Fullerton DUI First Offense Attorney
Have you been arrested in Fullerton for a first-time DUI? Facing criminal charges of any kind can be an incredibly stressful experience, but a DUI conviction, even a first one, can have dramatic repercussions on your life and negatively affect you for years to come. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs is illegal in every state, and California state prosecutors are particularly aggressive in pursuing convictions for DUI offenses. There is no guarantee that a first-time DUI offense will result in minimal charges but hiring an experienced Fullerton DUI first offense attorney is a great option for mitigating the severity of the punishments you face.
At the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, we understand that a DUI arrest can put the rest of your life on hold, making it impossible for you to focus on anything until your case reaches some type of conclusion. Our goal is to provide comprehensive and compassionate criminal defense representation when you need it most. We can answer the many DUI-related questions you are likely to have after a first-time DUI arrest, including your available defenses and what penalties you face.
Do I Need an Attorney for a DUI First Offense?
Even if you did not cause an accident or hurt anyone while driving impaired, you could face severe legal consequences for your first-time DUI offense. In California, the penalties for DUI conviction increase dramatically if you have multiple DUIs on your record, and first-time offenses generally lead to the lightest penalties. However, this does not mean you should assume that you will only receive probation and a small fine for your first DUI offense.
An experienced Fullerton DUI first offense attorney is your best asset after your first arrest for DUI. Your attorney can help you understand your legal situation more clearly and help you prepare for the legal proceedings you are likely to face in the near future. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, our team knows how troubling it can be to face an uncertain sentence for a first-time DUI, and our goal is to help you understand your situation more clearly and approach your legal proceedings with confidence.
Can a Lawyer Get a DUI Reduced?
A DUI defense attorney’s main goal is to have their client’s charges dropped if at all possible or mitigated if full dismissal is not possible. First-time DUI offenders are most likely to receive reduced sentences, and it is even possible to plea down to a “wet reckless” or lesser charge under certain conditions. If you are unsure of the severity of the penalties you face, an experienced Fullerton DUI first offense attorney can analyze the details of your case, help you determine your available defenses, and guide you through the initial phases of your DUI case.
Depending on the nature of your arrest, you may have one or more defenses immediately available to you. For example, a good Fullerton DUI first offense attorney will look for problems with the police’s handling of your case and the validity of their evidence. If the police violated your right to due process, did not read you your Miranda rights upon arrest, or did not properly obtain probable cause to conduct the traffic stop that led to your arrest, these could constitute grounds to have your case dismissed outright.
If immediate dismissal is not an option in your case, your attorney’s next move will likely be a close examination of your chemical test results and the manner in which the police and the testing lab handled your chemical test sample. For example, if the police used outdated equipment or a faulty testing kit, this alone could amount to valid grounds for contesting the result of your chemical test. If the lab that managed your chemical test has a record of mishandling evidence or producing faulty test results, this could also form grounds to challenge the validity of your chemical test results.
Ultimately, you have the best chance of having your DUI charges reduced by securing criminal defense representation as soon as possible after your arrest. The first steps you take from the moment the police stop your vehicle are crucial if you want to protect your rights and increase your chances of avoiding the severe penalties for DUI conviction in California.
Essential First Steps in a DUI Arrest
There are many misconceptions surrounding the DUI laws in California, particularly the state’s implied consent law that applies to chemical testing for DUI. All California drivers give their implied consent to chemical testing after a lawful arrest for DUI. Many people conflate the official post-arrest chemical testing with a preliminary alcohol screening administered during a traffic stop or at a DUI checkpoint.
While you must legally submit to a chemical test for DUI after a lawful arrest for DUI in California, there is no legal obligation to submit to any preliminary screening. The only exceptions to this rule include drivers under the age of 21 suspected of DUI and drivers who are already on DUI probation.
It’s vital for California drivers to understand that submitting to a preliminary screening is rarely a good idea. Even if you know you have not consumed alcohol, the preliminary test may report that you have a noticeable blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). The police must establish lawful grounds to conduct an arrest for DUI before you are under legal compulsion to agree to a chemical test. It is always in your best interests to be cooperative with the police even if you believe they are wrong in arresting you. Just be sure that you do not self-incriminate or admit to any fault during the arrest and booking processes.
If you are arrested for DUI, you must submit to a formal chemical test, typically conducted at the nearest hospital. If you do not, you face an automatic administrative suspension of your license under California’s implied consent law. While you do not have the right to speak to an attorney before a formal chemical test for DUI, you do have the right to contact an attorney as soon as the police complete your booking process.
