Drunk driving is a serious offense no matter the state you drive in. However, California DUI laws are especially strict, and the state takes enforcement of these laws and penalties for violations very seriously. In part, this is because driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can have lethal consequences. In 2019, 3,606 people died due to accidents caused by drunk drivers in California alone.
To discourage this dangerous behavior, California enforces strict rules and severe consequences for those caught driving while under the influence, even for a first offense. A second DUI is even more severe, and offenders experience a steep increase in penalties when they have more than one DUI offense on their record.
If you are arrested for a second DUI, it’s important to understand the severity of the situation. The consequences and the legal proceedings required can be much different than with a first DUI. You will likely face a longer driver’s license suspension, higher fines, and even jail time when you are arrested for your second offense. If you are in this position, you will need an Orange County DUI defense lawyer to guide you through the process.
When it comes to California DUI law, no one knows the system better than the criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann. For nearly two decades, we have been helping individuals after receiving charges of drunk or impaired driving. We know these cases are not always as straightforward as they seem, and many people feel they are experiencing the lowest point in their lives when they’re arrested. We are here to ensure that the state’s prosecution and their interpretation of the legal system doesn’t take advantage of you. We’ll help you fight your charges and preserve your future.
Unfortunately, DUI charges have the capacity to negatively affect your life for years to come. Errors by law enforcement are wholly possible during the arrest process, and too often, the state charges individuals when they should not. We are here to build a comprehensive defense and ensure that the court hears your side of the story.
DUI, or driving under the influence, is a charge reserved for those who are caught operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law states that anyone who is driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is not safe to drive. If someone has a BAC over that threshold and chooses to drive, they will face severe consequences.
DUI charges do not only apply to drunk driving. You can also be charged with a DUI for driving after using drugs, including marijuana. Though cannabis is recreationally legal in California, it’s still illegal to drive while high. It’s important to note that there’s no minimum threshold for marijuana, so driving after using any amount of marijuana can earn you a DUI charge.
There are different DUI charges that depend on the circumstances surrounding your situation. The court takes into account past infractions, blood alcohol content, passengers in the vehicle, whether the incident caused an accident, and whether anyone was injured. If someone dies in a DUI accident, the penalties are even more severe. Due to the factors listed, it is difficult to determine a general sentence and penalties for a second DUI.
Many of our clients are shocked by the severity of second DUI charges and how quickly the associated penalties escalate. When you are charged with multiple DUIs, there is a great deal at stake, especially when it comes to your finances for your family and your future. Second DUI convictions result in:
While jail time is optional for a first DUI and often dependent on the circumstances, second offenders are nearly always sent to jail for some time. License suspension is also fairly severe for a second DUI compared to a first offense. Many people experiencing license suspension after a DUI have trouble finding alternative transportation. If they can’t drive, they are unable to work, bring their children to school, socialize, and more.
Having an Orange County DUI attorney assist you with your case may allow you to avoid some or all of the above consequences. However, without an attorney to represent you in court, you risk receiving the most severe sentence possible. Most individuals are ordered to complete mandatory drug and alcohol training as part of their sentencing, as well.
One of the most significant possibilities in a DUI case is that you may face felony charges. While most first and second DUIs are misdemeanors, your circumstances may warrant a felony DUI. This means that the punishments will be even more severe than what is detailed above.
You may face a felony DUI if:
It’s important to note that a first or second-time DUI that causes injuries can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. These charges are known as “wobblers,” meaning that they can be classified as either type of offense. The determining factors often include the severity of the injuries, your level of intoxication, and the overall damages. When you are charged with a wobbler offense, it’s especially important to have an Anaheim DUI attorney on your side. Reducing your charges from a felony to a misdemeanor can be incredibly beneficial to your future and what you are able to do after you’ve received your penalties.
Felony DUI charges have especially severe consequences. Potential consequences include:
It is important to note that felony sentences will be served in state prison rather than in a county jail. This can mean placement far from your family and stricter rules and standards while serving time.
Arguing your own court case is never a good idea. Though your case may seem straightforward to you, the prosecution is highly skilled at introducing elements to discredit you and highlight the severity of your offenses. Without an attorney on your side, you have no access to a skilled defense to rebut what the prosecution says about you.
By hiring an attorney, you show the court that you are taking the charges seriously and are dedicated to building a comprehensive defense. We can help you develop a defense that gives you the best chance of clearing your name and avoiding severe consequences. There’s no denying that DUI cases are difficult to fight, and without an attorney, reducing your charges is next to impossible. Hiring a competent, experienced Anaheim second DUI attorney to represent you gives you the best chance at preserving your freedom.
If you’re facing a second offense DUI conviction, it will be extremely difficult to build your case. The court can see a pattern of this negative behavior and that you were not receptive to rehabilitation after your first DUI. However, it is important to remember that a second DUI arrest does not mean you are automatically guilty of the crime, and it is not impossible to reduce your charges.
Depending on your scenario, there are several potential avenues your DUI attorney can explore to defend you in court. After your second DUI arrest, contact your attorney to determine which are available to you. We have listed some of the most common below.
