Getting a DUI in Los Angeles can be a scary proposition. Police officers pursue potential drunk drivers aggressively, and prosecutors are equally adamant about getting DUI convictions. A DUI conviction means thousands of dollars in fines, fees, and the costs of meeting other court requirements. The conviction will stay on your record for 10 years and could mean time behind bars.
If you’re facing a potential DUI conviction, don’t wait to see how well the system will treat you on your own. Schedule a free consultation with a leading Los Angeles DUI lawyer by filling out the forms on this website or by calling (310) 862-0199.
Your Initial Interaction with a Police Officer
You may get pulled over by the police or you may enter a DUI checkpoint. Once you are approached by an officer, they will begin looking for any objective signs that you have been drinking. This includes checking to see if your eyes are bloodshot, if you smell of alcohol, slurred speech, or even if you have an alcoholic beverage visible in your car. If they suspect you have been drinking, they’ll ask you to step out of your vehicle to perform additional tests.
These tests include field sobriety tests and preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) tests. Both of these tests are used by the officer to determine if there is probable cause to arrest you. You are legally allowed to politely refuse these tests, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be arrested.
Once you’re arrested, you’ll have your license taken from you and you will be brought to either a local hospital or the police station. There, you’ll be given a formal breath or blood test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). While you were allowed to refuse the initial PAS tests, refusal to take these tests can be grounds for additional penalties under California law.
Following your arrest, you will be held in the local jail until you can be brought before a judge. This will typically be the next day, but it maybe 48 hours later if you are arrested on a weekend. The arraignment will be your chance to enter your plea. If you have a lawyer, he or she may attend the arraignment and speak on your behalf.
If you enter a guilty or no contest plea, you will be scheduled for sentencing. If you enter a not guilty plea, the judge will have you scheduled for trial. Depending on your circumstances, you may be released at this point.
License Suspension by the DMV
After having your license taken, the DMV will notify you about its administrative suspension process. You will have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing. Failing to request a hearing will mean that your license will be suspended for a minimum of four months. The suspension may be longer, depending on the circumstances of your case and will be in effect even if the criminal charges are dropped.
If you request a hearing, it will be scheduled for a time that’s about 30 days from your arrest date. The hearing can either take place over the phone or in-person, depending on your preferences. If you have hired an attorney, he or she can be present and conduct a defense on your behalf. This hearing can be considered a practice attempt for your criminal trial, which could vastly improve your chances of a better outcome in court.
If you don’t enter a guilty beforehand, you will have a trial within about 45 days of your arrest. This trial is a full criminal trial, complete with a 12-person jury. The prosecution will present their case, and you will have a chance to defend yourself. The jury will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. If they determine you to be guilty, you will face penalties as determined by the judge.
Penalties for a DUI Conviction
The specific penalties for a DUI will depend on the unique facts of your case. Typically, you can face the following sorts of penalties:
- Mandatory DUI education classes
- Jail time
- Fines and court assessment fees
The severity of these penalties, along with any others you might face, will rest on several key factors. Factors that will increase the penalties you face include:
- Whether you’re underage or not
- If you have previous DUIs
- Your refusal to take a chemical test after your arrest
- If anyone was injured while the court deemed that you were under the influence
- Having an underage passenger in your vehicle at the time of your arrest
These factors, either individually or together, can significantly affect how harshly you’re punished.
Have a DUI Lawyer by Your Side from the Start
DUIs are criminal charges that will follow you for a decade or more. You have a right to be represented by an attorney throughout the process. The state will aggressively pursue a conviction and you deserve to have someone standing up for your rights. Having a DUI attorney at your side can mean a reduced penalty or even a dismissal of the charges against you.
Call (310) 862-0199 today to speak with a DUI lawyer who can help you face what happens when you get a DUI in Los Angeles!