Every state upholds different laws and punishments pertaining to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs. However, on a federal level, it is illegal for any driver to operate a motor vehicle while they are intoxicated, and doing so is extremely dangerous for the impaired driver and everyone around them. When a driver is under the influence, they are less capable of making informed and safe driving decisions. What’s more, they have a diminished capacity to properly react to changing road conditions and traffic.
DUI arrests and convictions happen more frequently than most people think, and the consequences are often severe. State and federal laws have very little patience or understanding for individuals who drive under the influence. For this reason, it is essential to find an attorney if you are arrested for a DUI.
If you or a loved one are charged with a DUI offense in Los Angeles, call our firm. It is important to know your defense options and the value of working with an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense attorney. The right attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, potentially helping you avoid time in prison and other severe penalties that conviction might entail.
When it comes to a DUI charge, you want to have the best attorney on your side. For over 40 years, our team has been working to ensure the law does not take advantage of individuals who are arrested on DUI charges. An arrest is not a conviction, and we work passionately to get you the comprehensive and thorough legal advice you deserve. Everyone has the right to fight for their freedom and character.
Our firm’s reputation precedes us. Within the Los Angeles DUI defense community, we are known for our dedication, perseverance, and expertise. No other firm can provide the legal help that we can.
Our team at the Law Offices of James E. Silverstein offers comprehensive defense representation to individuals charged with DUI in Los Angeles. Attorney Silverstein will work closely with you in determining whether the police followed the laws of due process in handling your arrest, evaluating the strength of the prosecution’s case, and ascertaining your most viable defenses. Our team can also represent you in DMV hearings and every other stage of your criminal case, potentially helping you mitigate your sentence substantially.
It is important to understand that the number of drinks a person consumes is not enough to find them guilty of a DUI. In fact, alcohol affects everyone differently, and two people who drink the same amount may have different abilities. This is why California police use a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement system to determine whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. The more a person drinks, the more their BAC level rises. In California, it is illegal for any driver over 21 to operate a vehicle with a BAC of over .08%. For commercial vehicle drivers, the legal limit is .04%. California enforces a Zero Tolerance policy for drivers under 21, so any detectable BAC level qualifies for a DUI charge when a driver isn’t legally old enough to purchase or consume alcohol.
It is illegal for an individual to get behind the wheel of a vehicle if they have consumed any amount of legal or illegal recreational drugs. Marijuana, for example, is a legal recreational drug in the state of California. However, it is illegal for marijuana users to drive while they are under the influence. Though there is no blood alcohol test for drugs, any definitive sign that you are high may result in a DUI arrest.
Police officers use a breathalyzer and field sobriety tests to determine whether a person is under the influence or not. A breathalyzer is a small machine that police have a driver breathe into. The machine can detect the BAC of the driver on the spot. If the number is at or above .08%, the police officer can arrest the driver on DUI charges.
Field sobriety tests are much less specific. Sometimes, officers ask a driver to walk in a straight line, say the alphabet backward, and perform other similar activities to determine whether they are coordinated and of fit mind to drive a car. Many of these tests are not precise, and one failed field sobriety test is likely not enough to warrant a conviction.
The police can use various testing methods to determine a suspect’s BAC level, but California law prevents them from doing so until they conduct a lawful arrest for DUI. Many California drivers mistakenly believe they are legally required to go through preliminary alcohol screenings (PAS) during their traffic stops, but this isn’t necessarily true. The police must establish probable cause to conduct a lawful arrest for DUI, and only then does California’s implied consent law for DUI testing come into play. The only exceptions to this rule include drivers under the age of 21 and drivers currently on probation for prior DUI convictions. These individuals must consent to PAS tests if police officers request them to do so.
The way you are pulled over is also important. A police officer performs a lawful traffic stop only if they are reacting to a driver who is breaking the law or rules of the road. This means you must do something such as:
If you are driving perfectly legally and don’t do anything wrong, the police cannot make a lawful traffic stop. If they stop you and ask you to take a breathalyzer test, the results should be discarded because the stop itself was unlawful. This line of defense is common for individuals who are being charged with DUIs. A police officer cannot simply suspect that you are under the influence. You must actually do something wrong and then give them probable cause to conduct a field sobriety test.
In many situations, your first three DUI charges are considered misdemeanors. Though this is certainly better than a felony charge, it can still cause significant issues.
The penalties for DUI, even a first offense, can be quite severe. In California, a DUI conviction can lead to jail time, fines, and loss of your driving privileges. Additionally, judges handling sentencing in DUI cases often require defendants to have ignition interlock devices (IIDs) installed on their vehicles. An IID prevents a vehicle from starting until the driver breathes into an attached breathalyzer. If the IID detects alcohol, it will lock the vehicle from starting for several hours. Many people convicted of DUI offenses in California can secure shorter driver’s license suspensions by agreeing to have IIDs installed in their vehicles.