The most frequently used DUI defense consists of demonstrating that you were arrested illegally. Illegal arrests occur more often than most people realize because law enforcement officers can become overzealous. According to the law, officers may not initiate a traffic stop unless there is reasonable cause to do so.
For example, this means that law enforcement cannot pull you over simply because they see you leaving a bar or because you’re driving soon after closing time. Many officers initiating a traffic stop for suspicion of DUI claim that the driver was swerving, but the stop is only legitimate if the driver crosses the center line illegally. In California, swerving within your own lane is not technically illegal.
These are just a few examples of how an arrest can occur under illegal circumstances. Overall, if the officer pulls you over for an illegitimate reason and performs field sobriety tests, the results of those tests must be thrown out as they were illegally obtained. In this case, you cannot be charged with a DUI.
When you receive a driver’s license, you enter into a contract with the government that states you must submit to breathalyzer and field sobriety tests if a police officer asks you to do so. This contract means that you will incur penalties if you refuse a breathalyzer test. However, just because you are obligated to take a test does not mean your breathalyzer test was entirely accurate.
In some scenarios, arguing that the breathalyzer test was faulty may be an appropriate argument. In others, a breathalyzer may be artificially triggered by medications or other substances. A DUI attorney can help you determine if these situations have impacted your case.
Blood alcohol content does not immediately rise when you have a drink. It takes some time for the alcohol to enter your bloodstream and affect your body, mind, and reflexes. For this reason, when a driver gets into the car, and even while they are driving, they may still be under the legal limit for a DUI. However, when they are tested later at the police station, their BAC could have risen to above .08%.
Because of this phenomenon, it’s possible to argue that a driver would have made it to their destination while under the legal limit if they hadn’t been stopped. This defense is usually best for individuals who were pulled over while driving a very short distance. For example, if you are driving from one location to another just a mile away, an attorney may be able to argue that your BAC would not have reached .08% until well after you got home. By pulling you over and initiating a blood alcohol test an hour later, the officer prevented you from reaching your destination before it was unsafe for you to drive or took a BAC reading after too much time had passed by.
Though most law enforcement officers are honest and trustworthy, there are some that engage in illegal or unsavory activities. One such activity is entrapment, which can affect a DUI arrest in many different ways. In general, entrapment is a situation in which a police officer coerces or encourages you to engage in an illegal activity and then arrests you for that illegal activity.
For example, let’s say you were at an establishment frequented by off-duty government officials, and they encourage you to keep drinking, understanding that you’re likely over your limit. They then tell you that you are allowed to drive home or that driving wouldn’t be a big deal. However, once you begin driving, the official contacts on-duty authorities to arrest you. This is what’s known as DUI entrapment. Successfully proving entrapment is extremely difficult but can lead to the negation of your charges.
Finally, it is possible to have your DUI charges dropped if the officer made errors during the course of your arrest. Police officers must follow several specific steps when conducting an arrest and must follow a certain protocol. If they fail to do so, they run the risk of ruining their case. For example, police officers are required to read you your Miranda Rights if you are arrested. If they don’t, we can have the case dismissed by the court.
Though it is natural to want to know how much you’ll spend on legal representation, it is difficult to arrive at a figure without knowing the specifics of your case. All cases are different, and your fees will depend on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the length of time you will need to spend in court, and more. In general, California DUI attorneys utilize a flat fee schedule, meaning that they will calculate the cost of your case depending on the anticipated work necessary rather than the number of hours spent on your case.
It is absolutely essential to speak with your attorney about their fee structure before you begin to work with them. Attorneys are very comfortable discussing these topics, so it is important to know that you shouldn’t feel uncomfortable or nervous to ask about your costs. Developing a working relationship with an attorney you cannot afford is a waste of your valuable time—always ask about fees during your consultation.
When you hire a DUI attorney, it’s important to ensure you can speak openly with them. Their job is to represent you in court, and they can’t do that unless you are honest and communicative about your case. If you feel that they don’t listen to you, that you’re being judged, or that you’re misunderstood, you may need to find another attorney.
It’s also important to hire an attorney with a significant amount of DUI case experience. With a second DUI charge, it is especially critical to build a comprehensive, airtight drunk driving defense. An attorney without significant experience in the field may struggle in this regard. This is not the time to trust a newly barred attorney.
When you work with an experienced Anaheim second DUI lawyer, you can rely on honest and clear communication. Though your attorney has a significant amount of experience in DUI cases, we understand that you are relatively new to the process. A skilled firm will thoroughly review your case with you to ensure that you understand the details of your case and how they plan to defend you in court. Your attorney should be easily reached with any questions and concerns you may have, so you can trust that you’ll always be up to date will never be left wondering about the status of your case.
If you’ve been arrested for a second DUI, there is hope. An arrest is not a sentence, and the right Anaheim second DUI attorney will put in the work to prove your innocence or discredit the prosecution’s case. The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann specializes in multiple DUI offenses, and we will work diligently to clear your name. We understand what’s at stake for you and your family, and we’ll work hard to protect your future and your lifestyle.
For more information regarding what we can do for you or to schedule a consultation,contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann today.