What Happens When You Get a DUI?

Last Modified: March 7, 2024
February 25, 2024 | Rabin Nabizadeh | DUI

What happens when you get a DUIGetting a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) can be a stressful and life-changing event. It starts the moment a law enforcement officer suspects you’ve been drinking and driving. This can lead to being pulled over, undergoing a field sobriety test, and possibly being arrested. The consequences of a DUI arrest include legal action, potential jail time, and significant personal and financial stress.

Fortunately, you don’t have to face this situation alone. At Summit Defense, we understand the dangers of drunk driving, but we also know the stress that a drunk driving charge can create in your life. Learn more about what constitutes a DUI offense below. Then, contact us to schedule a case consultation.

What Constitutes Driving Under the Influence?

Driving under the influence describes driving a motor vehicle even when you are impaired by alcohol or drugs. The legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) in most places, including California, is 0.08% for drivers 21 and over. On the other hand, you can be arrested for DUI with a lower BAC if your driving is impaired. Law enforcement officers will employ field sobriety and breathalyzer tests to assess impairment.

You can be arrested for a DUI if substances have impaired your driving ability. This includes prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, and alcohol. Driving with alcohol or drugs in your system can impair your judgment, reaction times, and motor skills, making it dangerous to drive. A drunk driving conviction can lead to severe penalties, so contact us as soon as possible for help managing your case.

Immediate Steps After a DUI Arrest

Immediate steps after a DUI arrest

  1. Remain calm and cooperative: When you’re arrested for DUI, it’s crucial to stay calm and cooperate with the police. Arguing or resisting can lead to additional charges.
  2. Understand your rights: You have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Use these rights wisely to avoid self-incrimination.
  3. Take note of the details: Remember as many details as possible about your arrest, including the time, location, and how the field sobriety and breathalyzer tests were conducted.
  4. Contact a DUI defense lawyer: Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you during the legal process and defend your rights.
  5. Request a copy of the police report: This document contains the officer’s account of your arrest and is crucial for your defense.
  6. Prepare for your first court appearance: Your lawyer will help you understand what to expect and how to present yourself.
  7. Request a DMV hearing: A DUI arrest triggers an automatic license suspension in many states, including California. You have a limited time to request a hearing to contest this suspension.

What Your First Appearance Will Be Like

Your first court appearance after a DUI arrest is called an arraignment. Here, you’ll hear the charges against you and be asked to enter a plea. It’s a critical moment in your case where the presence of a defense lawyer is invaluable. They can advise you on the best course of action, whether to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest.

During this appearance, the judge may also discuss bail and any restrictions on your driving privileges. Dressing appropriately and acting respectfully in court is essential, as this can influence the judge’s perception of you.

The Impact of DUI on Your Driver’s License

The impact of DUI on your driver's licenseA DUI arrest often leads to an automatic license suspension, a process separate from your criminal charges. This suspension can happen before you’re convicted, making it difficult to get to work, school, or fulfill other responsibilities. The length of the suspension can vary depending on whether you have prior DUI convictions.

Do Not Forget To Request Your California DMV Hearing

If you’re arrested for DUI in California, requesting a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest is crucial. This hearing is your opportunity to challenge the automatic license suspension. Your lawyer can present evidence at the hearing and argue why you should retain your driving privileges. If you do not request your hearing, your suspension will go into effect automatically. A DUI defense lawyer can be with you at the hearing and argue for retaining your driving privileges.

Requesting a DMV hearing is critical in protecting your rights and can significantly impact your ability to maintain your lifestyle while your case is pending. Your DUI defense lawyer will handle the request and prepare for the hearing to achieve the best possible outcome for you. If you have questions about what to expect or how to prepare for your hearing, contact us today.

How We Challenge the Prosecutor’s Evidence

Challenging the prosecutor’s evidence is a vital part of your DUI defense. Our lawyers scrutinize the circumstances of your arrest, the procedures followed by law enforcement, and the accuracy of the breathalyzer or blood tests. We look for any violations of your rights or errors in the arrest process that could weaken the prosecution’s case.

We may also question the reliability of the field sobriety tests and whether external factors could have affected their outcome. Our goal is to create reasonable doubt about the validity of the evidence against you. This may lead to reducing or dismissing charges, especially if we can prove procedural mistakes or rights violations.

DUI Penalties and Sentencing Explained

DUI penalties and sentencing explainedDUI penalties vary widely depending on the state, the severity of the offense, and whether it’s a first or repeat offense. In California, for example, a first-offense DUI can result in penalties. These could include fines, license suspension, DUI school, and possibly jail time.

For a first offense, the jail time can range from 48 hours to six months, and fines can be from $390 to $1,000, not including additional penalty assessments (California Vehicle Code Section 23152). You could also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car or truck for six months when you get your license back. Remember that your insurance rates will likely increase significantly.

Repeat offenders or those with a high BAC face more severe penalties, including longer jail times, higher fines, and longer license suspensions. In cases of felony DUI, such as when injury or death occurs, the penalties include state prison time, higher fines, and a more extended DUI school or treatment program.

How Our DUI Defense Lawyer Can Mitigate Potential Penalties

Our DUI defense lawyer works to minimize the potential penalties you face. By challenging the evidence, negotiating with prosecutors, and presenting mitigating factors, we aim to reduce the severity of the consequences. This could mean arguing for a lesser charge, reduced fines, or alternative sentencing like community service instead of jail time.

In cases where a conviction is likely, we focus on damage control. This includes negotiating plea deals that favor rehabilitation over punishment, such as DUI school or substance abuse treatment programs. We aim to protect your future and prevent one mistake from defining your life.

Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?

This is a critical decision that should be made with the guidance of your DUI defense lawyer. A plea bargain can offer a predictable outcome and potentially less severe penalties than risking a trial. However, it also means pleading guilty to a lesser charge, which can still have significant consequences.

Your lawyer will analyze the prosecution’s case, the evidence against you, and your circumstances before advising you on this decision. In some cases, accepting a plea bargain might be the best strategy, especially if the evidence against you is strong and the deal offered significantly reduces your penalties.

How DUI Affects Your Life Beyond the Courtroom

A DUI conviction affects more than just your immediate legal situation. It can have long-lasting impacts on your employment, as some jobs require a clean driving record or involve driving company vehicles. Insurance rates often increase significantly after a DUI conviction, making it more expensive to drive.

Personal relationships can also suffer due to the stress and stigma associated with a DUI. The embarrassment and guilt can strain friendships and family ties, and the financial burden of fines, legal fees, and increased insurance rates can add to this strain. It’s essential to consider these broader impacts when facing DUI charges.

Employment, Insurance, and Personal Relationships

A DUI conviction could cause you to lose your job, especially if your job requires driving or a clean criminal record. Finding new employment can also become more challenging, as many employers perform background checks. Insurance companies typically raise premiums for drivers with DUI convictions, sometimes doubling or tripling the cost of insurance.

The personal toll of a DUI can be significant, affecting relationships with family and friends. The stress of legal proceedings, financial strain, and the potential for jail time can lead to isolation and strained relationships. Having a support system and professional legal help is crucial during this time.

Contact Summit Defense for Your Premier DUI Defense Lawyer

Contact Summit Defense for your premier DUI defense lawyer

Facing DUI charges can be daunting, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. Summit Defense has experienced DUI defense lawyers ready to stand by your side. We understand the stakes are high. Let us defend your rights.

Don’t let a DUI charge define your future. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll assess your case, explain your options, and develop a strategy tailored to your needs. With our support, you can confidently face your DUI charges, knowing you have a dedicated team fighting for your rights.

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