For most people, driving a car is the easiest and most efficient way to get around. Though public transportation can be helpful in some situations, driving to your destination is often preferable rather than waiting for a bus or train. This is especially the case in the sprawling cities of Southern California.
What many people fail to remember is that driving is a privilege. Not everyone has access to a driver’s license, and those who do must agree to follow the law in order to obtain their license. Unfortunately, the law is not very lenient when it comes to punishing drivers. A small, honest mistake can still lead to significant punishments and consequences.
Driving while under the influence (DUI) is one such offense. Fortunately, there is hope if you have been arrested on DUI charges. With the help of an experienced DUI defense attorney, like the team at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, you can fight your DUI case and protect your rights.
For over 15 years, our Orange County DUI lawyers have been helping individuals work through their DUI cases. For many people, a DUI arrest is a low point in their lives, and our team aims to provide a nonjudgmental, compassionate Orange County DUI defense for those who need it. You can trust us to listen to your story and provide you with the best possible legal representation for your situation.
We know that DUIs are not as straightforward as many people would like to believe. In fact, there are many ways that a completely innocent driver can be arrested on DUI charges. We are here to make sure that the justice system does not take advantage of individuals and families like this and to ensure that a small mistake or error in judgment does not ruin your entire life. The punishments for DUIs can be severe, and we want to protect our clients from consequences that they do not deserve.
If you have been arrested on DUI charges in Orange County, call the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, right away. Though there are many Orange County DUI attorneys to choose from, our team leads the OC industry in professionalism, experience, and track record. You can trust us to help you avoid legal consequences, including license suspension and other DMV punishments.
Though most people have heard about DUIs, many do not know the details about these offenses. This can be dangerous and may lead to accidental offenses.
A DUI, or driving under the influence, occurs when a driver operates a car, truck, or motorcycle while under the influence of excess alcohol or any amount of drugs. In order to be considered a DUI, the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) must be .08% or higher in most scenarios. An individual can be arrested on DUI charges if they are under the influence of drugs of any kind in any amount.
If the driver is under the age of 21, their blood alcohol content cannot be above .01% while operating a vehicle. In other words, if a person who is not yet of legal drinking age gets behind the wheel after consuming any amount of alcohol, they can be arrested on DUI charges.
Professional drivers, such as semi-truck drivers, cannot drive with a blood alcohol content over .04%.
The punishments for a DUI charge vary depending on the arrest’s circumstances. Generally, the punishments for a DUI can be separated depending on the number of offenses the driver has committed. The more damage that the driver causes, the more severe the punishment will be.
A first-time DUI offense is usually considered a misdemeanor rather than a felony. The driver can expect to pay a fine between $390 and $1,000. However, additional penalty assessment may increase the amount that the driver owes in fines. Some individuals owe multiple thousands of dollars after being convicted of a first DUI offense.
Jail time is possible but not guaranteed after a first DUI. The law limits the potential sentences to between 48 hours and six months. In most cases, the judge will forgo jail time and instead sentence the defendant to probation.
Though DUIs are always considered serious and criminal offenses, judges are often lenient with individuals facing their first DUI charges. This is not a guarantee, but it puts many individuals at ease when they face their first hearing.
A second DUI offense is still considered a misdemeanor. However, some of the punishments do increase in severity from a first-time offense to a second. A second DUI comes with fines between $390 and $1,000. Just as with a first offense, additional penalty assessments can drive the cost higher.
Second-time DUI offenders may be sentenced to between 96 hours and one year in jail for their crimes. In some situations, judges will allow for community service, work programs, or house arrest in lieu of jail time. However, this is not guaranteed, and second-time offenders should expect to serve some jail time.
Though a third DUI is typically a misdemeanor, offenders can expect another increase in the severity of punishments. Third-time offenders can still expect to pay between $390 and $1,000 in fines, plus additional penalty assessments as necessary. However, the fine range remains the same as a first and second offense.
