Long Beach, DUI and DWI Defense Attorney
There can be many consequences, beyond criminal charges, for operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or other substances. The potential to cause serious injury or death to you, your passengers, or others significantly increases in these circumstances. Because of these potential consequences, penalties for criminal charges of DUI or DWI can be severe. Not only could you face jail time and/or fines in Long Beach, CA, but you could also have your license suspended or revoked.
If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, it is important that you speak to a qualified, trusted, and experienced criminal defense attorney, like those at the Law Offices of Henry Salcido. These attorneys can review your case and provide you with the best possible defense. In many instances, charges can be reduced or dismissed and settled out of court.
What Is a DUI?
Criminal charges that are tied to driving while under the influence of a substance are known as either DUI or DWI.
- DUI: Driving Under the Influence
- DWI: Driving While Intoxicated
In some states, these reflect two different types of criminal charges, with a DWI often viewed as the more serious charge. In California, the courts will exclusively use “DUI” as it can cover a multitude of substances, including drugs and alcohol.
To be charged with DUI for alcohol, a driver’s Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) must be .08% or higher. However, you can also receive a DUI for driving under the influence of any drug, whether illegal, prescription, or over the counter, or if there is a combination of drugs and alcohol.
In most cases, DUIs, both from alcohol or drugs, are considered misdemeanor offenses; however, they can be upgraded to felony charges if someone is injured, you have a prior DUI felony conviction, or you have three or more DUI or reckless driving convictions within ten years.
Penalties for a First-Time DUI
Without any extenuating circumstances, a first-time offense is considered a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face one or more of the following:
- Fines – While fines for the crime itself could be up to $1000, additional assessments could cost you several thousands of dollars.
- Jail – Although a misdemeanor, you could face up to 180 days in jail. This is unlikely in most cases, as judges will likely offer probation.
- License Suspension – Generally speaking, first-time offenses will result in a six-month suspension of your license. Additionally, the state Department of Motor Vehicles could impose a 4-month suspension. If you refuse BAC testing, the suspension of your license could increase to a year. If a first-time offender needs to drive for work or school purposes, they can apply for a restricted license, but if approved, they will likely need to have an ignition interlock device attached to their vehicle.
- Probation – As a first-time offender, you will likely receive probation that will last three to five years. The probation will also include DUI school, which will consist of 30 hours. If your BAC is .20% or more, you will likely complete a nine-month program with 60 hours of class time.
Penalties for a Second DUI Conviction
Although it is still considered a misdemeanor, the penalties for a second conviction increase in the following ways:
- Fines – Same as the first offense with up to $1000 plus assessments.
- Jail – Possible jail time increases to up to one year in jail, house arrest, or jail-alternative work programs.
- License Suspension – With a second conviction, your license could be suspended for two years plus an additional administrative suspension. These suspensions can overlap but don’t have to. The driver can apply for a restricted license; however, if the conviction is for drugs, they must wait a year before applying.
- Probation – Second offenses generally receive a three-year term of probation, but it could be up to five years. In conjunction with probation, you will complete DUI school, which is 18 to 30 months, based on the decision of the judge.
Penalties for a Third DUI Conviction
Still a misdemeanor offense, a third DUI conviction could carry the following penalties:
- Fines – Same as both first and second offenses: up to $1000 plus assessments.
- Jail – A minimum of 6 months in jail up to a year. The exception is if probation is granted, this is reduced to 30 days.
- License Suspension – A third conviction will result in a three-year suspension plus a one-year administrative suspension.
- Probation – Most third-time offenders will complete three to five years of probation plus 30 months of DUI school.
If you are convicted of a fourth DUI within ten years, it will be considered a felony, carrying penalties of 16 months to four years in prison and up to $1000 in fines.
Other circumstances could result in your initial charges qualifying as felonies, including DUIs involving injuries or fatalities. In cases where there are injuries, the result could be 16 months to four years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. In cases that involve fatalities, the charge is likely to be upgraded to vehicular homicide or murder. In these cases, you could face up to life in prison.
Defending Drunk Driving Charges
Every criminal case is different, and the circumstances surrounding each case are unique. It is important that your criminal defense attorney chooses the best defense for your situation. Common defenses for DUI charges include:
- Bad Stop by Police – Without probable cause, an officer cannot pull a vehicle over. There must be an observed behavior to detect possible signs of intoxication. If an officer claims to observe a separate infraction that results in a DUI charge, but the initial infraction was false, everything after the initial stop is invalidated.
- Incorrect Signs of Intoxication – Visible signs of intoxication or drug influence can be very objective. While there may be training in common signs to look for, they do not always indicate influence or intoxication. They could be related to other medical conditions.
- Inaccurate Field Sobriety Tests – The purpose of these tests is to establish the negative influence that a person may be under. However, the tests are meant to be administered in specific ways, and if an officer is improperly trained or conducts the tests incorrectly, the results could be disqualified.
- Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) Inaccuracies – These portable devices have proven to be inaccurate many times. Because of the commonality of false positives and the consequences of the results being just .01% off, challenging these results can sometimes prove an effective defense.
- Rising Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) – With this defense, it can allege that at the time of the stop, your BAC was below the legal limit but rose by the time the breath test was administered.
- GERD Defense – Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can cause a person to have what is known as “mouth alcohol,” which can impact the results of a breathalyzer.
- Faulty Breathalyzer Tests – Unlike the roadside breathalyzer test, there is often a more accurate machine at the police station where a person is given a second breathalyzer. However, the quality of the machine can be tested by challenging the functionality or calibration of the machine.
- Inappropriate Police Conduct – If a police officer has a history of misconduct or acted with misconduct on the scene, then the circumstances of the arrest can be challenged.
- Extenuating Circumstances – As with anything, the circumstances of the arrest need to be examined, and a decision about the circumstances surrounding the crime needs to be considered. If, for example, you had to drive to find safety or you needed to take a friend or family member to the hospital in an emergency. A person may also have been provided a drink that was spiked and did not know they consumed alcohol.
FAQs About Long, CA Beach DUI Law
How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost in Lon Beach?
The cost of an attorney for DUI cases can range by experience and the complexities of the case. For a first-time misdemeanor, an attorney will range from $1000 to $10,000. However, if there are additional charges or the complexities of the case are significant, that cost could rise as high as $70,000.
How Do I Hire the Best DUI Lawyer?
Choosing a criminal defense attorney to represent your DUI case should start with finding attorneys that specialize in DUI cases. Many experienced DUI attorneys are former prosecutors who know how the other side will approach the case. Receiving recommendations and references from friends, family, and other attorneys you may know is a good place to start.
Is It Worth Getting a DUI Lawyer in California?
Without question, a DUI lawyer can make a difference in any criminal DUI case. Not only will they know how to challenge the evidence and procedures of the case, but they will also know how to negotiate with the prosecutor to have charges redacted or dismissed. Without an attorney, you may be talked into a plea agreement that you later regret.
How Much Does a DUI Cost in California in 2022?
The first three DUI convictions a person receives could carry fines of up to $1000 for each infraction. If charged with a felony, the fines could climb to $5000 or more if the charges involve injury or death. In addition to the fines imposed, you could also face other assessments for diversion programs.
Long Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing a DUI charge in Los Angeles County, you deserve to be represented by an attorney with experience and knowledge on how to best defend your case. At the Law Offices of Henry Salcido, our team will look at the facts of your case and build a unique defense that will work towards acquittal, reduction of charges, or dismissal of your case altogether. Contact our offices today, and let us get to work for you.