Costa Mesa DUI Lawyer
DUI charges can impact your life in far-reaching ways. And while a first or even second DUI offense is treated as a misdemeanor in California, a conviction still comes with tough penalties. You will not only be facing loss of driving privileges, possible jail time, and steep fines, but also a criminal record that could haunt you well into the future. An experienced Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help.
At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we know how stressful it can be to deal with the charges against you. And we know what it takes to build a strong defense strategy. Learn more about your options and how you can protect your rights below.
What Are the Penalties for DUI in California?
In California, the severity of DUI penalties varies depending on how many times you’ve been convicted in the past. Harsher penalties are imposed for cases involving higher blood alcohol content (0.15% or higher) or if anyone was killed or seriously injured.
A first-time offense is a misdemeanor that comes with penalties that may include:
- Jail time of up to six months;
- Driver’s license suspension for one or more years;
- Required alcohol abuse counseling;
- Ignition interlock installation in your car, preventing you from driving if your blood alcohol content is too high; and
- Fines and fees in the thousands of dollars.
A second offense is also a misdemeanor with similar but slightly harsher penalties:
- Jail time of up to one year;
- Driver’s license suspension for two years;
- Restricted driver’s license for two years after two-year license suspension; and
- Required participation in an alcohol abuse program for up to 30 months.
Third and additional offenses are charged as felonies with even more severe consequences, potentially resulting in:
- A felony conviction;
- Jail time of more than one year;
- Driver’s license revocation for up to four years;
- Required 30-month alcohol treatment program participation;
- Fines and fees in the tens of thousands of dollars;
- Loss of your car; and
- A probationary period, during which you could be sent to jail if you break the rules of your probation.
In addition to these immediate penalties upon conviction, you could also face longer-term consequences from a DUI conviction, including:
- DUI staying on your criminal record for ten years, which could make it difficult to secure steady employment;
- Lowering of your credit score; and
- Increase in your car insurance premium.
What Will Happen to My Driver’s License?
Even if you aren’t convicted, DUI charges can result in the temporary suspension of your driver’s license. And if you don’t request a DMV hearing within 10 days, your license will be revoked. Your Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help you save your license and file an administrative appeal on your behalf.
Will a DUI Conviction Stay on My Criminal Record Forever?
While it is possible to clear the DUI conviction from your criminal record, the process of expungement is a complicated one with an unpredictable outcome. Your Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible for expungement.
What Will Happen to My Car Insurance Rates?
Your car insurance rates will increase if you submit an SR-22 form that certifies your financial responsibility. Your Costa Mesa DUI lawyer will be able to help you avoid this if it is provided by your insurer.
What Can You Expect After You’ve Been Arrested for DUI?
After a DUI arrest, law enforcement will take you to the police station for booking and a chemical blood-alcohol test. You will then start the California DUI court process, as outlined below:
Law enforcement will confiscate your driver’s license. You then have 10 days to request an administrative hearing to contest the revocation of your driver’s license. A Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help you make a timely request for hearing.
This is your first criminal court hearing, where you will meet the prosecutor and judge and enter a plea. You can plead guilty or not guilty to the judge.
A Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help you negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to try to reduce your penalties. If you agree to one, you may need to plead guilty so that your case can be resolved without a trial.
If you do not agree to a plea bargain, your Costa Mesa DUI attorney can help you prepare for trial. They will try to convince the judge or jury that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to convict you, or that the evidence against you is unreliable. Experienced attorneys know how to challenge the validity of field sobriety tests, chemical tests, and the credibility of the officer who arrested you.
If you agree to a plea bargain or receive a DUI conviction, you will have to attend a sentencing hearing. During the hearing, your DUI defense attorney’s goal will be to reduce your sentence as much as possible.
Contact an Experienced Costa Mesa DUI Lawyer Today
Having the right Costa Mesa DUI lawyer in your corner can increase your chances of successfully fighting the charges against you. At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we will examine your case, inform you of your options, and build a solid defense strategy. We have a reputation as a premier Costa Mesa DUI defense firm, and have a deep understanding of the Orange County court system. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of someone who is familiar with Orange County courts. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.