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Articles Posted in DUI and other Crimes

A drunk driver caused a three-car accident on the 91 Freeway in Anaheim after crashing into the center divider. When the woman driver attempted to flee the scene, she put her vehicle in reverse and in doing so crashed into another car, which then was hit by yet another vehicle. There were 5 people involved in the collisions and all five were taken to the hospital. The two individuals in the third car were ejected from their vehicle and seriously injured. It is important to point out that the driver of the second car was also determined to be driving drunk and arrested at the scene.

Being charged with a DUI in Orange County, California can have a devastating effect on a person’s life. As I have discussed in previous blogs, Orange County is extremely strict when it comes to driving under the influence. But, in this particular situation, it becomes much more serious due to the fact that there were accidents with injuries involved. Whenever someone is arrested for DUI with injuries, the prosecution can file the charges as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the circumstances. This case will most likely be charged as a felony due to the severity of the accident and injuries of the passengers that were ejected from their vehicle. The district attorney will also look at the defendant’s past history to determine whether or not she has any prior convictions for driving under the influence. A prior history would substantially affect the charges in this case.

Anytime there is an automobile accident and alcohol is involved, most officers on the scene automatically assume that the person who had been drinking caused the accident. While this would be a plausible assumption, it is not always the case. There are many circumstances that could have contributed to the accident. Road conditions, weather, illness, and in some cases, the actions of another other driver.

In this particular situation, it was reported that the driver of the second car involved was also driving drunk and arrested. This is a good opportunity for a defense lawyer to hire an accident reconstruction expert to determine who was actually at fault. If it is determined that driver number two was at fault, or contributed to the accident, then the woman who initially crashed into the center divider may only be charged with misdemeanor dui with accident.

For this reason, it is recommended that anyone involved with an alcohol-related accident consult with an experienced DUI defense lawyer to determine whether or not there may be a good defense available to the charge of DUI with injuries.

If however, the evidence is overwhelmingly against the defendant, then a good experienced defense attorney, who has a good relationship with the Judges, Court staff and District Attorney Office, will begin trying to have the charges reduced to misdemeanors, if filed as a felony, and mitigate the sentence exposure the defendant may have. There are sentencing alternatives that a good attorney will recommend in order to keep their client out of jail.

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According to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, in the first 9 months of 2012 there were 1500 arrests for drug-related dui’s. 95 percent of those arrests resulted in convictions. Compared to 2010, there were 1400 arrests for the year and 92 percent resulted in conviction. Orange County is very aggressive and has become the model in the state in the efforts to crack down on drug-related DUI cases. The state’s Office of Traffic Safety has acknowledged that, while the problem is recognized everywhere, Orange County is the leader in the push for new technology and more drug expert police officers. A $480,000.00 grant was recently awarded to Orange County to train more police officers as drug experts and help the crime lab with updated equipment to detect drugs.

Because I am a DUI defense attorney and my practice is focused primarily in Orange County, I take a special interest in this type of information. I have for a long time known that Orange County is extremely conservative when it comes to driving under the influence cases. I recognize that there is a continuing effort to make the laws more strict and that the authorities have become more aggressive in the arrest and prosecution of people arrested for DUI. Along with this aggressive push, I have also seen an increase in police misconduct when it comes to the initial stop and ultimate arrests. There are specific guidelines that an officer must follow in stopping, detaining and arresting someone for driving under the influence. Too often, these guidelines are not followed properly and unless the stop and detention are specifically addressed, the arrest is considered legal.

As mentioned above, Orange County is funding the increased training for drug recognition experts. These are officers who have been trained and can detect if a person is under the influence of meth, cocaine or heroin just by observing and talking to them. There are specific signs they have been trained to look for that a traffic officer may not recognize. If someone is arrested for DUI and taken to the police station but the Breathalyzer is negative for alcohol, blood will be drawn and sent to the Orange County Crime Lab to be tested. The crime lab has several tests that can detect both legal and illegal drugs. However, not all of the tests are able to determine how much of the drug is present. This has been one of the challenges for the prosecution in these types of cases. The burden to prove whether or not there was enough of a drug present to impair a person’s driving and thus, resulted in dismissals. However, this is about to change. As explained below, new equipment is now available to detect the amount of certain drugs in a person’s blood.

