In California, driving under the influence of alcohol of drugs, more commonly referred to as DUI, is a crime and not merely a traffic violation. This is also true in every other jurisdiction in the United States. While most traffic violations are infractions, a DUI offense will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and is punishable by jail time.
Attorney Ardalon Fakhimi is a top DUI attorney at California Criminal Defense Center, handling all DUI related matters throughout Southern California including Los Angeles, Orange County, and many parts of the Inland Empire. California Criminal Defense Center also has well respected and experienced DUI attorneys who focus on San Diego County and Ventura County. Aside from having a wealth of knowledge and experience in DUI cases, Mr. Fakhimi understands and counsels clients on how to handle many of the personal and work-related difficulties that come from a DUI arrest.
Being arrested for a DUI can be an expensive and embarrassing experience that can also lead to some of the following consequences:
- Loss of employment
- Suspension of professional license (i.e. pharmacy, nursing, real estate, medical, etc.)
- Difficulty obtaining a professional license
- Inability to get student loans
- Drivers license suspension
If you do not act quickly to preserve your DMV hearing (also referred to as the Administrative Per Se hearing), you California drivers license will be suspended. If you are arrested for a DUI, you will have only 10 days to preserve the DMV hearing at which your DUI attorney can fight to save your driving privileges. If you do not act within 10 days of your arrest to preserve this hearing, your license will automatically be suspended after 30 days in most instances.
HOW TO SELECT A DUI LAWYER
If you have been arrested for DUI, the most important initial step you can take is to hire a qualified DUI lawyer to assist you. Hiring a DUI attorney very soon after your arrest is critically important because of the many legal timeframes and deadlines related to DUI cases. Many of these deadlines are set forth by the DMV and codified in the California Vehicle Code. Also, an experienced DUI lawyer can create a strategic plan for your case to enable you to continue driving for as long as possible while your DUI case is pending.
You should ask the right questions to help you select an effective, yet affordable, DUI lawyer to assist you with your case. Finding the right DUI lawyer to assist you may not be an easy task. First, you should look for a lawyer who is experienced in handling DUI cases in the court where your case is being heard. For example, you may find that the best DUI lawyer in Los Angeles may not necessarily make that person the most suitable DUI lawyer in another jurisdiction. While it is extremely important for the lawyer to know the laws and the procedures, it may not be enough for the lawyer to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. The lawyer should have a strong familiarity and rapport with local prosecutors and judges.
Next, and equally important, you should questions the lawyer’s qualifications. A good place to start is to visit the lawyer’s website and see whether the attorney truly focuses on DUI defense. Ask what areas of law the attorney handles without first letting them know what kind of cases you have. Find out whether the lawyer belongs to any of the major professional organizations related to the defense of DUI cases. Try to find out how many DUI jury trials the attorney has done. Ask for a detailed explanation of the specific DMV consequences related to DUI cases. If the lawyer is unable to provide you with specifics, he or she may not have a strong understanding of DUI law and all of the consequences it may bring. DUI law and procedure is filled with fine nuances that requires many years of practice to become familiar with.
MISDEMEANOR DUI & FELONY DUI
Absent certain aggravating factors, a first time DUI offense will be charged as a misdemeanor. However, if the first time DUI involved an accident where someone was seriously injured, the case may be filed as a felony.
A first time misdemeanor DUI carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail, although it may be uncommon for jail time to be given in most Southern California jurisdictions. A second DUI arrest occurring within 10 years from the first will also be filed as a misdemeanor, but it carries a maximum of 1 year in the county jail. In most California courts, prosecutors have customarily tried to impose 30-90 days of jail even though the minimum jail sentence is 96 hours. A third DUI occurring within 10 years from the first DUI arrest date will carry a minimum of 120 days and a maximum of 365 days in jail. Finally, if you are arrested for a 4th DUI within 10 years from the arrest date of your first DUI, you will be charged with a felony and face up to a maximum of 3 years in state prison.
In most cases, a DUI conviction occurring in another state will be used as a prior conviction in California, with a few very minor exceptions. Therefore, if you were convicted of a DUI outside of California within 10 years of a subsequent DUI arrest in California, it will be charged as a 2nd DUI.
Even though DUI laws are the same throughout all of California, the treatment of DUI cases by prosecutors and judges often vary from courthouse to courthouse. Some California jurisdictions are very firm in their treatment of DUI cases while other areas in the state may exercise more leniency in both the prosecution and settlement of DUI cases. This is yet another reason to consult with a DUI lawyer who is familiar with customs of how DUI cases are treated in the court where your case is being heard.
If you would like to get more familiar with some of these local customs, please click on the link below corresponding to where your case is filed. If you have any questions while reviewing this information, feel free to call us to speak with Mr. Fakhimi at any of our local numbers or toll free at 1-800-DUI-KING (1-800-384-5464).
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