DUIs are a serious matter in California. If convicted of DUI, you can face numerous penalties. There are severe consequences that come with a DUI offense, but that does not mean you have to accept it as your fate. Instead, you can fight the charge, and a Rancho Santa Margarita DUI lawyer 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 Los Angeles DUI lawyer near you can help save you thousands of dollars and avoid a criminal charge that can affect your entire life.
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 are the 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 will 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 cause an accident for a DUI and the other party decides to file a civil suit against you.
You will need to take and complete mandatory DUI school and 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 of DUIs about the dangers of their behavior.
For a DUI first offense, you will 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 will likely get sentenced to. For felony DUIs, you could face prison time instead of jail which is much worse.
Besides jail time, you will 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 will not 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 are 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 ten 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 is because they want to win another case, not because they have your best interests in mind.
A DUI lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, 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 Happens if You Are 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 is 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.
How to Defend Yourself Against Rancho Santa Margarita DUI Allegations
There are several potential ways you can challenge the DUI accusations that have been made against you. First, it may be a good idea to speak with your Rancho Santa Margarita DUI attorney to determine whether you qualify for a pretrial diversion program. This could give you an opportunity to meet specific requirements and avoid being prosecuted at trial so the charges against you can be dismissed or dropped.
However, since not everyone will qualify for pretrial diversion, it is important to consider your defense options. Defending yourself against DUI allegations can seem like an uphill battle. However, with the right criminal defense attorney working on your case, you can choose a defense strategy that is most likely to produce a favorable outcome.
Many individuals charged with drug driving will challenge the chemical blood alcohol test results against them. If there was a laboratory error or a mistake with the chemical testing process, the charges against you may be dismissed.
Other individuals will argue police arrested them after an unlawful stop or illegal search and seizure. You can discuss potential defense strategies with your DUI lawyer to determine which option is most likely to result in an acquittal or reduction in the criminal charges against you.
It Is Worth Hiring a DUI Lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita
It is absolutely worth hiring a DUI attorney 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, but 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 could 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 do not have to face any of these difficulties.
This is especially true if this is not your first DUI offense. The law is not on your side, and the prosecution will often try to inflict the maximum penalties they can for your case. So, do not end up facing this situation alone.
How a DUI Lawyer in Rancho Santa Margarita Supports You
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 essential 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 should not go without. Even if you can represent yourself when fighting your charges, you should still retain a lawyer to help you. Do not 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 does not 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, CA, for free, call us or fill out our online contact form.
We will get you a free consultation to go over the details of your case. Do not hesitate to schedule an appointment today at no risk or obligation to you.