If you have been arrested for DUI in Van Nuys, CA, you face a serious charge. You could face jail time, thousands of dollars in fines, a suspended license, and a DUI treatment program, even if it is your first offense. You should take this charge seriously and do everything you can to fight it.
The surest way to do that is to have an experienced and capable Van Nuys DUI lawyer working for you. DUI lawyers know every step of the legal process you are facing, and they know which defense strategies work to get drivers like you off the hook. They may be able to save you money, keep you out of jail, or even get your DUI case dropped entirely.
The Cost of a DUI in Van Nuys
The Van Nuys neighborhood is heavily policed and is part of a citywide DUI enforcement effort. Local authorities are keen to rack up as many DUI convictions as possible, partly because the fines for DUI are so high. Every DUI case represents potential money in the door for the local government, and they are prosecuted without mercy.
The penalties for DUI are complex. State law treats a DUI differently depending on whether it was your first, second, third, or subsequent conviction. However, even a first-time DUI sentence is rough.
The main penalties include the following:
- A minimum fine of at least $390, which spirals to $1,800 with court fees. However, a first-time DUI can cost up to $15,600
- Jail time ranging from two days to six months
- A minimum of four months to one year of absolutely no driving
- Mandatory DUI treatment lasting at least 90 days and costing at least $500
These first-time penalties get more severe if you have previous DUIs within the last ten years. If that is the case, you could face stiffer penalties across the board: up to a year in jail, more than a year in state prison, a year or more of license suspension, three years of DUI treatment, and fines and fees ranging in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Installing an IID
All DUI offenders may also have to have an ignition interlock device installed on their car and will remain on probation after serving their sentence. Additionally, a DUI can affect the future of your career.
Collateral Consequences of a Van Nuys DUI Conviction
In addition to the criminal penalties you will face if you are found guilty of a DUI in Van Nuys, there are many collateral consequences you could be facing as well.
Collateral consequences refer to all of the ways your life, in general, will be affected by your conviction. Some of the more common types of collateral consequences DUI convicts have reported include:
- Community service
- Court-ordered mental health counseling
- Court-ordered anger management
- Completion of a substance-abuse treatment program
- Completion of driver retraining programs
- Child custody or visitation issues
- Trouble with immigration or citizenship
- Temporary loss of voting rights
- Loss of firearm rights
- Difficulty obtaining or maintaining gainful employment
- Trouble finding safe or affordable housing
- Loss of federal student aid eligibility
- Difficulty maintaining relationships with friends and family
- Suspension or revocation of your professional licenses
These are only some of the more common ways your life could be affected if you are found guilty of a DUI in Van Nuys. A criminal defense lawyer could help you protect your future and dodge a guilty verdict.
What to Expect in a Van Nuys DUI Case
Most Van Nuys DUI cases begin with an arrest by the LAPD, the County Sheriff, or the California Highway Patrol. Regardless of who arrested you, you will normally be booked for a night in jail at the Van Nuys Community Police Station. This is only the beginning of your case.
DUI cases move quickly. You will have to make serious decisions about how to proceed at each stage. Each of these decisions will determine the future of your driver’s license, your case, and in many ways, your life for many years to come.
Stages of a DUI Case in Van Nuys
Many people arrested for DUI are intimidated and overwhelmed by the charges against them. However, once you better understand the DUI process in Van Nuys, you may feel ready to take on your defense. Here are the crucial stages of a DUI case:
The DMV Hearing
Although the California DMV is not a law enforcement body, it does participate in the DUI process. The DMV will automatically suspend your license 30 days after your arrest, even if you have not gone to trial yet. There is one way to prevent this, and that is to prevail at a DMV hearing.
You must request this hearing within ten days of your arrest. If you do not, you lose your chance and your driving privileges. It’s best to have a DUI attorney in Van Nuys represent you at the hearing. They can also make sure the request is filed correctly for you.
Your arraignment is a court hearing shortly after your arrest, generally at the Van Nuys Courthouse. At this hearing, you will be asked to enter a plea of Guilty or Guilty. It is likely that the prosecution will already make an offer to you in exchange for a Guilty plea.
These pre-arraignment offers are rarely generous ones. Having a Van Nuys DUI attorney present at the arraignment signals that you will fight hard, and your DUI lawyer in Van Nuys will use the opportunity as a chance to needle the prosecution.
Most DUI cases do not proceed to trial. Instead, your lawyer will use the time beforehand to assemble the strongest possible case for you. They will find holes in the prosecution’s evidence, move to get that evidence thrown out, and ultimately work to bring the prosecution to the table for a plea deal.
Many DUI cases result in a favorable bargain with light penalties, a reduced charge, or even dropping the DUI charge altogether.
How to Defend Against DUI Charges in Van Nuys
You must take action to clear your name if you have been accused of a DUI in Van Nuys. Many first-time, non-violent offenders may be eligible for a plea agreement or a pretrial diversion program. By working with the state’s prosecuting attorney, you may be able to enter into a drug or alcohol treatment program or another type of pretrial diversion program as opposed to going to trial.
Once you meet the program requirements, the charges against you can be reduced or dismissed entirely. However, there are some instances where it is crucial to challenge the DUI charges against you instead of entering into a plea agreement.
