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’s nowhere to turn, or that seeking help is pointless. Many people, however, don’t realize that DUI evidence is rarely as rock-solid as it seems.
DUI tests and officer testimony are prone to error, and a lawyer experienced in DUI defense will be able to recognize any weak spots. If you’re facing DUI charges, it’s 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’s no hope for winning and that things can’t possibly get better. While DUI cases are certainly 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, doesn’t always make it, or hold up, in court. If evidence is found to be 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 completely. Of course, to make this happen it 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 don’t know what to expect, as most defendants don’t, it can make everything overwhelming and frightening. Here’s what each step in the DUI process in Santa Ana looks like:
The DUI Arrest
Unless you were in an accident, injured, and taken to the hospital, a DUI arrest typically begins with the defendant being pulled over. Two main things occur at this point:
- You’re usually given a blood or breath test to determine whether you’re impaired.
- Your license is taken away and you’re given a pink paper with a temporary license that expires after 30 days. You’ll have to contact the DMV and request a hearing for your license; otherwise, your license will be suspended and you won’t be able to drive at all.
After the arrest, you’re 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’s highly recommended especially with DUI cases. Since there are many strict deadlines following a DUI, such as the 30-day license suspension, you want to act fast getting legal assistance.
Depending on your income, you may actually be assigned a free public defender lawyer. While public defenders are helpful, they’re often working long hours and can only devote a certain amount of time to each case. For this reason, they’ll likely encourage you to go along with whatever you’re 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’ll want to hire them the day after you’re arrested.
The DMV will automatically suspend your license once you’re arrested. This administrative suspension can only be fought if you act within 10 days. This is how long you have to file a request for a hearing and it’s 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’s so crucial to hire a DUI defense lawyer as soon as you can.
The first hearing of your DUI is known as the arraignment. During this short hearing, you’ll officially present your plea of either:
- Guilty: Admission that you are guilty of the crime and you won’t fight the charge. Unless you do so under your DUI lawyer’s advice, you should never plead guilty.
- Not guilty: You intend to fight the DUI charge.
- No contest: You aren’t openly admitting you’re guilty, but you’re 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’ve seen the evidence from the prosecution’s side.
During the pre-trial, the prosecution shares all their evidence. This is where an experienced Santa Ana DUI attorney will examine this evidence and do some digging. They’ll 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 isn’t DUI-related. LMany DUI cases are resolved here without the need to go to trial.
If the prosecution won’t negotiate or they have a weak case, your DUI lawyer may encourage continuing to trial. During the trial, a jury is present. Your attorney will work to convince the jury you’re not guilty and ideally, 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:
- 48 hours of jail time. Your attorney can help waive this jail time, but doing so 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’ll pay directly to the government.
- Completion of a mandatory $500 three-month alcohol treatment program.
Maximum penalties, on the other hand, for a first offense are $3,600 in total fees, six months in jail, and a longer suspension of your license and treatment program. Your car may also be impounded for 30 days and you’ll be required to install an ignition interlock device.
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 10 years, or a previous DUI felony, your DUI will be considered a serious offense, i.e. 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), then you can be charged with a DUI.
Speak With a Santa Ana DUI Lawyer Today
Don’t assume your DUI case is hopeless or that you can’t improve your outcome. Many people are surprised at just how shaky their case actually is once they’ve worked with a good lawyer.
We’ve taken the time to personally find the best DUI lawyers in the Santa Ana area, and we know where their strengths lie. We’ll connect you with the best DUI lawyer for your specific case, including a FREE case evaluation with them to start. Don’t delay getting the support you need now. Call us to get matched with an experienced DUI attorney in Santa Ana.