The Orange County Crime Lab is scheduled to begin using a new machine that can measure the concentration of a drug. This new piece of equipment, which costs $350,000.00, was paid for by one of the Traffic Safety grants and has been described as “powerful”. There is no doubt but that we will see an increase in arrests and convictions for DUI of prescription drugs as well as illegal drugs once the crime lab begins using their new machine.

Anyone arrested for DUI whether alcohol related or drug related should immediately seek the advice and assistance of an experienced DUI defense attorney. An arrest for DUI is time-sensitive in that you have only 10 days within which to request a DMV hearing or your license will be suspended. Requesting a hearing “stays” the suspension until after a hearing is conducted.

Although a conviction for DUI may seem inevitable if you were in fact driving under the influence, there are defenses to this charge Looking closely at the conduct of the police officers involved, as well as any tests performed can help determine whether or not challenging the initial stop is a viable defense for you. Further, with an experienced defense lawyer on your side, the ultimate outcome will most surely be more favorable. It is also important to note that there are sentencing alternatives and a good, experienced criminal defense attorney should negotiate aggressively to avoid having his client go to jail.

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Orange County cities have the highest number of crashes involving underage drinkers in California. Laguna Hills had the highest rate among very small cities and Fullerton had the worst rate among mid-sized cities. Buena Park came in at number 5 and Anaheim had the second-highest rate among the state’s biggest cities. As an Orange County DUI Defense Attorney with 20 years of experience, I have seen enforcement agencies become more and more aggressive when it comes to underage drinking and driving.

Some attribute the high underage alcohol related crashes to the beach towns as well as the college towns in Orange County. A college town might have a higher number of underage drinkers, which is what Fullerton has suggested is the explanation for it’s high rates.

In Orange County California, being under 21 and driving with a blood alcohol of 0.01% or greater subjects you to the penalties under California’s “Zero Tolerance Law”. This means that even if you have only one drink, you may be found guilty of the offense. You do not need to be found to be “under the influence”, only that you consumed some measure of alcohol. Penalties for a minor being convicted of DUI vary according to the circumstances. Violating California Vehicle Code 23140 is an infraction and therefore not filed as a misdemeanor or felony. However, certain circumstances can cause the punishment to be more severe. Possible sentences include three to five years of informal probation; $390.00 to $1,000.00 in fines; up to one year in county jail; mandatory court-appointed alcohol class; and a six month driver’s license suspension.

The Department of Motor Vehicles has it’s own punishments/consequences for minor’s drinking and driving. If a minor violates the Zero Tolerance Law he or she will lose their driver’s license for one year, be required to attend and complete a minimum three month alcohol program; and possibly be ordered to participate in a “Youthful Drunk Driving Violation Program”. Participation in this program includes a visit to an E.R., the coroner’s office or a chemical dependency recovery center.

If your son or daughter has been charged with Underage DUI, or any other juvenile offense, it is important that you seek the advise of an experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney. The rules are different in juvenile court. As an example, in juvenile court, there is no bail and no right to a jury trial. The procedures are different. At the first hearing, the court will decide whether your child will go home with you or whether he/she will stay in custody until the next court date. Having an experienced juvenile defense attorney at the first court hearing may make the difference. A good juvenile defense attorney will gather positive information about your son or daughter’s background. Report cards, achievement awards, sports awards and accomplishments can help when speaking with the District Attorney and Judge.

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A 22-year-old Irvine, California man has been sentenced to 8 years in Prison after pleading guilty in Orange County Superior Court to Gross Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. As an Orange County DUI Defense Attorney, I have represented hundreds of people arrested for DUI, but DUI with injuries and/or death are the most difficult due to the sentence enhancement exposure someone faces when charged with this crime.

In this particular case, this young man was racing along a curvy street, lost control of his car and slammed into a cement wall. The impact killed two passengers in his car and seriously injured the other two passengers. Two hours after the crash, he tested positive for alcohol and methamphetamine.

The sentencing enhancements in this case included one count of multiple victim enhanced penalty and two counts of great bodily injury inflicted on another person, in the commission of a felony.

Vehicular Manslaughter while intoxicated, is a felony punishable up to 10 years in State Prison. However, in certain circumstance, the punishment can be more severe. In California, we have what is known as DUI Sentence Enhancements. This means that a sentence can be increased, depending upon the enhancement(s). Sentence enhancements in DUI cases include, prior convictions, a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, test refusal and speeding and/or reckless driving.

