A DUI defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help if you’re facing a DUI charge. A DUI conviction can upend your life and permanently damage your reputation and career. If convicted, you could face heavy fines, social stigma, jail time, and may even permanently lose your driver’s license.
With an attorney who is experienced in fighting DUI cases, you’ll have a much stronger chance of walking away with reduced charges, a lesser sentence, or even defeating your charges altogether. Find out how you can benefit from DUI lawyer services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn from our Los Angeles DUI lawyers what to expect before, during, and after your arrest for driving under the influence and how we can help you reduce or eliminate your charges.
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What a DUI Charge in Los Angeles Means for You
What should you expect if you are charged with a DUI in Los Angeles? A judge may hold an arraignment hearing for you. At this hearing, you will learn about the criminal charges you are facing. You will likely face misdemeanor charges, but some cases can result in felony charges. A conviction for a DUI could result in jail time and high fines.
You may also need to set up a hearing with the DMV after a DUI in Los Angeles. The DMV has the right to suspend your license beginning 30 days after your arrest for a DUI. You may prevent this suspension if you request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest.
An L.A. DUI lawyer can help you deal with all of the challenges associated with a DUI. A lawyer may work to get your charges dismissed and your case resolved without a conviction. In some cases, your lawyer may advise you to accept a plea bargain. You should contact a lawyer immediately after a DUI to get help on your side.
Types of DUI Charges
The severity of your DUI charges will vary depending on how many DUIs you’ve been convicted for in the past. California is far more lenient on first-time offenders than those with two, three, or even more DUIs. Even though two drivers caused the same relative amount of damage or had equal blood alcohol levels, each can have a significantly different DUI sentence.
Past DUI convictions are considered “priorable” and can be used against you if you are arrested for another one. Prior DUI convictions count against you for 10 years following the date of your arrest and they can’t be removed from your record. The prosecution may also insist on felony charges for drivers with three prior misdemeanor DUIs.
Penalties for Non-Fatal DUI Accidents
If you’re convicted of a non-fatal DUI, there are standard minimum and maximum penalties you can expect to receive depending on your number of past DUI convictions. If someone was killed, the court may charge you under Penal Code Section 191.5. These charges apply regardless of how many DUIs are on your record.
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First DUI Offense Minimum Penalties
The minimum first DUI offense minimum penalties are as follows. Note that these are just the minimum penalties and the ones you receive could be substantially more severe:
- The suspension of your driver’s license for a minimum of four months. Your suspension will be based on your criminal penalties, amounting to a minimum 3 month suspension, and a judgment from the DMV, which will lead to a minimum 1 month suspension. Your driver’s license could be easily suspended for a year or more.
- 48 hours in jail, which may be waived in exchange for a further 90 day suspension of your driver’s license.
- A mandatory three-month, $500 alcohol treatment program in order to restore your license.
The maximum penalties for a first-time DUI offense are as follows:
- Fines and fees totaling $3,600
- Six months in jail
- Longer license suspension period
- More intensive alcohol treatment
- Installation of at interlock device (at your expense)
- 30-day impounding of your vehicle (at your expense)
Drivers may face a maximum of six months of jail time for a first “simple” DUI. Some drivers may not face any time in jail. You may avoid jail time if your lawyer gets your charges dismissed or reduced.
Prosecutors are sometimes willing to reduce DUI charges for a first offense by offering the defendant a plea bargain. Make sure you allow a lawyer to go over any potential plea bargain before you accept it. Plea bargains require you to plead guilty, so they are not always your best choice. However, they may allow you to get probation, instead of jail time, for a DUI.
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Second DUI Offense Minimum Penalties
All DUI charges in the state of California are priorable offenses. This means that they remain on your driving record for 10 years. Each time you face an additional arrest, the penalties for a conviction increase.
