If you are facing DUI charges in Laguna Beach, you’re probably anxious about what comes next. Unfortunately, local courts are particularly hard on these offenders. If convicted, you may be facing hefty fines, a suspended driver’s license, and even jail time — not to mention a criminal record that will follow you for many years. A Laguna Beach DUI lawyer can help you protect your future. At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we know how to build a strong DUI defense strategy for our clients. Our criminal defense attorneys can work to have your charges dropped or at least reduced.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Laguna Beach?

A DUI conviction comes with harsh penalties that only become harsher with each offense. Penalties may also increase depending upon how intoxicated you were at the time of the arrest, or if anyone was seriously injured or killed. Our local attorneys could assess your DUI case and determine what penalties you may be facing.

First Offense

In California, a first-time DUI offense is a misdemeanor and carries the following penalties:

  • Jail sentence of up to 6 months;
  • One year or longer suspension of driver’s license;
  • Mandatory counseling for alcohol abuse;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock in your vehicle;
  • Fees and fines in thousands of dollars.

Second Offense

A second-time drunk driving offense is also considered a misdemeanor, but it carries more penalties:

  • Jail sentence of up to one year;
  • Two year suspension of driver’s license followed by two years of a restricted license;
  • Mandatory alcohol abuse counseling for up to 30 months;
  • Fees and fines in thousands of dollars.

Three or More Offenses

As a felony, a third or more DUI offense carries even harsher penalties:

  • Jail sentence of over one year;
  • Up to four year driver’s license revocation;
  • Loss of your vehicle;
  • Mandatory alcohol abuse counseling for 30 months;
  • Fees and fines in tens of thousands of dollars; and
  • Probationary period in which you must follow strict rules or risk more jail time.

The consequences of DUI conviction go beyond immediate penalties — there are also long-term negative consequences to consider. For example, your conviction will stay on your record for ten years. This means that you’ll most likely have to deal with increases in car insurance premiums, as well as have problems obtaining stable employment.

DUI Case Process

After your DUI arrest, you will be taken to the police station where you will be booked. Typically, an officer will administer a chemical blood-alcohol test, as well as confiscate your driver’s license. Before talking to the police, ask to speak to a lawyer. Make sure not to say or do anything that could later be used against you. While you do have the option of using a public defender, it’s important to keep in mind that only an experienced Laguna Beach lawyer has the skills and experience necessary to navigate unique challenges that may arise in your DUI case.

You have ten days from your arrest to challenge the revocation of your driver’s license through an administrative hearing. Your attorney can help you request this hearing before the deadline. At your arraignment hearing, you and your lawyer will meet with the prosecution and the presiding judge. You will then enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty.

Before trial, your lawyer may conduct negotiations with the prosecutor. If you agree to a plea bargain, you will plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence, and your case will be resolved without going to trial. If you cannot agree on a reasonable plea deal, your case will go to trial. Your Laguna Beach lawyer can use this opportunity to challenge the evidence against you — such as the results of chemical or field sobriety tests or the credibility of the arresting officer — to show the judge or jury that the evidence against you is insufficient. Whether you are convicted or accept a plea deal, the final step in the process is to attend a sentencing hearing. Here, the court will decide on your penalties, and your DUI attorney could try to get your sentence reduced as much as possible.

Contact a Laguna Beach DUI Attorney Today

At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we understand how stressful DUI charges can be. And we know what it takes to build a strong defense. We will examine your case, build a strategy tailored to you, and work hard to have your charges dropped or reduced.

Don’t try to handle your drunk driving charges on your own. Maximize your chances of successfully fighting the charges against you by speaking to an experienced Laguna Beach DUI lawyer. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today for a risk-free consultation.

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