If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Orange County, there are two separate proceedings that are triggered by the arrest. One is the court proceeding and the other is the Department of Motor Vehicles suspension hearing. These proceedings and hearings are independent of each other and each has their own set of rules.
Once arrested, the arresting officer will take your drivers license away and issue you a temporary license. The temporary license is good for 30 days and provides important information. One very important piece of information is that you have only 10 days from the date you are arrested to request an Administrative Per Se Hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The hearing will be scheduled approximately 30 to 60 days out and your driving privilege is then extended until after the hearing and a decision has been made. You have a right to have an attorney represent you at the DMV hearing, as well as throughout the Court process.
The benefit of having an attorney represent you in both the DMV hearing as well as the Court hearing is that, an experienced DUI defense attorney will be familiar with the laws associated with the stop, detention and tests associated with an arrest for driving under the influence. Police reports can reveal very important information about the stop and ultimate arrest that may be beneficial to the defense of a driving under the influence charge. Police Officers have strict guidelines as to the procedures they must follow when stopping and questioning someone for DUI. If the report is not properly documented or there are inconsistencies, an experienced DUI defense lawyer will use these inconsistencies or errors in an attempt to have the case dismissed.
However, even if your attorney is successful in getting your case dismissed, the Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t have to follow suit. The Department of Motor Vehicles is mainly concerned with whether or not you were driving while intoxicated. They are reluctant to “set aside” a license suspension just because the arresting officer made a mistake in the report. This is why it is extremely important that your attorney point out as many inconsistencies and/or blatant errors as possible so that the hearing officer will have not choice but to set the suspension aside.
If the evidence is overwhelmingly against you, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege for four months. After the first month “hard suspension”, you may request a restricted license to drive to and from work and to and from your alcohol program. However, getting a restricted license will extend your suspension for one additional month of restricted driving.
DUI, or driving under the influence, charges are typically charged as misdemeanors. However, some DUI’s can be charged as felonies. A DUI that is charged as a Felony DUI, usually involves DUI manslaughter; DUI causing serious injury; 3rd DUI conviction within 10 years; and 4th DUI conviction at any time. Drunk drivers who cause injury, or DUI with injury is sometimes referred to as a “wobbler” charge, which means that it can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. However, prosecutors typically pursue the charge that carries the most punishment. An experienced criminal defense attorney will have the knowledge and experience that is necessary to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. A conviction of felony DUI carries a much more serious punishment than a misdemeanor DUI. A misdemeanor first offense DUI can be punishable by up to six months in the county jail, whereas a felony DUI can carry a year or more in state prison sentence.
If you are arrested for DUI in Orange County, it is imperative that you seek the advice of an Orange County DUI Defense Attorney. Every County has a way of handling cases that differ from other counties. An attorney experienced in work in Orange County will be familiar with the Courtroom process, the individual District Attorneys and the Judges in the individual courtrooms. An experienced defense lawyer should aggressively pursue and develop a strategy to defend your felony (or misdemeanor) DUI case and work to minimize all the negative consequences.