Jail time for a third time DUI is set between 120 days to 1 year. If probation is granted, the minimum jail time may be reduced to 30 days and a 30-month DUI school program. Otherwise, the offender can expect to remain in jail for at least 120 days or approximately four months.
If a single person commits four DUIs within ten years, they will be charged with a felony. They can expect to pay between $390 and $1,000 in fines and spend between 16 months and four years in prison. There are very few concessions for individuals convicted of a fourth DUI, and offenders can expect to receive strict punishments. After a fourth DUI, the state understands that the individual is a repeat offender and likely needs more help than probation or community service could provide.
Regardless of the number of DUI offenses you have, you can face felony DUI charges if you injure or kill someone while you are driving under the influence. In both incidents, you can expect to spend between 16 months and four years in prison.
If you cause another person’s death during your DUI, you can expect additional charges. Many people are charged with murder or vehicular manslaughter, depending on the details of the situation. The jail time for these offenses varies. Negligent vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated carries only about a year in jail, while second-degree murder may result in 15 years to life in a state-run prison. The jail time is in addition to other DUI penalties.
Your DUI can be considered a felony if you harm or kill someone, even if it is your first offense. The court is rarely lenient with those who harm others while driving under the influence.
The previously mentioned fines and jail sentences come from the state. However, additional penalties will likely occur through the department of motor vehicles (DMV). These penalties can have a significant impact on your daily life.
First-time DUI offenders usually get their license suspended for about six months. During this time, the person cannot legally drive. The DMV also imposes an additional administrative suspension of four months. Usually, these two suspensions can overlap.
First offenders may be permitted to apply for a restricted license. This allows them to drive to certain places such as school, work, medical appointments, etc. They must use an ignition interlock device, or IID, in order to be able to drive. A first-time offender who does not apply for a restricted license will likely have to use an IID for the first six months after they get their license back.
Second-time offenders can expect to receive a two-year criminal court license suspension. The DMV also has a 12-month administrative suspension. Usually, these two suspensions can occur at the same time rather than consecutively.
Second-time offenders may also apply for a restricted license. Those who drove under the influence of alcohol can apply right away, whereas those who were under the influence of drugs have to wait one year before applying. Second offenders must use an IID on their car for at least 12 months.
A three-year license suspension from the criminal court, as well as a 12-month DMV administrative suspension, is the standard for third DUI offenses. These suspensions may transpire simultaneously.
Third-time DUI offenders are permitted to apply for a restricted license. Alcohol offenders can apply without waiting, while drug offenders must wait for 12 months to apply. Third offenders are obligated to have an IID on their vehicle for two years.
Felony DUI offenders do not have their licenses suspended; instead, their licenses get revoked. They may not drive or apply for a restricted license. Though some may be allowed to get a license eventually, this is not guaranteed, and there is no timeline for it to occur.
Though the above provides an outline of standard sentencing guidelines, there are additional punishments that may be added to your case. These options may be offered as an alternative to traditional punishment methods or in addition to them.
Sober residence or rehabilitation are options for some DUI offenders as a way to help offenders fix the root of the problem rather than just punishing them for it. This is often an option when an individual has a known problem with alcohol or has had multiple DUI offenses and wishes to seek help.
Community service is another option that judges may offer as an alternative to jail time. Judges usually offer this for first-time offenders or for those who have relatively mild offenses, show true remorse, or have special circumstances. Community service is often used in conjunction with other punishments.
Families of individuals who were killed by impaired drivers hold impact panels for DUI offenders. In these groups, offenders are able to see how their actions can directly impact other people’s lives. These groups are usually emotional and may cause you to make different decisions in the future. This is not always a requirement, but many judges do use it as part of their sentencing.
The penalties for DUIs range greatly, and in order to ensure the minimum punishment or have hope for no punishment at all, you need a DUI attorney to make your case. If the court hears and sympathizes with your side of the story, they may opt to find you not guilty. However, if you do not have legal representation, the court cannot sympathize with your perspective because they will not hear it. DUI punishments have the capacity to be severe. Having an attorney is the best way to convince the judge to reduce your sentence if the court does find you guilty.