So, what happens after you get a second DUI in California? The minimum sentencing for a second DUI is as follows:
- A minimum of 96 hours in jail
- IID usage for up to one year
- Use of an ignition interlock device (IID) for up to one year
- 18 months of DUI school
- Fines of thousands of dollars
The maximum penalties for a second-time DUI offense are as follows:
- A maximum of 1 year in jail
- 30 months of DUI school
- Fines and fees totaling $4,000
- Two years’ license suspension
- Two years of restricted driving
You face many of the same legal challenges as you would for a first DUI. However, prosecutors may not offer you a plea bargain for a second DUI. Additionally, you may face harsh penalties for a second DUI in California. You could face felony charges for your second DUI if you killed someone, which could lead to prison time and other penalties.
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Third and Fourth DUI Offense Minimum Penalties
A third DUI charge within 10 years in California will typically be treated as a misdemeanor, while a fourth DUI charge will be treated as a felony. The minimum penalties for third DUI charges and fourth DUI charges in ten years are as follows:
- Around $1,800 in total fines
- 120 days in jail (third DUI) or 180 days in jail (fourth DUI)
- Revocation of license for three years (third DUI) or four years (fourth DUI)
- No restricted driving privileges
- Mandatory 30-month alcohol treatment program
The maximum penalties for a third DUI offense and a fourth DUI offense are as follows:
- Fees totaling $18,000
- 1 year in jail (third DUI) or 16 months in state prison (fourth DUI)
- Installing an IID for two years
- Car impounded for 90 days or forfeited
- Two years of license suspension
- Two years of restricted driving
- Become a Habitual Traffic Offender (fourth DUI)
As your defense from a third DUI charge in California, your lawyer may work to show that you were stopped without due cause. A lawyer may also focus on demonstrating that your blood alcohol content (BAC) was not too high. Taking these steps may help you resolve a third DUI charge in your favor.
With a fourth DUI charge, you may face VC 23152 charges as long as you did not cause an accident while driving under the influence. However, a fourth DUI is considered a wobbler in California, which may lead to misdemeanor or felony charges.
When Does a Misdemeanor DUI Become a Felony DUI?
Los Angeles drivers may face felony DUI charges for the following reasons:
- DUI causing injury
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Gross vehicular manslaughter
- Second-degree murder
The above charges could result in felony convictions regardless of how many prior DUIs you have. Some of these charges are wobblers. For example, DUI causing injury and vehicular manslaughter are not always prosecuted as felonies. Gross vehicular manslaughter and second-degree murder are felonies.
The DUI Legal Process
The DUI legal process consists of several distinct stages. Your journey through this process begins from the moment of your arrest. It can help to know what to expect so that you aren’t caught by surprise at any stage. A DUI attorney in Los Angeles can help you understand the legal process in greater detail.
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If you are pulled over for a DUI, you’ll be given a breathalyzer test. If you fail the test, you will be arrested and taken to a police station, unless you have to go to the hospital first. At the police station, you’ll be held overnight and will be given a temporary license that expires in 30 days. This temporary license may be extended if you successfully argue your case to the DMV.
Hiring an Attorney
After you’re arrested, you will have the opportunity to secure legal representation in your case. You will be offered a public defender for free or can hire a private outside attorney. A public defender will likely encourage you to accept the prosecution’s deal, while a private attorney will want to review the evidence and potentially fight your charges.
You may also represent yourself and have no legal obligation to work with a lawyer.
Administrative Suspension in the DMV Hearing
You may need to request a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest in California. DMV hearings exist outside of your criminal case and do not happen automatically. Instead, you have 10 days following the date of your arrest to request a hearing. If you do not ask for a hearing, the DMV can automatically suspend your license 30 days after your DUI arrest.
The DMV assesses your DUI charges at the hearing. They may speak to the officer who arrested you and review the evidence of your case. Your lawyer may be able to prevent your license from being suspended by having you agree to installing an IID in your vehicle. The DMV generally allows you to continue driving if you have an IID after a DUI arrest.
