Attorney Scott Dicus, founder of QikLaw, is an experienced California DUI defense lawyer with a Five-Star Client Rating on TrustPilot and Yelp. Mr. Dicus has successfully resolved hundreds of criminal cases throughout Southern California. If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. You only have 10 days to request a hearing with the DMV to avoid a license suspension!
In California, a first-time DUI is most often charged as a misdemeanor. The prosecutor can charge you under two separate theories:
Under California Vehicle Code section 23152(a), the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Under California Vehicle Code section 23152(b), the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant drove with a Blood Alcohol content of higher than .08%.
A DUI arrest does not automatically mean that you are guilty. Police officers make mistakes. Become educated about what to expect and, more importantly, what to do about it. Much depends on whether you’re actually convicted of drunk driving, as opposed to just arrested.
Do not plead guilty without understanding your rights.
There are no advantageous to going to court unrepresented on a DUI charge, and several disadvantages. At the first court hearing, the only story that is going to be told is the story in the arresting officer’s police report. Police officers can sometimes exaggerate or paint you in an unfavorable light, and, without an attorney, you will not have an opportunity to present your side of the story. Worse, you will not have anyone to analyze the evidence, uncover holes in the prosecution’s case, and negotiate directly with the prosecutor to minimize the damage.
The maximum jail sentence for a first-time DUI is six months in the county jail. It is important to to have someone on your side, defending your rights.
There are also serious DMV consequences that come from a DUI charge. If you do not schedule a hearing to contest your DUI charge with the DMV, your license will automatically be suspended. This means your current automobile insurance rates will increase significantly. Our firm has relationships with automobile insurers that specialize in helping thousands of dollars on their insurance rates. Many times, they can lock in low rates before your license is even suspended. If you want to save a significant amount of money, call now, time is of the essence.
Do not go through this alone. Let us represent you and protect your rights.
- The DUI Arrest. The DUI arrest typically occurs after an officer believes they have reasonable cause to believe you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You will then be taken to the police station or jail for booking and will be held in jail for several hours. Most often, you be released on bail or after signing a written promise to appear on a specific court date. It is very important that you or your attorney appear at that court date.
- The DMV Hearing. You have 10 days from your arrest date to request a hearing with the DMV. If you fail to request this hearing, your license will be automatically suspended. If you do request a DMV hearing, any license suspension will delayed until the outcome of the hearing has been determined. You have the right to be represented by an attorney at this hearing. A public defender will not represent you at this hearing.
- Arraignment. The arraignment occurs the first time you show up to court. At this hearing, the prosecuting attorney will give you an offer, and the judge will ask you whether you would like to accept the offer, or enter a plea of “not guilty.” If you plead guilty or “no contest,” you will be sentenced and subject to the terms of your sentence. If you plead “not guilty,” the judge will set a future court date and you will be given time to review the prosecutor’s evidence.
- Pre-Trial, Motions & Plea Bargaining. Depending on the particular facts of your case, your attorney may want to schedule hearings to try to suppress evidence or learn more about the officer that arrested you. During this entire process, your attorney will be negotiating with the prosecutors in attempt to persuade the prosecutor to reduce your charges or dismiss your case.
- Trial. That vast majority of DUI cases settle prior to trial. However, it is important that your case is defended in a way that leaves open the possibility of going to trial if it becomes necessary. At trial, the prosecuting agency must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove under the influence.
- Sentencing. The minimum sentence for a first-time DUI in California includes up to 6 months jail time, 3-5 years of summary probation, fines, mandatory alcohol classes, and a suspension or restriction of your driver’s license.
Do I have to appear at my first court date?
If you do not have an attorney, you must appear at your first court date. This court date is referred to as your “arraignment.” If you do not appear at your arraignment, the judge will most likely issue a warrant for your arrest. We understand that court is intimidating to anyone outside the legal profession. If you do hire an attorney, we can appear on your behalf. In fact, you may never have to show up to court at all.
What is a wet reckless charge?
A wet reckless charge is a step down from a traditional DUI. It’s a lesser charge that is that is offered to a defendant when the DUI case against them is not as strong. There are some advantages to pleading to a wet reckless instead of a DUI; less jail time, lower fines and fees, and fewer alcohol classes to name a few.
What happens at the DMV hearing?
A DMV hearing must be requested within 10 days of the DUI arrest. The DMV hearing is only concerned with three things: 1) Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you violated the law; 2) Were you lawfully arrested; and 3) Did you drive a vehicle with blood alcohol of more than .08%. It is important to have an attorney represent you at this hearing, or your license will be automatically suspended.