When you’re facing a DUI charge, nothing is as important as taking the necessary measures to ensure you’re not found guilty. This starts by speaking a DUI attorney who has a deep understanding of the law and will strive to support you throughout the legal proceedings. Finding the right Orange County DUI attorney can mean the difference between a clean criminal record and a conviction or between freedom and prison. As such, you need an attorney with the skills, reputation, and experience to aggressively represent your best interests. The consequence of a DUI conviction can include jail time, fines and fees, probation, court-ordered classes, and loss of license. A DUI on your criminal record can also affect insurance rates, impact your future, and tarnish your reputation. Building a strong defense is your best chance at fighting the charges and getting the best results possible.
At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, our attorneys have made a career out of providing superior defense services to individuals charged with driving under the influence in Orange County. Regardless of your specific charge, we can fight your charges and help you move past this difficult time. Our many years of DUI defense practice have consistently given us the opportunity to become familiar with prosecutors, judges, and other court officials in Orange County. You can count on our attorneys to be your pillar of strength during this difficult time.
When you retain the Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, you can rest assured that we’ll handle your case personally and will not outsource services from an appearance attorney or an outside law firm. Our goal is to ensure that our clients are confident that we’ll handle their cases with the uniqueness and carefulness it deserves. Each client is given their attorney’s personal phone number, office phone number, and email to ensure that he/she can get in touch should an issue arise outside of regular business hour. What’s more, our clients can reach to us outside the “9 to 5” hours. We’re available 24/7/365.
We offer a free initial consultation to individuals accused of DUI in Orange County. Call us at 714-820-9592 to schedule yours.
The DUI Process
Unlike other types of criminal offenses that involve a one-step process where the case is handled in court, DUI is a complex and technical crime that involves two distinct steps. The roller-coaster ride of a DUI case begins when a person is arrested for suspicion of drunk driving. The officer will then take you in for a chemical test to verify your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). If the test results show a BAC of .08 or greater, the officer will note that a charge of driving with a BAC above .08 will be added. If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test, your license could be suspended for up to 1 year and a Refusal allegation will be added to your charges.
You’ll then be booked and (depending on your criminal history and circumstances of your case) released on bail. A report will be prepared and submitted to the prosecutor who will charge you with DUI or decline to file charges.
In addition to the criminal aspect of DUI, there are administrative actions and the DMV hearing separate from any jury trial that may come later. After an arrest, your driver’s license will immediately be confiscated by the arresting officer and you’ll then be issued a pink, 30-day license. After that, you only have 10 actual days (not business days) to file for a DMV hearing and fight the automatic suspension of your license. If you request a hearing within the stipulated time, the suspension of your license will be delayed until the outcome of the hearing is determined. If you fail to do so, your license will be automatically suspended for 4 months and you’ll lose the right to such a hearing permanently. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we have been successful in preventing suspended licenses. We are familiar with the local DMV and its process and can easily request your DMV hearing for you.
Regardless of the outcome of your DMV hearing, if charges are filed against you, you’re still subject to the criminal court process.
DUI Penalties in California
DUI is a serious offense because it tends to put others at risk. However, the penalties of drunk driving can be complicated and may depend on factors two main factors: whether another person was injured or killed as a result of your driving under the influence and whether you have prior DUI convictions on your record. Most DUIs are prosecuted as misdemeanors, but they may be charged as a felony if you have 4 or more prior DUIs on your record or someone is injured as a result of your drunk driving.
The penalties for a first-time DUI offense include:
- Fines ranging between $390 and $1,000
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- DUI probation for from 3 to 5 years
- 3 to 9 months of state-approved DUI classes
- Driver’s license suspension for 4 to 10 months (but a person can be allowed to continue driving if he/she gets an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle for 6 months)
Penalties for a second DUI offense include:
- 96 hours to1 year in county jail
- 3 to 5 years of Summary Probation
- Completion of an 18 to 30-month Drug/Alcohol program
- $390 to $1,000 in fines and penalties
- Up to 2 years driver’s license suspension (or instead drive with an IID for 1 year)
Penalties for a third DUI offense is punishable include:
- Fines ranging between $390 and $1000
- 120 days up to one year in county jail
- Driver’s license suspension for 3 years
- Informal probation for 3 to 5 years
- Completion of a 30-month DUI program
- Installation of an IID for 2 years
- Designation as a habitual traffic offender
The penalties for a fourth or subsequent DUI offense include:
- Fines and fees as high as $18,000
- Up to 16 months in state prison
- Three years of Habitual Traffic Offender status
- 4-year driver’s license revocation with the possibility of permanently losing it
- 30 months of AA meetings and DUI class
- Formal DUI probation for 3 to 5 years
- Mandatory installation of an IID for 2 to 3 years
DUIs in California are “priorable offenses” and penalties get more serious with each successive DUI conviction within a 10-year period. You can also face civil charges if the DUI incident caused any injuries or property damage. Other driving crimes such as vehicular manslaughter, hit and run, DUI with a minor in the car, or DUI without a valid license or on a suspended license can result in sentencing enhancements.
