California law is harsh on drunk driving. Being convicted of a DUI more than once in the last ten years is considered a repeat offense. Driving under the influence is illegal, and facing a second DUI in Orange County carries more severe consequences than the first. Repeat convictions increase punishments and make judges unlikely to give you leniency.
These penalties can harm the rest of your future, including your jobs, professional licenses, and education. Understanding how these charges work can give you a better chance to defend yourself against conviction and penalties. Your second conviction may rely heavily on the circumstances of your first offense, which makes the case much more complex. Hiring a DUI attorney is essential for lessening the impact of your second DUI offense.
For more than 20 years, the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, has been providing criminal and DUI defense and protecting their clients’ rights. You work with trusted attorneys who walk you through your case. We know how stressful a DUI charge is. Our firm can provide you with compassionate legal advice that brings you the most positive outcome possible for your case.
DUI charges are serious. Do not take them lightly by thinking you can defend yourself against these charges alone. Our office has handled many DUI cases, defending those charged and helping them avoid the worst of their penalties. We understand the intricacies of Orange County DUI law because we have dealt with it numerous times. The sooner you talk with an attorney following your arrest, the stronger the defense we can build for you. If we know the full facts of your case, we may be able to reduce or even dismiss the charges.
A DUI refers to driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or intoxicating substances. The legal limit in most of California is 0.08% blood alcohol level. This is because being under the influence impairs your ability to drive a vehicle safely and causes severe danger to yourself and others.
Although a DUI is most commonly associated with drunk driving, it also applies to other substances, including marijuana. Marijuana, whether used medically or recreationally, is illegal in any amount when operating a vehicle.
The type of DUI charge you will face depends on factors such as your record, any harm caused by your intoxication, and the passengers in your car. Your first DUI offense is taken seriously in California, but the court will sometimes be lenient if they believe you will not repeat the offense. A second offense is taken much more seriously. If you reach four DUI convictions in a certain time period, your fourth charge will automatically be charged as a felony.
If you are arrested in California while driving under the influence and you have a prior DUI, you will be charged with a second offense. Your second DUI is handled through the criminal court and California DMV, just like your first DUI. These two systems carry different penalties.
Under California law, if you have a DUI conviction on your record in the last ten years, it is considered a prior DUI. Any arrests that result in convictions after that count as your second offense.
Even if your prior DUI charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain, it may still count as a prior DUI. This includes a “wet reckless” plea deal, where you are charged with a lesser offense like reckless driving rather than a DUI. This offense is similar to a DUI, but the charge does not include alcohol or impairment. Because of this, a dry reckless plea deal is not a prior DUI charge.
If you were arrested for a DUI but never convicted, then it will not count as a prior.
If you hope to not face the full penalties for a second DUI offense, you need a skilled DUI attorney. Not only is your present freedom on the line, but so is your future. During your case, an attorney can keep you out of jail while you await your hearing. Working with an attorney gives you the most favorable chance of reducing your penalties or having the charges dropped.
An attorney can assess the details of your situation to determine your ideal defense strategy. The prosecution must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you.
Your attorney can gather evidence and be sure that all your rights are protected. They may locate police video of the event or interview witnesses in support of your case. If there is reason to believe the officer had no real reason to pull you over, this may affect the entire case. If the officer failed to follow protocol, all charges against you could be dismissed. Some of the evidence that makes for a strong case is only available to legal professionals like attorneys. You will not be permitted to obtain them yourself.
An attorney can provide you with necessary legal filings depending on your case’s circumstances. If you believe you were treated unfairly by law enforcement officers, your attorney knows how to address this. If they can prove that the police violated your rights, it can give you a better chance in court. DUI and criminal law can be complex, but a DUI attorney is well-versed in understanding, interpreting, and explaining it.
If you are offered a plea bargain, an attorney can determine if it is a fair one. Many DUI cases do not actually go to trial but are instead settled with the district attorney. An attorney can tell if the deal offered is a favorable one or if you are better off fighting the charges.
There are many consequences for receiving a second DUI conviction, and you will want to limit the harm it causes to your life. Your rights and your freedom are at stake in a second DUI case.
Even if you are not convicted of a second DUI, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may penalize you for being arrested for a second DUI. They can suspend or restrict your driver’s license. An automatic suspension of your license happens for these reasons:
If your license is suspended, you may see these consequences:
If you refused a chemical test when you were arrested, you cannot apply for a restricted license. This can lead to harsher penalties if you refuse a chemical test. For one, you cannot get a restricted license during the two years it is suspended.
Winning your DMV hearing will allow you to use your license unsuspended, but this has little impact on the court case. However, it is the only way you can avoid the automatic suspension of your license. You have the right to attorney representation in your DMV hearing as well as in criminal court. Your other rights in a DMV hearing include:
It is in your interest to involve an attorney in the process as soon as possible. Not only can this give you a better chance of having your license reinstated, but it can also ensure that you meet all the necessary legal deadlines. A DUI defense attorney who advocated for you at your DMV hearing can also understand the details of your case better when they defend you in court.
Second DUI conviction penalties are harsher and may include:
When the court assigns probation as a DUI penalty, it will include the following restrictions:
The above penalties for a DUI conviction are considered the bare minimum punishments. Because this is your second DUI offense, the judge will likely determine that you need further penalties. The court may also impose other conditions on a second offense DUI, including:
Failing to follow through on the court-ordered conditions of your probation can lead to jail time and additional penalties.
