Dealing with a DUI charge in West Covina, California, can be daunting. You may have to put your whole life on hold while you face legal ramifications such as fines, a suspended driver’s license, and possibly even jail time. In many cases, a DUI can haunt you for years, which is why you deserve the strongest DUI defense possible.
The best way to do that is to have a West Covina DUI lawyer fighting on your behalf. Your Los Angeles DUI lawyer will know the intricacies of the legal system, and they will put this knowledge to use to fight for the best outcome for you. They may be able to reduce or avoid fines, help you keep your license, and possibly even have your DUI charge dismissed.
What Can You Expect When You Get a DUI?
DUIs are no laughing matter in West Covina. More than 210 people are charged with a DUI locally every year. The reason for this is simple: the city government views an aggressive DUI policy as a way of bringing in money. Penalties and fees have steadily gotten higher, and defendants can quickly find themselves in over their heads.
The penalties for DUIs are determined by California state law. The law assigns heavier penalties for each successive DUI so that a person with prior DUI convictions will receive a much stiffer punishment than a first-time offender. However, even the first-time penalties are not light. For example:
- There is a minimum sentence of two days in jail, even for a first DUI. Repeat offenders could face months in jail or even state prison.
- You will be paying a fine of at least $390 as a minimum, and when combined with various other fees, your minimum bill will be more like $1,800. After several offenses, the fines can get into the range of tens of thousands of dollars.
- A DUI conviction carries with it a mandatory education class on the dangers of drinking and driving or a much more in-depth treatment program. Completing these programs can take between three months and almost three years and can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,800 in their own right.
No matter what punishment you get, your license will be suspended or otherwise restricted. To get help in reducing or dismissing these charges, talk to a West Covina DUI attorney today.
Anatomy of a DUI Case
Getting arrested for drunk driving in West Covina will probably mean spending the night in the local jail, depending on whether the West Covina Police, the California Highway Patrol, or the Sheriff’s Office of LA County arrests you. You will be released after processing, but the bulk of a long legal procedure is still ahead. There are several phases to the DUI process:
- The DMV Hearing. After you’re released, you will be issued a temporary license, which is valid for 30 days, and your actual license is suspended until after your trial. You can fight the suspension by requesting a hearing from the DMV within ten days of your arrest, which is why getting a talented DUI lawyer early in the case is so important because they may be able to help you keep your license until the trial.
- Arraignment. You will appear in court for your arraignment, during which you enter your plea and are given an official trial date.
- The Waiting Period. You might have to wait months between the arraignment and the actual trial. This can be a stressful time, but your lawyer can subpoena evidence, do research, find holes in the case against you, and work tirelessly to get the charges against you dropped or reduced.
- The Trial. While many DUI cases are settled before they go to trial, if your case does make it this far, you will face a jury at the West Covina Courthouse.
If you choose not to hire a DUI lawyer, you will be forced to rely on a public defender, who will often counsel you to enter a guilty plea at your arraignment. Public defenders are good lawyers, but they are overworked and may not have the time to build a detailed defense for you. A DUI defense lawyer with experience is more likely to advise you to plead not guilty and start pressuring the prosecution to give you a better deal.
If your case goes to trial, this is where your DUI lawyer truly shines. They get to cross-examine the arresting officer, exploit weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, and discredit the evidence against you. A victory is never guaranteed, but good DUI lawyers routinely win on behalf of their clients.
How Does an Attorney Help in a DUI Case?
Getting arrested for drunk driving may seem cut and dried. You were either over the limit or you were not. There is a lot that a DUI lawyer can do to affect the outcome of your case.
The law says you are not guilty unless proven guilty, and your lawyer can make it very hard for the prosecution to make a successful case against you. A good lawyer has several approaches available:
- Examine the arrest. If your legal rights were violated during the arrest procedure, the case may be thrown out at the beginning.
- Examine the evidence. Breath tests and blood tests are flawed and do not always establish your guilt. For example, the breath machine may not have been calibrated correctly, or the lab technicians may not have followed the correct procedures.