Common DUI Defenses in California DUI Cases
- Simple Bad Driving Does Not Equal DUI
While police usually think that a driver must be under the influence if driving poorly or erratically, that is not always the case. Speeding, weaving and other traffic violations are often caused by sober drivers who are distracted or inattentive. The prosecutor will consider your driving pattern and the arresting officer may testify that you were driving in a manner consistent with DUI. An experienced DUI attorney can fight DUI charges by arguing that you were sober and the driving pattern is not a reliable predictor of DUI.
- Inaccuracies of Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
The arresting officer and prosecutor heavily rely on FSTs and almost always testify that the defendant performed poorly without mentioning the elements that you passed. If part of the prosecution’s evidence includes the results of FSTs, you and your attorney may challenge the results. Even the most reliable FSTs aren’t accurate indicators of impairment. In addition, there are factors that may affect balance and coordination and cause you to fail the FSTs, including poor lighting, fatigue, your natural physical coordination, having flat feet, your clothing, officer-induced intimidation, bad weather conditions, uneven surface conditions, your clothing, awkward footwear, and a variety of other issues. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we use this defense strategy to ensure that the prosecutor does not use the results of FSTs against you in your DUI case.
- Innocent Explanation for Objective Symptoms of Intoxication
In California DUI investigations, the defendant’s physical appearance plays a big role in claiming that you were intoxicated. Police often rely on objective symptoms such as slurred speech, wobbly walking pattern, red or watery eyes, or the strong odor of alcohol on your breath to decide if someone they’ve stopped likely intoxicated. Whether or not this description is accurate, having these signs does not prove you were under the influence. Innocent explanations such as allergies, fatigue, illness, physical injury, eye irritation, or a cold can explain the signs and symptoms associated with intoxication.
- Mouth Alcohol Resulted in a Falsely High BAC Result
Residual mouth alcohol can throw off the PAS test and show high BAC reading. The breath testing devices are designed to test a sample of breath from your deep lung tissue (alveolar air). So instead of capturing alcohol in your alveoli air, they can capture mouth alcohol if you used chewing tobacco, used a mouthwash containing alcohol, suffer from acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD, used certain medication, or took alcohol-soaked food. These can trigger a BAC reading of .08 or more. Also, the officer must continuously observe you for 15 minutes before administering a breath test to ensure you for not burp, belch, or regurgitate and you don’t put anything in containing alcohol in your mouth. If the officer fails to observe you continuously for 15 minutes may call into question your breath tests results and even the entire DUI investigation.
- Violation of Title 17 Regulations on Blood and Breath Testing
California Code of Regulations Title 17 sets forth the requirement for collecting, storing, and analyzing DUI blood and breath tests. If the arresting officer failed to follow the guidelines, the results could be tainted and declared invalid. To comply with these regulations, the personnel conducting the tests must be properly trained, the device use must be properly calibrated and maintained, blood samples should be handled and store properly according to strict regulations. An experienced DUI attorney can use any violation to call the entire investigation into question and have the results excluded from evidence.
- Rising Blood Alcohol
After consumption, alcohol takes a certain amount of time - between 1 hour to 3 hours- to absorb into your system and reach peak levels. So if you just finished drinking and the gets behind the wheel for a short drive and are arrested for DUI, the chemical test conducted at the police station may show a higher BAC than what you had while actually driving. Your BAC will continue to rise and if you’re not tested after a lengthy period of DUI investigation, the results of the chemical test could be wrong. What matters is your BAC level at the time you drove and this may form the basis of a defense to DUI charges.
