DUI involving a blood-alcohol concentration level of 0.08% and higher. After successfully serving the first 3 months of your sentence, you may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license.
In addition to the above penalties, there could be DUI probation of 3 years, which can go up to five years. The defendant will also be expected to complete a DUI school for a period between 18 and 30 months as the condition for the probation.
Second DUI penalties may also include a compulsory installation of an interlock device in the ignition of the defendant’s vehicle for one year.
Third and Subsequent DUI Offenses
A third DUI conviction in California will still be a misdemeanor, but it may carry a more significant punishment such as fines that could go up to $1000, including hefty penalty assessment fees that could raise the amount to up to $18000. The offender may also get jail time of one year as well as get their driver license suspended for three years plus an additional sentence of one year if the BAC level was above 0.08%. After six months of serving your sentence, you may be allowed to use your license but restrictively.
Third DUI offenders may also get probation of up to five years, and they must go through a DUI school program for a period of 30 months as a condition for the DUI probation. There will be a mandatory requirement for the offender to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle for a period of two years.
After the third conviction, the offender will be charged with felony DUI for the offenses that follow.
DUI Felony Charge with Bodily Injury
A DUI felony charge is a more serious form of DUI crime, and it involves an injured third party after a DUI accident. A DUI offense that causes an injury on another person is a wobbler crime, and so, it can be treated as either a misdemeanor or felony subject to the facts of the case and the defendant's prior criminal record. Penalties for a felony DUI conviction include:
- A fine ranging between $390 and $5000, subject on the defendant’s criminal history and the facts of the case. Penalty assessments could raise the fine amount to $18000
- The requirement to pay restitution to the injured parties
- Imprisonment for 16 months, two years, or three years
- Driver’s license suspension for a period not exceeding four years. There is a possibility of getting a permanent suspension of your license in case the accident was severe
- Felony probation for between 3 and 5 years, within which the defendant is expected to finish a DUI school for a 30 month time as a condition for that probation
- Compulsory installation of an ignition interlock device for three years if you do not get a permanent suspension of your driver license
A DUI Offense that Results in Watson Murder
There are many instances when a DUI can result in the death of other people. In such cases, the defendant can be charged with vehicular manslaughter or other murder charges like gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, second-degree murder or Watson murder or just second-degree murder. Penalties for DUI resulting in a fatality can vary so much, and one might get a sentence of up to 25 years.
In the state of California, the first, second and third DUI offenses are usually treated as misdemeanors. However, you can still get a felony DUI charge if the case includes the following:
- If you have been charged with a fourth DUI offense within 10 years since the first three convictions happened
- If your driving under the influence has caused a severe injury or even death of another person
- If you were driving with a higher than the normal blood-alcohol concentration
- If you have a previous DUI record that calls for further charges
Note that a felony DUI offense will attract more severe penalties and in the case where your actions have resulted in the death of another person, you may end up getting a life sentence. You will also be required to register yourself as a habitual traffic offender according to the California Vehicle Code. To avoid the harsh penalties associated with a felony DUI conviction, you need the help of an experienced Huntington Beach DUI attorney.
Possible Defense Strategies For Your DUI Charges
If a law enforcement officer has a reason to suspect that you are driving under the influence, they will stop you. If their suspicion is confirmed, you will be arrested for DUI, and this will be the beginning of a long process before you can finally get your freedom back. Whether you are driving under the influence or not, the most important thing to note here is that your cooperation will make things much easier for you. Do not resist arrest and do not refuse to submit to the sobriety tests required to prove that you are indeed under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What you need to think about at that instant is the help you can get from an experienced DUI Attorney. A smart attorney will do much of the work for you, investigating the matter and calling on witnesses to ensure that there is enough evidence to refute the DUI claim. Fortunately, there are several defenses that our Huntington Beach DUI attorneys can use to get you off the hook possibly:
The police had no probable cause to stop and arrest you
Whether you were driving under the influence or not, the police must prove that they had a good reason to believe that you were under the influence. If you were driving well, with no issues at all but then you were stopped and arrested for DUI, your attorney may argue that the police had no reason whatsoever to stop you and this could lead the court to drop your charges. Any evidence the police might have gathered will not be accepted as proof to convict you of the crime.
The BAC results were inaccurate
Sometimes sobriety test kits are inaccurate and so, could produce false results. A smart attorney should be able to prove that the BAC results produced in court were inaccurate for your case to be dropped. Wrong results could have come as a consequence of a faulty test kit or improper administration by the law enforcement officer. Your attorney can argue that the testing device was not calibrated recently, which could be the reason why the rest results might be inaccurate.
You were not under any influence
There is a possibility of being stopped and arrested for DUI when you were not drunk or under the influence of any drugs. If you were driving suspiciously, the police might have had a probable cause to stop and arrest you, but if the test results showed that you were not under any influence of drugs or alcohol, the evidence gathered would not be admissible in court. Your attorney can successfully defend you against the DUI charge by proving that your behavior on the road was probably because of something else and not drunk driving.
Improper conduct by the police
There are instances when a law enforcement officer will have conducted himself/herself in an improper manner when stopping, arresting or investigating a DUI suspect. An officer may also have been wrong in the way he or she handled the suspect or the evidence. A smart attorney is able to examine the actions of the arresting officer in detail, as well as their previous misconduct to determine whether there was some negative contribution to the arrest and the findings the officer is presenting in the court. For that reason, give your attorney a full account of your arrest to give them proper avenues they can use in your defense.
Find a Huntington Beach DUI Attorney Near Me
Other than the usual fines and sentence terms, a DUI conviction in Huntington Beach can make it impossible for you to find suitable employment. You may also lose your driving privileges among other consequences. That is why you should try and challenge a DUI charge. With the help of the Orange County DUI Attorney, you may be able to get a lesser sentence or have the prosecutor drop your charges altogether. If you or your loved one is facing a DUI charge, call us at 949-377-2280 and let us come up with a strong defense against the charges you are facing.