Getting charged with a DUI for the first time can be a frightening and confusing experience. Despite your fear and confusion, you must remember that you still have legal rights, and securing experienced representation should be your first step.
Our Oakland DUI lawyer at Summit Defense will provide you with the strongest possible defense. The consequences of a first DUI offense conviction can be serious, and a criminal defense attorney from our office will vigorously defend your rights every step of the way. We can even represent you at a DMV hearing to get your license back.
Please look at our services below, and reach out to us to schedule a case consultation.
Secure Legal Representation From an Oakland First Offense DUI Lawyer
At Summit Defense, we understand how stressful and overwhelming a first-offense DUI charge can be. Our Oakland DUI lawyers are committed to providing comprehensive legal assistance to guide you through this challenging process with care, compassion, and respect for your situation.
Our goal is to minimize the impact of these charges on your life and work towards the most favorable outcome possible.
First Offense DUI Penalties in Oakland
A first-time DUI conviction in Oakland can have severe consequences, governed by California’s strict DUI laws.
Jail Time or Probation
In most first-offense cases, individuals are sentenced to misdemeanor probation instead of jail time. However, if there are aggravating circumstances, a judge might sentence you to up to six months in jail.
You could face a lengthy license suspension but might be eligible for a restricted license, allowing you to drive to work or DUI school.
Ignition Interlock Device
In some counties, you may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your car for a specific period.
Drug and Alcohol Counseling or Treatment
The court may require you to complete a DUI education program, which could last from three months to thirty months, depending on the specifics of your case.
Steps You Can Do if You Are Arrested for First-Time DUI Charges
Getting arrested for a DUI charge can be an overwhelming experience. Understanding your rights and taking specific steps to protect them is crucial. Below, we have put together a detailed guide on what you should do if you find yourself facing first-time DUI charges:
- Document Everything: One of the most crucial steps in preparing your defense is to document every detail you can recall about the incident. Memory can fade or distort over time, so writing down everything as soon as possible is essential. Include:
- The amount and type of alcohol you consumed, if any;
- Any food you ate before, during, or after consuming alcohol;
- The time frames for consuming alcohol and food;
- Details about where you were before, during, and after the incident;
- The sequence of events leading to your arrest;
- The behavior and comments of the police officers involved in your arrest;
- Any physical or medical conditions that might have affected your behavior or the results of field sobriety tests; and
- Information about any witnesses, including their contact details, if available.
- Set Your Online Profile to Private: In today’s digital world, social media can play a significant role in legal proceedings. Prosecutors might scan your online profiles for evidence to use against you. Set all your social media accounts to private. This includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other platforms you use. Avoid posting anything about the incident on any platform. This also applies to private messages, as they can sometimes be subpoenaed. Ask friends and family to avoid posting anything related to your incident.
- Locate Potential Witnesses: Witnesses can play a critical role in your defense, particularly if they can provide information contradicting the prosecution’s version of events. Try to get witness contact details if you haven’t already. Pass these details along to your lawyer as soon as possible. It’s important not to discuss specifics of the case with potential witnesses, as this could be seen as influencing their testimony. Let your lawyer handle all communications.
- Secure the Police Report: The police report contains the arresting officer’s account of the incident and is crucial evidence in your case. As soon as you can, request a copy of the police report related to your arrest. Review the report for any inaccuracies or inconsistencies with your recollection of events. Share these with your attorney. Remember that while the police report is important, it’s not definitive. Your lawyer will know how to challenge any problematic aspects of the report.
Remember, these steps are a starting point. After a DUI arrest, the most important thing to do is consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the complex legal process and ensure your rights are protected.
Aggravating Factors for DUI Charges
While all DUI charges are serious, some circumstances can substantially increase the severity of your case and penalties. These situations, known as “aggravating factors,” compound the legal repercussions and should be handled with the help of an experienced attorney.
Driving Without a Valid License
The implications can be significant if you are caught driving without a valid license during a DUI arrest. The lack of a valid license shows disregard for legal responsibilities and can lead to the following:
- Increased Penalties: Additional charges for driving without a license can compound the penalties for a DUI. This may lead to more extended probation, higher fines, and longer license suspension periods.
- Harsher Sentencing: Judges often view driving without a license as an aggravating factor, and it could lead to a harsher sentence.
- Future Licensing Complications: If convicted, it may be harder to reinstate your driving privileges in the future.
