On this year’s Thanksgiving holiday, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) reported that 948 arrests were made for the offense of drinking under the influence (DUI). Similarly, CHP had made 979 arrests during the Memorial Day weekend for the same offense earlier this year.
These high numbers show that drinking under the influence is a common occurrence in California. DUI arrests can be highly frustrating and create major inconveniences for you. Besides, because of their deadly consequences, DUI offenses are not taken lightly. You could easily end up incarcerated upon arrest.
If it’s your first time getting arrested for DUI, you are probably wondering if hiring a lawyer is necessary. Well, the answer is yes. Being a first-time offender makes little to no difference in the judge’s eyes. DUI is a serious offense that could harm your future and employment, but with a competent and experienced DUI lawyer, you can win your case and live a normal life again.
Is a First Offense DUI a Felony?
On several occasions, a first offense DUI in California is less serious than repeat offenses. This means that there are different categories of penalties for first, second, third, fourth repeat offenders, etc. However, you can still be charged with a felony if your impaired driving leads to severe accidents, bodily injuries, or death.
How Can a Lawyer Help You Fight Your First DUI Case?
A first offense DUI usually ends in a standard sentence with charges such as an $1800 fine and 48hrs in prison. However, some cases like accident involvement while driving when highly intoxicated (high BAC levels) may increase your penalty. In these instances, a DUI attorney will come in handy. Here’s how:
1. Protect Your Rights
If you hire a lawyer after your first offense DUI, they will go through your case’s details to find any possible defense for you. You’re still protected by state and federal law and deserve a proper arrest despite committing an offense.
In case of irregularities in these areas, your DUI attorney can draft a defense to challenge your arrest.
- If the credibility of the officer who arrested you is questionable
- Whether the necessary testing procedures were followed
- How accurate was the testing equipment used to measure your BAC levels?
- If the traffic stop was constitutional. E.g., did the officers have enough reasons to stop you?
- Whether the enforcement officer obtained consent for testing you
If irregularities are found, your case may end up getting dismissed.
2. Motion to Suppress
The first way your lawyer can keep evidence out of a trial is through a motion to suppress. This is whereby your attorney argues that certain evidence should not be presented before a jury or judge since it was obtained from violating your rights.
For instance, your lawyer may request that the evidence of your car and chemical results not be presented in court if obtained wrongly, as seen earlier in the irregularities.
3. Negotiations for Reduced Penalty Charges
The severity of your penalties will depend on many factors, including if you’re a first-time or repeat offender. Generally, first-time offense penalties are more lenient than for repeat offenders. However, despite their lenience, first offense penalties can still negatively impact your life.
Sometimes you may end up pleading guilty voluntarily, especially if the evidence before you is strong. In such instances, an attorney can help you negotiate charges. Even though first DUI offense comes with its own penalties, prosecutors can offer reasonable pre-trial deals. Your lawyer can convince the prosecutor to substitute serious charges with less serious or minor traffic charges.
4. Receive Legal Advice
You might have friends and family members with previous DUI arrest records, but remember that every DUI case is different. You will need answers to some questions, and their input may not make much difference to your case.
Sometimes all you need is someone to advise you on whether you’re making the correct decision concerning your plea. If you lack previous legal background, you may feel lost and defeated. Luckily, your DUI attorney is available to offer help.
Your attorney will help you evaluate your case and advise you on the best step forward. He will provide you with the necessary legal information and guide you through the court process. Since it is your first time committing a DUI offense, you may receive more options than repeat offenders, e.g., a disposition program to avoid having a criminal record.
You will need to understand the different options available but also act quickly to decide the best options for you. Deciding on your own without legal guidance could cost you in the long run.
What Should You Do After Your First DUI Arrest?
The first step to take after getting arrested for a first DUI offense in California is to contact a lawyer who will take you through the necessary legal procedures to avoid receiving further penalties.
A DUI attorney will not analyze the facts of a particular case unless they have what is referred to as the “discovery” materials. These discovery materials include videos, police reports, and records of chemical test results conducted. They help the attorney to know whether the police made a mistake crucial in the case or if the tests used were defective, and solve many other grey areas.
This means that having a lawyer to defend your case increases your chances of winning compared to presenting yourself independently. Therefore, in case you get arrested for your first DUI offense, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible.
How Can I Get a DUI Lawyer in California?
When looking for a lawyer to represent your case, it’s always best to choose one who specializes in what you’re looking for, in this case, a DUI attorney. A lawyer specializing in DUI cases is more experienced and knowledgeable in that particular subject matter.
If you’ve never worked with an attorney before, the first step would be to do your research. Look for lawyers within your area specialized in what you’re searching for. If you’re in California, Los Angeles DUIAttorney.com has the best DUI lawyers with multiple court wins for cases just like yours.
With experienced and competent DUI lawyers, you will surely overcome your DUI arrest, whether it’s through negotiation, protecting your rights, or offering legal advice. Contact us today for your first DUI offense cases.