Santa Ana Juvenile DUI Lawyer

Representing Underage DUI Offenders in Santa Ana, CA

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious criminal offense that can lead to severe penalties. This is especially true for drivers under 21, who are legally prohibited from consuming alcohol. If your child has been charged with DUI, you need a Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney who can provide the legal counsel you need for a complex case like this. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, we understand how stressful these experiences are for juvenile offenders and their parents. We strive to provide criminal defense representation you can trust to help you navigate this situation with confidence.

Should I Get a Lawyer for First-Time DUI?

It is always vital to have legal counsel on your side when you have been charged with any criminal offense in California. All American citizens have the constitutional right to legal representation when accused of crimes, and it is vital for anyone facing a juvenile DUI case to take full advantage of this right.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that a first-time DUI offense will entail a light sentence. This is especially true for juvenile DUI cases. California upholds strict penalties for DUI convictions that can negatively influence your life for many years to come. This can be especially difficult for a juvenile offender; a single conviction could jeopardize their entire future. Hiring an attorney significantly improves your chances of avoiding conviction, or at the very least, minimizing the penalties for a conviction under California law.

How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost in California?

It’s common for people facing criminal charges to shy away from hiring legal counsel due to the notoriously high cost of legal fees. The cost of representation pushes many people in this position to seek legal counsel from public defenders, who are available to anyone accused of a crime at no cost. While most public defenders are capable attorneys who do the best they can for every client they represent, they must handle multiple cases at a time due to the nature of their work. This prevents most public defenders from providing much individual attention to any given case.

A private Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney can offer a much higher level of defense representation than a public defender. When you choose a firm like the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, you can expect a comprehensive review of your case, and consistent, responsive communication with your legal team, as well as extensive legal counsel through every phase of your proceedings.

Potential Penalties for DUI in California

Every state upholds unique laws concerning DUI. Typically, the penalty for DUI conviction hinges on the offender’s record of past DUI convictions and the severity of the offense. California state law uses the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) system to determine DUI violations. The legal limit for DUI in California is .08%. However, this only applies to drivers over the age of 21. Since it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to purchase, own, or consume alcohol, California upholds a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage DUI. This means any detectable amount of BAC, even if it is below .08%, can lead to a juvenile DUI charge.

Anyone convicted of DUI in California faces a wide range of penalties, including:

  • Fines. The amount the offender must pay in fines depends on several factors, including the severity of the offense and their record of past DUI convictions.
  • Jail time. Some DUI convictions can lead to incarceration in county jail or state prison, depending on the severity of the offense and whether the offender has previous DUI convictions on their record.
  • Driver’s license suspension. The offender will face an administrative suspension of their driver’s license from the California Department of Motor Vehicles and an additional suspension as part of their sentencing in criminal court. However, these two suspensions overlap.
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) installation. Some DUI offenders will need to have an IID installed on their vehicles after completing their suspension. These devices prevent vehicles from starting until the driver provides a breath sample. If the IID detects alcohol on their breath, the system prevents the vehicle from starting.
  • DUI school. A convicted DUI offender may need to attend classes on driver safety and drug and alcohol education. The hours they must complete typically depend on their number of prior convictions.
  • Mandatory substance abuse counseling. This penalty is likely if the judge believes the offender suffers from a substance abuse disorder.

In addition to these penalties, a DUI conviction on the offender’s record can make it difficult for them to secure some employment, qualify for financial aid, or attend certain schools. For a juvenile offender in this situation, they face the same penalties for DUI as most adults. Typically, the penalty for juvenile DUI in California will include fines between $1,400 and $2,800, jail time for four days to six months, and driver’s license suspension up to 10 months. It is also common for judges to sentence juvenile DUI offenders to community service in addition to the standard penalties.

A juvenile convicted of DUI should also expect to encounter insurance-related issues after conviction. Their insurance carrier may decide to terminate their auto insurance policy after their conviction or refuse to renew it. Additionally, it will be very difficult for the juvenile offender to qualify for a new auto insurance policy through other carriers. Even when they qualify, they will likely face a much higher premium rate due to the perceived higher risk their conviction indicates.

