First DUI in Los Angeles

Being arrested for DUI is a frightening experience. The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe and can have a lifelong impact. If you are arrested for DUI in Los Angeles, it is critical to find a top-level DUI attorney because the local prosecutors in Los Angeles are known to be especially aggressive on DUI cases. 

Here is What to Expect:

A first-time DUI is a criminal charge typically classified as a misdemeanor, carrying a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. CA state law defines a DUI as operating any motorized vehicle, no matter the distance (could even be one foot), with a BAC of .08% or higher, or while impaired from a combination of drugs and alcohol, even if the BAC is under .08%. As expert Los Angeles DUI defense lawyers, we defend against all forms of DUI, including biking and boating under the influence.

If you are arrested for a first offense DUI in Los Angeles, you will have two separate cases: a DMV administrative case and a criminal court case. These cases are completely independent of each other and a ruling in one may not impact the outcome of the other. For example, even if the court drops or reduces or dismisses the charge, the DMV may still suspend your driver’s license. Conversely, the DMV may not suspend your license while the court still presses DUI charges against you. Expect the court case to start around three months after the arrest and last for approximately six months, depending on the court location. Each court has very unique protocols and procedures and it is critical to hire an attorney who knows the ins and outs of each particular courthouse and judge.

The DMV countdown starts immediately after the arrest and can result in a license suspension ranging from 4 months to 1 year. As your DUI defense attorney, we will represent you in court for the many court hearings, and you generally do not need to attend. During the court case, we gather all evidence and discovery to challenge the charges in an attempt to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-DUI offense. This process can take several months, as the prosecution is under no obligation to collect evidence that may help your case quickly.  There is also a heavy backlog of cases so the DAs office is notoriously slow in turning over additional evidence (things like dashcam video, 911 recordings, etc).

The first step in a DUI court case is the “arraignment,” where the court asks for a plea of guilty or not guilty. At this stage, a “not guilty” plea is generally entered to allow time to challenge the case and to achieve the best possible outcome. Pleading guilty at the first hearing would limit access to all the necessary evidence that could be crucial in determining the outcome of a DUI case and is almost always a very dangerous strategy. After entering a not guilty plea, all available evidence and discovery is requested, including breath machine calibration logs, audio/video recordings, dashcams and surveillance videos. A follow-up court hearing is then set usually 6-8 weeks after the arraignment.

The second hearing, typically known as a “pretrial conference,” is an opportunity to meet with the judge and prosecutor and to discuss any issues with the case. Motions, such as retesting blood or suppressing evidence, are generally addressed at this stage of the case. The case does not usually resolve during the second hearing and a follow-up date is usually set about a month or two later. 

In subsequent hearings, we challenge all aspects of the case, begin negotiations with the judge and prosecutor, and present favorable evidence for a better outcome.

In a final court hearing, a plea, dismissal, or jury trial is typically conducted. However, many DUI cases do not reach a jury trial. If a case has a strong defense and a jury trial is the best strategy decision for our client, we utilize unmatched experience and expertise to defend our clients in jury trials, with an excellent track record of victories. Some of our jury trial victories have been featured on NBC and CBS.

The DMV License Suspension Hearing - APS Hearing

If you are arrested for DUI, the police will usually take your California driver’s license and give you a 30-day temporary “admin per se” pink license. This temporary license only allows you to drive for 30 days and will lead to automatic suspension unless we immediately request to challenge the DMV in an administrative hearing. Upon agreeing to take your case, we quickly reach out to the DMV to request a hearing to challenge the case. This must occur within 10 calendar days of the arrest, or the suspension will start automatically.

As DUI experts, we strategically time the scheduling of your hearing to maximize your time to drive and to limit any suspension time. We request and utilize all police reports, audio/video, and other available evidence in the hearing. We conduct DMV hearings on behalf of clients so they typically are not required to appear unless necessary for strategic reasons. During the hearing, we scrutinize every aspect of the case, including the validity of the vehicle stop, alcohol level, and proper handling of the DUI investigation according to law.

At our firm, we assist clients in navigating the complicated process of getting their license reinstated after it has been suspended by the DMV. Time is of the essence in these cases and immediate action is crucial. We handle everything for you from start to finish, ensuring a smooth and speedy resolution to protect your driving privileges.

First Offense DUI Penalties

Underage DUIs occur often and frequently the young driver has a BAC level of .08% and higher. The court will use the same penalties as they do with a driver who is 21 or older except there are harsher penalties with the underage DUI driver’s license. 

  • -Up to six months in jail (unlikely to occur in most cases)
  • -Community labor and/or community service (also known as CalTrans)
  • -Massive fines ranging from $2000 to approximately $20,000
  • -DUI classes ranging in length from three, six, to nine months (known as AB 541, AB 762, AB 1353).
  • -Informal probation (typically three years)
  • -License suspension
  • -Ignition interlock device – A breathalyzer in your car
  • -MADD meeting
  • -Visiting the Hospital and Morgue (HAM)
  • -Weekly AA meetings and more

First Offense DUI Probation

First-time DUI probation in Los Angeles is not formal probation like traditional probation. Formal probation requires strict monitoring by a probation officer, while informal DUI probation has no direct supervision, reporting requirements, travel restrictions, drug/alcohol testing, or search and seizure conditions.