Fighting your own DUI case is often a losing battle. There are very specific ways that attorneys can help you to win your case. Without understanding these tactics and the rules of the court, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to create an argument that is sufficient for your case.
Though a DUI may be an honest mistake or a low point in your life, it still has the capacity to cause serious damage. The punishments can upend your lifestyle, tear your family apart, and throw your financial situation in limbo. Protecting what is important to you means giving yourself the best chance of winning your case or reducing your punishment. Both of those can only be reliably achieved with an Orange County DUI defense attorney.
Finally, a DUI can have a direct impact on you and your family. With limited driving privileges, you may be unable to do basic tasks and errands. This can cause issues for your spouse and your children and be inconvenient for you.
DUIs are serious offenses regardless of whether you are a repeat offender, and if you are found guilty, you will still have a misdemeanor on your record. Though punishments are the lightest for a first DUI offense, it is still beneficial to hire an attorney. Employers, landlords, and creditors can see this information, and it may limit some of your choices as you move forward.
Though you may not realize it, driving is a significant part of most people’s lives. DUI punishments can have a severe impact on your day-to-day life. Because your license will be restricted or suspended, you may be unable to get to and from work, go to the store, bring your kids to school, and more. Finding alternative methods of transportation is expensive and inconvenient, but that will be your only option if you lose your claim. The best way to avoid this is by hiring an attorney to represent you.
It can be difficult to imagine how to defend against a DUI. Most people believe that the breathalyzer test is enough to prove that a person is guilty definitively. That is not the case, and it is important for you to know that there are many possible defenses to DUI charges if you have an expert attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC.
Though breathalyzers are often used in traffic stops, they are not entirely reliable. It is possible for them to display BAC numbers that are inaccurate, which can make a significant difference. This is especially true if the person’s BAC is close to .08%, as it is especially easy for a breathalyzer to be slightly off.
Field sobriety tests are even more flawed. Many factors can play into the success of a field sobriety test, and they do not necessarily prove anything definitive. They may also be up to police interpretation, which can be altered by a number of factors.
In court, we can argue that your breathalyzer test was faulty or that the field sobriety tests did not prove that you were driving under the influence. This is only one possible defense that we may use, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Though many people do not know this, a police officer is not permitted to perform a traffic stop without cause. If you were driving the speed limit, staying in your lane, obeying traffic signs and signals, and following the rules of the road, the police officer had no reason to pull you over. If they discover that your BAC is over .08% during an illegal traffic stop, the evidence they found would be inadmissible, and the prosecution would have to drop the charges.
Illegal traffic stops happen more frequently than you may believe. If you were driving carefully, we might be able to use this defense in your case.
In some situations, it is possible to argue that you would have gotten from your origin to your destination before your blood alcohol content rose over the legal limit. This argument states that were it not for the traffic stop, you would have made it to your destination without breaking the law. Therefore, you should not be punished.
This is an argument that is effective under very specific circumstances. Usually, your origin and destination need to be close to one another, and your BAC has to have been recorded right at .08%.
There are situations in which people who are arrested on DUI charges were coerced into committing the crime. For example, if you are drinking at the bar with some friends who are police officers, and they encourage you to drink and drive but then pull you over when you do, you have been coerced.
If anyone else was directly involved in your alcohol consumption or driving choices, this might be a valid argument for you.
In rare situations, a driver is in a bad situation, and driving while impaired is better than remaining where they are. If you were in immediate and serious danger when you got behind the wheel, you might be able to argue that you committed a DUI as a matter of safety.
Depending on the scenario, it can be difficult to prove that you were in danger. However, this is an argument that can be successful under the right circumstances.
As in many other states, cannabis is recreationally legal in the state of California, and adults over the age of 21 can partake in cannabis consumption if they choose to. However, it is still illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis of any kind and in any amount. Unlike alcohol, cannabis cannot be detected through a breathalyzer. Blood tests are the most common form of cannabis detection for DUIs.
