If you have recently been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), you must start thinking about how you are going to clear your name of these allegations. Unfortunately, although you might have thought drunk driving was a seemingly minor offense, the state of California takes these charges seriously.
The consequences of a conviction will be felt across every aspect of your life. If you hope to avoid some of the more severe penalties of a guilty verdict, you must act now. Reach out to an aggressive Bel Air DUI lawyer to learn more about how to approach your defense.
When You Can Be Charged with a DUI in Bel Air
There are many misconceptions about when you can and cannot be charged with driving under the influence in Bel Air. To be accused of a criminal offense under California Vehicle Code 23152, the prosecutor will need to be able to show that you were in control of a motor vehicle and under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the same time.
Police will attempt to prove you are intoxicated or impaired by having you participate in a field sobriety test or blow into a breathalyzer. The state of California has implied consent laws, so you must agree to chemical blood alcohol testing. If you do not, your driver’s license will be suspended for at least one year, even if you are ultimately acquitted of the DUI in question.
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels are at .08% or more, you can expect to be charged with a DUI. Your attorney will then work diligently to review the evidence and determine whether these charges can be reduced to a lesser offense or if we need to advocate for your liberties at trial.
DUIs Can Be Charged at the Misdemeanor or Felony Level
Bel Air DUIs are wobbler offenses. You can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony DUI at the prosecutor’s discretion. If mitigating factors are present, you could typically expect misdemeanor charges. However, if there are aggravating factors, you will likely face felony-level DUI charges. Your Bel Air DUI attorney can explain how these conditions apply to your case.
Misdemeanor DUIs are the lesser offense. You can generally be charged with a misdemeanor DUI if this is your first time being charged with drunk driving. However, second and third DUI offenses could also be charged at the misdemeanor level as long as no aggravating factors are present.
Once you have been charged with your fourth DUI, you will likely face felony charges. However, suppose you are a first-time offender and cause significant property damages or cause someone to suffer serious bodily injury or death due to your intoxication. In that case, you could be charged at the felony level.
Felony DUI convictions carry far more severe penalties than those charged with a misdemeanor. For this reason, you must take action to prepare a powerful defense if you anticipate felony charges.
What Happens if You Are Found Guilty of a DUI in Bel Air
The consequences can be far-reaching when you are convicted of a Bel Air DUI. You need to prepare for criminal penalties as part of your sentencing. These punishments vary considerably based on whether you were charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI, your criminal background, and whether another party was injured or killed.
Generally, penalties for a DUI conviction can include the following:
- Attendance at DUI school
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Time in a county jail or California state prison
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license
- Community service
- Summary or formal probation
You Entire Life Could Change After a Conviction
Once you have fulfilled the terms of your DUI sentence after a conviction, you should also expect the impact of your case to continue to haunt you. You will likely be placed on probation and need to meet specific terms, including passing drug tests, meeting with your probation officer, finding a job, and staying out of trouble.
However, you could also:
- Lose your firearm rights
- Be disqualified for federal student aid
- Lose your job
- Lose your professional license
- Be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
- Be ordered to attend rehabilitation therapy
- Lose your voting rights
How to Handle the DUI Charges Against You
When you have been charged with a DUI, your criminal defense lawyer will need to carefully analyze the details of your case and determine how to approach your defense.
We will begin by scrutinizing whether the police stop in question was lawful. The police must have probable cause to pull you over and search your vehicle or person. If they do not have that cause or otherwise act unlawfully, the case against you could be tossed out before it even begins.
We might also review whether the breathalyzer test results are accurate, whether lab officials made mistakes, or whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed with your case. Your DUI attorney in Bel Air may be able to file a motion to get your case dropped based on this evidence or lack thereof.
Avoid Trial with Pretrial Diversion
You may not even need to bring your case to trial. You may be eligible for a pretrial diversion program if the district attorney is willing to work with you. You may need to:
- Attend counseling
- Complete community service
- Pay court fines
You might also have other requirements that need to be met based on the specific details of your case. Once you complete these terms, the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the case against you or reduce your charges. However, failure to fulfill these requirements means the prosecuting attorney has the authority to move forward with your Bel Air DUI case.
Meet with a Dedicated DUI Lawyer in Bel Air for Help Today
Anyone previously convicted of a DUI understands how severe the consequences can be. If you hope to get back to your life and avoid some of the harsher effects of a guilty verdict, you must get help defending yourself.
Get in touch with a reputable Bel Air DUI lawyer to learn more about which defenses could be the best fit for your case. You can reach us through our online contact form or phone to schedule your confidential case review as soon as today.