Driving under the influence (DUI) is illegal in every state, and each state has unique laws that dictate the possible penalties for various DUI charges. In California, a DUI can qualify for misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the details of the case. While felony conviction will entail much harsher penalties than misdemeanor conviction, both types of DUI charges can have dramatic effects on the defendant’s life.
If you or a loved one are charged with a DUI in San Diego, it’s vital to know your rights and how an attorney can help your situation. The right DUI defense attorney can potentially help you beat your charges or at the very least, reduce your sentence upon conviction.
The penalties for DUI conviction in California can include fines, jail time, driver’s license suspension, and mandatory ignition interlock device (IID) installation. An IID will prevent a vehicle from starting until the driver blows into an attached breathalyzer to ensure they have not consumed alcohol recently. These penalties fluctuate based on the severity of the offense, and multiple offenses lead to increased penalties. Additionally, the defendant will face more severe penalties and felony convictions if they hurt or killed anyone due to driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol.
In addition to these penalties, a judge may also sentence a defendant to mandatory drug and alcohol counseling, driver safety courses, and compulsory participation in victim impact panels. For example, a defendant may need to attend the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel to hear firsthand accounts of how impaired driving harms California families. The defendant is also likely to face personal and professional consequences for DUI, such as loss of their professional licenses, loss of standing in their community. A felony conviction could even mean losing custody or visitation rights.
Hiring an experienced San Diego DUI defense attorney is the best way to avoid these penalties. An attorney will help their client determine the best available defenses against their current criminal charges. The attorney will guide the defendant through each phase of the case, uncovering any inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case that may help the defendant avoid conviction or reduce the penalty for conviction.
If you have been charged with DUI in San Diego, you can rely on your defense attorney to provide several valuable legal services throughout your case. First, your attorney can carefully review the details of your arrest and booking to ensure due process was upheld through the preliminary stages of the criminal justice system. If there were any issues with your chemical test or the police’s behavior during arrest and booking, your attorney can help you determine the best way to address these matters.
As your case unfolds, your defense attorney will prepare you for each courtroom appearance. Every case is unique, and you could have more options for defense available to you than you might initially realize. If you know you are guilty of the DUI charge against you and the prosecution has a solid case, you can still count on your defense attorney to handle plea bargaining on your behalf, which can lead to a reduced sentence or even lowered charges.
It’s natural to have lots of questions about what to expect from your DUI defense attorney, and many people facing such charges are apprehensive to hire defense lawyers because of the anticipated high cost of legal fees. The reality is that hiring a defense attorney to represent you is likely far less expensive than the overall cost of a DUI if you do not have a defense attorney on your side to help mitigate your penalty. Zentz & Zentz strives to offer useful guidance to prospective clients in the San Diego, CA area regarding DUI charges, and the following are some of the most common questions we hear concerning DUI cases in San Diego.
Q: How Much Does a DUI Cost in San Diego?
A: Fines for a first-time DUI in California can range from $390 to $1,000 at the misdemeanor level and may reach as much as $5,000 for a felony. Additionally, the court will impose penalty assessments based on the unique aspects of the case. It’s common for the overall financial impact of a misdemeanor DUI to reach $2,000 or more while the total cost for a felony conviction may reach close to $10,000. The defendant must also account for DMV license fees, bail cost, and the subsequent increase in their insurance premiums.
Q: How Much Does a DUI Cost Over Ten Years in California?
A: While the immediate penalties for DUI can be severe, defendants can expect several years of economic strain following conviction. DUI convictions lead to increased penalties with multiple convictions within ten years, and over those ten years, the defendant will contend with higher insurance costs, fines, restitution to victims, and other economic issues related to the personal and professional impact of their conviction.
To reduce the financial burden, it’s important to speak with a qualified California DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
Q: What Are Other Lesser-Known Consequences of a DUI in California?
A: Just as serving time and license suspension can affect your wages and ability to work, a DUI conviction can interfere with your educational attainment. For instance, you might not be able to qualify for or maintain any grants, scholarships, or loans to fund your education. Because a DUI can be tried as either a misdemeanor or a felony, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.
Q: How Much Does a Criminal Defense Lawyer Cost in California?
A: It’s difficult to assign an average cost to defense representation in California. Every case is different, and every attorney uses different billing methods. It’s vital to understand an attorney’s billing policy before agreeing to their representation. However, it’s also important to remember that even if it costs several thousand dollars to hire a criminal defense lawyer, their representation could lead to a much lighter sentence and ultimately save you a significant amount of money.
Q: Do you lose your license for a first DUI in California?
A: If it’s the first offense of this nature, you may face a driver’s license suspension from four to 10 months. However, this doesn’t have to be your fate necessarily.
An attorney knows the nuances of the law and he or she might be able to fight the license suspension so you keep your driving privileges.
Facing DUI charges in San Diego, CA can easily cause substantial distress and uncertainty. The team at Zentz & Zentz understands the concerns our prospective clients have about their cases and wants to provide comprehensive and reliable defense counsel to individuals in this situation. While it’s understandable to have concerns about the potential cost of your defense representation, it is crucial to recognize the fact that attempting to handle your case without a lawyer can be far more costly.
If you are ready to discuss your impending DUI case with an experienced DUI defense lawyer, contact Zentz & Zentz to schedule a consultation with our team.