There are many flaws with marijuana testing and DUIs. Blood tests can detect THC, the psychotic compound in cannabis, for up to three days after a single use and even longer after habitual or moderate use. This means that these tests give very little indication of whether the driver was actually impaired while they were operating the vehicle or whether they simply took part in cannabis consumption at some point over the last several days. Because cannabis is legal, the blood test does not give reliable information to convict.
Despite this, the prosecution also uses the police officer’s report to try and convict someone of a marijuana DUI. This is flawed as well and trusts one party’s word over the others. If you have been arrested on DUI charges for cannabis consumption, it is especially important to get an attorney. These cases are fragile, and an attorney can help you to introduce reasonable doubt easily.
In some instances, additional factors make the situation worse or more egregious. These additional factors create an aggravated situation where a person can face additional charges. For example, a person can be charged with aggravated assault if they used a weapon during the crime.
A DUI becomes an aggravated offense if:
Aggravated DUIs can result in additional fines, jail or prison time, and DMV restrictions. First-time offenders often do not have to go to jail, but if your first offense is an aggravated DUI, then you can expect to serve time.
Some people believe that they can avoid DUI charges if they do not take a field sobriety or breathalyzer test. Though logically, this does eliminate a main source of proof; it is illegal not to submit to a breathalyzer test if a police officer asks you to do so under reasonable circumstances. This is part of what you agree to when you get your license from the DMV. Refusing to submit to these testing increases your charges and does not help your case at all.
Even if you believe that you are over the legal limit, you should always submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test when asked. Do not offer more information than is necessary, but cooperate with the officer.
Submitting to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test may result in your arrest if you are over the legal limit. Though you cannot resist arrest, there are certain ways that you can help your situation proceed as smoothly as possible. If you are being arrested for a DUI, you should:
Calling your attorney is an important step in preserving your claim. The sooner we can get involved in your situation, the better the outcome will be. If you wait to contact us, we will have to determine whether the case has already been ruined or compromised by something you inadvertently said or did.
Whether you are facing your first DUI offense or have multiple on your record, the key to winning your claim is finding a good attorney to represent you. Though there are many to choose from in Orange County, not all firms are the same. It is important to find the right representation for you and your case; otherwise, your chances will suffer.
Experience is the most important quality in an attorney. DUIs are very specific areas of the legal system. They are complicated, and the circumstances are vastly different for every claim. It is important to find an attorney who not only has experience in DUI defense but who has fought and won cases like yours. Ask about any potential attorney’s specific experience and how it may inform the way they fight your case.
All attorneys and law firms charge differently for their services. Some lawyers charge percentages of a settlement, while others charge an hourly rate. The hourly rate can vary depending on factors such as the attorney’s experience, the type of case, and the complexity of the situation. You should always discuss finances with attorneys that you interview. It is important that you know what to expect so that you can stay within your budget and afford legal representation throughout your entire claim.
Though you do not need to be close friends with your attorney, you should feel comfortable with them. You will have to work closely with your attorney, and you need to trust them with the truth of your experience and story. If you do not feel like you can speak openly with a potential attorney, your defense argument will be at a disadvantage. Because of this, you need to find someone with whom you can be straightforward and honest.
Your DUI defense will not work if your attorney does not believe in your argument. You do not want to be represented by an individual who is not confident in your win. Talk to potential attorneys about how they plan to build your defense and how confident they are in your success.
For over 15 years, our team has been helping individuals who are facing DUI charges. We know this time is difficult and confusing, and many of our clients feel hopeless when they begin. We are here to make sure you have the best chance of avoiding charges and getting your life back on track as soon as possible. With honest, reliable, judgment-free legal advice, your best chance of winning your case is with an expert attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC.
For more information about DUI laws, DUI offenses, and our services, or to schedule a consultation with us, please contact the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC, via our website.