Just getting one DUI charge is enough, but unfortunately some of us make the mistake a second, even a third time. Where do you begin to prepare a defense? First you understand the penalties involved. Then you consider a lawyer. And finally you plan a strategy to avoid getting maximum penalties. This guide will show you how it’s possible to have all charges thrown out, or at the very least lessen California DUI penalties.
First California DUI Offense
For any DUI charge in any state, the first offense is obviously the one where you have room for negotiation and a better opportunity for defense. You almost always get misdemeanor charge. There are infractions, such as a speeding ticket; misdemeanors, like a DUI; and felonies, such as if you crash into someone while under the influence. A misdemeanor charge does mean you have potential jail time, that you pay fees of $400 to $1,000, and your license can be suspended (usually 4 months but sometimes more). Once you are eligible for your license, have paid all fines, and have fulfilled other requirements, you can start driving again, but usually with an ignition interlock device.
Multiple DUI Offenses
As with all states, California DUI penalties get worse the more you get. You risk a felony charge with multiple DUI charges. You have mandatory jail time, usually several months, just for a second DUI. Your license can be suspended, you may be forced to do community service, and you’ll also have to pay some fines. If you hurt someone while driving under the influence, that only places you in more trouble. Say you were drinking, tried driving home while intoxicated, and you hit a parked car with someone inside going very fast. That alone can lead to some serious charges, especially if the other driver is hurt badly. If they are killed, you may face what’s called “vehicular homicide” charges, which are as extreme as they sound.
Felony or Misdemeanor?
You definitely want to fight for felony charges to be lessened to misdemeanor charges. If guilt is clear, your lawyer might be able to limit the penalties. However, there are few if any deals when it comes to prosecuting a California DUI; most of the time, a punishment is given. If you are a repeat offender, there is a high probability of a felony. If on the other hand you made one mistake, you may be able to fight for a misdemeanor. This is assuming you have no chance of winning.
How can you beat the charges?
You do have a chance of winning against any charges, misdemeanor or felony, by understanding the process, your rights, and the importance of professional representation. As noted, prosecutors and judges are rarely lenient with DUI offenders. However, there are effective strategies for beating these charges. You might question how the officer arrested you; if they had no reason to pull you over, you can fight based on being profiled. You might also question how the breath and blood tests were done. Sometimes levels of alcohol read higher than they are.
Yes, you need an experienced California DUI lawyer if you want to win. While “winning” may seem difficult, remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. Defending yourself or using a court appointed lawyer rarely works out. You don’t know DUI laws as well as a professional, and a court appointed lawyer has no real incentive to help you win. If you want someone experienced in DUI law, who wants to help you beat the charges, and who can educate you on the process, you need a professional California DUI lawyer.