A DUI conviction can result in long-term consequences, including a criminal record, mark on your driving record, and a suspended license. However, a DUI case is not hopeless. Many defendants are surprised to learn that errors in testing and other sources of proof are more common than one would think.
Working with a drunk driving defense lawyer who knows these types of cases can be so crucial to increasing your chances of receiving less penalties or having your case being dismissed altogether. A Garden Grove DUI attorney can give you your best chance.
Should You Plead Guilty in Your DUI Case?
More often than not, it makes more sense to fight the DUI case instead of pleading guilty. This is because errors are often uncovered during your attorney’s investigation of the case, including:
- Malfunctions in equipment, like breathalyzers, that could lead to false high readings
- Police officers not property following standardized procedures during the roadside investigation
- Errors, such as contamination, in DUI blood testing
- Any other weak spots in the case that violated your rights
A DUI lawyer will visit the scene, cross-examine and subpoena police officers, look at the maintenance history of breath test equipment, have blood samples re-tested at an independent lab, study the arresting officer’s background and training, and conduct a deep investigation.
Because of the potential issues your lawyer may uncover, you’ll often be advised against a guilty plea unless it’s clear the prosecution has solid incriminating evidence. Prosecutors will sometimes offer a plea bargain. However, most DUI attorneys will also urge against this since any early plea bargain will be offered before evidence has been seen by both sides.
What Happens After You’re Arrested for Drunk Driving?
These are the basic stages of what happens after a DUI arrest:
The Field Sobriety Tests
In California, most DUI arrests happen during a traffic stop or a DUI checkpoint. If the officer suspects you’ve been driving under the influence, they will ask you to perform field sobriety tests. You might be asked to perform tests like:
- Stand on one leg for 30 seconds
- Walk along a line without stepping off of it
- Follow an object with your eyes
- Walk a certain distance and turn around
These tests are intended to be easy for a sober person to pass. However, this is not always accurate, and an officer can claim you failed the test. You are not required to take these tests. Most DUI lawyers would recommend politely declining these tests without providing a reason.
If you did perform a field sobriety test during your arrest, your lawyer can look for ways to fight the test results.
Along with the field sobriety tests, you’ll likely be asked to blow into a handheld device known as a breathalyzer.
Blood or Urine Test
Once you’re arrested, you’ll be taken to the police station (or sometimes the hospital or jail) and asked to take either a blood or breath test. These tests are required by law if you have already been arrested. You should not refuse to take them, as it can dramatically increase your penalties.
Driver’s License Suspension
Most of the time, you’ll be released within a few hours post-arrest. Police will give you a pink temporary license and a citation to appear in court. They’ll mail your real California license to the DMV.
Beginning in 2019, if it’s your first DUI offense, you can apply for an ignition interlock device that prevents your vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected. If approved for this device, you can continue driving without limitation as long as it’s kept in your vehicle.
The first, short hearing of your DUI case is the arraignment. Both your lawyer and the prosecution will stand before a judge and present their cases. You will enter your plea of either Guilty or Not Guilty and the prosecution may offer their plea deal now.
The prosecution shares all their evidence with your lawyer during the pre-trial. Your Garden Grove DUI lawyer will take this evidence and start investigating any weak areas, such as breathalyzer result issues or errors on the arresting officers’ part.
Your lawyer has the best bargaining power during the pre-trial, and they can demand a better deal for you. Most of the time, DUI cases are resolved here. In the best case, you’ll get your DUI charge reduced to simple “reckless driving” or something less severe.
If your lawyer feels your case is weak for some reason or the prosecution won’t bargain, they might recommend you go all the way to trial. A court trial has greater risks because your outcome is all-or-nothing, but it’s not always a bad thing. Here, your DUI lawyer will work to convince the jury of your side and, hopefully, they will acquit you.
DUI Penalties in California
A DUI is treated as a misdemeanor in Garden Grove and throughout California. With additional offenses, comes more detrimental penalties. These penalties include:
- Jail time
- Large fines and court costs
- License suspension and/or limited driving privileges
- Treatment/education programs
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level was particularly high, you refused to take a breath or blood test after you were arrested, or if anyone was injured or killed while you were driving under the influence, the severity of these penalties can also increase.
How Do DUI Court Proceedings in Garden Grove Work?
A majority of those arrested for a DUI with a BAC exceeding .08%, are charged with two misdemeanor crimes: DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Driving with Excessive BAC under Vehicle Code 23152(b). An attorney can help you avoid a conviction for these offenses.
Most DUI cases in Garden Grove involve several court dates, and can last several months. During this time between your appearances in court, your attorney will collect evidence, run motions, and negotiate with the judge and prosecutor to have your charges reduced or dropped.
If a settlement is reached, your Garden Grove DUI attorney can have you sign, or appear in court, to formally agree to the plea bargain. If no settlement is reached, your case will be set for trial.
Talk to a Garden Grove DUI Lawyer Now
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, we can connect you with an experienced DUI lawyer in Garden Grove who best fits your situation. The consequences of a DUI can be very serious, but you’ll likely come off better if you have a legal DUI professional on your side.
During a FREE case evaluation, a DUI attorney can look at the details and help you explore your best options for fighting the case. Call us today or simply fill out the form to the right to get in touch. We’ll get you in touch with an attorney as soon as possible to get started on your case.