The crime of Felony DUI falls into three categories: vehicular homicide, manslaughter or second-degree murder. Vehicular homicide is charged when, as a result of ordinary negligence, a death occurs. Manslaughter with gross negligence is charged when the death is the result of criminal negligence. Criminal negligence, as it relates to drunk driving basically means that the individual had the knowledge that their actions were likely to result in death. Second-degree murder can be charged when there is a death and the person who was drinking and driving acted with “implied malice” or a conscious disregard for life. Second-degree murder is not usually charged in a DUI / DWI case because it is difficult to establish implied malice.

However, if the person has prior DUI convictions, the prosecution can use this to establish that the defendant knew the dangers of drunk driving. In Orange County, when a person pleads guilty to DUI, they must admit in court or in writing, that they understand the dangers of drunk driving, this is known as a “Watson Warning”. The prosecution can use this as evidence if they decide to prosecute for second-degree murder.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence can result in the following penalties: UP to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6, or 10 years in state prison. However, with one or more priors, it can be 15 years to life in state prison.

Fortunately, there are defenses to Felony DUI, or Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. In this situation, a good Orange County DUI Attorney should look at the possible defenses to vehicular manslaughter. Challenging the validity of the breath or blood test results, as well as challenging police procedures and/or misconduct must always be looked at. Some other defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated include: Rather than gross negligence, that the defendant acted with regular negligence; that the negligence what not what caused the death. That the acts of another person or forces beyond your control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident and/or death. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.

A conviction for Felony DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for that reason, it is important for anyone facing this type of conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced. A key factor in choosing a DUI attorney in Orange County, is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

Anyone who has been arrested for Felony DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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DUI with Injury is considered a “wobbler”. Which means it may be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending upon the nature of the injuries. There is the “broken bone rule.” If the victim involved in the accident suffers a broken bone, the prosecution can and most likely will, file felony, as opposed to misdemeanor, charges. Also taken into consideration are the circumstances of the incident, as well as the criminal history of the accused, paying careful attention to any prior DUI’s.

To be charged with DUI with injury, there has to have been an accident and an injury. In order for the prosecution to charge someone with DUI with injury, there must be: 1) You drove while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; 2) While driving, you broke the law or acted in a negligent manner; and 3) Your unlawful act or negligence caused injury to another person.

Defending against a DUI with injury violation is approached in the same way as defending a DUI. An Orange County DUI defense attorney will explore all possibilities of proving that (1) you weren’t under the influence, and/or (2) that your blood alcohol level was inaccurately reported.

A skilled drunk driving defense attorney will also review all discovery available to ensure that all investigation, arrest, and breath-testing procedures were properly followed.

A Good Criminal Defense Attorney will then begin to look at the accident itself. Just because someone is involved in an accident and alcohol is involved, doesn’t mean that the accident was due to intoxication. A good criminal defense lawyer will employ the opinion of an accident reconstruction expert who can independently evaluate whether the accident that caused the injury was the fault of the intoxicated driver.
When evaluating how an accident occurred, it is important to look at the following:

• The weather,
• Road conditions,
• Damage to the vehicles, and
• Any other relevant evidence that is acquired.

This is critical because when police arrive on the scene of an accident and learn that someone has been drinking, they tend automatically to assume that that person is to blame. Police investigators then write their reports based on that presumption.

“This is why DUI with injury charges are often reduced to DUI charges. It is often difficult for the prosecution to prove that it was your negligence that caused the other person’s injury, rather than the alleged fact that you were simply under the influence.”

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Westminster is one of many Orange County police departments that has a program requiring drunk drivers involved in a collision to pay for costs related to emergency response.

The Westminster City Counsel recently voted unanimously to clarify the types of situations and costs for which drunk drivers could be billed. Although the City has billed DUI drivers who cause accidents for the last 10 years, they have stuck to the outdated limit of $1,500.00. State law now allows cities to be reimbursed as much as $12,000.00.

The proposed change says that intoxicated drivers can be billed for all costs incurred by the city in responding to the incident. This includes salaries of the police and fire personnel, cost of equipment on scene, the cost of conducting field sobriety tests and costs related to time spent transporting and booking the suspect, conducting chemical test and writing reports.

Other cities in Orange County California that have similar programs include Anaheim, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Los Alamitos. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Orange County, a good Orange County DUI Defense Attorney can help mitigate not only the costs involved but also the ultimate outcome, which can have devastating affects on a person’s life.

