Finding a Sacramento DUI Lawyer
Drunk driving, Driving Under the Influence, Driving while Impaired or whatever you want to call it is a serious offense in California. One of the first things you should do after being arrested is contact or retain an experienced DUI lawyer. Many of us offer Free consultations, which will give you some idea what issues may provide a defense and what the potential consequences are in the individual counties where we work. Taking DUI charges for granted can lead to far-reaching consequences.
Consequences of DUI in Sacramento, CA
A DUI conviction can affect your life in many ways. For example, you may end up losing your job or even ruin your chances of getting any job in the future. A single example is that people working in fields that require State Licensing are often affected through a separate Administrative Process. An even more obvious example might be individuals with jobs that require driving. It can also lead to financial difficulties and bring about embarrassment to your family. This is especially true with people of certain cultures or religions that don’t tolerate alcohol or drug use.
However, you may be able avoid some or all of these difficulties by hiring a qualified and experienced DUI lawyer familiar with the local tolerances in Sacramento, Yolo and Placer Counties. DUI lawyers have an understanding of how DUI laws work and they can often help work out a favorable disposition with the prosecutor and judge and sometimes even prevent a conviction.
Unfortunately, many DUI defendants end up in jail or prison and deported because of their ignorance of the law and a failure to understand their own legal rights. Unless you hire a DUI lawyer before you go to court, you may feel so embarrassed standing in open court that you enter a plea of guilty without truly understanding what you are doing. You may even feel like the judge or prosecutor is nudging you in the direction of resolving your case quickly, by telling you there won’t be any further court appearances or that you won’t do actual jail time, which may tend to discourage you from hiring a DUI lawyer. The last thing you want is regrets, as you walk away from court.
Defense of DUI Arrest
The truth is that a DUI charge doesn’t necessarily mean that you are guilty. It just means that the prosecutor or district attorney that briefly reviewed the reports filed with them by law enforcement thought that there was sufficient information to warrant filing charges against you. Hiring an experienced lawyer man greatly minimize the impact of the DUI charges leveled against you. A lawyer will thoroughly look into the charges and seek to poke holes in the evidence presented by the prosecutor. By thoroughly looking into the charges, I don’t mean just looking at the reports the officer wrote. I actually mean gathering additional evidence such as breath and blood records, video and/or audio by way of In Car Cameras, MVARS (CHP Version of video/audio) and Body Worn Cameras of law enforcement.
What are the legal penalties for drinking driving convictions in Sacramento, Yolo and Placer Counties?
Most prosecutors and courts use guidelines for resolving DUI type cases and they vary from county to county. There is only room here to list the maximum penalties for the more common offenses but I will also include minimum times where applicable. Also keep in mind that what is required for a conviction for Uber/Lyft drivers and individuals driving Commercial Vehicles is less than the normal individual DUI type case.
They include the following:
- First DUI offense (misdemeanor) – Anyone found liable for this offense risks getting up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
- Second DUI offense (Misdemeanor) – You can serve up to 12 months in jail (10 day minimum) with a fine of up to $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
- Third DUI offense (misdemeanor) – an offender can get up to 12 months in jail (120 day minimum) and a fine of up to $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
- Felony DUI – Anyone found culpable of this offense can serve from sixteen months up to three years in the state prison. (May also be placed on probation and be able to do county time)
- DUI with injury (misdemeanor) - an offender can get up to one year in jail (5 day minimum) and a fine of up to $5,000 plus penalty assessments.
- DUI with injury (felony) – This is one of the worst DUI offenses one can commit or be charged with. The penalty varies but may include two, three or four years in State Prison, with additional years if any victim suffers what is considered Great Bodily Injury or if there are multiple victims. This offense attracts the longest prison terms and includes thousands of dollars in fines.
The above-mentioned minimum penalties may increase greatly depending on the aggravating factors. One such example is driving 20mph over the speed limit on surface streets or 30mph over the speed limit on a highway. This gives the prosecution the ability to add an enhancement that adds 60 additional days to the sentence.
Defense against DUI conviction
Most people who are arrested for drunk driving often believe there is no option other than being convicted. They will easily give in to the plea bargain offered by the prosecution side thinking that they have made things easier or that the judge will give them a harsher penalty for not resolving the case quickly or for hiring a lawyer.
