A DUI conviction can be devastating. While the state treats drinking and driving as a misdemeanor, Orange County courts are tough on offenders. Penalties may include enormous fines and court costs, loss of driving privileges, and jail time. And aside from the immediate negative impact on your life, a conviction could haunt you for many years to come. If you were arrested for driving under the influence, you need an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer to help you build a strong defense.

At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we understand the stress of dealing with the charges against you. We will fight to protect your rights, inform you of your legal options, and may be able to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

What Are the Penalties for DUI in Orange County?

Penalties for a DUI conviction are very serious, impacting your time, your criminal record, and your wallet. Under state law, there are separate penalties for each offense. Depending on the number of DUI charges on your record, a local attorney could help you mitigate the potential consequences.

First Offense

Assuming no one was injured or killed due to the alleged DUI, the penalties for a first-time conviction could include:

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

Second Offense

Punishments only get worse for second, third, and more DUI convictions. A second conviction could result in:

  • Up to one year in jail;
  • Driver’s license suspension for two years, after which you can only drive with a restricted driver’s license for two years;
  • Mandatory alcohol abuse program participation for up to 30 months;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock system in your car; and
  • Thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

Multiple Offenses

Third and additional DUI convictions could burden you with:

  • A felony conviction;
  • More than one year in jail or state prison;
  • Revocation of your driver’s license for up to four years;
  • Mandatory participation in a 30-month alcohol treatment program;
  • Tens of thousands of dollars in fines and fees;
  • Loss of your car; and
  • A probationary period where you will be subject to strict rules that, if violated, could send you to jail.

Penalties are harsher the more intoxicated you were when arrested (if your blood-alcohol content (BAC) was 0.15% or higher). They are even more severe if anyone suffered serious injury or death. A DUI conviction also affects you in the long-term. It remains on your criminal record for ten years, which could diminish your credit, increase your car insurance premium, and lower your chances of being able to obtain stable employment.

What Can You Expect When Facing DUI Charges?

If your arrest was your first foray into the California criminal justice system, you may be wondering what comes next. After you are pulled over and arrested, you will typically be taken to the police station. There, they will book you and require you undergo a chemical blood-alcohol test. Law enforcement will also confiscate your driver’s license and replace it with a temporary 30-day one.

Before you make statements to the police, your first step should be to call a lawyer. An attorney in Orange County could prevent you from saying anything that will be harmful to your drinking and driving case. While a public defender could be made available to you, you’ll be better off hiring an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer who can devote more time to your defense.

An attorney can guide you through the entire adjudication process, which typically includes several stages. Firstly, you must request an administrative hearing within ten days of arrest to fight the DMV’s revocation of your driver’s license. You will need a lawyer to make a timely request for the hearing and help you through it. At your first criminal hearing, you and your lawyer will face the prosecutor and judge. Here, you will make your plea of guilty or not guilty to the judge. Your lawyer and the prosecution will go back-and-forth and negotiate a deal for your drinking and driving case. Your case could be resolved during pre-trial if you agree to a plea bargain that reduces your penalties. If you do not agree with the prosecution to a plea bargain, your lawyer could help you with your trial by convincing the judge or jury that there is insufficient evidence to convict you.

Agreeing to a plea bargain or receiving a DUI conviction will require you to attend a sentencing hearing. Your attorney could try to reduce your sentence as much as possible. If your DUI arrest is based on a field sobriety test, the validity of the test results can be challenged. These tests are notoriously unreliable and are often deemed inadmissible as evidence in court. An experienced attorney will also know how to challenge the administration of the tests, the credibility of the arresting officer, or the circumstances that led to your arrest.

Other Potential Consequences After Receiving Drinking and Driving Charges

Even if you don’t receive a conviction, a DUI arrest can lead to the loss of your driver’s license for a period of time. And if you don’t request a DMV hearing within 10 days, your license will be revoked. Fortunately, one of our defense lawyers can help you file an administrative appeal.

While it is possible to clear your criminal record of a DUI conviction, expungement is a difficult process without a guaranteed outcome. Your Orange County lawyer can examine your case and help you determine your eligibility for expunging your record following a drinking and driving conviction. Additionally, an SR-22 certificate is a form certifying your financial responsibility provided by your insurer, which will make your rates increase. A skilled attorney may be able to help you avoid this requirement.

Contact an Experienced Orange County DUI Attorney Today

If you’re facing DUI charges, don’t lose hope. At The Law Offices of Scott Henry, we know how to fight the charges against you and can inform you of your options and possible defenses. Contact us today for a free confidential consultation.

The Law Offices of Scott Henry is located minutes away from the Irvine Driver’s Safety Branch and the Harbor Justice Center. Our team of leading attorneys has handled thousands of cases throughout Southern California and knows the intricacies of the local Court system. Hiring a competent Orange County DUI lawyer to handle your case may be the most important decision that you make. Do not hire someone who is unfamiliar with the Orange County Court System or the Irvine Driver’s Safety Office. Your case could suffer by a lawyer’s unfamiliarity with local rules or procedures. Contact us today for a free initial case consultation. The Law Offices of Scott Henry is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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