Facing a DUI charge in San Juan Capistrano is not easy. You could be facing huge fines, losing your driver’s license, jail time, and a negative impact on your current and future career. However, being arrested for a DUI is not the end of the world, and everyone makes mistakes. That’s why it’s so crucial to start preparing to defend yourself as soon as possible after your arrest. With a solid defense, you may be able to lessen your charges or penalties—or possibly even walk away free. But to increase your chances of the best outcome, you need the help of a San Juan Capistrano DUI lawyer.
Having an experienced DUI lawyer on your side can make all the difference in how your defense progresses. They can help ensure you make the best choices right from the start and walk you through several important deadlines in a DUI case. To get a FREE case evaluation with a top San Juan Capistrano DUI lawyer, call us today at (310) 862-0199 or fill out the Free Case Evaluation form to the right.
How Serious Is Getting a DUI in San Juan Capistrano?
In California, DUIs are treated as serious offense—and the penalties have become increasingly tough in recent years. DUI cases bring in a lot of revenue—they have some of the highest fees and fines—so the district attorney is not hesitant about pursuing them.
The penalties for a DUI in San Juan Capistrano vary depending on each successive DUI conviction, but even a first-time DUI charge comes with intense penalties. If you are 21 years old or older and receive a DUI, you can face penalties including:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Jail time (between 48 hours and six months for a first offense)
- Fines and fees, including court assessments, of at least $1,800 (and often much more)
- Mandatory DUI school educational programs ranging between $500 and $1,800 at your own cost
- Possible installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
- Possibly higher auto insurance costs
If you already have a DUI (or more than one) on your record within the last 10 years, you’ll face tougher penalties. You could spend a year in jail or 16 months in state prison in addition to fees totalling tens of thousands of dollars. There’s also the possibility of your case being tried as a felony.
Because of how serious DUIs are approached in California, your best bet is to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer who can work on, at the least, getting your penalties lessened, or even, at the best, getting charges dropped completely.
What Are the Phases of a DUI Case?
After your arrest (which will typically be made by either the San Juan Capistrano police, the California Highway Patrol, or the Orange County Sheriff’s Office), you’ll be processed and probably spend the night in the local jail. As soon as the next day, you’ll need to start preparing for the DUI process as outlined below.
DMV License Suspension Deadline
Thirty days after your arrest, the DMV will suspend automatically suspend your driver’s license—unless you request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest. You must do this if you want a chance at keeping your driver’s license.
This DMV hearing is an administrative proceeding looking at the circumstances of your arrest and your driving privileges. It will not concern whether you are guilty or innocent of the DUI. However, it’s good to already have a DUI lawyer at this point because it can help them gather information that may be pertinent in your case. Plus, the DMV hearing may be scheduled weeks in advance, meaning you can keep your license during that time—and if you win your case, you won’t have to worry about fighting the suspension at all.
The arraignment is a preliminary court hearing that happens a few weeks after your arrest. This hearing is where you’ll enter your plea (Guilty, Not Guilty, or No Contest) and get a date for your trial.
If you didn’t already hire a DUI lawyer for the DMV hearing, you’ll need to get one now. The arraignment will allow your lawyer to check out the prosecution and know how best to proceed in your defense case. They can also advise you on the best way to plea (which is usually Not Guilty unless your lawyer has a good reason for a Guilty plea).
Building Your Defense
In between the arraignment and your trial, your DUI lawyer will be working to build you a solid case. This can be months of time, during which your lawyer will look for holes in the prosecution’s evidence, violation of your rights during the arrest process, and/or inconsistencies in the arresting officer’s testimony. It’s during this time that they’ll be working to negotiate the best outcome for you. And in some cases, they may work to get your charges reduced or even dropped.
If your case goes to court, you’ll be tried by a jury. Your DUI lawyer will use strategies to create doubt in the jury members, which your lawyer will also have a say in selecting, and give you the best possible defense.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me Fight a DUI?
DUI lawyers are trained in spotting holes and weak spots in the evidence against you—which is way more questionable than most people realize. A DUI lawyer will use strategies like:
- Questioning arrest procedures and spotting ways they were not followed correctly (meaning your rights were violated)
- Challenging breathalyzer or blood test results, including machine calibration errors or lab errors
- Analyzing witness statements and looking for inconsistencies in testimonies against you
- Negotiating a favorable deal that will leave you much better off
Because of experienced DUI lawyers, many DUIs never even make it to trial. A good lawyer will work to convince prosecutors your case isn’t worth going to trial and that it’s better for them to agree to a deal.
Speak With a San Juan Capistrano DUI Lawyer Today
DUI arrests are intimidating and might have you feeling like there’s no hope for your outcome—but that’s not the case. Even in the toughest cases, there is a chance to pursue a better outcome than what you’d get without the help of a DUI lawyer. To speak with a local DUI lawyer for FREE today, call us at (310) 862-0199, or fill out the form to the right to get started.