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6 Frequently Asked Questions When Facing A DUI

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Driving under the influence of alcohol is not a minor offense. Because getting behind the wheel intoxicated endangers everyone on the road, the laws (and punishments for breaking them) are strict. A DUI charge can have a lasting, negative impact on your legal record, reputation, and future opportunities.

Understanding the consequences associated with DUI conviction, as well as your rights and options, is essential to navigate this challenging situation successfully and do everything in your power to avoid conviction. Below are the answers to 6 frequently asked questions people ask when facing a DUI charge!

6 Frequently Asked Questions When Facing A DUI

1. What Should I Expect After A DUI Arrest?

After your DUI arrest, you’ll be taken to jail. How long you remain in jail is entirely dependent on what day of the week you were arrested, how busy the jail is, and whether or not your arrest was a misdemeanor or felony.

Whether or not you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI charge is dependent on the circumstances of your situation, like whether you caused an accident, or if this was a repeat offense. If so, it’s likely going to count as a felony; if not, it may be charged as a misdemeanor. Most misdemeanor DUI suspects are released on their own recognizance, meaning they sign a written promise to appear in court. There are instances, however, where bail is required.

Once you arrive home from jail, it’s important that you don’t get too comfortable – that is not the end of it. A court hearing is next up, and you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to challenge your license suspension (or you lose it).

Booking records are public information, so you may receive a host of things in the mail – letters from criminal defense attorneys among them. You do need a criminal defense attorney, but it’s important to consider your options and find an attorney with experience, a winning track record, who cares about you. (Our law firm is standing by to help if you have recently been arrested!

2. What Are My Rights After A DUI Arrest?

If you are arrested for DUI, it’s important that you understand you do have certain rights, including the following:

  • The Right To Remain Silent – Legally, you are not required to respond to any statements or questions from law enforcement (though you should always be respectful and comply with their instructions otherwise).
  • The Right To Refuse A Field Sobriety Test – You have the right to refuse to take any FSTs; however, it’s important not to confuse this with a chemical BAC test (breath, blood, urine, or saliva test). Refusal to take a BAC test can be taken into consideration during your sentencing, as well as at the DMV administrative hearing for suspension of your driver’s license.
  • The Right To Not Be Stopped Without “Reasonable Suspicion” – If law enforcement doesn’t have a valid reason to pull you over in the first place, the entire case should be thrown out. A DUI attorney can help with this.
  • The Right Not To Be Arrested Without Probable Cause – Without probable cause, law enforcement cannot take you into custody.
  • The Right To Speak To An Attorney – You have the right to speak to an attorney, as well as have one present, at any point in your case. If you cannot afford your own private attorney, you have the right to be represented by a public defender.

3. Should I Hire A DUI Attorney?

If you’re wondering if you’re allowed to defend yourself after a DUI arrest, the answer is yes, you can, but that doesn’t mean you should. In fact, we wrote a whole blog explaining this – “The Disadvantages Of Representing Yourself: Why You Need A Criminal Defense Attorney,” – and it clarifies how detrimental self-representation in criminal cases can be to the outcome of your case.

The lack of professional help can lead to more severe penalties, legal complications, and headaches than you might anticipate. Working with an experienced DUI defense attorney can give you an advantage in reaching a more favorable result that minimizes consequences and protects your legal rights.

4. What Are The Potential Penalties For A DUI Conviction?

It’s important to remember that the penalties for a DUI conviction can be circumstantial. Aggravating factors, which can increase the severity of a criminal act, may result in harsher sentencing if they are present. Some of these factors include prior convictions, high BACs, reckless driving, speeding, having a suspended license at the time of the crime, causing injuries or property damage, and having a child in the vehicle at the time of the offense.

Penalties for a DUI conviction in California can include, but may not be limited to, the following:

Penalties For 1st Time DUI Offenders Penalties For 2nd, 3rd, And 4th Time DUI Offenders
  • 4-6 months of license suspension.
  • Forty-eight hours in jail or five days of work release.
  • Fines and fees (totaling more than $3,000).
  • Paid participation in a three-month Drinking Driver Program (alcohol school).
  • Three years of summary probation.
  • 2-3 years of license suspension.
  • Fines and fees (totaling more than $3,000).
  • 18-30 months in a Drinking Driver Program (alcohol school).
  • Five years of probation and 30-180 days in jail.
  • Mandatory Interlock Ignition Device for 1 year.

5. What Happens To My Driver’s License?

As previously mentioned, a first-time DUI offense can result in a 4-6 month license suspension, and second, third, and fourth-time offenses can result in a 2-3 year license suspension. When an officer issues an order of suspension, they should also give you a temporary license to drive for 30 days from the date the suspension was issued.

Additionally, you will have 10 days from your arrest date to request an administrative hearing, which provides the opportunity to demonstrate that the suspension of your license is not justified. Otherwise, your license will be reinstated at the end of your suspension, as long as you pay a $125 reissue fee to the DMV and provide proof of financial responsibility (insurance).

6. How Can A DUI Affect My Future?

With a conviction as serious as DUI, the effects the charge can have on various aspects of your life can be catastrophic. It’s possible you could lose your job (especially if your job requires your ability to drive), and future job prospects may be compromised if the DUI stays on your record. This can make it difficult, if not impossible, to cover everyday utilities, which might lead to the loss of your housing.

In addition to professional and financial implications, it may also cost you certain relationships. The social stigma that surrounds a DUI conviction can be debilitating to your reputation. The people in your life may struggle to understand the mistake you’ve made, making it hard to move on.

Additionally, if you share custody of a child, your inability to pick them up or drop them off might lead to the need for a modification of your arrangement, and having less time with your child is probably the last thing you want. That’s why it’s crucial to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney who can protect your rights and future.

How Strongest Defense Can Help You

If you were arrested for DUI, it might feel like your life is over, but it isn’t! Strongest Defense is here to help you navigate the journey ahead. We know how overwhelming a DUI conviction can be, so we will do our best to address all your questions and concerns in order for you to have peace of mind.

David Lehr, our lead DUI defense attorney, is one of the most experienced and well-respected defense attorneys in Ventura County. Beyond legal guidance and support, he can also help you find a treatment program if alcohol is a serious problem in your life. Call Strongest Defense today to schedule a free consultation and discover your next steps!