Facing a DUI charge in California is almost always a stressful situation. Knowing what to expect can ease this stress, and help you prepare to fight the charges. Knowing this, we have compiled a list of our most frequently asked questions and their answers regarding DUI offenses. We hope you leave with a better understanding of how the California DUI system works, as well as the important role a California DUI attorney can play in ensuring the best outcome for your case.
If you are fighting a DUI in Southern California, Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC can help. Call 951-274-0003 today to get started.
What is the court process like after a California DUI Arrest?
Your arraignment is your first court appearance. During this appearance, the judge will read the charges against you and have you enter your plea(s). If you plead guilty, you will receive your sentence and your case will be over.
A not-guilty plea is the beginning of the pre-trail phase of your case. During this process, we will secure and analyze the evidence against you, obtain police reports, chemical test results, and if necessary hire experts to testify about the maintenance of chemical testing instruments and similar topics, and prepare your overall defense.
There will also be pre-trial negotiations. These negotiations have three probable outcomes: we obtain a reduced charge from the prosecution; and/or a reduced sentence from the prosecution; or we obtain a complete dismissal.
If the prosecution refuses to agree to a pre-trail resolution, we can set your case for trial.
What are the potential penalties for a DUI in California?
The penalties for a California DUI vary depending on the facts of your case and your criminal record. If you have a previous DUI conviction in the last decade, you can expect harsher penalties.
Regardless of whether this is your first, second, or third DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license. After confiscation, the officer will give you a temporary license that allows you to drive for 30 days. After 30 days, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will suspend your license automatically unless you successfully challenge this suspension with the DMV. This is an administrative action totally separate from your criminal case in court.
If you plead guilty or the jury finds you guilty of a DUI, you can expect:
- To spend up to a maximum of six months in a county jail
- $390 to $1000 in fines
- A possible license suspension
- Three to nine months of classes in one of California’s Driving Under the Influence programs
- An ignition interlock device if convicted in Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare, or Sacramento county
It is important to note that these penalties apply only to first time offenders; you can expect much more serious consequences if you have a previous DUI conviction on your record in the last ten years.
How can I challenge the automatic license suspension?
You have ten days to request a DMV hearing after the confiscation of your driver’s license. Requesting a hearing delays the suspension pending the outcome of that hearing. While you can certainly represent yourself at this informal hearing, having a DUI defense lawyer on your side can increase your chance of successfully appealing the suspension.
It is important to note that this administrative suspension is separate from any suspension that occurs if you receive a DUI conviction. This means that even if you successfully avoid the DMV suspension, you might later face a license suspension from the court.
What are some common DUI defenses?
After you plead not guilty at your arraignment, we will begin crafting your defense. While the defense we use will depend heavily on the facts of your specific case, some of the most common include:
- Challenging the accuracy of testing equipment
- Pointing out flaws in the police testing procedures
- Arguing that the testing results were inaccurate due to other factors
- Discovering illegal or improper behavior during your arrest, such as having no reason to pull you over or failing to read you your Miranda rights
- Evidence that shows you were not driving the vehicle
These defenses are important not only during the trial itself but during the pre-trial negotiation process. These defenses might prompt the prosecution to offer you a lesser sentence or drop the charges entirely.
How could a plea bargain help me?
One of the most common ways California DUI cases resolve is through a plea bargain during pre-trial negotiations. After seeing the strength of your defense, the prosecutor is often more willing to consider other options to close your case.
Most commonly, the prosecution may offer to reduce the DUI to a lesser charge such as an alcohol-related reckless driving offense. We might be able to provide enough evidence to convince the prosecution to downgrade your charge to a simple traffic infraction or dismiss it entirely.
Why do I need an attorney after a California DUI arrest?
If you plan to fight a DUI in California, it is imperative that you have a skilled attorney on your side. Taking on the experienced prosecutors in Southern California requires a high level of knowledge about state and local DUI laws, legal testing processes, and common defenses against this type of charge.
Having a lawyer on your side can improve your chances of a positive outcome, from the DMV hearing (administrative license suspension) about your administrative license suspension all the way through to pre-trial negotiations and ultimately through trial.
Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC: Your Southern California DUI Attorneys
Greenberg & Greenberg, APLC helps drivers fight DUI charges in Riverside County and the Greater Los Angeles area. With offices in San Bernardino and Riverside, we can help you navigate the DUI process from arraignment to trial. Call us today at 951-274-0003 to learn more.