DUIs are a serious matter in California. If convicted of DUI, you can face several penalties. There are severe consequences that come with a DUI offense, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept it as your fate. Instead, you can fight the charge, and a Rancho Santa Margarita DUI attorney can help you.
A good DUI lawyer will have the experience to guide you through the legal process, challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you, and work on getting you the most favorable outcome. The help of a DUI lawyer can help save you thousands of dollars and avoid a criminal charge that can affect your entire life.
What Are the Penalties of a DUI Conviction in Rancho Santa Margarita?
DUI penalties in Rancho Santa Margarita and the whole state of California are not minor, even for a first offense. Here’s what penalties you can generally expect to face if convicted of a DUI in California.
Driver’s License Suspension
After you get arrested, the arresting officer will give you an “order of suspension” and a temporary license that you can use for 30 days. After that time, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) places a suspension on your driver’s license. For first-time offenders, you can fight this suspension, but you must do it within ten days of your arrest.
Request an administrative hearing from the DMV. If you can show that there was no basis for the suspension during that hearing, you may get your driver’s license back. However, if you get convicted of DUI, you will lose your license for anywhere from four months to a year.
Fees and Fines
At a minimum, you’ll face fees of $1,800, but those can easily total up to $15,649 just for the first DUI offense. The amount of fees you will have to pay can also increase if you caused an accident for a DUI and the other party decides to file a civil suit against you.
You’ll need to take and complete mandatory DUI school educational courses lasting three months minimum at the cost of at least $500. DUI school is essentially a refresher course on traffic laws in California and aims to educate those convicted with DUIs about the dangers of their behavior.
For a DUI first offense, you’ll spend at least 48 hours in jail, but it can be up to six months, depending on the situation. The more prior DUI offenses you have, the more jail time you’ll likely get sentenced to. For felony DUIs, you could face prison time instead of jail which is much worse.
Besides jail time, you’ll get put on probation for anywhere from three to five years. Probation is given with any DUI sentence and is meant as a period of time to “prove” to the law that you won’t drink and drive again.
During probation, you agree to:
- Not commit any crime
- Submit to a blood, breath, or urine test if you got arrested on suspicion of another DUI charge
- Not to drive with any alcohol in your system
During probation, you may also need to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle that keeps it from starting if you’re intoxicated.
Higher Auto Insurance Rates
A DUI conviction usually also comes with higher insurance rates for many years. While this is not related to the government, it’s an ongoing cost that affects your life. In addition, DUIs can also sadly impact your career. A DUI conviction makes it hard to get to work without a license, and court dates or jail time interfere with your ability to work regularly.
New employers can also choose not to hire a DUI convict. If someone is convicted of a DUI a repeat time within 10 years, the penalties are even harsher and include:
- Longer license suspension
- More jail time
- More DUI school and possible addiction treatment
- Higher fines and fees
- The possibility of felony charges
With a DUI lawyer, you have the possibility of getting these penalties lessened or, in some cases, avoiding them altogether. The prosecution may try to scare you away from fighting a DUI charge, but that’s because they want to win another case—not because they have your best interests in mind.
A DUI lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita can look at your case and analyze any weak spots to fight for a better outcome that may leave you with more minor consequences.
What If Someone Is Pulled Over for Driving While “Stoned?”
Even though marijuana use is legal in California, driving while high is still illegal. Under California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 23152(f), it’s illegal to drive under the influence of any drug. And law enforcement is on the alert. Police often use strategies like DUI checkpoints to check for stoned driving and increase the number of arrests.
Just like with drunk driving and other forms of DUI, marijuana DUIs include steep penalties. All forms of marijuana DUI come with heavy fines, as well as the following penalties.
First offense marijuana DUI where no one was hurt:
- Between three days and six months in jail
- Suspended license for at least four months
- Three months of mandatory DUI school
Second offense marijuana DUI where no one was hurt:
- Four days to one year in jail
- Suspended license for two years
- 18-30 months of mandatory DUI classes
Third offense marijuana DUI where no one was hurt:
- Six months to one year in jail
- License suspension for three years
- 30 months of mandatory DUI school
These are just the minimums. If you have prior DUIs (of any kind), those count against you and can affect the severity of your penalties.
Is It Really Worth Hiring a DUI Lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita?
It is absolutely worth hiring a DUI lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita to help you. While you may be concerned about how expensive retaining a lawyer may be, consider DUI cases as a whole. If you get convicted, not only do you face jail time, you could also face financial strain through higher insurance premiums and fines.
In addition, it can become difficult to gain employment, go to school, and if you were a commercial driver, you can lose your job. You have a lot on the line to lose if you get convicted of a DUI. Hiring a lawyer is an investment you make to ensure you don’t have to face any of these difficulties.
This is especially true if this isn’t your first DUI offense. The law isn’t on your side, and the prosecution will often try to inflict the maximum penalties they can for your case. So, don’t end up facing this situation alone.
How Can a DUI Lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita Support Me?
Our Rancho Santa Margarita DUI lawyers can help you fight against your DUI charges in several ways. We can:
- Request a split blood test to confirm the results
- Conduct interviews with experts and witnesses to support your defense
- Argue that your rights were violated or that there was no probable cause
- Argue for the rising BAC defense, mouth alcohol, or drinking after driving
- Gather all evidence and important documentation for and against you for review
- Handle all your communications with other parties
- Represent you and your best interests in and out of court
Hiring a lawyer brings many benefits you shouldn’t go without. Even if you can represent yourself when fighting your charges, you should still retain a lawyer to help you. Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage, especially when DUI convictions can result in long-lasting negative impacts on your life.
Speak With a Rancho Santa Margarita DUI Lawyer Today
A DUI arrest is scary, but it doesn’t have to be the end. With a DUI lawyer on your side, you have the best chance at the most favorable outcome. To get connected with a DUI attorney in Rancho Santa Margarita for FREE, call us or fill out our online contact form.
We’ll get you a free consultation to go over the details of your case. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment today at no risk or obligation to you.