Drunk driving is a common criminal charge for California drivers. Every year, thousands of Californians are arrested and charged with drunk driving. With such a common criminal charge, should drivers bother fighting the charges or just plead guilty? Before you decide to plead guilty to a misdemeanor DUI, make sure you understand all the costs and consequences of a criminal conviction.
Should I Bother Fighting a DUI in California?
A lot of people don't bother fighting charges for driving under the influence (DUI). Drivers may not have the time to keep coming back to court to deal with a criminal trial. Other drivers may think it will cost too much to hire an attorney. Many drivers wrongly think that the penalties aren't that bad and it will come off their record in a few years.
There are lots of reasons why you may want to fight your DUI charges in California. Some of the most common reasons to challenge the criminal charges include:
- Costs of a drunk driving conviction
- Fight back against police who break the rules
- Don't pay the price because the police made a mistake
- You have the right to a legal defense
- You need to keep your license
If you're not sure if you should fight your case, talk to an experienced East Bay DUI defense lawyer. A DUI defense attorney with experience handling cases just like yours will be able to explain your legal options, defense strategies, and what you can expect from the California criminal court system.
While a lot of people claim they are innocent after getting caught, some drivers really are innocent of a DUI. Innocent people can be arrested and even convicted of a crime because of police misconduct, mistakes by the police, or injustice in the legal system.
If you were arrested for a DUI and were not over the limit, you shouldn't have to get a criminal record or pay the price of dealing with a DUI conviction. Unfortunately, innocent people plead guilty all the time because they don't think they have another choice. The prosecutor or even their public defender may recommend a plea deal, even if you're innocent. Before pleading guilty, make sure you understand your rights and have an attorney who is representing your best interests.
Costs of a DUI
A DUI can be expensive. This includes more than just court costs, fines, and fees. There are other consequences of a drunk driving conviction that can go on for years. Some of the financial costs of a DUI include:
- Impound fees
- Higher car insurance for years
- DUI school costs
- Ignition interlock device (IID)
- DMV license reinstatement fees
- Substance abuse treatment and counseling
- Court fines
- Transportation costs (without a license)
- Time off of work
- Probation fees
According to the California DUI Penalty Chart, "even the cost of a simple first-offense DUI can end up costing $7,000 or more. The costs of multiple DUIs only go up, costing $15,000 or more for repeated drunk driving convictions."
If you think you don't have enough to pay for a DUI lawyer, think of what you're going to pay if you don't have a lawyer and end up with a conviction and a criminal record. The amount your Oakland DUI defense lawyer will charge can depend on factors like:
- Experience level
- Legal reputation
- Degree of difficulty
- Likelihood of a trial
Police Misconduct or Police Errors
You shouldn't have to put up with a criminal conviction on your record because of police misconduct or police errors. The police are not always right and do not always follow the rules. Lots of drivers in Oakland are familiar with some of the ways police and law enforcement mistreat people who are just minding their own business.
When the police make mistakes, they should be held accountable. Types of law enforcement errors that can be used to challenge your criminal charges may include:
- Unlawful traffic stop
- Lack of probable cause
- Search and seizure violations
- Failing to follow field sobriety testing procedures
- Problems with chemical testing
- Lack of proper documentation in the police report
When the police violate your constitutional rights, they should be held responsible for their actions. Your attorney may be able to use the police mistakes to keep improper evidence out of court. This could cause the prosecutor to reconsider your case or even drop the charges. Talk to your criminal defense attorney if you suspect the police involved in your case did something wrong.
Right to Attorney Representation
You have the constitutional right to have an attorney represent you in criminal cases. There is nothing wrong with exercising your rights to have a lawyer and fight the charges. Your attorney is an advocate to represent you and your interests when facing criminal penalties. They can advise you and build a strong legal defense to give you the best chance to avoid a criminal conviction. You should feel confident in taking advantage of your legal rights to fight criminal charges filed against you.
I Need to Keep My License
Even though some parts of Oakland and the East Bay have good public transportation, many people have to have a car to get to their school, work, or take care of their families. Automobiles are a necessity for many Americans and losing your license could impact your ability to work, get medical care, or care for family members.
Even an arrest for a DUI will mean your license can be suspended. During a DUI arrest, the police take away your license and give you a temporary permit that will expire in 30 days. A DUI conviction can result in a suspended license or a restricted license that requires you to drive with an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car.
Your attorney can request a DMV administrative license suspension (APS) hearing to challenge your license suspension. This means your license won't automatically be suspended and if your attorney is successful at the hearing, you can avoid an administrative suspension just based on the arrest. You only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing, so talk to your East Bay DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Talk to an East Bay DUI Defense Lawyer About Winning Your Case
Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of East Bay DUI defense experience and understands how much is at stake after a drunk driving arrest. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success to keep her clients out of jail. If you want to challenge a DUI arrest in Oakland, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County, contact Lynn Gorelick.