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Do I need an attorney for a first-offense DUI?

Los Angeles DUI attorney There is a common misconception that if you are arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, you are automatically subject to the fines and penalties imposed by the State of California. While that is true in many cases, your fate is not necessarily sealed if you’ve been charged with a DUI. In actuality, first time offenders can benefit from hiring an experienced DUI attorney to help them navigate the uncertain waters of the judicial system.

What to do if arrested for DUI

First, understand that handcuffs don’t equate to a guilty DUI sentence. Take a deep breath. Yes, a DUI is a serious offense, but you’ll live to talk about it. Start researching lawyers. Try to resist the urge to hire the first one you find. Ask questions such as:

  • Do you specialize in DUI defense?
  • How many DUI cases/clients have you represented?
  • How familiar are you with the applicable court/judge/prosecutor?
  • How do I handle DMV issues and continue driving until my hearing?

Make sure your attorney guides you through the process of requesting a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest date to ensure your driving privileges stay intact.

Understanding DUI penalties

What follows are the minimum penalties for first time DUI offenders in Los Angeles. Again, these are not necessarily indicative of your sentence. However, it’s important to know the potential fines and penalties you face as you build a defense.

  • Approximately $2,000 in fines (standard minimum fine plus penalty assessments)
  • 48 hours of jail time or 90 day license restriction (driving to/from work and alcohol treatment programs only)
  • Completion of 3-9 month alcohol treatment program (dependent upon blood alcohol level or refusal). The $500 program is require if convicted and / or minimizes the term of your license suspension.
  • 30 day driver’s license suspension

Naturally, maximum penalties are more severe. Understanding the penalties and trying to reduce them is one advantage to hiring a Los Angeles DUI attorney.

How a Los Angeles DUI attorney can help

It’s possible that five DUI offenders can have five different cases—a guilty outcome is not always evidenced by the time spent in the back of a squad car. Your DUI attorney can review specific circumstances surrounding your arrest and try to reduce or eliminate charges. There are several defenses that serve as a basis for contesting your DUI:

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion for the stop. For example, you might believe you were pulled over as a result of racial discrimination. (Note: this defense is generally weak and extremely difficult to prove as the officer will have stated a reason for the stop.)
  • De facto arrest without probable cause to arrest e.g. handcuffing and transportation to another location. This could cause the evidence (FSTs / chemical tests) to be excluded or trigger Miranda rights.
  • Equipment malfunction (e.g. a faulty breathalyzer)
  • Unusual processes surrounding your court proceedings or denial of the right to a speedy trial.

Additionally, the best attorneys are the ones who know how to present a solid case for alternative sentencing such as:

  • Drug and alcohol rehabilitation in lieu of jail time
  • Mandated 12 step recovery program
  • Ankle devices used to detect the presence of alcohol
  • Local jail time (e.g. serving 8 hours per day with the freedom to return home at night)

Whether you think you need one or not, a DUI attorney is a valuable asset to your emotional and financial well-being following arrest. They can help you avoid common first-time mistakes such as being “bullied” into a plea deal or making self-incriminating statements. Take the guess work out of confusing legal jargon from the court system to the DMV. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles County, your best course of action is to contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible.

Call Jon Artz today to discuss your case.  310-820-1315 .

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