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Facing a DUI? What to Expect and Who to Turn To

Accused of a DUI in San Diego? Call Now for a FREE Case Evaluation.

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If you find yourself accused of a DUI in San Diego, there are many factors to consider. A driving under the influence case can lead to numerous outcomes, outcomes that vary depending on the severity of the charges, the factors involved, and if this is a person’s first offense or if the person has had a DUI conviction in the past.

It is most important to find an experienced San Diego DUI attorney who can help you understand all your options, as well as what penalties to expect. An experienced San Diego DUI lawyer can also help alleviate the stress and anxiety this process can create. A DUI charge can impact your family, your finances, and your ability to obtain future employment. You’ll want someone on your side who will work hard to ensure that your case is handled effectively.

Effective DUI Defense representation is key

Even if you don’t think the situation is a big deal, you still need a San Diego DUI lawyer. Because this is a common crime across the United States, people tend to overlook the severity of the consequences. Don’t look to skip over retaining representation. There is a lot more at stake than you may realize.

Here are just a few of the consequences that you may face if convicted of a DUI:

• Jail time
• Loss of driving privileges
• Fines
• Community service
• Increased auto insurance rates
• Loss of job or future job opportunities

Understanding the Consequences

There are a variety of factors that contribute to what kind of consequences you may face. There is the initial difference between misdemeanor or felony charges. In California, a misdemeanor typically doesn’t involve any injuries. A felony charge could be implemented if someone besides the driver is hurt or dies.

In a typical DUI case, the judge will control many of the major decisions regarding sentencing. The judge will apply sanctions, grant probation, and send offenders to jail. The judge will impose the minimum fine, restitution, penalty assessment, and duration of any treatment programs. The judge can also decide to impound the vehicle.

Criminal DUI Sanctions

In a DUI case, certain penalties can be expected. These sanctions vary and will largely be determined by a judge, depending on the situations involved in your specific case. These include:

Probation—The length of probation can vary but typically spans between three to five years for a DUI offense. When you are going through probation, you are not allowed to fail to pay a fine, restitution, or assessment. You are not allowed to drive with any measurable alcohol in your system. You can’t commit a crime. You also can’t refuse to take a requested chemical test. Violating any of these rules can lead to higher fines or time spent in jail or prison.
County jail or state prison—Depending on whether your DUI case is a misdemeanor or felony, how long and where you serve your required time will vary. When it comes to a first-time offender, many face 48 hours to six months of jail time. A second offender can face 90 days to one year. The time required to serve continues to grow in length depending on the severity and recurrence of offenses. Your case can vary depending on its circumstances. For some, a judge may decide to swap jail time for probation or other forms of community service.
Ignition interlock device—This device is used in instances where the defendant has been able to maintain their license and their ability to drive. This device prevents a motor vehicle from starting if the driver has consumed any alcohol. This device can be installed for anywhere from one to three years following your driver’s license reinstatement.
• License suspension, restriction, or revocation
      • Restricted—With a restricted license, the driver is limited to when a motor vehicle can be used. These restrictions vary but typically limit the driver to using the vehicle to get back and forth from work,  school, treatment, and other court-ordered classes or appointments.
      • Suspended—When a license is suspended, it is taken away for a specific amount of time or until a certain condition has been fulfilled.
      • Revoked—If a license is revoked, it is completely terminated. The driver must reapply for a new license following the revocation period.
Vehicle forfeiture or impoundment—Depending on your circumstances, a judge can decide that your vehicle should be surrendered, either with a temporary impoundment or a complete forfeiture, where the vehicle is sold and removed from the offender’s ownership.
Fines, penalty assessment, and restitution—Fines vary depending on the severity and circumstances involved with your DUI case. When it comes to typical fines, a first offense misdemeanor ranges from $390 to $1,000. A felony can cost $390 to $5,000. Penalty assessment can range from $1,800 to $2,200. Restitution can vary drastically from $100 to $10,000. Restitution can involve financial concerns such as medical bills, work lost, and other factors that could arise from being involved in a DUI incident. These costs depend on the severity of your charges and the circumstances involved concerning your arrest.
Drinking and driving treatment—Depending on how the judge rules in your case, you may be required to complete a form of treatment. The length of treatment can vary drastically. Treatment can be anywhere from three, nine, 18, or 30 months. Many judges will rule that treatment must be completed before a license can be reinstated.

Enhancing Circumstances

There are instances in a DUI case where there can be time or fines added depending on the circumstances. When it comes to facing jail time, certain aspects can increase your potential sentencing. This includes excessive speeding or reckless driving, defined as going 30 mph over the speed limit on the freeway or 20 mph on surface roads. Another aspect is refusing to undergo a chemical test or driving with a minor passenger in the vehicle. These instances could all add more time to your jail sentence.

