A DUI in Santa Ana is a serious charge that comes with hefty repercussions. If you get arrested for a DUI, you might worry there is nowhere to turn, or that seeking help is pointless. However, many people do not realize that DUI evidence is rarely as rock-solid as it seems.
DUI tests and officer testimony are prone to error, and an experienced DUI defense lawyer will be able to recognize any weak spots. If you are facing DUI charges, it is time to talk to a Santa Ana DUI attorney who can help. Our drunk driving defense experts are available 24/7.
Is It Possible to Win a DUI Case with the Help of a Santa Ana Lawyer?
Many people accused of a DUI assume there is no hope for winning and that things cannot get better. While DUI cases are undoubtedly hard to fight, they are winnable, sometimes even if the evidence against you is strong.
Every day, DUI lawyers in Santa Ana are successful in defending cases. Some possible scenarios include:
- Something that might be considered strong proof, such as the results from a breathalyzer test, does not always hold up in court. If evidence is not admissible in court, you may have a chance of walking away scot-free.
- The prosecutors are too busy to take on the case.
- Your lawyer is a strong negotiator and gets your case dismissed.
- Your charges are changed from “DUI” to pleading guilty to “reckless driving,” resulting in much lighter penalties.
- Your rights may have been violated in the course of the arrest, which a DUI lawyer can bring to light.
Any of these scenarios can lead to dropped or reduced charges, you being acquitted (found “not guilty”), or the case being dismissed entirely. Of course, making this happen requires an experienced Santa Ana DUI defense attorney who knows California laws and can improve your odds.
The Legal Process for a DUI
As soon as a DUI arrest occurs, the legal process begins. If you do not know what to expect, everything that happens to you can be overwhelming and frightening. Here is what each step in the DUI process in Santa Ana looks like:
The DUI Arrest
Unless you were injured in an accident and taken to the hospital, a DUI arrest typically begins with the defendant being pulled over and questioned. Two main things occur at this point:
- You are given a blood or breath test to determine whether you are impaired.
- Your license is taken away, and you are given a pink paper with a temporary license that expires after 30 days. You will have to contact the DMV and request a hearing for your license.
If you do not request and attend a hearing, your license will be suspended, and you will not be able to drive at all. After the arrest, you will be taken to the local police station, processed, and probably kept overnight in jail.
Hiring Legal Support (Optional But Highly Recommended)
California law does not require you to have a lawyer, but it is highly recommended, especially in DUI cases. Since many strict deadlines follow a DUI, such as the 30-day license suspension, you want to act fast to get legal assistance.
Depending on your income, you may be assigned a free public defender lawyer. While public defenders are helpful, they often work long hours and can only devote a certain amount of time to each case. For this reason, they will likely encourage you to go along with whatever you are offered by the prosecution and not pursue further research or negotiation.
A DUI defense attorney is your best bet since they will take the time and do the research required to bring about the best outcome for your case. You will want to hire them the day after you are arrested.
The DMV will automatically suspend your license once you are arrested. You can only fight this administrative suspension if you act within ten days. This is how long you have to file a request for a hearing, and it is your only chance to stop the suspension.
Your lawyer can represent you at this appeal hearing to improve your odds. However, if you miss the 10-day deadline, there is no legal action you can take. This is another reason it is crucial to hire a DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
The first hearing of your DUI is known as an arraignment. During this short hearing, you will officially present your plea of either:
- Guilty: This is an admission that you are guilty of the crime and a statement that you will not fight the charge. Unless you do so under your DUI lawyer’s advice, you should never plead guilty.
- Not guilty: You are stating that you intend to fight the DUI charge.
- No contest: You are not openly admitting you are guilty, but you are not going to fight the charge. Any convictions or sentencing will happen as if you plead guilty.
Sometimes during this hearing, the prosecution will offer you a deal if you plead guilty. However, most lawyers will discourage this until they have seen the evidence from the prosecution’s side.
