Whether an individual charged with a first-offense DUI (or DWI) should hire a criminal defense attorney depends on many factors, which include personal circumstances and financial ability. However, as many law firms will provide free consultations, speaking with a San Diego DUI attorney offers many benefits. Hiring an expert defense lawyer over having public defender representation may be worthwhile if it means not making a guilty plea bargain.
You Could Benefit From a DUI Defense Lawyer’s Technical Knowledge
An experienced DUI lawyer is familiar with the latest regulations for blood tests, breath tests, field sobriety testing, and checkpoint standards. Differences in test results may get the case dismissed in criminal court or the punishment reduced.
Drivers consent to certain tests when they get a license from the DMV, and this implied consent includes field sobriety tests. If a driver is accused of driving under the influence in California, they must submit to field sobriety testing. The breathalyzer test is the most widely used option.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test at the time of your traffic stop or anytime after that, you will face specific penalties under California law, including:
- Immediate suspension of your driving privileges.
- Immediate arrest at the traffic stop.
- Revocation of your license if this isn’t your first offense.
If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or have an accident while under the influence of alcohol, you should obtain legal advice from a San Diego drunk accident lawyer since the penalties are severe.
Local Knowledge Can Benefit Your DUI Case
Attorneys practicing in the immediate area are fully aware of the city, county, and state laws on DUI cases. Local lawyers know if the county funds special programs. The court may reduce the penalties or dismiss the criminal case if you agree to attend a DUI diversion program or complete substance counseling.
Experienced DUI Lawyers Have Insider Knowledge
DUI attorneys have defense strategies such as:
- Capitalizing on errors that may have occurred at the time of the arrest.
Plea deals deemed acceptable by prosecutors.
- The best dates to arrange a hearing since they have working ties with local law enforcement officials, court personnel, and judges.
Your defense attorney can use their knowledge of the inner workings of the justice system to ensure people receive fair treatment. Take this recent San Diego example of drugged driving and the conduct of law enforcement and prosecution:
In recent years, the focus has landed on drugged driving, an offense more difficult to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt. Drugged driving in California can be punished as a separate offense or in conjunction with drunk driving.
San Diego municipal officials requested a financial grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety a few years ago to improve efficiency in handling drugged driving cases. They used the money to establish a special prosecutorial unit to handle cases involving drivers they had probable cause to believe were under the influence of prohibited substances.
According to figures cited by the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, they prosecuted more than 280 drugged driving cases in one year alone, thanks to the grant’s economic resources. A more interesting figure is that the conviction rate is 98 percent in such cases.
In the past, and even with additional funds, the City Attorney’s Office had trouble demonstrating the burden of proof in drugged driving cases, which an experienced DUI defense lawyer may use to get the case dismissed. With this money, prosecutors can attend conferences and arrange training sessions for drugged driving field police officers. Experienced San Diego DUI attorneys can still seek positive outcomes for their clients.
Additional DUI Case Considerations for Seeking Legal Counsel
Consider speaking with a San Diego DUI attorney if you are unaware of your rights under the law, unsure of state DUI laws, or need to be more informed of the possible consequences that you face. Legal representation is also good if your employment relies on your driver’s license for bonding.
Serious offense situations (when legal representation is advised) include:
- This was not a first-time DUI arrest. Prior DUIs make for aggravated drunk driving charges.
- Your blood alcohol level was double that of the state legal limit.
- If an accident occurred while you were under the influence.
- If the collision caused an injury or fatality to another.
Getting behind the wheel while inebriated (DUI) must be avoided. An accident under the influence of alcohol is considered an aggravating factor, increasing the chances of harsher fines and the risk of costly civil liabilities.
Prosecutors in California actually have two forms of DUI charges:
- Consumption of (any) alcohol before driving is illegal. ‘Driving’ doesn’t have to mean operating the vehicle; it can be sitting in the front seat. There’s no legal blood alcohol content amount mentioned.
- Driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. Again, that’s a loose definition of ‘driving.’
Most people mistakenly believe they’ll only get a DUI conviction for the second charge, but the prosecution can go after them for the first one too. The system is tricky, and you will benefit from consulting with a knowledgeable San Diego DUI Attorney.
Potential Penalties for a Drunk Driving Charge
Most DUIs are prosecuted as misdemeanors. However, the penalties can be harsh, even for a first offense. These penalties can include the following:
- One year of jail time.
- Up to 5 years of summary probation.
- Fines and court fees greater than $2000.
- 1-year license suspension.
- Mandatory enrollment in a court-approved alcohol program.
- Community service.
- You must wear and pay for a SCRAM ankle bracelet to record and report alcohol consumption.
- You are required to install and pay for an ignition interlock device.
In addition, the consequences associated with the motor vehicle accident can result in the following:
- Liability insurance premium increases.
- Lawsuits deriving from property damages and personal injuries.
- Having to pay for the attorney’s fees of the other injured parties.
- Facing the possibility of a felony conviction, a criminal record, and enhanced penalties.
Contact A San Diego DUI Attorney
When you are charged with a DUI offense, resist the urge to go it alone. When added to the civil liabilities you will face from an accident, the consequences stemming from a DUI conviction are life-altering. You can lose your freedom, driving privileges, and the financial success you have worked so hard to build. You need an experienced San Diego DUI attorney to assist with your DUI criminal charges and accident liability damages. Contact the law offices of Mova Law Group. We will review your case and provide you with the best legal counsel.