DUI laws in California vary and the penalties increase sharply with the number of previous DUI convictions. If you have never been convicted of a prior DUI and you find yourself charged with driving under the influence, your case is treated as your first offense. It is important to retain the services of a San Diego DUI lawyer to work quickly to get your first DUI offense in San Diego dismissed or to secure a not guilty verdict.
Understanding Your First DUI Offense in San Diego
The criminal charge of a DUI is based on two basic elements. The prosecutor must prove that you were driving a motor vehicle and while doing so, you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. In California, someone’s first DUI offense is treated as a misdemeanor and, if the matter goes to trial, a jury determines your guilt.
A first DUI conviction carries both administrative and criminal penalties. If found guilty, you could be facing jail time, probation, and a fine. Additionally, a court may sentence you to attend DUI classes and the DMV automatically imposes a 6-month suspension of your license. In most cases, a first conviction typically will result in probation and license suspension; however, when the following aggravated circumstance exist, penalties may increase:
- BAC level of .15 or more
- Breath test or other chemical test refusal
- DUI resulting in an accident
- The presence of children who are under 14 in the car at the time of the DUI
- Being under the age of 21
The enhanced penalties related to these aggravated situations will vary. Each case will be assessed based on the facts and your criminal past.
If your first DUI causes injury, the offense can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony. Accordingly, the penalties will increase and may also include enrollment in an alcohol or drug program and financial restitution to the person injured.
While the law relating to a first DUI seeks to punish the offender, it also recognizes that people can make isolated mistakes. However, it is best to get an experienced DUI lawyer to work on your case to prevent a criminal record or being deprived of your driving privileges.
How a San Diego First Offense DUI Lawyer Can Help
No one wants to be arrested and have to face the criminal justice system for any type of crime. As a first time DUI offender, it can be distressing and confusing to be arrested and charged. However, going through your case unrepresented will only make matters worse. It is important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as you are arrested, whom you will be glad you have on your side for the following reasons:
- To gather the evidence – While you are presumed innocent and it is up to the prosecution to prove your guilt, securing a not guilty verdict will include presenting evidence at trial. Your law firm of choice should be equipped with the appropriate resources to investigate, identify potential defense witnesses, and secure evidence that will help to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
- To be your legal advocate – Attorneys study for years before going into the courtroom. The knowledge your lawyer possesses is what you will need to navigate the criminal justice system in California. Being your legal advocate is not just about using fancy language in court, but includes detailed legal research and filing critical motions in your case.
- To negotiate on your behalf – Sometimes there is no fighting the fact that there is no available legal defense to present in court. Having a lawyer who will negotiate the terms of a deal with the prosecution will be very helpful in keeping you out of jail and reducing potential penalties.
At McElfresh Law, we offer high-quality legal representation for all our clients charged with a first DUI offense in San Diego. We work to get charges dismissed, reduced, secure not guilty verdicts, or minimize sentencing. Our goal is to work with you to identify the best legal solution for your case and get you back to living your life as quickly as possible.
Call our offices today at (858) 756-7107 to schedule a consultation with a qualified and experienced San Diego criminal defense lawyer.