Here are some of the top defenses used to challenge Van Nuys DUIs:
Law-enforcement officers must have a valid reason for pulling your vehicle over. For example, police may notice a broken taillight, erratic driving, or other traffic violations.
However, if they do not have good cause for pulling you over in the first place, the stop may be considered illegal. Challenging the significance of law-enforcement observations will take the skill of an experienced DUI attorney.
When police fail to give Miranda warnings before questioning, any evidence obtained through this line of questioning can be tossed out due to constitutional violations. If you were not given a Miranda warning, any statement received or evidence obtained can not be used against you at trial.
Inaccurate Blood Alcohol Test Results
Blood alcohol test results are used to establish the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels of a defendant. However, when these tests are not administered accurately, not appropriately handled, or not processed correctly, the evidence may be considered tainted and should be dismissed at your DUI trial.
More About Pretrial Diversion Programs and Plea Agreements
You can sometimes avoid bringing your case to trial by working out a plea agreement with the district attorney. If the prosecutor allows you to enter a pretrial diversion program, you could get the DUI charges against you reduced to a lesser offense or dropped altogether.
However, if you are participating in a pretrial diversion program, there are specific requirements you should be prepared to meet. These might include one or more of the following:
- Completion of court-ordered DUI school
- Completion of court-ordered drug or alcohol rehabilitation
- Attending MADD VIP or HAM programs
- Meeting regularly with probation officers
- Passing random drug or alcohol test
- Abstaining from drug or alcohol use
- Paying for the installation of an (IID)
- Paying restitution to any victims who were injured in your DUI case
- Completing a minimum number of community service hours
These are only a few of the various terms you will need to follow if you enter a pretrial diversion program. The district attorney has the authority to amend these requirements and includes additional ones based on the specific details of your case. Completing a pretrial diversion program may be your best opportunity to clear your record of these allegations and move forward with your life.
Van Nuys DUI FAQs
We understand how complex the DUI process is and how many unanswered questions you may have regarding the charges against you. With that in mind, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Van Nuys DUIs below.
If you have additional questions we did not answer here, reach out to a Van Nuys DUI attorney for legal guidance and support.
Am I Required to Submit to a Breath Test?
Under California implied consent laws, drivers must submit to breath tests when accused of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You have the right to refuse such a test. However, there will be harsh penalties.
If you refuse to take a breath, blood, or urine test to establish your blood alcohol concentration levels, your license will be immediately suspended for a minimum of one year. The suspension will happen without regard to your guilt or innocence of the DUI charges against you. If you have previously been convicted of reckless driving or a DUI or have refused to submit to breath tests more than once over the last ten years, you will face a license suspension of up to two years.
Anyone who has refused to consent to chemical blood alcohol testing for a third time or has multiple reckless driving or DUI convictions on their record within ten years will have their license suspended for three years. You should also expect to pay a $125 fine for each refusal to submit to a breath test in Van Nuys.
Can a DUI Be Expunged from My Record?
Depending on the specific details of your case, your DUI conviction could be expunged from your record. Many first-time or misdemeanor convictions may be eligible for expungement.
However, suppose someone suffered severe bodily injury or death. In that case, if you are a habitual DUI offender or have been convicted of a felony, you may find it more challenging to obtain an expungement.
How Will I Get to Work if I Cannot Drive?
Suppose your license has been suspended due to a DUI conviction under VEH §13353.7. In that case, you may obtain a restricted license that allows you to travel to and from religious activities, work, doctor’s appointments, and other necessary events.
You may be eligible for a restricted license if you have not previously had your license suspended or revoked within the last seven years. You must also have enrolled in an approved driver retraining program.
It should be noted that under VEH §13353.6 if you are seeking restricted driving privileges as a commercial driver’s license holder, you must have no prior convictions for DUIs or reckless driving for your application to be approved.
What to Look for in a Van Nuys DUI Defense Lawyer
The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to an attorney. However, you will find that you do not qualify for a court-appointed attorney in many cases. If you do, these public defenders cannot always do the kind of work for you that a dedicated DUI lawyer would do.
They are overworked, with heavy caseloads. All too often, their advice is to take the first “deal” the prosecution offers, even if it is no better than just pleading Guilty.
That is why you must find a DUI lawyer you can trust. A strong DUI lawyer will work to have the breath test or blood test evidence thrown out, to find holes in officer testimony, and uncover evidence in your favor. They know that no case is unwinnable.
Signs of an Experienced Lawyer
Signs of an experienced DUI lawyer include:
- They focus exclusively on DUI: Your lawyer should work solely on drunk driving and related cases, giving you their full attention.
- They have years of experience: A good DUI lawyer has spent thousands of hours researching, litigating, and trying real DUI cases.
- They have received special training: They should routinely take seminars and classes to hone their knowledge of DUI law.
Lawyers who check all of the above boxes have a high success rate in defending DUI cases. They may be able to get your DUI charge knocked down to something less severe or win your case outright.
Talk to a Van Nuys DUI Lawyer Today for Free
The prosecutor, law enforcement, and public opinion are all working against you in your DUI case. Only one person truly has your back: your DUI defense lawyer. We want to help you get the best defense possible by connecting you with a qualified lawyer offering free consultations.
Do not leave your future up to chance. Discuss your case with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer before it is too late. Fill out our online contact form or call a Van Nuys DUI lawyer to get your free consultation today.