1. DO I NEED A LAWYER IF I GOT A DUI?
YES! Every case is different. However, almost every case has issues that a skilled DUI Attorney can use to your advantage. Whether it is challenging the evidence against you to prove your innocence or simply doing damage control to reduce your punishment and consequences, a skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can almost always do far better than if you simply plead guilty to the charges.
2. IF CONVICTED OF A DUI, WHAT WILL MY PUNISHMENT BE?
Punishment for an alcohol or drug related DUI varies by the seriousness of the case, blood alcohol level, prior record (or lack thereof) of defendant, and many other factors. Punishment can include jail, license suspension, forfeiture of your vehicle, mandatory installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), thousands of dollars in fines, or even state prison. Standard jail sentences for a misdemeanor first offense DUI range from 48 hours to 30 days in jail; ten to sixty days for a second; 120 to 180 days for a third offense; and up to three years for a fourth, felony or subsequent offense. A skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can minimize any aggravating factors and present your case to the sentencing judge in the most favorable light, often reducing or even eliminating imprisonment or other serious consequences.
3. IF I GOT ARRESTED FOR A DUI, WILL I LOSE MY LICENSE?
For an alcohol related DUI, the DMV will act independent of the court in suspending your license. However, special rules apply in DMV proceedings, and a skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can often overturn such “administrative" suspension. For a first offense misdemeanor DUI conviction, the DMV will impose a minimum six-month license suspension; one year for a second; and three to four years for a third or subsequent offense. However, a skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can often work around these mandatory suspension periods to enable to obtain a restricted or provisional license immediately after a DUI, that will avoid any actual suspension of your driving privilege whatsoever.
4. I GOT ARRESTED FOR A DUI AFTER TAKING PRESCRIBED MEDICATIONS.
Even legally prescribed medications can result in a DUI arrest. However, it is much more difficult for the prosecution to prove that your driving was impaired by those medications. A skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can challenge that assumption, often showing that, although your medications may have been capable of impairing your driving, they in fact had not. Likewise, a skilled and experienced DUI Attorney may be able to show that an unexpected reaction to your medication is what caused any impairment, thus reducing or eliminating your responsibility for this condition.
5. CAN I BE CONVICTED OF DUI IF I WAS ARRESTED IN MY PARKED CAR, DRUNK, BUT NOT DRIVING?
A DUI conviction requires that you were DRIVING your vehicle while impaired. If they cannot prove you were actually DRIVING after consuming alcohol or drugs, they CANNOT convict you of DUI. It doesn’t matter if you had your keys in the ignition, or even if the car is running. A skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can present any evidence that shows you were not actually DRIVING while impaired.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK IN EVALUATING A DUI ATTORNEY?
You should determine what percentage of the lawyer’s practice is devoted to DUI. You should ask if the lawyer is a member of any professional DUI Attorney organizations such as the California DUI Lawyers Association or the National College for Drunk Driving Defense. You should ask if the lawyer participates in any specialized DUI defense training or education. You should determine if the attorney works with a forensic toxicology expert to analyze any chemical results in your case. DUI Defense is an extremely specialized and scientific area of law. It requires an attorney that is well abreast of recent scientific and legal developments that may impact your case.
7. IS “BUZZED” DRIVING “DRUNK” DRIVING?
NO!!! Drunk driving is legally defined as that “an individual’s ability to drive is so impaired that he or she is unable to drive a vehicle safely.” In many cases, a person can legally consume some amount of alcohol, marijuana, prescription or even illegal drugs without being legally “impaired”. A skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can present evidence that you were not impaired, despite having consumed any of these substances.
8. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A MARIJUANA OR DRUG DUI?
In most case, the punishment and consequences for a marijuana or drug related DUI CONVICTION are exactly the same as one for alcohol. However, a skilled and experienced DUI Attorney can often present mitigating circumstances that may reduce or eliminate many of the consequences.
9. HOW MUCH WILL A DUI COST ME?
A DUI conviction can result in fines between $1,700 and $2,500, DUI school fees of $500 to $1800, DMV license restoral fees of $120, and increased automobile insurance premiums of up to $2,500 per year.
10. WILL A DUI CONVICTION AFFECT MY PROFESSIONAL (NURSING, MEDICINE, REAL ESTATE, ETC.)?
A DUI conviction will often cause an “inquiry” by any State Licensing Authority. It is extremely important to handle such inquiries appropriately to minimize the likelihood of any suspension. A skilled and experienced DUI Attorney works with Professional Licensing Specialist attorney to consult and assist in making sure no such collateral consequences occur.
11. WILL A DUI AFFECT CHILD CUSTODY?
A DUI conviction can affect any ongoing child custody disputes WHETHER OR NOT THERE WERE CHILDREN IN THE CAR AT THE TIME OF YOUR ARREST. DUI penalties can be enhanced if there were children in the car, and additional child endangerment or child abuse charges may be brought.
12. WILL A DUI AFFECT MY IMMIGRATION STATUS?
Even a first offense DUI conviction can lead to denial of permanent residency status, deportation, or disqualification of “dreamer” status. A skilled and experienced DUI Attorney works with an Immigration Specialist attorney to consult and assist in making sure no such collateral consequences occur.