Facing a DUI charge in Long Beach, CA is hard. Even the penalties for first-time DUI offenders are incredibly steep – much worse than the mere fine they used to be. And if you have past DUIs on your record, the judge can give you prison time, plus tens of thousands of dollars in fines and fees. No matter what, if you are convicted you will lose your license.
That’s why we believe that every DUI defendant should have an excellent lawyer at their side. A good Long Beach DUI lawyer knows the process, knows the tricks the prosecution will use, and knows how to construct a defense that will get you a deal – or even a Not Guilty verdict. They can potentially keep you out of jail, keep your driving privileges, and save you a lot of money.
What Does a DUI Cost You?
DUI penalties have gotten harsher nationwide, and Long Beach is no exception. The city government is tough on drunk drivers, partly because it’s a popular position for politicians to take and partly because DUI convictions bring in a lot of money for the city of Long Beach.
The numbers reflect this: Long Beach made over 1,600 DUI arrests in 2012. DUIs are prosecuted locally, but the penalties are determined by state law. The state categorizes DUI penalties based on the number of previous offenses.
So the sentence for a first-time DUI is strict, the second DUI is even stricter, and the third DUI is through the roof. They can actually try a fourth DUI as a felony. Some of the penalties for DUI include:
- Hefty fines. For a first-time DUI, the official minimum fine is $390, but the actual amount after court fees and other costs is more like $1,800. This is a minimum, so costs go up from there – and for a third or fourth DUI, it can be tens of thousands of dollars.
- Jail or prison. All DUI convictions come with jail time. The minimum for most convictions is just a few days, but even a first-time DUI convict can get six months of jail – and a second offense can get one year.
- Alcohol treatment. For a first-time offender, three months of alcohol treatment are required at a cost of $500. Repeat offenders can end up with two and a half years of treatment, costing thousands of dollars.
- No more driving. A DUI conviction always means a suspended license. At best, this is for a few months, but it can easily be for years.
In addition to the above, you will face probation after your jail or prison time and may be ordered to put an interlock device on your car at your own expense.
The DUI Deadlines You Need to Know About
As soon as you are arrested, the time starts counting down toward several deadlines that are crucial to your Long Beach DUI case. It’s important to understand the DUI legal process and how these deadlines affect you. You may have been arrested for DUI by the local police, the county sheriff, or the local branch of the California State Police.
You will most likely have been processed and booked overnight at the Long Beach jail facility. Once booked, you will typically spend no more than 24 hours in the jail. The police will then release you either on bail or on your own “recognizance,” meaning your sworn promise to return for trial. If you cannot make bail on your own, your DUI lawyer can help you.
Once this initial booking is over, the deadlines are already looming. There are three deadlines and you have to be prepared for each one:
- The arraignment. This is when you appear before a judge and officially enter your plea. The best thing you can do to prepare for this is to hire a DUI lawyer before the arraignment.
- The DMV hearing. From the time of your arrest, you have only ten days to file for a hearing with the DMV. If you don’t request your hearing on time, you will lose your license automatically, even though you haven’t been proven guilty.
- The trial. At your arraignment, you will be given a trial date, and the trial will most likely be held at Long Beach’s Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse. This is the big event that your lawyer should prepare you for immediately after your arrest.
A good DUI lawyer is familiar with all the local judges and which way they lean. They also know how to drive a hard bargain with prosecutors. That means you may never have to go to court at all and, if you do, you will have the best chance possible.
Dealing with Officers
You could be completely sober and do something that catches the attention of an officer to make them think you’re drunk. How do you convince the officer you’re not drunk, or protect your rights if you’re arrested?
First, if they ask for any documentation, you must provide that by law. It’s also in your best interest to be polite and follow their instructions. However, you also have the right to remain silent, even if you haven’t been arrested yet. Tell them you decline to answer any questions without a lawyer present, but otherwise follow their orders.
Stay respectful, but be firm about this even if they become angry. If you are arrested, comply but continue to invoke your right to counsel and to remain silent. They cannot hold you for long without evidence and you may even become eligible for compensation, depending on what happens.
What Happens If My License Is Suspended?
If your license is suspended for DUI then you must not drive. If you are caught, then you will be charged with another crime and the court will look unfavorably on your DUI case. It’s even worse if you’re driving while on DUI probation with a suspended license.
In that case, you could get sent back to jail with a probation violation. If you are in jail, you cannot maintain your job or your home and could lose them both. It will also be hard to communicate with your lawyer. If your license gets suspended, do not get behind the wheel until your lawyer can help you reinstate your license.
Do You Need a DUI Lawyer in Long Beach?
You may wonder if you really need an attorney at all. After all, won’t you be given a lawyer for free if you don’t hire one? The lawyer that the government assigns to you for free is known as a public defender. You may or may not qualify to receive one, depending on your income.
Public defenders are good lawyers. However, they also have heavy caseloads—much heavier than any private attorney would accept. That means they can give very little time to your case. You may barely see them before your trial. Most times, they will advise you to plead guilty.
What to Expect When You Hire a Long Beach DUI Attorney
When you hire a DUI attorney, on the other hand, you have their full attention. They will fight tooth and nail for your case—aiming to get the charges dropped, or win the case, or get the best bargain possible. You will be surprised at the results a DUI lawyer can get, even in the toughest cases. The tactics at their disposal include:
- Refuting “scientific” evidence. Your case is not doomed just because you took a blood, breath, or urine test. A DUI lawyer knows what to look for to request that this evidence be excluded from the trial.
- Debunking the officer’s testimony. Police officers usually have good intentions, but often make snap judgments. If the arresting officer makes statements that contradict an earlier report, or that go against video evidence, they have been caught making a mistake.
- Procedural questions. If the police did not follow the correct procedures to arrest and process you, your rights may have been violated and the entire case could be thrown out.
- Negotiation. Sometimes all your lawyer has to do is convince the prosecutor it’s not worth their time to proceed. Then you will be offered a lower charge, a light sentence, or even to drop the charges altogether.
Finding the Best DUI Attorney in Long Beach
We want to match you with a DUI lawyer who’s right for you. But you don’t have to take our recommendation. If you decide to look for a lawyer on your own, we just want to make sure you find a good one – because you deserve to have the best representation possible. Here’s what to look for:
- Exclusive DUI focus. Not every attorney who says they’re a DUI lawyer really is. If their practice doesn’t focus exclusively on DUI cases, keep looking.
- Proof of experience. An experienced DUI lawyer will have the proof to back it up. This can include a track record of past victories, special training on DUI law, and board-certified DUI expertise.
- FREE consultation. Some lawyers want to charge you just for the pleasure of making their acquaintance. This is not standard practice among reputable DUI lawyers, and your initial consultation should be completely free.
Let a Long Beach DUI Lawyer Help You Today
Our site exists to help people like you find the best lawyer for their case. We ask you for basic information about your case and then put you in touch with a pre-screened lawyer who has the experience, knowledge, and track record to help you.
Don’t wait until you’re standing before the judge to think about your defense. Get a top Long Beach DUI lawyer fighting for you, and see for yourself the difference it makes. Fill out the form to your right or call us to get your FREE consultation today.