Important Things to Remember During a Traffic Stop for Suspected DUI

California state law upholds an implied consent doctrine when it comes to chemical testing for DUI. However, many people conflate legal chemical tests with preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) tests. The law requires all drivers to submit to chemical testing following lawful arrests for DUI, but there is no legal requirement for a driver to submit to a PAS test. However, there are exceptions to this, namely drivers who are out on probation for a previous DUI and underage drivers. While a driver over the age of 21 has the right to refrain from a PAS test, an underage driver does not, and if the PAS test reports a BAC level of any detectable amount, the police have the right to arrest the underage driver for DUI.

A juvenile does not have the right to refuse a PAS test if a police officer conducting a traffic stop establishes probable cause for DUI. While California’s zero-tolerance policy may seem unfair to some, the reality is that it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. However, if you are under 21 and the police arrest you for DUI, this may not be an entirely hopeless situation for you if you have the right Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney handling your case.

Defending Against Juvenile DUI Charges

Any juvenile DUI case can be difficult, but the right attorney can guide their client through this situation with confidence. If you have been arrested and charged with juvenile DUI, or if you are a parent and receive a call from your child from the local police station informing you that they have been arrested for juvenile DUI, it is vital to consult a Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Every American citizen has two fundamental constitutional rights that come into play when they are arrested. First, they have the right to remain silent to prevent self-incrimination. When the police read an arrested suspect their Miranda rights, they will inform them that anything they say can be used against them in a court of law. While some people who feel wrongfully accused may attempt to protest their arrest and explain the situation, it is always best to remain silent until you have legal counsel on your side. This is the next crucial right everyone should know in this situation: the right to an attorney.

Many people convicted of criminal offenses choose legal representation from public defenders. These legal representatives are available to anyone free of charge, and most of them are talented and compassionate attorneys capable of guiding their clients through their cases successfully. However, most public defenders are responsible for multiple cases at a time and cannot offer much individual attention to any given case. You will receive a much higher level of defense representation when you work with a private Santa Ana juvenile defense attorney.

Possible Defenses to Use in Your Juvenile DUI Case

If you or your child has been arrested for juvenile DUI, the case will proceed from arrest to booking to arraignment. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, it may be possible to leave jail until your court date, or you may require a bail bond to be released. If you can leave, it is vital to appear on time for your scheduled court date; otherwise, a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Your Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney will help you determine the best available defenses in your situation. In all criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt—meaning there must be no room for a reasonable person to question the defendant’s guilt. Prosecutors will rely on physical evidence like chemical test results, the police report from the arresting officers, and witness statements to attempt to meet this standard of proof.

Your attorney will likely begin determining your best available defenses by reviewing the evidence the prosecution has and looking for inconsistencies and other weaknesses in their case. Your legal team should look for any reason they can find to challenge evidence the prosecutor presents:

  • A good Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney should carefully review the chemical test results used to justify your arrest. They may challenge the police’s handling of the breathalyzer equipment, or if a lab processed your test results, your legal team might investigate the lab’s history of false positives, poor testing conditions, and other issues that may have contributed to compromised test results.
  • Your attorney will thoroughly analyze the circumstances of your arrest to ensure the police followed the laws of due process. If the police violated your constitutional rights in any way during your arrest, this could be enough to have your case thrown out entirely.
  • If the police did not establish probable cause to conduct the traffic stop in the first place, this might also be enough to qualify a juvenile DUI case for dismissal.

These are just a few examples of the possible defenses your Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney might employ on your behalf.

If your attorney surmises that conviction is unavoidable in your situation, they can help you with the plea bargaining phase of the criminal process. Most prosecutors are willing to plea bargain with defendants; in exchange for a swift guilty plea that will entail minimal proceedings, the accused will receive a lighter sentence or reduced charges. For example, your Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney could potentially help you plead down to a “wet reckless” instead of a DUI, which entails much lighter penalties than a DUI conviction.

What to Expect From Your Santa Ana Juvenile DUI Attorney

Any juvenile defendant facing DUI charges for the first time is likely to feel scared and uncertain about the situation. A DUI conviction can interfere with future job prospects, insurability, and even the ability to attend certain schools. If you or your child are facing juvenile DUI charges, a Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney provides the best chance of avoiding the most severe penalties California state law prescribes for these offenses.

The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, can provide the comprehensive criminal defense representation you need to navigate your juvenile DUI case with greater confidence. Our firm has years of experience handling the most complex DUI cases, including those involving juvenile defendants. If you are ready to discuss your legal options with an experienced and compassionate Santa Ana juvenile DUI attorney, contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn more about the legal services we can provide.