If you’re facing your first arrest for driving under the influence, you may be wondering if it’s necessary to hire a lawyer. While a first-time DUI is usually less serious than second or subsequent offenses, you may still be facing serious consequences. As such, it is best to have an experienced defense attorney even if it’s your first DUI. With a skilled DUI lawyer, you may be able to get your penalties reduced or even get your case dismissed, allowing you to live a normal life.
Penalties for a First DUI
In California, first-time DUIs are generally considered misdemeanors. The penalties for a first misdemeanor DUI include:
- Up to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments
- Up to 6 months in county jail
- 3 to 5 years of misdemeanor probation
- 6 months of license suspension or restricted license with installation of an ignition interlock device
- 3 to 9 months of DUI school
Additionally, you will gain demerit points on your driving record, which may lead to increased car insurance premiums or the loss of your driving privileges. This is if your DUI is charged as a misdemeanor.
In some cases, however, even first-time DUIs can be a felony. If your DUI causes serious bodily injury or death to another person, the prosecution may seek to charge you with a felony DUI instead, the penalties for which are much more severe. A felony DUI is punishable by:
- Up to $5,000 in fines
- 16 months to 10 years in state prison
- Restitution to injured parties
- Up to 30 months in an alcohol or drug program
- A strike under California’s Three Strikes Law
How Can an Experienced DUI Attorney Help You?
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you should contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. There are several ways a DUI lawyer can help your case.
If you do not have a legal background and this is your first DUI, you may be unsure of how to proceed. That’s what an attorney is for. Your DUI lawyer can guide you through the process, provide you with necessary legal information, and advise you on whether you are making the correct decision regarding your plea. Without an attorney, you may choose to plead guilty without considering all your options, which can lead to long-lasting consequences down the line.
Early Dismissal of Your Case
Hiring a lawyer early on can save you time and money down the road. Your attorney will examine the details of your case in order to find any possible defenses for you. For example, your attorney can check whether the necessary testing procedures were followed during your arrest and whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you. If your lawyer can find irregularities in these areas, you may be able to challenge your arrest. In addition, your lawyer can file a motion to suppress certain evidence that was not properly obtained. This prevents evidence from being presented in front of a judge or jury. All of these things can lead to the early dismissal of your case.
Reduced Penalty Charges
Even if your attorney isn’t able to get your case completely dismissed, he/she can negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce your penalties. The severity of your penalties depend on the details of your case, but even though first-time offenses are generally more lenient, the consequences can still negatively impact your life. Lawyers are expert negotiators and may be able to convince the prosecutor to lessen your serious charges to more minor traffic charges. If you decide to fight your DUI charges alone, you may not be privy to the same pre-trial deals.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been arrested for a DUI, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients with DUI cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid hefty fines and jail sentences.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.