- Falsely Inflated BAC as a Result of Health Conditions or a Special Diet
At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we know that medical conditions such as hypoglycemia and diabetes as well as fasting and certain popular diets such as Atkins or Paleo can throw off the BAC results, forming the basis of a successful defense to DUI charges. Our bodies tend to get fuel from dietary carbohydrates. But there are certain conditions that force the body to get fuel by breaking down stored fats. During the process, the liver produces an excessive amount of toxic byproducts known as “ketones,” which are chemically similar to and mimic the effect of isopropyl alcohol. Some ketones can be excreted in the breath and can easily trick breath testing devices, leading to a falsely high BAC reading and an unfair DUI charge.
Other defense strategies that we can use to fight your DUI charges include:
- DUI breath test errors
- DUI blood test errors
- Arresting officer didn’t read Miranda rights
- Lack of probable cause for a DUI stop
- DUI Sobriety Checkpoint not in compliance with legal requirements
- Police misconduct
- BAC over the legal limit not the same as DUI
- No signs of mental impairment
- Radio Frequency Interference
- BAC doesn’t reflect impairment
- No driving at the time of the arrest
Irrespective of the type of DUI charge you’re facing, any of these defenses could be raised to your case. We have an understanding of the law and can assess the specifics of your case to decide the best defense strategies that will maximize your chances of winning the case. Remember, building a solid defense when faced with a DUI charge usually depends on when it is prepared. For this reason, it’s important to seek experienced DUI legal counsel immediately after your arrest.
Our Practice Areas
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS (DUID)
Under California law, driving under the influence doesn’t just refer to drunk driving. DUI simply means having an impaired ability to drive to an extent that you no longer exercise the caution that an ordinarily sober person would under similar circumstances. So, DUI can also refer to drug driving as well. A “drug,” under California VC 23152 (f) and (g), includes legal drugs such as marijuana; illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine; over-the-counter medications, including cold medicines and antihistamines; and prescription medications such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Valium.
Under California Vehicle Code § 23152(c), it is also illegal for a person to operate a vehicle if addicted to a drug. This means that it’s unlawful to drive while experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms. There’s no specific legal limit for drugs because experts cannot agree on what concentration of drugs in a person’s system causes impairment. The penalties for drugged driving are similar to those of drunk driving.
When it comes to DUI of Drugs in California, the “implied contest” law applies as provided under California Vehicle Code § 23612(a)(2)(B). This means that a person who receives a driver’s license and operates a vehicle is obligated to submit to chemical testing is arrested for driving under the influence of drugs. Testing for drugs may involve breath, blood or urine tests. A person who refuses to submit to a test faces legal penalties, including an automatic driver's license suspension.
Traffic accidents caused by underage driving, distracted driving, and the inexperience of a driver are a leading cause of death among young adults and teenagers. In this regard, California applies a very strict zero-tolerance policy on people under the age of 21 drinking and operating a motor vehicle. Under California Vehicle Code § 23136, it is illegal for a minor under the age of 21 years to drive a vehicle with a BAC of .01 percent or greater as measured by a chemical test or preliminary alcohol screening test. As such, it’s a crime for minor to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system. Underage DUI is usually charged as a misdemeanor punishable by fines of up to $250 and a 1-year license suspension.
If a person under the age of 21 years is found to be operating a vehicle with a BAC of .05 percent or higher, they may be required to attend court-appointed rehabilitation or alcohol education programs. If the BAC was higher than 0.08 percent or higher, there’s the likelihood of being charged a “standard” adult DUI. Other adult charges that a person under the age of 21 years might be charged with include DUI causing injury, DUI of drugs, Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and even DUI Murder.
COMMERCIAL DRIVER DUI
Commercial drivers convicted of DUI may risk criminal DUI charges as well as the loss of employment. The BAC level for commercial drivers in California is much lower and most companies have a no-tolerance policy for drivers arrested for driving under influence. Under California Vehicle Codes §23152, it is unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC content of 0.04 percent or more. As a commercial driver, you will be subject to stricter law if you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test. And if you were involved in an accident that resulted in injury or death to another person while driving under the influence, you may be facing felony DUI charges.
If convicted of DUI and you’re a commercial driver, you may be facing up to $1,000 in fine, up to 1 year in jail, and up to 36 months in a court-approved DUI educational program.
