A DUI conviction carries serious consequences that could haunt you well into the future. Although drinking and driving is a misdemeanor in California, courts still impose harsh penalties on offenders. You may end up facing hefty fines, a suspended driver’s license, and a blot on your criminal record that will affect your future job prospects. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, an experienced Fullerton DUI lawyer can help. At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we know how to build a solid defense strategy and may be able to work towards having the court reduce or dismiss your charges.

What Are DUI Penalties in Fullerton?

DUI penalties increase in severity with each offense. Therefore, if you have been charged with drinking and driving more than once, it is extremely important to reach out to a local attorney.

First Offense

If nobody is injured or killed, your first-time DUI offense could result in:

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for a year or more;
  • Mandatory counseling for alcohol abuse;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock that measures the amount of alcohol in your breath;
  • Thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

Second Offense

If you are convicted of a second DUI offense, you could face the following penalties:

  • Up to an entire year in jail;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license for two years plus a restricted license for two years after that;
  • Mandatory counseling for alcohol abuse for up to 30 months;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock;
  • Thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

Three or More Offenses

A third or more conviction for DUI will carry even heavier penalties, which may include the following:

  • Felony conviction;
  • Sentencing to over a year in jail;
  • Revocation of your driver’s license for up to four years;
  • Repossession of your vehicle;
  • Mandatory counseling for alcohol abuse for 30 months;
  • Tens of thousands of dollars in fees and fines; and
  • Subjection to a probationary period that could lead to more jail time if the strict rules are violated.

Regardless of the level of offenses, a DUI conviction can have long-term effects on your life. It will remain on your criminal record for ten years, which could result in increased premiums for car insurance, decrease in credit, and a harder time finding stable employment.

What Is the Court Process for Drinking and Driving Charges?

After you are pulled over and arrested, you will be taken to the police station. There, they will book you and require you to undergo a chemical blood-alcohol test. You also may have to relinquish your driver’s license and obtain a temporary 30-day one. Before you speak to the police, you should call a lawyer as soon as possible. Whatever you say can and will be used against you, so it’s important that you don’t do anything to harm your case.

While you can use a public defender, you will greatly benefit from having an experienced Fullerton lawyer who can fully devote their time to your DUI case. Furthermore, only an attorney who specializes in DUI law knows exactly what to expect when dealing with your charges. They can prepare for potential challenges and help you navigate the entire court process.

After your arrest, you have only ten days to request a DMV administrative hearing to challenge the revocation of your driver’s license. Your DUI attorney could ensure that you meet the deadline and prepare for the hearing. At your arraignment hearing, which is your first criminal hearing, you and your attorney will face the judge and prosecutor. This is when you will either plead guilty or not guilty before the court.

Before you actually go to trial, your lawyer may conduct pre-trial negotiations with the prosecutor on your behalf. If you are given a plea bargain, you can choose to agree to those terms and either have your penalties reduced or outright eliminated.

If you do not agree to the terms of the plea bargain, you will proceed to trial, where your lawyer could present your case and challenge the evidence against you. If you do not accept a plea bargain and you are convicted of DUI, your sentencing hearing is the last step in the process. Before and during your hearing, your lawyer could try to reduce any penalties you may be facing for driving under the influence.

Contact a Fullerton DUI Attorney Today

Field sobriety tests are notoriously unreliable and chemical tests often yield inaccurate results. We can use our knowledge and experience to challenge your test results, the arresting officer’s credibility, and the arrest itself. We can also help you effectively appeal a revoked driver’s license. If you are arrested for DUI, you don’t have to give up. But it’s vital that you act quickly. Having a Fullerton DUI lawyer by your side will give you the best chance of avoiding or reducing the penalties you’re facing. Contact The Law Offices of Scott Henry today.

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