Every day, people get pulled over for DUIs in Laguna Beach. California DUIs are complicated and, if not created with care and caution, can lead to serious consequences for the defendant. But it doesn’t have to be that way in your case if you get charged with a DUI.
The right legal professional can help you navigate this complex process with the most up-to-date information on your side, leading to lighter penalties or even dismissal of your case completely. If you have been arrested for DUI, it’s time to speak with a DUI lawyer in Laguna Beach.
Plea Bargains in a DUI Case
When you’re charged with DUI in Laguna Beach or any part of California, you have three options:
- Pleading guilty
- Pleading not guilty
- Pleading no contest
Most of the time, a DUI lawyer will advise you against ever pleading guilty. However, you’ll also almost always be offered a plea bargain, which means agreeing to plead Guilty or No Contest to a charge and receiving a certain sentence in return. There are pros and cons of doing this, and you’ll need to carefully weigh each with your lawyer before making a decision.
Accepting a Plea Bargain
If you accept a plea bargain, you’ll receive whatever sentence you and the judge agreed upon, and your case is finished. This can bring a defendant peace of mind because it ends the whole ordeal, including the costs of going to trial, and you’ll know exactly what your sentence is.
However, accepting a plea bargain also leaves you with a DUI charge (or whatever charge was agreed upon) on your criminal record. In addition, your car insurance rates will probably increase as a result. You’ll also have to serve out a certain sentence.
Declining a Plea Bargain
If you don’t take a plea bargain, you will go to trial and face 12 people on a jury. The trial is typically held up within 45 days, but sometimes it’s longer. This also involves several days in court.
The pros of declining the plea bargain and going to trial can be big. Instead of succumbing to the DUI charge, you have an opportunity to win your case completely. The DUI would stay off your record, you’ll get your driver’s license back, and you won’t face any penalties. That being said, it’s not guaranteed you’ll win the trial, which is why it’s so vital to work with a DUI lawyer.
Before making a decision on a plea bargain, you should consider the pros and cons in your case with your lawyer. They’ll help you determine whether a plea bargain has a clear advantage for you over going to trial.
What if Someone Was Killed in Your DUI Accident?
How your lawyer can protect you depends on the type of crime you were charged with, as each has their own penalties. If someone is killed in a DUI accident, there are a few different laws that may be used against you.
DUI Vehicular Manslaughter (Misdemeanor)
DUI vehicular manslaughter can either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If it’s considered a misdemeanor, the consequences are slightly lighter than a felony:
- Up to one year of jail time
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Having your license suspended or revoked
- Mandatory alcohol or drug treatment programs
DUI Vehicular Manslaughter (Felony)
If the DUI manslaughter is determined a felony, the maximum sentence and penalties are:
- Either 16 months, two years, or four years in state prison
- If other victims were seriously hurt in the accident, an additional 3-6 years in prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Other DUI penalties like for a misdemeanor
Gross DUI Vehicular Manslaughter
If reckless driving like speeding excessively or driving on the wrong side of the road was involved in the DUI death, it can be charged as a DUI “gross” vehicular manslaughter. This charge is much more serious than the above two, and penalties are:
- Four, six, or 10 years in state prison, OR
- If you already have any vehicular manslaughter convictions or have two or more DUI convictions, your prison sentence increases to 15 years to life
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Other DUI penalties listed above
DUI Murder or “Watson” Murder
If you have a previous DUI on your record and you were also given a “Watson advisement,” you can be charged with murder. A Watson advisement is a formal warning you must sign after being convicted of a DUI that shows you understand driving under the influence can hurt or kill people.
You can also face a murder charge if you previously completed DUI school. DUI murder charges are:
- 15 years to a lifetime in state prison
- Fines of up to $10,000
Each of these charges are very serious and require a great DUI lawyer to help you face them. If anyone was killed, or even hurt, while you were driving under the influence, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible and not plead guilty unless your attorney advises you to.
What You Can Expect to Happen At Your DMV APS Hearing
You must contact the DMV to request an APS hearing within 10 days of your arrest. If you, or your Laguna Beach DUI attorney, don’t do this within the set deadline, you’ll automatically forfeit your right to a hearing and your license will be suspended.
Your lawyer can make defense arguments to attack evidentiary and procedural issues such as:
- Whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion for to stop you
- Whether there was probable cause to arrest you
- Whether the results of the blood or breath test were properly collected
- Whether the officer or a witness actually observed you in control of the vehicle
- Whether the officer properly completed the DS-367 form properly
The DMV will set aside your license suspension, similar to an acquittal in criminal court, if you prevail in your APS hearing.
What Your Laguna Beach DUI Lawyer Can Do After Your Arrest
With an expert legal professional by your side, you’ll have someone to strategize pre-trial with plea bargain negotiations and your trial to win in court. An attorney will look for things like:
- Gaps and vague points in the prosecution’s evidence
- Violation of your rights during your arrest
- Problems with the arresting police officer’s testimony
Your attorney will use strategies like these to reduce your penalty severities even if you are convicted. A DUI attorney in Laguna Beach can speak to the DMV, court and police department on your behalf to influence your hearing, potentially impacting your case.
Speak With a Laguna Beach DUI Lawyer Today
A DUI charge is no time to try and handle life alone. You need legal help from someone who has spent their life dedicated to the law – and using it to defend their clients. A good DUI lawyer in Laguna Beach will be able to advise you on the best next steps in your case so that you can move on with your life as soon as possible.
Our site’s purpose is to connect you with the best attorneys who take DUI cases throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area. Our main goal is to help you protect yourself and ensure each decision going forward is best for your future.
Call us or fill out the form to your right today. We’ll get you in touch with the best person for the job who can offer you a FREE case evaluation to get started.