You probably think that you are a safe driver who routinely follows all the applicable rules and regulations. However, it is all too easy to be accused of a DUI – driving under the influence – especially if you are driving while taking prescription drugs. In a typical year, about 1.5 million drivers are arrested for driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. The laws can vary in different states, although in Los Angeles and the rest of California, it is illegal to drive with a 0.08 percent or more level of alcohol in the bloodstream. If this happens to you, you will almost certainly need the services of an experienced and reputable LA DUI lawyer.
Many people somehow don’t see DUI as in especially serious crime, although if you are convicted, there can be consequences which can affect the rest of your life. The penalties can depend on several factors, such as whether you have had any recent prior convictions, the exact level of drugs or alcohol found present, and whether there were any small children in the car with you. Basically, if you are accused of a DUI, you should immediately contact a good DUI attorney, preferably someone who has been recommended to you and someone who specializes in handling this type of case. There are several defense strategies that your attorney has to potentially use, strategies that probably haven’t occurred to you, and for that reason alone, it is a must to seek expert help and support.
Many drivers facing a DUI charge are understandably concerned about the cost of legal help, and it’s worth remembering that most attorneys offer a free initial consultation, and with no obligation to use their services. If you just don’t know a good DUI lawyer, the state bar association can help, and of course, it is easy to browse through the names of attorneys online. You can get a good idea of what an attorney can offer you and what your options are by simply browsing online.
If this is your first DUI offense in California, you should first request a hearing at your local DMV office, to which you should then make every effort to show up. The DMV official will want as thorough and as detailed an account of your situation as possible, and some of the questionings may be focused on establishing whether the law enforcement officer acted within the letter of the law. Your license won’t be suspended if you are able to ‘win’ the hearing at the DMV, and you can take legal counsel with you, but it isn’t a requirement. However, if it is your second or third DUI offense or you have a criminal record, the procedure may be different.
If the DMV are not satisfied, the next step in the process is an arraignment, and here you really will benefit from having the assistance of a knowledgeable LA DUI lawyer. It is now that you will need to decide whether your plea will be one of guilty or not guilty, although your attorney will probably advise you to plead not guilty. If you do plead guilty, you will then be sentenced accordingly. However, if you plead not guilty, the next step is a pretrial, typically sometime in the next three months. This period gives you and your attorney the opportunity to discuss your options and to enter any agreed upon plea bargain.
If your plea is not guilty, and don’t offer or accept a plea bargain, your case will go to trial. As can be seen, this entire process can take months, and can adversely affect almost every aspect of your life. Aside from the stress and emotional upset of a trial for a DUI, it can also potentially cost you thousands of dollars in attorney fees, which you will need to pay if you lose your case. There is still the possibility of entering a plea bargain at this point, especially if the prosecution doesn’t have a particularly strong case, but there is never a guarantee of this. If you are pulled over and charged with a DUI, it is essential to seek the help of an LA DUI lawyer just as soon as possible.