Drinking and driving charges can impact your life in far-reaching ways. While a first or even second DUI offense is treated as a misdemeanor, a conviction still comes with tough penalties. You may not only be facing the loss of driving privileges, possible jail time, and steep fines, but also a criminal record that could haunt you well into the future. An experienced Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help.

At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we know how stressful it can be to deal with the charges against you. And we know what it takes to build a strong defense strategy. Learn more about your options and how you can protect your rights below.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Costa Mesa?

In California, the severity of DUI penalties varies depending on how many times you’ve been convicted in the past. Harsher penalties are imposed for cases involving higher blood alcohol content (0.15% or higher) or if anyone was killed or seriously injured. A local attorney could determine what penalties you may be facing based on the number of DUI offenses you have received.

First Offense DUI

A first-time offense is a misdemeanor that comes with penalties that may include:

  • Jail time of up to six months;
  • Driver’s license suspension for one or more years;
  • Required alcohol abuse counseling;
  • Ignition interlock installation in your car, preventing you from driving if your blood alcohol content is too high; and
  • Fines and fees in the thousands of dollars.

Second Offense DUI

A second offense is also a misdemeanor with similar but slightly harsher penalties:

  • Jail time of up to one year;
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years;
  • Restricted driver’s license for two years after two-year license suspension; and
  • Required participation in an alcohol abuse program for up to 30 months.

Third or More Offense DUI

Third and additional offenses are charged as felonies with even more severe consequences, potentially resulting in:

  • A felony conviction;
  • Jail time of more than one year;
  • Driver’s license revocation for up to four years;
  • Required 30-month alcohol treatment program participation;
  • Fines and fees in the tens of thousands of dollars;
  • Loss of your car; and
  • A probationary period, during which you could be sent to jail if you break the rules of your probation.

In addition to these immediate penalties upon conviction, you could also face longer-term consequences from a DUI conviction, including:

  • DUI staying on your criminal record for ten years, which could make it difficult to secure steady employment;
  • Lowering of your credit score; and
  • Increase in your car insurance premium.

Other Consequences of Drinking and Driving Charges

Even if you aren’t convicted, DUI charges can result in the temporary suspension of your driver’s license. And if you don’t request a DMV hearing within 10 days, your license will be revoked. Your Costa Mesa lawyer can help you save your license and file an administrative appeal on your behalf after receiving charges for driving under the influence. Additionally, while it is possible to clear the DUI conviction from your criminal record, the process of expungement is a complicated one with an unpredictable outcome. An attorney can help you determine whether you are eligible for expungement.

Another potential consequence of a drinking and driving offense is your car insurance rates may increase if you submit an SR-22 form that certifies your financial responsibility. Your DUI attorney may be able to help you avoid this if it is provided by your insurer. After an arrest, law enforcement will take you to the police station for booking and a chemical blood-alcohol test. You will then start the California DUI court process.

Process of DUI Case

Your arraignment is the first criminal court hearing, where you will meet the prosecutor and judge and enter a plea. You can plead guilty or not guilty to the judge. A Costa Mesa DUI lawyer can help you negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecution to try to reduce your penalties. If you agree to one, you may need to plead guilty so that your case can be resolved without a trial.

If you do not agree to a plea bargain, your attorney can help you prepare for trial. They will try to convince the judge or jury that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to convict you, or that the evidence against you is unreliable. Experienced attorneys know how to challenge the validity of field sobriety tests, chemical tests, and the credibility of the officer who arrested you.

If you agree to a plea bargain or receive a DUI conviction, you will have to attend a sentencing hearing. During the hearing, your defense attorney’s goal will be to reduce your sentence as much as possible.

Contact an Experienced Costa Mesa DUI Attorney Today

Having the right Costa Mesa DUI lawyer in your corner can increase your chances of successfully fighting the charges against you. At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we could examine your case, inform you of your options, and build a solid defense strategy. We have a reputation as a premier defense firm, and have a deep understanding of the local court system. Don’t leave your fate in the hands of someone who is not familiar with the local courts. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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