During the pre-trial, the prosecution shares all its evidence. This is where an experienced Santa Ana DUI attorney will examine this evidence and do some digging. They will look at weak spots in how the evidence was collected, whether your rights were respected, how tests were conducted, and more.
Your legal team will negotiate and try to get the best deal for you. Ideally, that would mean reducing your charge to one that is not DUI-related. Many DUI cases are resolved here without the need to go to trial.
If the prosecution will not negotiate or they have a weak case, your Santa Ana DUI lawyer may encourage continuing to trial. During the trial, a jury is present. Your attorney will work to convince the jury you are not guilty and that you should be acquitted. If you are convicted, however, the judge will issue a sentence, and your lawyer will pursue as light a sentence as possible.
Penalties for a First DUI Offense in California
If you were pulled over and arrested for a DUI and this is your first offense, assuming no one was hurt or killed, the minimum penalties you will be facing are:
- A minimum of 48 hours of jail time that can be waived, but waiving will increase your license suspension to 90 days
- A license suspension of 120 days, but it could be as much as a year or more
- Fines of about $1,800 you will pay directly to the government
- Completion of a mandatory $500 three-month alcohol treatment program
Maximum penalties for a first offense are $3,600 in total fees, six months in jail, and a longer suspension of your license paired with a treatment program. Your car may also be impounded for 30 days, and you will be required to install an ignition interlock device.
Other Consequences of a Santa Ana DUI Conviction
The criminal penalties you will face if you are convicted of a DUI in Santa Ana are often severe. However, you should not assume that once you have completed the terms of your sentence, your life will return to normal.
On the contrary, your life will likely be forever changed by your DUI conviction in Santa Ana. It is not uncommon for anyone with a DUI conviction to have trouble finding a job, safe housing, or other opportunities to further their lives.
If you are convicted of a DUI, it will remain on your criminal record indefinitely until or unless you are eligible for expungement. Again, DUI expungements are no guarantee. In addition to these consequences, you may also find yourself losing several types of rights, including:
- Child custody rights
- Child visitation rights
- The right to vote
- The right to carry a firearm
- The right to federal student aid
- The right to obtain a green card or United States citizenship
These are just a few examples of how your life could be significantly impacted if you are ultimately found guilty of a DUI in Santa Ana. With help from your Santa Ana DUI attorney, you can defend your name at trial or secure a plea agreement so you can put this experience behind you and move forward with your life.
California DUI Offenses
In the state of California, DUIs are considered a misdemeanor offense. There are also several charges you can face depending on the circumstances of your offense. Experienced Santa Ana DUI attorneys are prepared to represent you in a variety of traffic and criminal cases, including:
- Underage DUI (Vehicle Code 23152(A)): If you are under 21 years of age and your BAC test comes back with a result of .01% or more, you may be arrested and charged with an underage DUI.
- Felony DUI (Vehicle Code 23153): If you caused another person’s injury or death while driving under the influence, you had three previous DUI convictions in the past ten years, or a previous DUI felony, your DUI will be considered a felony.
- Drug DUI (Vehicle Code 23152(F)): You can be charged with a DUI for impairment caused by drugs, including controlled substances, prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications.
- Marijuana DUI (Vehicle Code 23152): While medical and recreational marijuana are legal in California, it is still illegal to drive while impaired. If you are pulled over and test positive for a psychoactive amount of THC), you can be charged with a DUI.
Speak with a Santa Ana DUI Lawyer Today
Do not assume your DUI case is hopeless or that you cannot improve your outcome. Many people are surprised at just how shaky their case is once they have worked with a good lawyer.
We have taken the time to personally find the best DUI lawyers in Santa Ana, and we know where their strengths lie. We will connect you with the best DUI lawyer for your specific case, including a free case evaluation with them to start. Do not delay getting the support you need now.
Contact us to get matched with an experienced DUI attorney in Santa Ana.