Facing a DUI charge in California is costly. While a first-time DUI offense used to be no more than a fine, penalties have become very strict in recent years. And if you’re facing a second DUI offense or more, you could be looking at tens of thousands of dollars in fines, along with prison time.
With a lawyer who focuses only on DUI defense, you’ll have the best chance possible of getting your charges lessened or even, in some cases, dropped altogether. If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, it’s time to contact a Lake Forest DUI attorney.
What Can I Be Charged With After a DUI?
A DUI doesn’t just entail getting pulled over for drunk driving and failing a breathalyzer test. There are several different ways that you can be charged with a DUI, and not all of them even require a BAC test at all. According to California Vehicle Code (VC) 23152, they include:
- Driving under the influence to the point that you are impaired
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08%
- Driving while addicted to drugs
- Driving a commercial vehicle with a BAC above .04%
- Driving a passenger in a service vehicle such as a taxi with a BAC above .04%
- Driving under the influence of a drug
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs combined
The specific clause that a prosecutor uses to charge you gives them different options. An experienced DUI attorney in Lake Forest will know what to do no matter what you were arrested for.
What Is the Difference Between a DUI and a Wet Reckless?
At some point, you may have heard the term “wet reckless” in relation to a charge for drinking and driving. “Wet reckless” is a term used to describe a reduced charge in a DUI case. This usually results from a Tahl Waiver, which shows that a defendant knowingly and willingly enters a plea deal.
Unlike a normal reckless driving charge, this charge has a note attached that indicates there was alcohol/drug use involved in your arrest. A DUI plea deal in which the charge is brought down to reckless driving and does not include a note indicating alcohol or drug use is called a “dry reckless.”
When you get the help of a skilled DUI lawyer in Lake Forest, they may be able to reduce your charge to wet or dry reckless. When you meet for a free consultation, they will tell you what they think can be done about your charges and how they will handle your case.
What Defenses Are There for a DUI Charge?
If you were arrested for a DUI, there are still ways to reduce or eliminate your charges. If something about your arrest is off, such as the reason the officer apprehended you or the way that they tested you, an attorney stands a chance of reducing your charge.
Common defenses in a DUI case include:
- Inaccurate use of a breathalyzer or other BAC test
- Improper reason for pulling you over
- No mental impairment
- Misunderstanding of signs of intoxication, i.e. red eyes from allergies, fatigue
One of our Lake Forest DUI lawyers will listen to your account and see if we can use your story as a defense against your charges. If there were any inaccuracies in your arrest or violations of your rights, we may be able to fight your charge in court.
How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost In Dana Point?
The cost of working with a Dana Point lawyer depends on the experience of the lawyer, the amount of time they must devote to your case, and various other factors. Since every case is different and most DUI attorneys charge by the hour, they can’t provide a specific price upfront. But having professional, seasoned DUI defense on your side can pay off significantly.
DUI cases are tough, and your chances of a better outcome are largely increased by working with a lawyer who knows how the prosecution thinks and has the time and resources to dive deep into your case. In almost all cases, it’s far riskier to face a DUI charge without a defense lawyer.
Here’s a breakdown of where typical DUI lawyer fees come from and how you can choose the best attorney for your situation:
Some cases are fairly simple, while others are more complicated. For example, if you were arrested for DUI but have no prior record and had a BAC that was not far outside the legal limit, it might be fairly easy for your lawyer to win your case or at least negotiate lighter penalties.
However, in cases where you have other charges on your record, have past convictions, or someone was injured during the DUI, your attorney will need to spend more time to fight long and hard on the best outcome for you.
The more complex a case, the more time it typically takes—which will normally increase the overall price.
Experience Level of the Lawyer
This is very important to remember: You get what you pay for. This rule applies to most things in life, and DUI lawyers are no exception. Good lawyers are going to charge more because they have:
- Strong track records of winning cases (getting their clients off free)
- Years of experience working in DUI cases
- Exclusivity: they primarily take on DUI cases
- Thoughtfulness and professionalism: they’ll treat you with respect, give their full attention to your case, and truly care about your outcome
A lawyer with a low hourly rate will be tempting, but chances are it’s because they are less experienced—and these are rarely the legal professionals you’ll want representing you for a DUI charge. Plus, the hourly rate might seem low, but there are often other hidden fees that make the overall cost high anyway.
Extra Costs (and Perks)
Each DUI lawyer will have different rules for how they handle additional fees and extra offerings. For example, some will charge separately for certain things, such as a fee for re-testing a blood sample in the lab or subpoenaing evidence, which is separate from the hourly fee.
Other times, lawyers will provide certain services at no cost, such as transporting you to court if your driver’s license was suspended.
When you consult with a DUI lawyer, ask about any additional fees or perks not included in their hourly rate. A good DUI lawyer will be upfront about these. And speaking of fees, the consultation should always be FREE.
Some lawyers will try to charge for the first consultation, but the best DUI defense lawyers will keep consultations free of charge. During the consultation, they’ll get to introduce themselves and learn about your case details to:
- Tell you what they can do for you, based on your situation, and
- Help you make the most informed decision about working with them before paying any money
What If I’m Facing a Drug DUI Charge?
Most people assume a DUI charge refers to driving under the influence of alcohol, but this isn’t the only type of DUI. Under California law, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle when impaired by alcohol, illegal drugs, or medication. “Drugs” include any substance besides alcohol that impacts your brain, nervous system, or muscles.
And a drug DUI can be just as serious as an alcohol-related one. The law treats driving under the influence the same no matter what the substance is. If someone has a prior alcohol DUI and gets arrested for a drug DUI, the new DUI will count as a second offense DUI.
You can be charged with a drug DUI even if:
- You were driving under the influence of a legal drug, such as a prescription medication or over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol
- The drug doesn’t impair your driving (if it affects your nervous system or muscles, it can count as a DUI)
- Your driving while using medicinal marijuana, which is legal in California
Many people don’t know that any drug, even a prescription drug, that causes blurred vision, drowsiness, dizziness, or hallucinations can fall under the drug DUI category. However, DUI cases that involve illegal drugs like meth, crack, or cocaine are the most serious because, on top of the drug DUI, you can also be charged with “possession of an illegal substance.”
Whether the DUI results from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a good DUI lawyer in Lake Forest will work to help you fight against the charge.
Talk to a Lake Forest DUI Lawyer Today
Don’t get left without proper legal defense following a DUI. An experienced DUI lawyer in Lake Forest will provide your best chance for an ideal outcome—possibly even winning your case altogether.
To get a FREE consultation with a local attorney who specializes in DUI cases, contact us today. During your free consultation, you’ll discuss the details of your case and your best options moving forward. To get started as soon as possible, call us or fill out our online contact form.