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A 26 year old man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after crashing into a vehicle being driven by a police sergeant in Garden Grove. The young man was reportedly driving a small sedan when he struck an unmarked police car, pushing the police car up onto a center median. The police officer and driver were both taken to the hospital and treated for their injuries.

This young man is facing serious charges including Driving Under the Influence with Injury. DUI with injury is a “wobbler” meaning that it may be filed as either a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history, specifically prior DUI history. However, prosecutors typically pursue the charge that carries the most punishment.

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. . An experienced criminal defense attorney, or DUI 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.

An experienced DUI Defense Attorney will look closely at the police report and at the conduct of the investigating officers. Specifically, any misconduct or violation of rights must be taken into consideration. Further, if a field sobriety test was performed, and this is what the arrest was based on, it should be challenged due to the fact that field sobriety tests are subjective, basically the opinion of the officer performing the test. If a roadside Breathalyzer is used, this must also be looked at carefully as the results are unreliable and there are too many ways to skew the results. The law does require that anyone being arrested for suspicion of DUI must take a chemical test. Blood or breath, at the police station, are the two choices. However, there is no legal obligation for anyone to perform a field sobriety test. If a breath test was used at the police station, the maintenance logs of the breath machine need to be examined. If blood was taken, the attorney may want to employ the services of an expert to perform a “Blood Split”, which can help determine the blood alcohol level at the time of the stop rather than at the time the blood was taken. This can sometimes result in a lower blood alcohol level.

Anyone who has been arrested for DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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A 21 year old resident of Downey was arrested Friday after striking a motorcyclist and knocking him into another vehicle on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. According to authorities, the 21-year-old driver was driving his pick up truck in the bicycle lane, attempting to pass traffic when the accident occurred. The rider of the motorcycle was seriously injured but is expected to survive. The 21-year-old man reportedly fled the scene before police arrived but was found and arrested several miles away.

This young man is facing serious charges of driving under the influence causing injury, possession of marijuana, hit and run causing injury and reckless driving causing injury. While he is a resident of Downey, California, he will need the legal representation of an experienced Orange County, California criminal defense lawyer.

Hiring the right criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California, can be the most important decision a person makes when being accused and/or charged with a criminal matter in the County of Orange.

The following are standard penalties associated with a conviction for driving under the influence or DUI, in Orange County, California:

DUI 1st Offense: Jail time (up to 6 months); fines (up to$1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; and driver’s license suspension.

DUI 2nd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $1,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.

DUI 3rd Offense: Jail time (up to a year); fines (up to $2,000.00); community service; probation; DUI School; driver’s license suspension; and vehicle impoundment.

In California we have what is called Sentence Enhancements. What this means is that if convicted of DUI, under certain circumstances the Court can impose a greater penalty. Those circumstances include: 1) Prior Convictions – If convicted of a DUI within the last ten years, jail time, DUI school and license suspension periods are increased. Two priors within ten years results in even further penalty increases and if you have three or more, you will be charged with felony DUI; 2) High Blood Alcohol Level: A BAC level of .15 or higher, results in an enhanced sentence; 3) Test Refusall: There are two consequences to refusing to take a chemical test. The amount of jail time is increased and the DMV will impose their administrative suspension of your driving privilege; 4) Speeding and/or Reckless Driving: At the time of arrest, a sentence enhancement will be imposed for 20 mph over the speed limit on a surface street and 30 mph over the limit on a freeway.

In this particular case, this young man is facing not only driving under the influence but also DUI/DWI with injury. This is technically considered a “wobbler” which means it can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony. However, most prosecutors pursue the charge that carries greater punishment. He also faces the enhancement charge of speeding and/or reckless driving, as well as DUI with injury. An experienced DUI defense attorney should explore the possible defense that the acts of another person or forces beyond the driver’s control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.

An experienced DUI Defense Attorney will look closely at the police report and at the conduct of the investigating officers. Specifically, any misconduct or violation of rights must be taken into consideration. Further, if a field sobriety test was performed, and this is what the arrest was based on, it should be challenged due to the fact that field sobriety tests are subjective, basically the opinion of the officer performing the test. If a roadside Breathalyzerr is used, this must also be looked at carefully as the results are unreliable and there are too many ways to skew the results. The law does require that anyone being arrested for suspicion of DUI must take a chemical test. Blood or breath, at the police station, are the two choices. However, there is no legal obligation for anyone to perform a field sobriety test. If a breath test was used at the police station, the maintenance logs of the breath machine need to be examined. If blood was taken, the attorney may want to employ the services of an expert to perform a “Blood Split”, which can help determine the blood alcohol level at the time of the stop rather than at the time the blood was taken. This can sometimes result in a lower blood alcohol level.

