Los Angeles First DUI Attorney
Your first DUI in Los Angeles can be devastating, especially if you’ve never been in trouble before. You need an experienced West Los Angeles DUI attorney on your side to make sure your rights are respected throughout the California DUI court process.
If an officer thinks they see any sign of intoxication due to drugs or alcohol while you are driving, you are likely to be arrested. Call a Los Angeles DUI lawyer from Spolin Law P.C. at (310) 424-5816 for a 100% free consultation. Learn about your rights and legal options today.
California DUI Law involving First-Time DUI
Cal. Vehicle Code §23152 prohibits driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Under subsections (a) and (b) of the statute, it is illegal for you to drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and while your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or higher. As long as you have a BAC of .08 percent or higher within three hours of driving, the law assumes you were over the legal limit at the time of your traffic stop and arrest.
Subsection (f) states it is illegal for you to drive while under the influence of any drug, and subsection (g) states it is illegal to drive when you are under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug.
Reviewing all aspects of California’s DUI statute is important. As a California driver, you can be charged with a DUI even if a chemical test shows you have a BAC below .08 percent. If there is evidence you were impaired due to alcohol despite being below the legal limit or your abilities were impaired due to any controlled substance, prescription, or over-the-counter medication, then you may still face DUI charges. In all of these situations, you will want to work with an experienced and trusted first DUI lawyer to discuss your legal options.
California’s Legal Limits
For drivers who are 21 years or older and operate personal vehicles, the BAC legal limit is .08 percent. However, other lower legal limits may apply to your situation. If you have your commercial driver’s license (CDL) and drive a commercial vehicle at the time of the stop, then your legal limit is .04 percent. If you are under 21 years old, then California’s Zero Tolerance Law applies to you if you’re charged with an underage DUI. A chemical test showing you have a BAC of .01 percent or higher may lead to you being charged with a DUI.
What Can I Expect from My First DUI?
If you have never been charged or convicted of a DUI or similar offense before, anywhere in the U.S., then you are facing a first-time DUI in California. However, if you have faced a DUI or wet reckless before, you should speak with a first DUI lawyer at Spolin Law P.C. to determine whether this charge counts as a first-time DUI or a subsequent charge, which could have harsher penalties.
California has a 10-year lookback period. The court will look back 10 years into your driving history to see if you were previously arrested for a DUI. The prosecution is going to count the amount of time between the date of your first arrest and the date of this current arrest. If your second arrest is within 10 years of the first, you will be charged with a second or subsequent DUI. If it is more than 10 years later, then you will face a first-time DUI.
If you believe you are wrongly being charged with a subsequent DUI and that this offense should count as a first DUI, call a DUI defense lawyer at Spolin Law P.C. immediately.
Administrative License Suspension for a First DUI in California
One of the first consequences of a DUI arrest is an administrative license suspension (ALS). This is a civil penalty, governed by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), not a criminal punishment.
If you have a BAC over the legal limit when you are arrested, your driver’s license is automatically suspended for 4 months. Also, under California law, you impliedly consent to submit to chemical tests if you are arrested for a DUI. If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test after your arrest, your license is automatically suspended for one year.
You do not have long to appeal a suspension – only 10 days. You need to call a DUI lawyer right away. Your Los Angeles DUI attorney will immediately file for a hearing with the DMV to try and help you keep retain your driving privileges.
Criminal Penalties for a First DUI
If you are convicted of a first-time DUI, you may be sentenced to:
- Between four days and six months in jail
- Fines up to $1,000
- Between 30 days and 10 months of a driver’s license suspension
- DUI classes
- Possible installation of an ignition interlock device
There are various mitigating factors that may minimize the punishment you face, including:
- Impairment due to a valid prescription medication
- BAC barely above the .08 percent legal limit
- Other life circumstances
However, there are also factors that could lead to a heightened punishment. Potential aggravating factors for a DUI include:
- Driving recklessly at the time of the stop
- DUI occurs while you are on probation
- DUI occurs when a child is in the car
- A DUI accident caused one or more individuals injury
- You had a BAC of .15 percent or higher
Alternative Penalties for a First DUI
If you work with an experienced first DUI defense lawyer, you may be able to utilize alternative penalties instead of traditional jail-time, such as
- Community service
- Roadside cleanup
- House arrest
- Electronic monitoring
- Alcohol and/or drug rehabilitation
- Sober living residences
- Alcoholics Anonymous
- MADD Victim Impact Program
It is important you work with an attorney who specifically handles DUIs in your area. A criminal defense lawyer who does not often work on DUI cases may not know the alternative penalties available within that jurisdiction.
Collateral Consequences of a First DUI Conviction
If you are convicted of a first time DUI in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, then you will have a misdemeanor offense on your criminal record. This record can be seen by the public, which means any time you apply to get into a college, for a new job, for an apartment, or for a loan, someone may run a background check and see it. You may even have to state you have been convicted of a DUI up front. The stigma surrounding this mistake puts you at a disadvantage. It can take away from all of your hard work and accomplishments. You may be denied entrance to a university, turned down for a job, or denied a loan or apartment because the individual reviewing your application did not like or trust you because of your criminal background.
If you are in the U.S. on a visa, a conviction could lead to your visa not being renewed or you losing your opportunity to become a permanent resident or citizen. If you are undocumented, a conviction could lead to detainment and deportation.
If you are an unmarried parent, a California DUI could impact your co-parenting arrangement. When you lose your license, you may not be able to reliably pick up and drop off your children for your time with them. The other parent may use this opportunity to return to court and seek a reduction in your child custody or visitation.
To avoid these secondary consequences of a DUI conviction, you need to fight hard for the charges to be dropped or for an acquittal in court. Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. are here to help you with that.
Call a West Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Today
There are many ways to fight DUI charges, however, the strongest defense depends on the circumstances of your case. Once you begin working with a West Los Angeles DUI lawyer from Spolin Law P.C., we will review whether the traffic stop that led to your arrest was constitutional. If it was an unlawful stop, we will fight for the charges to be dropped. We will also review whether the prosecution’s evidence was all obtained lawfully. If any evidence was illegally obtained, then we will move to have it suppressed.
If we head to trial, there are a number of defense strategies we may utilize. We may also have the opportunity to negotiate a beneficial plea bargain with the prosecution, obtaining you a fair penalty for the offense and avoiding trial.
To speak with West Los Angeles DUI attorney Aaron Spolin call (310) 424-5816 to schedule your free consultation. He will aggressively protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.