DUI WITH A CHILD UNDER 14 IN THE CAR
In certain circumstances, the penalties for a DUI will be increased if it involved aggravating behavior. A person who drives under the influence with a child passenger in the car will face enhanced penalties. Under Vehicle Code 23572, DUI child endangerment sentence enhancement consists of additional mandatory jail time in addition to the standard DUI penalties. This means that you’ll definitely serve time in jail if convicted of DUI with a child under the age of 14 in the car. VC 13572 is very straightforward and the court will not be concerned with factors such as your driving patterns, your level of intoxication, or whether you had intentions to harm the child. What the court will look into is that you were driving under the influence and had a child under 14 in the car at that time. If convicted of DUI and had a child passenger, you will face standard DUI penalties and mandatory additional and consecutive sentence enhancement as follows:
- First DUI offense- 2 days in county jail
- Second DUI offense- 10 days in jail
- Third DUI offense- 30 days in jail
- Forth or subsequent misdemeanor- 90 days in jail
Even if you’re a resident of California and are arrested for a DUI in California, you’ll still have to go through the same DUI process and face California DUI penalties as anyone else. The fact that you live in another state can make the process more difficult for you and for this reason, you need a good DUI attorney who understands the unique circumstances surrounding your case and who will attend your hearings for you. After an arrest, law enforcement will give you notice that your right to drive in California will be suspended for at least 30 days and the California DMV will be notified immediately. You’ll then have 10 days to request a hearing with the California DMV and challenge the suspension. 45 states (except Tennessee, Michigan, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, and Georgia) have joined the Interstate Driver’s License Compact (DLC), which allows the states to exchange information regarding out-of-state drivers and traffic violations. As a result, your home state will likely take its own action if you’re arrested for DUI.
DUI CAUSING INJURY
Driving under the influence and causing bodily injury to a third party is a violation of California Vehicle Code § 23153 and you may be charged with DUI causing injury. For you to be convicted of this crime, the prosecutor must prove that you drove a vehicle under the influence with a BAC of .08 or above. The prosecutor must also show that you neglected to perform a legal act or committed an illegal act and that illegal act or failure to perform caused the bodily injury of another person. DUI causing injury may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If you’re a first-time offender and charged with a misdemeanor, you may be forced to pay fines ranging between $390 and $5,000 and may also be sent to jail for 5days up to 1 year. If charged as a felony, you can be ordered to pay $1,015 up to $5,000 in fines and may be imprisoned for 2, 3, or 4 years. Your sentence may be increased by 3 to 6 years if you caused great bodily injury or substantial physical harm.
VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER WHILE INTOXICATED
Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated occurs when a driver who is under the influence engages in some negligent behavior while driving and causes the death of another person- be it a passenger, a pedestrian, or another driver. It is the killing of another person without malice aforethought and the death was directly caused by the commission of an unlawful act by the defendant. Under California Penal Code 191.5 PC, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated may result in two types of charges: vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with ordinary negligence (PC 191.5(b)) and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated with ordinary negligence (PC 191.5 (a)). In order to be convicted, the prosecutor must prove that you drove under the influence and committed an unlawful act with either ordinary negligence or gross negligence. Under PC 191.5 (b), you’re considered to have acted with gross negligence if another person’s death was a natural, direct, and probable consequence of your actions.
The penalties for misdemeanor ordinary vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated include up to 1 year in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and/or summary probation. If charged as a felony, you could face one-year driver’s license suspension, 16 months, 2 years, or 4 years in prison, formal probation, and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Conversely, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, formal probation, and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Your license will be revoked for 3 years. If you have one or more prior DUI conviction on your record, you face a state prison sentence of fifteen (15) years.
Watson murder is simply a California DUI murder charge under California Penal Code Section 187. It’s a second-degree murder charge filed if an individual kills another person while driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. You may be charged with Watson murder if you have at least one prior California DUI conviction, attended a DUI school and signed a document known as Watson advisement, warning you of the safety risks of driving under the influence. In California, murder is an intentional act. Second-degree murder involves the killing of another person due to malicious behavior or a reckless disregard for human life. To be convicted of Watson murder, the prosecutor has to show that you knew that someone could be killed in an auto accident as a result of driving under the influence. If you were aware of the risks, your conduct would count as implied malice.
