Driving Under the Influence or DUI is considered a serious offense in California and the Prosecution pursues the penalties and punishments seriously. Orange County specifically is extremely strict when it comes to prosecuting those charged with this offense. Recent statistics have shown that there are approximately 13,000 DUI arrests per year in Orange County alone.
When I meet with clients who are facing a possible conviction for driving under the influence, I am extremely aware of the fact that a conviction for DUI can carry long lasting effects on a person’s life. This is why I always advise anyone who contacts me for advice to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney. My goal is always to make every effort to have the charges reduced and/or dismissed. A key factor in my success has been that I am familiar with all of the Courts in Orange County; I have a good relationship with the Judges, District Attorneys, and Court Clerks. I have developed these relationships over the past 20 plus years practicing criminal defense law in Orange County, California. These positive and mutually respectful relationships can often times influence a positive outcome and ensure the best possible result.
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 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. In this type of situation, my experience has given me the tools and knowledge that is necessary to determine whether there is a possibility of having a felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
A conviction for 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.
My first priority is always to 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 or roadside, handheld breath 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.
If you would like to know more about Driving Under the Influence, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.