Informal probation requires:

  • -Do not drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood (even .01% BAC is unlawful)
  • -You must agree to take a breath test when asked to do so by any peace officer
  • -You must obey all laws

A probation violation occurs if you break the terms of your probation, such getting a new arrest or picking up a new criminal charge. The court will then issue a bench warrant and schedule a court hearing, typically ordering you to personally appear. During the hearing, the judge may impose further penalties, ranging from attending AA meetings to serving the maximum jail sentence of six months.

Factors That Can Impact First Time DUI Penalties

In Los Angeles, the process of a typical DUI generally follows this pattern: A vehicle code violation (such as speeding) occurs, leading to a police stop of your vehicle. The police then initiate a DUI investigation, which includes:

  • -Completing standardized field sobriety tests (one-leg stand, 30-second count, horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and breath test using a PAS device)
  • -Answering questions about your whereabouts, destination, medical conditions, and alcohol/drug consumption
  • -Being arrested for DUI suspicion and taken to the police station
  • -Taking a chemical test (breath or blood)
  • -Booking, mugshot, fingerprinting and being either released on own recognizance or paying bail
  • -Receiving a court appearance notice.

Factors that can complicate an Los Angeles DUI include:

  • -Car accidents (even minor ones)
  • -A high BAC (.15% or higher)
  • -Refusal to take breath/blood test
  • -Prior DUI arrests/convictions
  • -Having a minor under 14 in the car
  • -Excessive speeding (20+ MPH on streets, 30+ MPH on highways)
  • -Underage DUI (under 21)
  • -A positive drug test
  • -Being uncooperative with police

How to Aggressively Fight Your 1st DUI in Los Angeles

If you’re arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, you face severe consequences in a notoriously strict court system. To achieve the optimal outcome, it’s crucial to aggressively defend your case. Our strategy starts by questioning the officers at a DMV hearing, obtaining reports and requesting a “stay of suspension” to allow you to keep driving during the trial. Our aim at the DMV hearing is to have the case “set aside” by challenging each piece of evidence and making a convincing argument that there are insufficient legal grounds for the DMV to suspend your driver’s license.

In the courtroom, we aim to uncover all available evidence to reveal any flaws in the prosecutor’s case. Along with all available evidence, we also showcase good “character” and provide reasons for the prosecutor and judge to be more lenient to our Client. Defending a DUI in Los Angeles involves several court hearings, allowing us to contest key pieces of evidence. We represent you in court so you don’t need to miss work to attend. Our DUI firm is dedicated to securing the best outcome, even if it takes longer than a year, and we won’t stop until we reach a favorable resolution.

Can a First Offense DUI Be Dismissed?

We have had many DUIs dismissed. We do this by identifying weaknesses in the evidence. Our team assesses the legality of the vehicle stop. If there is no valid reason for the police to pull you over, we request a suppression hearing (also known as a 1538.5 hearing) to challenge the stop. A successful hearing leads to instant dismissal of the case.

If you’re facing a DUI in Los Angeles, our firm is here to help. We thoroughly examine every aspect of your case to find the best defense strategy. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your DUI arrest and potential defenses. 

First Offense DUI FAQs

What’s the outcome for first-time DUI offenders?

A DMV suspension and DUI classes are common. The court process lasts several months and involves several hearings. We’ll handle everything for you until the case is resolved.

How much does a first DUI cost?

The cost of a first DUI in Los Angeles varies based on the complexity of the case. Simple cases without any aggravating factors usually cost between $4500 and $10,000, depending on the attorney’s experience. You don’t have to pay a high price for a favorable outcome. We offer affordable rates and flexible payment plans.

Will a first DUI ruin my life?

No. While DUIs are frightening, they can often be reduced or dismissed if handled properly. Even if there’s a conviction, we can have the conviction removed later through expungement, which usually comes about 3 years after the date of conviction.

Can a DUI be reduced?

In many cases, yes. A DUI can be reduced to other charges such as wet reckless, dry reckless, exhibition of speed, or disturbing the peace. However, Los Angeles prosecutors usually resist reducing charges which is why it’s critical to have strong relationships with local judges and prosecutors. Our excellent courtroom relationships and experience are often the decisive factor in getting a case reduced for our Client.

What’s the community service requirement for a DUI conviction?

We strive to prevent any community service obligation for our clients. However, if required, the number of hours usually ranges from 10 to 300, based on the severity of the DUI.

What’s the maximum jail time for a first DUI offense?

The maximum jail time for a first-time DUI in Los Angeles is six months. We have a strong record of avoiding jail time for our clients, and in 99% of first-time DUI cases in Los Angeles, we can prevent jail time. We have never had a client receive the maximum on a first offense DUI.

Navigating Los Angeles’ criminal justice system in the face of a DUI charge is overwhelming. You can utilize our expertise and reputation to earn the best possible result for your case. Schedule a free consultation with us today.

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