During your arraignment hearing, you will learn about the charges you are facing. You will enter a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty. You may be offered a plea deal by the prosecution. In most cases, it’s in your interest to enter a “not guilty” plea, as both sides have yet to see all the evidence.
The DUI pretrial period stretches from the time you are arraigned until your criminal trial begins. A pretrial conference allows the judge to determine if your case is ready to go to trial. Only some DUI charges ever go before a judge and jury in Los Angeles.
The judge may ask your lawyer if they’ve finished the discovery phase of their case. Discovery involves investigating the charges against you and going over evidence. Your lawyer may also bring up any pretrial motions during this conference. They may request a 17(b) motion, which asks the judge to reduce your charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.
You should know that many DUI cases do not go to trial in California. In fact, your case may be resolved before your pretrial conference in some cases. A DUI lawyer in L.A. may help you resolve your charges with a plea bargain. Your lawyer may also take steps to get your charges dismissed.
Should your DUI case move to a trial, the judge will review the evidence presented by your side and the prosecutor’s. They will make a decision on your guilt and the punishment you may receive based on the nature of your alleged crime and past criminal history.
What Does a DUI Cost?
In many cases, the cost to handle a DUI charge will be several thousand dollars, once your fines and lawyer fees are added up. However, you should not assume that a lawyer will charge you this amount. Instead, it’s important that you speak with a lawyer before you agree to accept their services. Discuss their fees and how they expect you to handle any bills.
Many DUI lawyers in Los Angeles charge an hourly rate. You may not face a high bill if your case is resolved quickly, but it can grow very expensive if your DUI case goes to court. You may also choose to work with a public defender, who may charge a small fee to handle your case. This fee is generally much lower than the cost to work with a private DUI lawyer.
Can You Avoid Jail Time After a DUI?
What can you do to avoid prison time for a fourth DUI in Los Angeles? You will want to work with a lawyer right away. A lawyer may work to build a defense for you. Resolving your charges in court may allow you to stay out of prison. A lawyer could take steps to show that:
- You were stopped by a police officer without reasonable cause
- You were not under the influence when you were driving
- You were given a mis-administered BAC test
- The lab did not handle your BAC test properly
Handling felony DUI charges in California can prove very difficult. Take steps to stand up to these charges by contacting a DUI lawyer. A lawyer may focus on getting your charges reduced, so you do not face prison time.
What Can a DUI Lawyer Do for You?
DUI lawyers in Los Angeles offer their clients a wide range of services. A DUI lawyer can help you from the moment you are arrested. Your lawyer may:
Protect Your Legal Rights
Prosecutors and police officers want to secure a conviction after a DUI arrest. They may violate your rights to get a conviction. A lawyer can monitor their actions during interviews with you. Your lawyer may also watch police officers as they investigate your case.
Work to Block Evidence
The prosecutor depends on evidence to secure a conviction. A lawyer may take steps to block the evidence against you. Showing that evidence was wrongfully obtained may prevent it from affecting your case. A lawyer may also dispute evidence brought against you, such as the results of BAC testing.
Take Steps to Resolve Your Charges
Lawyers understand how to resolve DUI charges in Los Angeles. A lawyer may block enough evidence to get your case dismissed. Your lawyer may also review any plea bargains offered by the prosecution in California.
Sometimes, you may resolve a case by accepting a plea bargain to get reduced charges. Your lawyer may also stand up for you in court and handle your defense.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer for Help
The Los Angeles DUI attorneys at the Simmrin Law Group are ready to take on your case if you’re facing DUI charges. We understand what it takes to help clients accused of a DUI. You may reach out to us if you were accused of either a misdemeanor or a felony. We’re prepared to answer all your DUI-related questions with a free consultation.
Reaching out to a legal team allows you to start building a defense right away. We can help you understand pre-trial motions and your options to handle DUI charges. We know that all DUI cases in Los Angeles are different. Get personalized attention and some peace of mind by contacting us as soon as you are arrested.