A DUI is not a small offense in Westminster. You’ll certainly lose your driver’s license after being arrested, and that’s just the beginning.
In California, DUIs are treated as criminal offenses, resulting in jail time, thousands of dollars in various fees and fines, mandatory DUI school, and probation.
Getting a DUI can significantly affect numerous aspects of your life if you don’t fight it. That’s why you need to take action as soon as possible by getting a Westminster DUI attorney on your side. We’ll review the evidence of your case and start fighting for a better outcome for you.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Westminster?
After being arrested by Westminster police, there are a number of things that happen. How you handle these steps can impact your entire case, so it’s important to be courteous to officers but also know your rights and not admit to anything without consulting a DUI lawyer first.
Right After the Arrest: Chemical Tests
The officer who arrested you will take you to the police station, a local hospital, or jail to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) levels with a breath or blood test. If you take a breath test, your results will be available right away.
If you take a blood test, police will send your samples to a lab for analysis, and results can take a few days (at least) to come back. If you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you’ll be automatically charged for it.
Under California’s Vehicle Code 23152(b) VC, which states it’s illegal to drive a vehicle with 0.08 percent or more of alcohol in your blood. If your breath test shows your BAC is lower than the officer suspected, they will likely suspect you of drug DUI and they may have to take a urine or blood test.
It’s important to know that if you refuse to take any of these chemical tests, an additional “refusal” allegation will be added to your charges (which will tack on more penalties) and you’ll still get arrested for driving drunk. It’s illegal to refuse a chemical test after you’ve been arrested for DUI, so it’s in your best interest to comply with this part.
Release and the Arrest Report
After you’ve been tested, police will likely hold you in a jail cell for several hours before releasing you. You might be released on a certain bail amount or after making a written promise to appear in court on a specific date.
Your release depends on the details and whether or not you have a criminal history. The officer who arrested you will then finish their report on your arrest and send it to a local prosecutor, who will review the report and decide to either not file charges or charge you with a DUI.
Driver’s License Suspension
After being arrested, the officer will also take your driver’s license and you’ll be given a slip of paper that acts as a temporary license. This happens because, in California, the DMV automatically places an administrative suspension on your license 30 days from your arrest—unless you fight it.
You must call the DMV within 10 days of your arrest and schedule a hearing to contest the suspension if you want the possibility of not losing your license. Your DUI lawyer can do this for you and will try to get a hearing scheduled months out, which gives you more time to prepare as well as still be able to drive before the hearing date.
The DMV hearing also gives your lawyer a chance to hear the prosecution’s side and build a stronger case to fight your DUI charge.
Entering Your Plea: The Arraignment
Besides the possible DMV hearing, the arraignment is the first major court proceeding in a DUI case. If you were released from jail after your arrest, the arraignment typically happens within several weeks of your arrest.
Before the arraignment, you should already be working with a DUI lawyer in Westminster so they can know your case and advise you on the best way to handle this hearing.
During your arraignment, the charges against you will be read, then your lawyer will have to enter a plea. The three plea options are:
- Guilty: You’re admitting guilt and not fighting the charge.
- Not guilty: You intend to fight the DUI charge.
- No contest: You aren’t openly admitting guilt, but you don’t plan to fight the charge. Under a “no contest” plea, you’ll be convicted and sentenced as if you were guilty.
If you plead not guilty, a trial date will be set after the hearing is over. If you plead guilty or no contest, a date will be set for your sentencing. Note that you should never plead guilty unless a DUI lawyer has advised you to. A good DUI attorney will instead work to help you negotiate a better deal.
The DUI Trial
Most DUI cases never make it to this step. If you have a DUI lawyer, they will build a strong case for you and work on challenging the evidence against you. If they are successful enough to get you a fair deal, your case will never have to go to trial, and you can walk away with a much better outcome.
If you do continue to court, which can sometimes happen, you’ll appear at the Orange County Courthouse and sit before a judge and jury to determine your outcome.
How Does a DUI Attorney in Westminster Beat a Criminal Charge?
There are some steps that a skilled DUI lawyer in Westminster can take to beat your charge. While it’s hard to totally dispute your drunk driving charge, some technicalities and details of your arrest could make the difference between your original charge, a reduced sentence, and even beating your charge entirely.
If the following are true, a DUI attorney could help you beat your charge:
- Your traffic stop or arrest was unlawful.
- Your arresting officer did not read you your rights.
- Your blood test was flawed or improperly carried out.
- Medicine, mouthwash, diet, or some other factor threw off your test results.
- You were not driving the car.
In your free consultation, you’ll tell one of our DUI lawyers in Westminster about your arrest. If there are any red flags that tell us you might have been treated unfairly, we will try our best to prove to the court that you don’t deserve your DUI charge.
Does a DUI Stay on My Criminal Record?
In most cases, a first-time DUI is a misdemeanor, which does stay on your criminal record. That can make it hard to get a job, a loan, and other opportunities that we may take for granted. Fortunately, there could be a way for a DUI attorney in Westminster to keep people from seeing your DUI charge:
Expunging Your Criminal Record
In some cases, it is possible for a lawyer to expunge your criminal record. This usually involves meeting criteria set by the court. These criteria can include:
- Paying any fines associated with your charge
- Completing probation
- Staying free of any other criminal convictions, including those not related to DUIs
Sealing Your Arrest Record
In other cases, a lawyer may be able to get the court to seal your arrest record. This usually happens when the prosecution fails to actually convict you of a DUI. In order to do this, one of these criteria must be met:
- No charges were filed
- Charges were dismissed
- A jury found the defendant not guilty
- A court overturned the defendant’s conviction
- The defendant, in a deal with the prosecution, completed a pretrial diversion before they went to court
In this case, your lawyer will either work to negotiate with the prosecution or appeal to the court to get your charge dismissed. After that happens, they will work to seal your arrest record so that nobody will have to know that you were arrested, but not charged, for a DUI.
What Should I Look for When Choosing a DUI Attorney?
There are a few key qualities an experienced DUI lawyer will have, including:
- Being devoted primarily to DUI cases
- Having competitive rates (NOT cheap ones)
- Offering a free consultation
- Truly showing care for your case
It’s tempting to choose a lawyer with lower rates. However, this demonstrates less experience—and when you’re dealing with a DUI, you need someone who knows what they’re doing and has a track record to prove it.
A great DUI lawyer will have higher rates because they have hundreds of hours of experience successfully working on DUI cases. This knowledge will mean you’re backed by the best defense possible.
How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost?
Your DUI lawyer’s price will depend on the details of your case and the amount of work they will have to put in. For example, if you have a very difficult case and you want a quality lawyer, the price will be higher than an easy case or an inexperienced lawyer.
Something else that can make your lawyer’s fees more expensive is various costs that are associated with a DUI case. Those costs include subpoena fees, medical tests, and rides to and from the court.
Our lawyers don’t take anything up front. At your initial consultation, they can let you know what their rate will be and around how much you can expect to pay.
Talk to a Westminster DUI Attorney Today
You deserve a DUI defense attorney who has the experience, a successful track record, and compassion to offer you the best possible outcome for your DUI case. We can offer you a FREE consultation with a Westminster DUI lawyer who has all these qualities and more.
For your free consultation and case evaluation, contact us by phone or complete the form to the right today.