License Suspension Following DUI Arrest
The arresting officer handling your arrest and booking processes must provide you with a notice of suspension after confiscating your driver’s license. This notice of suspension acts as your temporary license for up to thirty days, and you have the right to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within ten days. This hearing provides you with an opportunity to determine whether you face driver’s license suspension as a consequence of your DUI arrest. Since you only have ten days to prepare for this hearing, it is important to act swiftly to secure legal counsel for the best chance of fighting your license suspension.
Will I Get Probation for a First DUI?
It is highly likely that anyone convicted for DUI for the first time in California will face probation for three to five years. A first-time DUI conviction is a misdemeanor in California, so in addition to probation, you will incur a fine of $390 up to $1,000 plus additional penalty assessments depending on the specific details of your case. These penalty assessments can sometimes total in the thousands of dollars.
While under DUI probation, it is vital for you to follow the terms of probation or you risk going to jail. DUI probation requires you to refrain from further violations of California state law, refrain from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system, and compels you to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening if a police officer stops your vehicle and requests for you to do so.
Additional Penalties for a First-Time DUI Conviction
Another noteworthy penalty for a first-time DUI conviction is suspension of your driver’s license. The administrative suspension from the DMV can run in tandem with a suspension required as part of your criminal sentencing, but these two suspensions overlap and cannot extend any more than the longer of the two suspensions. In California, a judge will be required to suspend a first-time DUI offender’s driver’s license for six months. However, first-time DUI offenders typically get to choose between a 12-month restricted license or a six-month ignition interlock device (IID) following license reinstatement.
An IID is a device that attaches to your vehicle’s starting mechanism, requiring the driver to blow into the device before the engine will start. The IID has a small computer inside of it that logs each use of the device, and it will not allow the vehicle to start if there is any measurable amount of BAC on the driver’s breath. If you require IID installation on your car, you will be responsible for the installation and maintenance charges, and any tampering with the device can result in severe criminal penalties.
When it comes to reinstatement of your driver’s license, the administrative license suspension from the DMV will typically require you to complete a driver safety course or DUI education course. You will be required to pay for this course, and the course itself may take three to nine months to complete.
It is also important to remember that your first-time DUI conviction can result in more severe penalties depending on the circumstances of your offense. For example, if you were arrested at a DUI checkpoint and did not hurt anyone or cause any property damage, you are more likely to receive a lighter sentence than a first-time DUI offender who caused a deadly accident with an extremely high BAC.
Defending Against DUI Charges
It is worth taking full advantage of your legal rights and fighting DUI charges as much as possible. Your Fullerton DUI first offense attorney will review the evidence against you and look for the best available defenses. Typically, there are two main defenses to explore when facing a first-time DUI conviction:
- Due process violations. The police must follow due process when conducting traffic stops for suspected DUI, and they must also follow due process laws when conducting an arrest and booking a driver suspected of DUI. If the police failed to establish probable cause before stopping your vehicle, did not read you your Miranda rights, or otherwise violated your Constitutional rights in any way while handling your arrest, this can form grounds that your attorney will use to petition the court for dismissal of your case.
- Credibility and admissibility of evidence. The next best available defense when you are facing a first-time DUI conviction is challenging the prosecution’s evidence. This may include contesting the manner in which your chemical test sample was obtained, the validity of the test results, or the conditions in which the testing laboratory-verified your chemical test results.
An experienced Fullerton first offense DUI attorney will help you determine whether you can challenge your DUI arrest on these grounds. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, our goal is to minimize our client’s penalties as much as possible, including full dismissal of their charges whenever possible.
Find Reliable Legal Counsel in Fullerton, CA Today
Experiencing your first arrest for DUI can be an incredibly startling experience. As long as you remember the value of legal representation, you can face the legal proceedings ahead with greater confidence. After the police complete your arrest and booking procedures, you may have the ability to go home depending on the severity of your offense. While you are waiting in the police station, you have the right to make three phone calls within three hours of your arrest under California state law. You will probably need to call a family member or friend to pick you up if you are able to leave, but one of your phone calls should be to the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann.
The sooner you call a Fullerton first offense DUI attorney, the sooner your legal team can start building your defense. Our legal team has extensive experience representing first-time DUI offenders in southern California and can provide the reassurance and professional legal guidance you need during a difficult time. If you need legal representation from a Fullerton first offense DUI attorney, contact us today and learn more about the criminal defense representation our team can offer.