The penalties you receive and their severity will depend on the circumstances of your arrest and case. You may face more serious punishments if:
If your arrest involves aggravating factors, your penalties will be harsher. The court may increase your jail or prison sentence. If these factors were involved in your prior DUI case, that may affect how your second DUI is treated. These factors include:
If these circumstances were a part of your arrest, penalties will likely include:
You may face prison time if your DUI charge becomes a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
When deciding whether to charge you with a felony, prosecutors will assess your:
A felony comes with much more serious consequences for your freedom and life in general. It may impact your right to vote, your ability to find housing and employment, and your right to own a firearm.
When you are arrested for a second DUI, you may believe that there is no way to beat the charges. However, that is not always the case. It is more difficult than a first offense because the court will be less lenient. They will also be less convinced that you can be rehabilitated from this behavior. However, just because you were arrested does not mean you are guilty of or can be convicted of the crime.
An experienced attorney can determine if your case has grounds to dismiss the charges, fight for acquittal, or make a favorable plea bargain. There are many ways an attorney can defend against your charges. Some avenues your defense attorney may use to defend your case include:
Although a second conviction is more serious, you can still apply for expungement with the state of California. This means that it is removed from your criminal record. The requirements for expungement in California are:
If you meet those requirements, you can apply for expungement. There is no waiting period to apply, and you can petition for expungement as soon as your probation is finished. Your petition is reviewed by a judge, who will then decide whether to grant it. If your petition is accepted, the case will be dismissed.
Expungement only applies to misdemeanors with probation as a sentence. If your second DUI was charged as a felony and you served prison time, the charge cannot be expunged. If you are facing a felony for your second DUI, a DUI defense lawyer can fight to have it reduced to a misdemeanor. This can then be expunged later.
While most DUI laws are the same across the state, some counties have different penalties. For example, a first-time conviction in Alameda, Los Angeles, Tulare, or Sacramento counties will require that an IID be installed in your vehicle.
The sentencing that judges give also varies. A less lenient judge may be the reason you face a harsher sentence. Finding an attorney who serves your county and the county in which you were charged is critical. The attorney not only has more experience in those courts but also has a familiar professional relationship with judges and prosecutors. If you are facing Orange County DUI charges, you need an attorney in Orange County, CA.
California is part of the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (IDLC). This is an agreement to share arrest and conviction information about driving between 45 of the U.S. states. The California DMV receives information from these states when you apply for a California license. If you faced a DUI conviction in the past ten years, and that state’s laws are comparable to California’s, it will likely count as a prior offense.
When the DMV receives the information about the prior offense, they will determine if that makes you ineligible for a license in California. They will also check if your suspension in the other state is still active. If you applied for a driver’s license in California and received one, the DMV decided to go ahead and issue one. However, it is still considered a prior offense.
If you were convicted of a DUI in Georgia, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Michigan, or Wisconsin, it may not be reported to the California DMV. These are the five states that are not a part of the IDLC, so this may not impact your driving record in California. However, you will still face any criminal charges and penalties from that state.
You will face clear consequences through jail time, fines, probation, and other DMV and criminal penalties. However, there are other consequences that result from conviction. Not only will you potentially face social consequences and judgment, but you could also face:
The impact of a DUI conviction, especially a second DUI conviction, goes much further than some people realize. A conviction may impact your entire financial and social future if you do not have sufficient legal advocacy.
DUI defense lawyers generally operate under a flat fee rather than an hourly one. Unfortunately, because every DUI case is different, it can be hard to know what this fee will be. It will be impacted by factors such as:
It is important to talk with an attorney about their fees before hiring them. Although an experienced attorney is more costly, that experience is incredibly valuable in obtaining a favorable conclusion to your case.
If you are facing a complex case, it may be tempting to lower your costs with a less-experienced attorney. However, facing a second DUI makes it more critical that you work with a lawyer experienced in those cases. An attorney with less experience may not be aware of many of the common pitfalls of a second DUI case. Therefore, you will not have a strong defense against your charges. Without a complete defense against drunk driving or other DUI charges, your entire life could be impacted.
You want to be sure to talk openly with your DUI attorney when you begin to work with them. If you are not open in your communication, your lawyer cannot adequately represent you in a hearing, a settlement, or in court.
Alternatively, suppose you discuss your case with your attorney. You feel that they are judging you for your actions or failing to listen to what you are saying. If so, then you might consider looking for a new attorney.
You also want to find an attorney who understands the stressful nature of being charged with a second DUI. Although you have been through the DUI process before, that does not always mean that you understand the proceedings. Your attorney should be able to provide you with legal counsel that is clear and easy to understand. They should also remain compassionate toward the stress and overwhelming time you are going through. You should be able to bring your questions and concerns to your attorney. It is important that your second DUI lawyer always inform you of the steps, outcomes, and status of your case.
It can be terrifying to be faced with a second DUI while knowing the consequences of a conviction. An experienced defense lawyer is the most essential part of avoiding or limiting those consequences. Prosecutors want to use anything they can against you, and you need a proper defense against those tactics. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, we have over 20 years of experience working in criminal courts. Our firm has defended many DUI cases while protecting our clients’ rights. We want to help you protect your future with an effective and airtight legal defense.
When you or a loved one is arrested for a DUI, you need to find legal advocacy quickly. The sooner you begin to discuss your case with an attorney, the more time we have to prepare a defense that protects your future and your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, today for experienced and fierce representation.
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