Westminster DUI Defense Attorney
In California, driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or illicit drugs is a serious offense that can not only lead to substantial legal penalties but also severe injuries or even fatalities. DUI is incredibly dangerous. California prosecutors tend to pursue maximum punishments for DUI convictions. If you have been arrested for DUI in Westminster, it’s vital to know what to expect and your legal options in terms of defending against the charges you face. A Westminster DUI defense attorney is your best possible ally when you are in this situation.
Without experienced legal representation, you might face heavy fines, driver’s license suspension, or even jail time. If you have previous DUI convictions within the past ten years, the penalties increase. You might miss the opportunity to highlight procedural errors made by the police responsible for your arrest that a seasoned Westminster DUI defense lawyer would have caught. Ultimately, it’s vital to find legal representation as soon as possible following an arrest for DUI in Westminster.
Possible Penalties for California DUI Convictions
Several factors come into play when a California court assesses an appropriate penalty for a DUI conviction:
- The offender’s criminal record, particularly past DUI convictions. Any previous convictions within ten years will lead to substantially greater penalties.
- The nature of the arrest. For example, a DUI arrest from a checkpoint will likely lead to less severe penalties than a DUI arrest following a serious accident. In some cases, an arresting officer may cite a driver’s erratic driving as probable cause for a DUI arrest, but there are other points of evidence they must establish to follow through with a DUI arrest.
- The offender’s demeanor during the arrest and booking processes. A driver who is respectful and mindful of the police’s instructions will likely receive more leniency than a driver who is argumentative or combative. Resisting arrest or attempting to fight off arresting officers can lead to additional criminal penalties.
- The effects of a DUI accident. If the DUI driver injured or killed anyone in the incident in question due to their impaired driving, this can mean the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony or the difference between a few days or several years in jail.
California judges will assess all mitigating and aggravating factors present in a DUI case to determine an appropriate penalty:
- First offenses typically lead to fines between $390 and $1,000, 48 hours to one year in jail, three years of probation, mandatory DUI education course completion, and a six-month driver’s license suspension.
- A second offense will lead to similar fines, 96 hours to one year in jail, a one-year driver’s license suspension, three years of probation, and mandatory completion of an 18-month or 30-month DUI education course.
- A third offense will also incur similar fines, and the offender could face 120 days to one year in jail, a three-year driver’s license suspension, and three to five years of probation with a requirement to complete a 30-month DUI education course at the judge’s discretion.
- DUI convictions beyond the third will likely lead to permanent driver’s license revocation, more substantial fines, and longer jail time.
In addition to these penalties, DUI drivers who injured or killed others due to impaired driving could face felony charges carrying multi-year prison sentences. In California, a DUI case involving an injury to another driver is often called a “wobbler,” as the offense may wobble between a misdemeanor and a felony based on the exact details of the event.
They will also be liable for civil damages from their victims, including medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and wrongful death claims in the event they killed anyone due to DUI. Ultimately, a DUI conviction can be incredibly expensive, and the penalties can cause problems for years to come.
Defending Yourself Against DUI Charges
It’s essential to know your rights and responsibilities as a licensed California driver. However, many drivers in the Westminster area misunderstand their responsibilities when it comes to DUI arrests. For example, an arresting officer may attempt to compel a driver to complete a field sobriety test. However, there is no legal mandate requiring drivers to submit to these or other preliminary impairment screenings. There is a legal requirement to submit to a formal chemical test following an arrest for DUI. However, the officer responding to the situation must establish probable cause to conduct such an arrest.
Arresting officers must comply with the California Code for Blood and Breath Testing, and any failure to do so could lead to a DUI case being thrown out. An experienced Westminster DUI defense lawyer can help their client determine whether the police followed proper procedures during a DUI arrest, such as failing to properly establish probable cause before conducting a DUI arrest.
It’s also possible to challenge the validity of the evidence the police present in a DUI case, such as citing past errors the lab responsible for processing the suspect’s chemical test committed or other procedural inconsistencies. Going to rehab can also work in your favor. Working with a reputable Westminster DUI defense attorney is the best way to identify potential defenses available in your DUI case.
Preparing for Your DUI Case
The state of California can provide you with a public defender free of charge, and most of the public defenders serving clients in California are reasonable, experienced, and competent attorneys. However, they typically handle several cases at a time. They can’t provide the same degree of personalized attention that a private defense firm like the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC can offer.
After an arrest in California for DUI, you have the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. You should take full advantage of both of these rights and refrain from saying anything that may work against you in the state’s criminal case. Your attorney can help you determine your best options when it comes to bail and building your defense.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, APC have a solid track record of successful DUI defense cases and are prepared to be your legal team when you face serious DUI charges in the Westminster area. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Westminster, CA DUI defense lawyer.