If facing potential prison time, instances such as a victim being injured, a hit and run involving vehicular manslaughter, or a victim experiencing bodily harm can all lead to extended time on your sentence. In these circumstances, you need an expert criminal defense attorney. Other enhanced penalties include having a high blood alcohol concentration. This extended penalty can affect a San Diego DUI case when the blood alcohol content is .15% or greater.

Finding San Diego DUI Attorney You Can Trust

While there are minor incidents and violations that can be handled without the help of an attorney, DUI cases can be complicated. You may be asking, is it smart to get a lawyer for DUI? The simple answer is yes. The investigation process is highly technical. A qualified attorney can point out fallacies or inaccuracies that they uncover in your specific case. This could lead to the case being ultimately dismissed or the charges being reduced.

Can a lawyer really help with a DUI? The answer is once again yes! An experienced DUI attorney can largely impact your overall outcome. An attorney can help to ultimately reduce jail time, reinstate a revoked license, reduce your charges, or avoid a trial by negotiating a plea bargain. Some common defenses used can include determining an unreasonable traffic stop, an error at sobriety checkpoints, and any breath test procedure violations.

With all of this on the line, you just can’t take a chance with trying to downplay the situation. Before you do anything else, you need to track down an attorney who can clearly explain what you should do and how they will defend you. We know you need someone you can trust because you are putting your life in their hands.

One question you may be considering is how much does a DUI attorney cost in California? When it comes to hiring a private DUI firm, there are different aspects to consider. A private DUI firm may be able to generate a better outcome in your case versus the use of a public defender or self-representation. A private firm tends to have smaller caseloads. This allows them to truly focus on you and your case. This can help ensure that no detail goes unnoticed and that you are truly getting the representation you deserve. There are a variety of factors involved when it comes to determining the cost of your representation. These factors can include:

The complexity of your case—In California, most DUI attorneys work on a flat-fee pricing model. They will calculate the needed time to bring your case to resolution. Many factors can contribute to the complexity of your case. Some of these factors include whether this is a first, second, third, or fourth offense, if it is a misdemeanor or felony, if there were injuries involved, if probation was violated, or if there are complex investigations that need to be done.
The experience level and reputation of the attorney—With any service profession, the level of experience will impact the overall cost of hiring an attorney. An experienced attorney is going to be highly sought after because of their known level of ability. An attorney with a strong reputation may also hold a better relationship with the city or district attorney offices. Having this better relationship could help ease the way for plea bargaining to avoid trial.
Caseload of the attorney—Depending on the attorney, their pricing may vary due to how busy they are at that time. An attorney with a greater caseload may charge more for their time versus an attorney who has more time on their hands.
If the attorney is an associate or primary attorney—A primary attorney will have more experience, but their time is also more limited. A primary attorney will most likely cost more than having an associate handle your case.
The courthouse—Some prosecutors and judges are simply harder to work with. This could impact how much an attorney may charge, as they may have to commit more time and energy due to difficult prosecutors or judges.
Potential trial—Most cases are often resolved before trial, so these costs rarely need to be paid.

These factors all play an essential role in determining the overall cost of your case. This can seem overwhelming, but an experienced DUI attorney will be able to assess your case and give you a better understanding of what you may be facing.

What If I Can’t Afford an Attorney for a DUI?

This is an important question. You’ll have to consider the different factors in your case, as well as the severity of your charges. Many offices offer a free case evaluation to help you better understand what you are dealing with, as well as how much it may cost. It is important to remember that having a qualified DUI attorney can ultimately help save you money in fines, penalties, and other areas that could impact your financial life.

When it comes to utilizing a private firm, there tends to be room for negotiations with the different charges, and some offices even offer payment plans depending on your circumstances. 

Your other options include utilizing a public defender. Every criminal court in the country provides free legal services for those who can’t afford their own attorneys. These public defenders understand the ins and outs of the courtroom. One drawback is that they tend to have heavy caseloads and may not be able to give your case the attention a private attorney could. Some offices provide pro bono lawyers, but this varies on requirements and offices.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to consider the complexity of your case. You’ll also want to consider the severity of the charges you face. You’ll want representation that understands your case and will do whatever they can to help improve the outcome of it for you.

You don’t just need a San Diego DUI lawyer who is familiar with California DUI laws. You need someone that has represented other people in similar situations. You need someone with a proven track record. You need someone that has tried over 100 DUI cases. You need the law offices of Zentz & Zentz on your side from the very beginning. Get in touch with us today to set up a free case evaluation.

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