DUI Arrest? 3 Ways an Attorney Could Save Your Life
Involved in a DUI Arrest? Call 1-800-THE-LAW2 to Talk to a Lawyer Right Away
California is home to more sun, more sand and more surf than most states in the U.S. But California also has a dark side: it has the highest number of DUI arrests in the nation. In 2012 alone, there were over 200,000 DUI arrests in California – more than twice the number of arrests in Texas. If you’ve recently been busted for a DUI, you know that it’s no joke. A DUI arrest could land you in jail, cost you thousands of dollars in fines, get your driving privileges revoked, cause you to lose your job and affect future employment opportunities.
With vehicle-related offenses like speeding tickets, a do-it-yourself approach is totally appropriate. But a DUI arrest is a whole different matter. With so much at stake, you need professional legal help from a DUI attorney, even if it’s your first offense. An experienced lawyer can help negotiate the penalties so that they have the least amount of negative impact on your life.
- Get charges dismissed. Police must have reasonable cause (also known as probable cause) before stopping a driver on a DUI suspicion and before making an official arrest. Reasonable cause to stop a driver might include something like erratic driving, running a stop sign or speeding. If an officer stops you and notices “objective signs of intoxication” such as slurred speech, bloodshot eyes or the smell of alcohol on your breath, he or she may ask you to complete a series of field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer test. Legally, you are entitled to refuse to take these tests, but the police are not legally obligated to advise you of this right. If you take these tests and fail them, then the officer may have reasonable cause to make an arrest. There are caveats, though. If you were told by the arresting officer that you MUST take the tests, you could have legal grounds for a dismissal based on a False Arrest. Additionally, if you were arrested despite the fact that you passed the field sobriety tests, the charges could be dropped under a False Arrest or Malicious Intent claim. If, during the arrest, there was evidence of unlawful seizure, arbitrary detention or a violation of your right to legal counsel, your attorney may determine that a False arrest was made. Any type of evidence tampering or errors made while collecting evidence or examining it could also result in a dismissal of charges. There are many different scenarios and factors that could render an arrest “false” under the law. The best thing to do is talk to a DUI lawyer.
- Negotiate a plea bargain. Whether it’s your 1st, 2nd or 3rd offense, a DUI arrest carries serious consequences, with jail time ranging from 4 days to 1 year and steep monetary fines ranging from $1400 up to $18,000 in California. A DUI lawyer can help you get these charges reduced or dropped and help you stay out of court. Some common plea bargains include getting your DUI charge reduces to reckless driving. A “wet” reckless driving charge typically involves alcohol education classes and license restrictions but not complete revocation of your driving privileges. A “dry” reckless driving charge typically involves a fine and probation.
- Get the conviction expunged from your record. A DUI conviction can ruin your chances of getting a job. In California, if you aren’t proactive about getting the conviction expunged, it will remain on your record for life. To qualify for a DUI expungement in California, you must have completed probation and not be facing additional criminal charges. If your DUI sentence involved state prison, you will not qualify for an expungement. Once a DUI is expunged from your record, you no longer have to report it to potential employers, and it will no longer appear on background checks. A DUI lawyer can help expedite the process for you and ensure that it gets done right.
Timing is everything with a DUI conviction. Although the charges and timelines vary from state to state, the sooner you act the better. Don’t let your life spin out of control because of a DUI – call 1-800-THE-LAW2 to talk to a lawyer right away.