DUI murder is punishable by 15 years to life in state prison, a strike on your record under California’s Three Strikes Law, and a fine of up to $10,000. If there are victims who suffered great bodily injury, you’ll receive an additional and consecutive penalty of 3 to 6 years in California state prison.
Case Review by an Experienced Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer
With a team of skilled and experienced DUI attorneys at your side, you can rest assured that every angle and every aspect of your DUI cases will be covered in defending you in court. At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we tackle all kinds of California DUI cases from misdemeanor drunk driving to felony DUI. We know the best legal strategies to fight the charges and avoid jail time as well as other harsh penalties that come with a DUI conviction. Our lawyers will take your case seriously and will point out how a seemingly uphill battle can be resolved by targeting certain key errors or failures. Once you retain our legal service, our main aim will be to secure your freedom and well-being.
When we handle DUI cases in Orange County, we investigate the background and training of the arresting officer and the chemical testing personnel, examine and inspect equipment used in chemical testing (including their upkeep and maintenance), and reanalyze blood samples. We also cross-examine officers at DMV hearings to ensure that all regulations were adhered to and also use this as an opportunity to find out the evidence that the prosecutor has against you. We will review your case beginning with the events that led up to the arrest, what happened after the traffic stop, and what followed. We’ll challenge every piece of evidence the prosecution plans to use against you. Getting a DUI does not mean you’re guilty. Certain circumstances or defenses may entitle you to a suppression of evidence, reduced charge or penalty, or dismissal of the charges. There may have been an error with the chemical testing procedure, the law enforcement officer may not have had probable cause to pull you over, or there may be credible witnesses who can say you were not impaired or intoxicated. The diligent investigation into the details of each unique case we accept lays the groundwork for a strong defense aimed at clearing your name.
What Sets Us Apart
- Striving for Excellence in Every Case
At Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer, we strive to maintain an uncommon commitment to excellence in every DUI case we tackle. Our legal team practices DUI defense proactively using our education, resources, and experience to align our well-rounded approach to legal service with your objectives. Our practice is marked by efficient service, unwavering quality, and personalized representation. Our goal is to incorporate these qualities into different aspects of our law firm. We take great pride in excellence and reject complacency by all means possible. When you retain our law firm, you can be assured that we’ll provide the caliber of legal service you expect and deserve. You need results – we know how to win and get results!
- Our Effective Strategies Win Cases
Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer is founded on the desire to defend individuals charged with DUI in Orange County and across Southern California. Our attorneys take pride in the knowledge and skills they have gained defending countless clients charged with DUI. We will defend your rights, your freedom, and your reputation. We use an experienced and aggressive approach to review charges and look for areas of defense. We’re focused on results and that’s why our attorneys spend ample time defending each client. We help you make informed decisions by explaining the legal issues surrounding your case and ensuring you know what options are available to fight the charges. We keep the result you want in mind from start to finish.
- Client-Focused Service
Every client and every case that we accept is a top priority. Over the years, we’ve learned that our ability to grow as a law firm greatly depends on our ability to earn the trust of clients. For this reason, our attorneys aggressively defend clients and aim to form long-term relationships that will have great benefits now and in the future. We’re committed to focusing on the needs of our clients. Whether we’re handling a large or small case, we treat each case that we accept as unique and important and each individual is significant. When you retain our legal team, we will not take the easy way out and will fully engage you from start to finish. We offer free phone consultations and meet personally with our clients to start working towards results.
Call an Orange County DUI Defense Lawyer to Fight Your Charges
Being charged with a DUI in Orange County is a stressful experience. Even so, you don’t have to sit and accept having your property, freedom, and mobility restricted or seized, especially if further investigation might show improper DUI arrest, compromised equipment, or improper investigative procedure. The experienced Orange County Defense Lawyers can help you retain your rights and freedom.
Consulting with an experienced DUI attorney immediately after the arrest is critical as it allows the attorney to evaluate your case and gather the evidence to challenge the prosecution’s case. In addition to examining all relevant evidence in your DUI case, our lawyers will subpoena any related video footage connected to your case and review every situation based on its facts. We can represent you in your DMV hearing, prepare and file any pre-trial motions, actively engage in plea negotiations with the prosecution, and aggressively defend you in a trial. When it comes to investigating your case and fighting the charges against you, we leave no stone unturned.