Being charged with DUI can be extremely confusing, frustrating and costly.
The odds are against you, because DUI laws are designed to scare you and deny you Constitutional protections. The rules are designed to be hard to understand, and the consequences you face are severe. With each passing year, new laws
are passed that specifically designed to strip away more constitutional rights of people charged with DUI and to make it easier for the government to convict you. These laws are often passed to boost the careers of politicians, not to increase public safety.
I tell you this as an attorney who knows what to expect from the court process: Hire a lawyer, and hire a good one. Attorneys have gone through three or more years of a law school, passed the unbelievably rigorous bar exam, and eventually become licensed to practice law in California for a reason. That reason is to go to court for people. Don’t think you can do it on your own. It has been said that DUI law is the most complex area of criminal law. Because of this, a DUI attorney can easily handle ANY criminal law case, but not every criminal defense attorney can handle a DUI case.
A DUI conviction, including the years of increased insurance premiums, can cost you incredible sums of money. According to AAA (the Automobile Association of America) in March 2015, a first time DUI will cost the average California driver $15,649.00 if you are over 21. For those under 21, the average cost was calculated to be $22,492.00 (see the article in the L.A. Times). According to Angela Ilumba, an insurance industry researcher at DMV.org, a first time DMV in California will ultimately cost approximately $45,000.00.
If you are a licensed professional, such as a nurse or a commercial driver, or have any job that requires a background check, a DUI can be devastating. Losing a professional license or a job is very common with a DUI conviction.
When it comes to DUI law, what you don't know canhurt you, and it can hurt badly. The rules of DUI law are not even remotely fair to the accused. That is why you should never try to handle a DUI case without expert help.
The Court and the District Attorney treat every DUI case
as though it is the same as every other.
They will tell you to just take a "standard" plea deal, and make you think it will only get worse if you don't. It is your attorney's job to see how your case IS unique, and demonstrate that to the Court whether the DA likes it or not.
Even if you were caught driving with alcohol in your system, it doesn't mean you are guilty of DUI, and it certainly doesn't mean you have to give up. Even in a really tough case, good DUI attorney can almost always achieve a better outcome for you than you would ever get by simply pleading guilty. Some drivers are afraid that fighting a DUI will make things worse. Nothing could be further from the truth. The prosecution will take advantage of your compliance and your good will and give you the worst deal possible. There is no advantage to giving in quietly.
In most cases, an attorney can help you avoid additional jail time. However, DUI charges expose a driver to between 90 days in jail and three years in state prison, depending on the severity of the charges and the criminal history of the accused.
In most cases, a DUI conviction is a misdemeanor. Under some cases (such as a fourth DUI conviction in under 10 years, or DUI causing death), a DUI may be charged as a felony.
A misdemeanor DUI conviction can result in up to three years of probation. During that time, even a small slip-up can result in jail time. Handled correctly, probation for a first-time DUI conviction can be reduced to one year.
Court fines and fees are currently $1,943.00 for a first-time standard DUI offense. Of course, this is only a small part of the costs you face. An attorney may be able to reduce these fees by several hundred dollars even in the even you are convicted of a DUI related offense.
Drivers license suspensions can be for six months, in some cases much longer.
At least three months (and possibly more than a year) of weekly DUI classes... which, of course, you pay for.
A 19 year old driver can face insurance premiums of over $22,000.00 per year with a DUI conviction. A 40 year old can face premiums of over $15,000.00 per year. Not just your car insurance... your life insurance, professional liability insurance and other premiums can be severely affected as well.
In Alameda and a few other counties in California, even first-time DUI offenders must install an ignition interlock (breath tester) on any vehicle they drive... even for work! These devices are expensive, and require bi-monthly calibration at a service center.
Commercial drivers, teachers, nurses, accountants, doctors, dentists, pilots and many other professionals may face suspension or revocation of their professional credentials, privileges, and/ or licenses if convicted of a DUI.
And many other potential consequences...
Very often, a good DUI attorney can help you achieve a better outcome. Some plea bargains can eliminate the requirements for ignition interlocks, greatly reduce required DUI classes, lower fees, avoid jail time completely, lower fines and fees by several hundred dollars, save massive amounts on insurance, and even avoid a drivers license suspension. With tenacity, your attorney may beat your case completely. Errors in police procedures, reports, testing procedures, and equipment maintenance, civil rights violations, illegal vehicle stops and many other factors come to play.
If you are charged with DUI, you need an attorney who knows DUI law. This is a complicated area of law. Call me and I'll make sure you understand what you're facing. My consultations are free.