DUI, driving under the influence, is a serious charge. If you are convicted of DUI it could wreak havoc on your life for years to come. DUI charges can catch you completely off guard. If this is the first time you have been arrested for DUI you are likely feeling scared and unsure about what will happen. In California, the legal drinking limit is 0.08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). Law enforcement executes field sobriety tests and preliminary blood alcohol tests to determine whether a driver is likely over the legal limit.
You Do Not Have to Plead Guilty
Many people who get charged with DUI simply plead guilty. If you plead guilty you are no longer able to defend the charges and therefore must accept the penalty the judge puts before you. Although it is not all that common, there are some ways you can seek a dismissal of DUI charges. There are only a couple of circumstances that could warrant an outright dismissal of DUI charges. These include when the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to prove the charges or when the evidence was gathered illegally due to improper actions of law enforcement. The best time to seek help from an experienced DUI attorney is immediately after your arrest. Your attorney will work to gather information about the arrest and the evidence in your case.
While an outright dismissal of charges is not always possible, there may be a possibility of reduced charges. Your attorney may work with the prosecutor to negotiate reduced charges. A plea deal is an agreement to accept lower charges, to which you will plead guilty. Reduced charges are often preferable to DUI charges because they carry lower penalties and less harm to your record. For instance, you may be able to plead guilty to reckless driving rather than DUI, which could lower the potential sentence and impact on your license.
Diversion Program in California
California has a pretrial diversion program in place for many types of misdemeanors and first time offenses. A diversion program is a program that allows some low-level offenders the opportunity to complete various steps in order to have the charges dropped. The judge has the ability to determine the steps you must complete, such as completion of an alcohol or drug abuse program. Once you successfully complete the program requirements, the charges will be dropped. If you fail to comply within the allotted time, the charges will move forward. Speak to your attorney to find out if you may qualify for such a program.
With a first offense, you are generally facing fines and informal probation along with the requirement of completing an alcohol program. The judge has some leeway to determine your sentence within a guideline range. Although you may be found guilty of DUI, you may be able to obtain some reduction in the impact of your sentence due to mitigating factors. If this is your first DUI, you are in a better position to show that you are not going to let this happen again. Further, your attorney will demonstrate that you are a good citizen and have a job, which can positively impact sentencing.
DUI charges can be terrifying, but you do not need to face them alone. Call our legal team for help defending DUI charges at David Lehr Law at (805) 477-0070 for a free case evaluation.