- Perform detective work. Your arresting officer may misremember the details of your arrest or change their story over time. A lawyer will find these inconsistencies and use them to discredit their testimony.
- Negotiate on your behalf. The prosecution has many other pending cases and has to focus on the most important ones, so your odds of getting a favorable deal or having your case dismissed improve once the prosecution realizes you are serious enough to hire a DUI lawyer. By building up a strong case, your lawyer can bring them to the table and push them to offer you a bargain.
These tactics can mean you pay less money, face no jail time, or even win your case altogether.
What Are the Consequences of Not Fighting a DUI Charge?
There are some situations where DUI defense can help to reduce or even get your charges dropped. Other times, you may know it will be hard to beat the charges. You may even recognize that you were driving intoxicated.
Yet, having a DUI lawyer in West Covina by your side throughout the process will be essential, even in this situation. Our goal is to help you avoid the worst consequences you could face.
What Could You Face with a Conviction?
- Jail time: In California, a first DUI carries the potential of up to 6 months in jail. If this is your second or third offense, that could become one year.
- License suspension: You could lose your license for six months if this is your first DUI. For a second offense, that increases to 2 years, and for a third offense, three years.
- Fines: You could face fines from $390 to $1,000 in your case. If there is an injury involved in the DUI, such as you caused an accident, that could amount to up to a $5,000 fine.
These are the consequences of the law. However, you also must consider how this will impact you in the months and years to come.
How a DUI Conviction Impacts Your Life
Consider how a conviction could impact your future:
- Lost income: Do you use your car to drive to and from work? With a conviction and license suspension, you may have to find alternative methods to go to and from any destination.
- Ignition interlock requirement: You may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car. That can be expensive, and it means that you will be limited in your ability to drive if the device detects any presence of alcohol.
- Increased premiums: Your auto insurance costs could rise. You may be required to obtain SR-22 requirements, which means you will likely pay much more for this type of liability protection; without it, you cannot drive legally in California.
- Career damage: If you have a job interview, you could be asked about any convictions you have had in the past. It is likely to show up on your background checks going forward as well.
- Watson Advisement: You must sign a Watson Advisement. This could mean that if you are in an accident in the future, that could be used against you.
The key to remember is that while there is no guarantee that your insurance company will raise your rates or that you will lose your commercial driver’s license, there is a lot on the line when you have a DUI conviction. Doing everything you can to avoid that and working closely with our DUI lawyer in West Covina is critical to protecting your future.
When you contact our lawyers, we will be honest and transparent about what you are likely to face based on what occurred in your case. We highly encourage you to work with our professionals to ensure you have the best possible opportunity to avoid these negative consequences.
Finding the Right DUI Lawyer
There are countless law firms in Los Angeles, and only some of them have the experience to give you the DUI defense you deserve. When deciding which legal counsel you want to represent you, here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Look for firms whose sole focus is DUI work. These lawyers have been through hundreds of cases like yours, and they know the specific tactics that work best.
- Check credentials. A serious DUI lawyer will have training in areas relevant to DUI defense, like breathalyzers or courtroom DUI defense strategies.
- Be sure they offer a free consultation. You should not have to pay to get an initial assessment of your case and determine whether the lawyer is right for you.
Time Is Running Out
The clock starts ticking when the arresting officer puts you in handcuffs for drunk driving. You only have a small window during which you can make requests for a DMV hearing, gather evidence, and prepare yourself for court. The sooner you make the decision to get a qualified DUI lawyer, the more they can do to help you.
Our mission is to put you in contact with a DUI attorney in West Covina who can handle your case. There’s no charge for this. If you provide us with some basic details, we will match you with an attorney from our network of experienced, pre-screened lawyers, and they will give you a free and thorough case evaluation.
Once you are in front of a jury, it is already too late. Do not risk your freedom and your future by waiting too long. Fill out the form to the right or call our office to get your free evaluation today.