However, it is important to note that the first plea deal presented by the prosecutor is not always the best deal for a DUI defendant. There are a number of reasons that will make a prosecutor propose a plea bargain:
- They have plenty of work and would like to get as many cases as possible off their desks
- They are aware that the evidence against you is not strong enough to get a conviction. They will therefore try everything in their power to avoid going for a full trial
- They know that errors might have occurred in the police or lab reports
- In cases where you are a first-time offender or you have a limited criminal history, the prosecution may believe a jury would be sympathetic with your story and they may be concerned they would lose simply for that reason. An example might be a necessity defense. Prosecutors don’t believe they should lose DUI cases and the newer prosecutors certainly don’t want to lose their jobs by making the wrong decision.
These reasons may allow for you to get a better deal than the one proposed to you by the prosecution side initially. An experienced DUI lawyer can help counter the proposals or even get the charges dismissed altogether in some occasions.
Here are some of the defenses an experienced lawyer can use to get your DUI charge dismissed with no time:
- The sobriety tests used were flawed
- You were not drunk or under the influence when the driving occurred
- The lab report had analytical errors
- Someone stole/used your identity (we’ve actually had a few of these cases)
- You were drinking but were not impaired and did not surpass the legal limit while driving
Errors in sobriety tests
Sobriety tests are almost always used as evidence against people charged with DUI. There are only three Standardized field sobriety tests, although there are a number of others used. I’ve been through the same standardized training as law enforcement and although I found it interesting, I’m not convinced they work for everyone equally.
The police are the ones who write the reports and sometimes even testify in court about the accuracy of the tests they administer. But the fact the police are human means that mistakes are bound to be made during the tests. Also keep in mind that when they are recording the results of field sobriety tests, they are likely, even if subconsciously, trying to justify why they’re taking you to jail. This may also be enough reason for them to embellish how poorly you performed. There are times when Body Worn Cameras tell a different story than the officer’s reports.
The police officer may have misread, misinterpreted or even recorded the test results of your breath incorrectly. Or the gadget wasn’t calibrated – making it impossible to obtain accurate results. This is enough reason to look at the records of the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) instrument records on a regular basis.
Additionally, there are a number of reasons as to why you may have performed poorly on field sobriety tests. For example, if you are told to take the Walk-and-Turn (WAT) or the One-Leg-Stand (OLS) test and you have a physical disability, it may make the test difficult or impossible for you to perform well. Weather conditions like wind may even affect your performance. Just the anxiety of the possible arrest may present problems for many individuals. Age and obesity are another couple of considerations.
The police can also make a wrong judgment about your behavior. They might think that you were unable to walk in a straight line because of the influence of alcohol when in the real sense it was a reaction to a medication.
How else can a DUI case affect you?
One of the things that may cross your mind after being slapped with DUI charges are the possible personal and legal implications. Mentally, you may begin to imagine yourself spending time in jail and owing money you don’t have.
Although you may be sentenced to time in jail or prison for whatever length, that is temporary. There are other DUI consequences that can last longer and have a bigger impact on your daily life.
Below are some of the non-legal consequences that you are likely to suffer for a DUI charge:
- Your finances can be greatly affected due to fines and penalties
- Your family members can also be affected
- You can be fired from your job and securing another job may become a nightmare
- You may lose some of your constitutional rights, depending on the charge
- It may be difficult for you to rent apartments
- You may not be eligible for some government programs
- Child Protection Services may become involved
These are some of the things that may plague you if you are convicted of a DUI charge.
It may also be possible to avoid being formally charged by the prosecutor. Do not admit to liability before talking to your lawyer after an arrest. The prosecution may have enough information from your conversation with the police at the time of the arrest but there is no reason to give them more ammunition. If you were in an accident, one of the last things you’ll want to do is give written or recorded statements to insurance companies (including your own) before speaking with a very good DUI lawyer.
As mentioned earlier, don’t let yourself be lured into accepting a plea bargain without consulting or retaining a DUI lawyer. Once you enter the plea it is difficult or impossible to unwind the conviction. If you are not a U.S. Citizen this may be even more important to you and your family.
As such, contacting a DUI attorney should be a priority in any case where you are arrested for a drunk driving offense. A lawyer will guide you through the entire process and make it more likely that you will secure a better deal with the state prosecutors or even get your charges dropped.
DUI Frequently Asked Questions
What if I cannot afford a DUI attorney?
Some people tend to avoid hiring lawyers because of the fear of not being able to afford the fee. However, lawyers are human and are often willing to negotiate terms or fees.
Will I have to be present in court for my DUI?
It is not normally a must for you to go to court for your DUI case, if it is charged as a Misdemeanor. Especially now with COVID-19, most courts are allowing some type of video appearance.
What if I am innocent of the DUI charges?
Your DUI attorney will present a strong defense in court to ensure that you are acquitted of all charges leveled against you.