Knowingly Driving Without an Insurance
California law mandates all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. Driving without valid auto insurance at the time of a DUI arrest can lead to the following:
- Additional Fines: You may be fined for driving uninsured on top of the DUI charges.
- Extended License Suspension: Depending on your specific case, the court may extend the period of your license suspension.
- Future Insurance Implications: A conviction can make it more difficult and expensive to obtain auto insurance in the future. It may also lead to the requirement of an SR-22 form, a document your insurer files with the state to prove you have adequate insurance.
Presence of Minors in the Vehicle
If you are arrested for a DUI with a minor under 14 years old in the vehicle, the consequences can be much more severe due to heightened concerns about child safety:
- Child Endangerment Charges: California law takes child endangerment very seriously. A DUI arrest with a minor in the car can lead to separate child endangerment charges, which carry their own penalties.
- Increased Jail Time: Besides the standard DUI penalties, you might face additional jail time if convicted of child endangerment.
- Custody and Visitation Complications: Such a conviction could affect custody or visitation rights if you are a parent going through a divorce or custody battle.
These aggravating factors make it all the more crucial to engage the services of a skilled DUI attorney. At Summit Defense, we understand the complexities of DUI cases and can help mitigate the impact of these aggravating circumstances on your case.
Possible Defenses for Your First-Time DUI Offenses
Facing DUI charges can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first offense. However, a skilled defense attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the legal system and explore possible defenses that could apply to your case. Your attorney can use a few strategies to defend you against this serious charge.
Challenging the Field Sobriety Tests
Police officers typically use field sobriety tests to determine if a driver is impaired. However, these tests are not always a reliable indicator of impairment, and there are several reasons why your attorney might challenge their results:
- Test Conditions: Field sobriety tests are often performed under less-than-ideal conditions, like on a busy roadside or in poor weather. Your attorney can argue these conditions affected your performance on the tests.
- Officer Training: These tests are only as reliable as the officer conducting them. If the officer lacked proper training or failed to administer the tests correctly, the results could be invalidated.
- Physical or Medical Conditions: Certain physical or medical conditions can affect the results of sobriety tests. For instance, a person with balance issues might perform poorly on these tests even when sober.
Disputing the Breathalyzer Test
Breathalyzer tests are commonly used to measure a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). However, these devices must be maintained and used correctly to provide accurate readings:
- Device Calibration: Breathalyzer devices need regular calibration to provide accurate results. If the instrument used in your case was not correctly calibrated, your attorney could argue that the results are unreliable.
- Administration Errors: The officer administering the test must follow specific procedures. Any deviation from these procedures could make the results unreliable.
- Interfering Substances: Certain substances, like mouthwash or medication, can interfere with a breathalyzer test and provide a false positive. Your attorney can argue this if relevant.
Questioning the Challenge of the Blood Test
If a blood test was used to measure your BAC, there are several ways to challenge the results:
- Chain of Custody: Your attorney may question whether proper procedures were followed in collecting, storing, and testing your blood sample. Any error or mishandling could compromise the sample’s integrity and the results’ accuracy.
- Testing Procedures: The results could be questioned if the lab that analyzed your blood sample didn’t follow proper procedures or used faulty equipment.
- Qualifications of the Analyst: Your attorney might also question the qualifications and competency of the person who analyzed your blood sample.
Remember, every DUI case is unique, and the defense strategy should be tailored to the specific circumstances of your case. A skilled DUI attorney will carefully examine all aspects of your arrest and the evidence against you to devise the most effective defense strategy.
Determining Liability for Your DUI Case
Establishing liability in a DUI case involves proving that you were driving under the influence. Your attorney may examine the evidence, the arrest procedures, and the results of your sobriety tests to challenge this.
There are a lot of components that the prosecutor has to prove, which means we have plenty of opportunities to derail the case. We can negotiate a favorable plea deal on your behalf or get your case dismissed altogether.
Reach out to us to learn more, and allow us to provide you with the strongest possible defense.
Statute of Limitations for DUI Charges in Oakland
In California, a misdemeanor DUI charge has a statute of limitations of one year; for a felony DUI, it’s three years. This means the prosecution has this amount of time from the date of your arrest to file charges against you.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Oakland DUI Attorney at Summit Defense Today
Facing a first-time DUI charge can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. The experienced lawyers at Summit Defense are ready to help. We understand how stressful this process can be, but we are here to provide you with the care, compassion, and strong defense you deserve.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and start building your defense.