Peace officers in California are incredibly vigilant about pursuing individuals who may have been driving drunk. The law empowers them to arrest individuals for DUI even if they haven’t seen them driving. You can be standing next to your car and still end up charged for a DUI.
In this case, being charged with being drunk in public may be the more appropriate offense. But if you represent yourself, you can find that the prosecution has no interest in an offense with a lighter penalty.
It is understandable that prosecutors can be picky about which charges they plea down or dismiss. The DMV reports that more than 70% of all DUI arrests lead to a conviction. The rate is likely much higher among individuals who represent themselves compared to those who get a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases.
If you are interested in hearing what a skilled DUI lawyer can do to help you, you can schedule a free consultation by calling (310) 896-2724 or entering your information on our contact form.
Many people are hesitant about looking for a DUI lawyer because they’re concerned about the cost. However, the costs of a DUI conviction can be tremendous on their own. They can include:
- $1,000 in fines and additional court assessment fees (for several thousand dollars more)
- Paying for an ignition interlock device (IID) in every car you regularly drive
- Footing the bill for three months of a mandatory DUI class
- Spending up to six months in jail
- Going without a license for six months
- Two points added to your license
- Additional insurance costs
- Three to five years of probation
The above penalties assume that you don’t have a prior DUI record or other aggravating charges tacked on. Repeat DUI offenses and other sentence enhancers will add to the money you’ll have to pay the government and to the length of time you will be affected by the other penalties.
DUI Compared to a Drunk in Public Charge
While both a “simple” DUI and a public intoxication charge under Penal Code Section 647(f) are criminal misdemeanors, a conviction under the latter can be much better for you. Benefits of a drunk in public charge over a DUI can include:
- Lower fines
- No mandatory jail sentence
- Shorter probationary period
The benefits are more severe if you have a history of DUI convictions or your arrest included aggravating factors, such as refusing a breathalyzer. A public intoxication charge also will not count against you if you’re arrested for a DUI later.
Why Having a DUI Lawyer is Important
Prosecutors use plea bargains to ease the burden on the justice system and to secure convictions more easily. However, these plea bargains are not always improvements over the types of sentences individuals get at trial. Prosecutors will always pursue the maximum penalty they can get.
In order to get a more favorable plea bargain, or to have the charges dismissed without waiting for a jury, the evidence against you must be properly challenged. The more holes that are put into witness testimony or the more evidence that is suppressed, the more likely it is that the prosecutor will offer you a lesser charge. Prosecutors would prefer a conviction for a lesser charge through a plea bargain over losing in court.
Knowledge about how to challenge the evidence and negotiate with the prosecution is why you hire a lawyer. An experienced DUI lawyer knows to look at:
- Discrepancies in the arresting officer’s notes and testimony
- The justification given for probable cause leading to the arrest
- The maintenance logs for the breathalyzer
- The way the lab handled the chemical tests
- Underlying conditions that might explain a high reading (rising blood alcohol concentration over time, medical conditions, dietary choices, etc.)
Exploring any number of these factors and others can severely weaken the prosecution’s chances of securing a conviction.
Private DUI Lawyer vs. Public Defender
You may consider reaching out to a Los Angeles public defender for assistance with your DUI charge. While a public defender can be a great asset if you have no other options, public defenders are frequently overworked. They will do their best to assist you, but they are only able to offer limited time to each of the many cases they work on.
Public defenders also face another setback: familiarity with DUI law. Public defenders represent individuals across the spectrum of criminal charges, meaning they may not have a deep background helping individuals arrested under suspicion of DUI. This lack of expertise can lead to mistakes that lawyers with more experience handling DUI cases might avoid.
You should choose a lawyer that specializes in DUI cases if you want the best chance at a favorable outcome.
To schedule a free consultation with a leading DUI lawyer, call (310) 896-2724 today. Call soon, as the strongest defenses require time to build!