It is important for anyone facing a DUI conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in choosing an attorney is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

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A 28-year-old man has been charged with felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, and two felony counts of DUI, after losing control and crashing his truck head-on into a concrete bridge abutment in Santa Ana. His friend, who was a passenger in his vehicle, died in the accident. He is also facing sentence enhancements because he has a prior conviction for driving under the influence.

Vehicular Manslaughter, while intoxicated, is a felony punishable up to 10 years in State Prison. However, in certain circumstance, the punishment can be more severe. In California, we have what is known as DUI Sentence Enhancements. This means that a sentence can be increased, depending upon the enhancement(s). Sentence enhancements in DUI cases include, prior convictions, a blood alcohol level of .15 or higher, test refusal and speeding and/or reckless driving.

The crime of Felony DUI falls into three categories: vehicular homicide, manslaughter or second-degree murder. Vehicular homicide is charged when, as a result of ordinary negligence, a death occurs. Manslaughter with gross negligence is charged when the death is the result of criminal negligence. Criminal negligence, as it relates to drunk driving basically means that the individual had the knowledge that their actions were likely to result in death. Second-degree murder can be charged when there is a death and the person who was drinking and driving acted with “implied malice” or a conscious disregard for life. Second-degree murder is not usually charged in a DUI / DWI case because it is difficult to establish implied malice.

However, if the person has prior DUI convictions, the prosecution can use this to establish that the defendant knew the dangers of drunk driving. In Orange County, when a person pleads guilty to DUI, they must admit in court or in writing, that they understand the dangers of drunk driving, this is known as a “Watson Warning“. The prosecution can use this as evidence if they decide to prosecute for second-degree murder.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, with gross negligence can result in the following penalties: UP to 1 year in county jail, or 4,6, or 10 years in state prison. However, with one or more priors, it can be 15 years to life in state prison.

Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, without gross negligence caries the penalties of up to 1 year in county jail, or 16 months, 2 or 4 years in state prison.

Fortunately, there are defenses to Felony DUI, or Vehicular Manslaughter While Intoxicated. In this situation, a good Orange County DUI Attorney should look at the possible defenses to vehicular manslaughter. Challenging the validity of the breath or blood test results, as well as challenging police procedures and/or misconduct must always be looked at. Some other defenses to Vehicular Manslaughter while Intoxicated include: Rather than gross negligence, that the defendant acted with regular negligence; that the negligence what not what caused the death. That the acts of another person or forces beyond your control such as road conditions or weather were the cause of the accident and/or death. Accident Reconstruction Experts are often used when this type of defense is being offered.

A conviction for Felony DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life and for that reason, it is important for anyone facing this type of conviction, to have experienced legal representation. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, who has expertise in DUI arrests, will make every effort to have the charges reduced. A key factor in choosing a DUI attorney in Orange County, is to look for an attorney who is familiar with the Court in which the case is pending, as well as the other Courts in Orange County. A good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and other personnel can influence a positive outcome and ensure that you get the best possible result.

Anyone who has been arrested for Felony DUI, Driving Under the Influence or Drunk Driving, needs an attorney who is skilled and will gather the appropriate evidence, know how to use it intelligently and efficiently, and render the best possible outcome for their client.

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A 31 year old man drove through the front window of a workout studio in Costa Mesa, going through the glass and into the opposite wall of the business. Luckily, it was after hours and no one was injured. Officers arrived on the scene to find the man wandering around the studio, stumbling and showing signs of intoxication. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Someone who is arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or DWI, will either be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. First, second and third offenses are usually filed as misdemeanors. If, however, the driver is involved in an accident, kills or injures a person, or is arrested for a fourth DUI, the offense will be charged as a felony.

The penalties for misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI vary greatly. Someone being charged with a felony DUI faces a far greater punishment than someone being charged with a misdemeanor DUI.

An experienced Orange County drunk driving defense attorney will first try to determine whether, based on the facts, the charges will be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. If felony charges are filed, a good criminal defense attorney specializing in DUI, will try to get the charges reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. If the defendant agrees to plead guilty to the lesser charge, the punishment is far less harsh.

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