DUI is a crime everywhere in the United States, and drunk driving in California has several unique laws and penalties attached to it. If you’ve made the mistake of driving over the legal limit or believe you’ve been charged incorrectly, you owe it to yourself to hire a respected Costa Mesa DUI attorney to handle your case.
Anyone pulled over for DUI, whether it be for alcohol, marijuana, or prescription medication, could face serious legal consequences. You could face a misdemeanor or felony charge, lose your license, incur large fines, and face incarceration.
There are reasons to maintain a hopeful outlook about your case, especially if there aren’t injuries or serious property damage. Field sobriety tests can be challenged, a breathalyzer’s calibration could be off, or other evidence may exist that an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer can use to win your case, work out a favorable plea deal, or seek leniency from the prosecutor or judge.
Your first inclination upon being charged with DUI may be to think it’s in your best interest to plead guilty, save on legal fees for a criminal defense attorney, and move on as quickly as possible. Perhaps you have the idea of hiring an inexperienced lawyer or a jack-of-all-trades who takes on high volumes of cases at a relatively low rate. These approaches are counterintuitive and may lead to a worse outcome than you could initially imagine.
Legal representation in any criminal case is your legal right, guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution in the Sixth Amendment. If you don’t have the means to hire a private attorney, a public defender can be appointed to your case. There are many hardworking and talented public defenders, and it’s honorable work, but temper your expectations when it comes to the amount of attention they can give your case among their overwhelming caseloads.
A private attorney can give significantly more personalized attention to your case. Arrests for DUI are a serious occasion, and it’s worth it to seek that attention and, more importantly, the specialization and experience of a Costa Mesa DUI attorney.
A DUI conviction can have immediate impacts on your freedom and your finances, and later on, it can be a barrier to your career, family life, or education. A conviction can be a stain on your reputation, and simple things like shopping for car insurance may be more difficult with a DUI on your record.
Having an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer is the best way to make sure all the most effective angles to defend against a DUI charge are explored. Some of these common DUI defenses include:
Most DUIs are not slam-dunk cases. There are many variables involved in gathering evidence. The more sets of hands that are involved in testing and examining evidence, the more reason there is to doubt that the process was followed to perfection.
Those common defenses are difficult enough to present without an expert Costa Mesa DUI attorney. Affirmative defenses are a greater challenge but could be even more effective, such as these examples:
The more experienced and talented the Costa Mesa DUI attorney, the better your chances of landing on a defense that makes a big difference in your case.
An officer can pull over a vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion the driver is impaired. The standard for the police is higher to make an arrest, as they must establish probable cause. The distinction between reasonable suspicion and probable cause is important, and an experienced Costa Mesa, California attorney will scrutinize what standards the officer applied to establish both.
Officers are trained and educated on how to spot drivers who can be reasonably suspected of impairment. Weaving back and forth, sudden lane changes without signaling, erratic stops or changes in speed, failure to turn on headlights, and other errors a driver in command of their faculties should be able to routinely avoid can be trigger warnings for reasonable suspicion.
Suspicion of DUI is a reason to pull a motorist over, but probable cause must be established before a DUI arrest is made. If your DUI case can be fully dismissed, there are good odds a failure to establish probable cause is at the route of the case’s failure.
Probable cause as a reason for arrest is enshrined in the Constitution. You cannot be arrested for DUI unless the officer can establish their reason for suspecting the use of alcohol or drugs during the stop. Breathalyzer test failures, an admission of drinking or drug use by the driver, field sobriety test failures, odor of alcohol on the driver’s breath, slurred words, or the visible presence of open containers in the vehicle are all methods the police use to establish probable cause.
An experienced Costa Mesa defense attorney will look for any opportunity to poke holes in the suspicion and probable cause determinations. This is one of the many reasons you need to consider a dedicated professional Orange County DUI attorney if you’ve been charged with DUI.
The second the lights of a police car illuminate in your rearview mirror, your body initiates stress reactions. Some people recover quickly and are at ease by the time an officer approaches the car, but many of us remain on edge or highly agitated throughout the stop. That stress can become worse if you’ve had a drink or recently taken legal or illegal drugs, even if you aren’t impaired.
For the best interests of your legal defense, avoid these mistakes:
The number one priority during a traffic stop should be to remain safe while also not doing anything to incriminate yourself. Don’t speak more than necessary and certainly never physically attempt to resist an arrest. A qualified Costa Mesa DUI attorney can assist you, and you should consult one as soon as possible, but stay safe and remain compliant with the police until that opportunity comes.
DUI checkpoints are stressful even for a stone-cold sober driver. It’s completely natural with red lights flashing all around you and an officer shining a flashlight on your car to be paranoid that something bad is going to happen and you will receive a citation or even be arrested. The police are hyper-focused on violations in this setting, so protecting your interests in the event of a future legal case is important.
If you aren’t impaired, you have nothing to fear, but it’s important to keep your wits about you. Drive slowly, obey any commands from the officer, don’t comment specifically on any questions about alcohol use, and if you are asked to exit the vehicle for a field sobriety test, stay calm. If you are sober, staying calm is key to focusing and passing the sobriety test.
If you fail the test and are arrested, do not resist. This puts you at risk of physical harm and the possibility of additional charges that could haunt you even if you beat the DUI.
One of the most important reasons you need proper legal counsel from an Orange County DUI lawyer for your case is California’s stiff penalties for multiple offenses. You can’t be convicted of multiple DUIs if you are never convicted of a first one. Any DUI charge is worthy of retaining the best legal representation you can find and afford because the cost of conviction can hurt you more than just monetarily.
Even a first-time offense charged as a misdemeanor will be substantially unpleasant. Penalties can include up to 48 hours incarcerated, fines up to $390, and a license suspension of six months. Substance abuse disorder education is also required. Additional convictions for DUI steadily increase the amount of prison time, monetary fines, and length of license suspension.
These legal ramifications, paired with increased insurance costs and damage to your reputation, and possibly your career, should give anyone pause before getting behind the wheel after drinking. It should also serve as a powerful motivator to arm yourself with an excellent Orange County DUI attorney who can protect your interests in negotiations and in the courtroom.
Even if you did drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you deserve fair and experienced representation. Consider, too, whether there may be personal demons you need to grapple with and will be better equipped to do so with proper legal counsel defending your case. Addiction is an affliction unto itself, and mental illnesses like severe depression or anxiety can also lead to addictive behavior.
It’s easy to view addiction, depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses as a weakness or source of embarrassment, especially when it leads to a legal situation. First and foremost, find the strength to retain a qualified Orange County defense attorney, then seek the help you need to overcome the health issues.
The price of legal services changes depending on the length and complexity of the case. We encourage you to think not in terms of price but rather in the cost of what you have to lose from a conviction. If your license is suspended, getting to work will become difficult. If your case is charged as a felony, gaining future employment gets even more difficult.
A Costa Mesa DUI attorney is your best bet for keeping your life on track after a DUI arrest.
Brown & Stedman LLP has years of experience in criminal defense and a track record of success earning dismissals and acquittals for our clients. If you’ve been charged with DUI, the sooner you have legal representation, the better. Contact us today for a consultation.
We invite you to call us at 949-459-3148 to schedule your free initial consultation. You can also reach our firm by contacting us online.
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