For a first-time offense, a driver faces a misdemeanor charge, up to six months in jail, a fine between $390 and $1,000, and an IID period. This is if there are no extenuating circumstances to consider.
It’s important to know that DUI penalties escalate significantly with multiple offenses. If you are convicted of a second DUI within ten years of your first, the penalties you face will increase. For example, a defendant convicted of a first DUI could go to jail for up to six months, but they would face up to one year in jail for a second DUI.
It is possible to get a felony DUI charge. In these scenarios, you face significantly stricter punishments and consequences and end up with a felony on your record. Fortunately, there are only a few situations in which you are likely to face a DUI charge.
If you have four or more DUI charges on your record, the charge moves from a misdemeanor to a felony. This is because the practice of driving under the influence has become a habit rather than a mistake. Felony charges for a fourth DUI can result in up to three years in a state prison — a facility that is stricter than county jails.
Know, too, that your penalties will increase dramatically if you hurt or kill someone because you were driving while intoxicated. Unfortunately, accidents can happen very quickly when a driver is under the influence. It is common for individuals to be hurt or killed. A first offense for DUI with injury that qualifies as a felony can lead to up to 16 years in state prison. It’s also possible you could qualify for vehicular manslaughter charges.
It is important to be especially careful if you have been convicted of multiple DUIs. Facing felony charges is a difficult situation, and there are many intended and unintended consequences that result.
The court-ordered consequences of a DUI may seem severe, but they do not represent the entirety of the consequences you can face. There are many common consequences of DUIs that the court is not involved with at all. Just a few of them include:
It is important to remember these when you are considering your plan of action. It’s often in your best interest to fight for your freedom rather than risk facing both legal and personal punishments.
Many people falsely believe that they do not need a DUI attorney for their drunk or impaired driving charges. However, if you wish to preserve your freedom and reputation, it is extremely important to hire a qualified Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer. These cases are complicated, and it is often your word against the word of law enforcement. When you do not have the benefit of an experienced attorney on your side, it is unlikely that you can present a compelling argument in your own favor. Many people who try to defend themselves lose their case.
DUI defenses are complicated and require experience and knowledge of the legal system to create a valid argument. The only way to achieve this is with the expert Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of James E. Silverstein.
You could have more defenses available to you than you might initially realize in a DUI case. Working with an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense attorney is the best way to develop a solid defense strategy that could potentially spare you time behind bars, substantial fines, and extended loss of driving privileges. Some of the most commonly used defenses in California DUI cases include:
These are just a few examples of potential defenses you could use in your DUI case. In the event you know you are guilty of DUI and the prosecution has an airtight case against you, your Los Angeles DUI defense attorney will still be a valuable asset as they can help you mitigate sentencing through the plea-bargaining process. The prosecutor handling your case may be willing to agree to a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea that streamlines case proceedings and conserves court resources.
Facing DUI charges is a serious situation, and conviction can negatively impact your life for years to come. It is essential to know how an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense attorney can help in this situation. The right lawyer can not only help you approach your case with greater understanding but also potentially reduce your sentence by a significant margin.
You can expect your attorney to be with you for every step of the process. Their job is to listen to your story and create an argument based on your unique circumstances. You should always feel as though your attorney believes what you say and is confident in their ability to help you. If you ever feel that you cannot speak openly with them, you need to find a different attorney as soon as possible.
It is also extremely important to discuss finances with your attorney before your DUI defense case begins. Each law firm charges differently for their efforts, and it is your job to ensure you can afford your legal representation. If you cannot afford an attorney’s fees, they cannot continue to help you. This can cause your case to fall apart and eliminate your chances of avoiding DUI charges.
In some situations, a plea bargain is necessary and preferable. When you trust your attorney throughout the process, you can feel confident in any advice they give to you. If we believe that a plea bargain is your best course of action, for example, we are advising you based on the facts of your case and nothing more. This is why it is so important to find an attorney whom you trust and work well with. If you do not have a skilled and trusted attorney on your side, it can be difficult to know how to proceed when roadblocks arise.
The Law Offices of James E. Silverstein offer extensive experience with California’s DUI laws. Attorney Silverstein has successfully represented many past clients in Los Angeles DUI cases and can leverage this experience on your behalf, helping you determine your best defenses and assisting you throughout every stage of your case.
If you are ready to discuss your legal options with an experienced Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer, contact the Law Offices of James E. Silverstein as soon as possible to schedule your consultation. The sooner you begin working on your defense, the better your chances of reducing your penalty as much as possible.