Santa Monica DUI Attorney: Get the Urgent Help You Need

If you or someone you know is facing a DUI charge in the city of Santa Monica, CA, it’s crucial to seek the services of a top-rated DUI attorney. The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe, including probation, costly fines, a license suspension or an ignition interlock device system, and possibly even jail time. With over 36,000 DUI arrests in Los Angeles County each year, law enforcement authorities in Santa Monica and surrounding areas are very aggressive about administering DUI punishments.

To avoid or minimize the negative effects of a DUI conviction, it’s essential to have a skilled, committed, and experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side. Attorney Hart J. Levin’s DUI law office is available 24/7 to help clients in Santa Monica and other parts of Southern California with their DUI defense.

What Happens When You Get a DUI in Santa Monica?

The DUI prosecution process in Santa Monica begins with strict treatment for the accused, even for first-time offenders. Individuals charged with DUI can be held in police custody for 48 hours before being released, allegedly for their safety and to ensure sobriety. However, in reality, the 48-hour hold is more like pretrial punishment, as sobriety typically returns in less than half that time.

After being released, defendants will be given an arraignment date to appear in front of a judge. It’s critical to have your attorney handle this hearing since the judge may not like the details of the case and could elect to take the defendant back into custody until they pay a large cash bail amount.. To minimize or avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction, it’s crucial to contact a DUI lawyer immediately upon release. Don’t wait to get the help you need to protect your professional and personal life from the long-term effects of a DUI conviction in Santa Monica. 

Santa Monica Court

Santa Monica Courthouse
1725 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Located on the corner between Main Street and Olympic Drive, the Santa Monica Courthouse is an LA County Superior Court, and is only a 10 minute walk from the Santa Monica Pier. Public parking is available south of the courthouse next to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. There is also a parking garage behind the courthouse off of Fourth Street or some metered parking available in the area. Traffic in the area is usually heavily congested, so we recommend planning ahead.

The Santa Monica Courthouse is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except court holidays.

If you are looking for a professional DUI attorney to be by your side in court in Santa Monica, our team is here for you. As a former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney, I have had many years of experience in the Santa Monica court and have handled many successful cases for my clients in LA County. 

California DMV Administrative License Suspension Hearing: (Admin. Per Se)

After a DUI arrest in Santa Monica, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will initiate the suspension of the alleged DUI driver’s license, 30 days after the DUI charge is filed. If a driver wishes to challenge the suspension, they must file the appropriate form for a full hearing within 10 days of their DUI arrest.

Without the help and knowledge of a seasoned Santa Monica DUI defense lawyer, it is difficult for a driver to reverse the license suspension order. However, experienced DUI attorneys are familiar with contesting the reasoning for the arrest and refuting any evidence of impairment.

Defending DUI Charges in Santa Monica With the Help of a Top-Rated DUI Defense Lawyer

When facing a DUI charge, it’s essential to have a skilled lawyer who will go above and beyond to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we are committed to conducting a thorough analysis of every detail in your case to ensure your best defense. 

Our team will leave no stone unturned as we investigate the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the evidence gathered by law enforcement. We understand that even the smallest detail could be the key to building a strong defense strategy:

  • Did the police have a valid legal reason to stop the driver’s vehicle?
  • Did the officer have sufficient interaction with the driver to perceive clear signs of intoxication or drug impairment?
  • Can the officer’s statements be corroborated or refuted by the footage captured by a bodycam or dashcam? 
  • Was the driver subjected to a set of field sobriety tests (SFSTs)?
  • Were the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) conducted in accordance with the proper testing protocol? 
  • Were the prevailing weather, road, and lighting conditions suitable for administering and evaluating the SFSTs? 
  • Was the driver’s performance accurately assessed by the officer?
  • Was a breathalyzer test administered properly at the station? 
  • Did the officer monitor the driver for 15 minutes to check for any belching, vomiting, eating, drinking, or smoking before conducting the breathalyzer test? 
  • Was the breathalyzer recently certified and correctly calibrated? 
  • Is the breathalyzer operator currently certified? 
  • Were the documents related to the breath test properly attested and provided within the legally mandated time frame?

DUI Penalties in California

In California, the consequences of being convicted of a DUI are quite severe:

1st Offense Misdemeanor DUI

For a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense, the punishment may include up to six months of incarceration in a county jail, fines ranging up to $20,000, and a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license for four to twelve months. Alternatively, the defendant may immediately drive with an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for six months (assuming that the case is not a “refusal” case). They will also be required to attend a DUI school for either three, six or nine months.

2nd Offense Misdemeanor DUI

In the case of a second misdemeanor DUI offense, the offender may face 96 hours to one year of imprisonment in a county jail, fines ranging up to $20,000, and a suspension of their driver’s license for two years. Alternatively, the defendant may be allowed to drive immediately with an IID for one year (except in “refusal” cases). Furthermore, they must attend a weekly DUI school for either 18 or 30 months.

3rd Offense Misdemeanor DUI

A third misdemeanor DUI offense may result in a punishment of at least 120 days to one year of imprisonment in a county jail, fines ranging up to $20,000 and a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license for three years. Alternatively, the defendant may drive with an IID for two years (unless it is a “refusal” or there are other aggravating factors). They must also attend a DUI school for 18 to 30 months.

DUI with Injury (Misdemeanor) 

A DUI with injury classified as a misdemeanor offense may result in a punishment of 5 days to one year of imprisonment in the LA county jail. The offender may also face fines ranging up to $20,000, plus restitution to the injured parties. Moreover, the defendant’s driver’s license may be suspended for one to three years, or they may drive with an IID for six months. They must also attend DUI school for either three, six, nine, 18, or 30 months.

1st Offense DUI with Injury (Felony)

For a first-time DUI with injury classified as a felony, the punishment may include 16 months to more than ten years in prison, fines of greater than $20,000, plus restitution to the injured parties, and a suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license for at least one year. Furthermore, they must attend DUI school for either 3, 6, 9, 18 or 30 months.

Felony DUI (Fourth Offense Within Ten Years):

A felony DUI offense may result in probation with county jail time (up to one year) or state prison for 10+ years, fines up to $20,000, and a suspension of the offender’s driver’s license for up to ten years. The offender must also attend DUI school for either 18 or 30 months.

The True Cost of a California DUI

Facing a DUI conviction can have far-reaching consequences that go beyond the legal penalties imposed by the courts and DMV. Individuals who are convicted may experience negative impacts on their lives that can take years to recover from or may never fully recover from. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to seek the help of a DUI defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal process and minimize the potential damages.

At our law firm in Santa Monica, we understand the severity of a DUI conviction and offer reasonable fees for our services. By hiring us, you can potentially save thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs associated with fines, car insurance, and worst-case scenarios like loss of career, reputation, and family relationships.

Losing your license, even for a brief period, can have practical consequences that threaten your employment, especially if driving is a part of your job. Employers may not allow employees convicted of DUI to remain on the job, limiting job opportunities and creating severe financial hardships.

A DUI conviction can also cause social fallout, with family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers distancing themselves due to the stigma of the conviction. Landlords, loan officers, and prospective employers may also see a DUI conviction as disqualifying for an applicant, limiting opportunities for individuals who have been convicted.

A DUI conviction can be a major barrier for applicants seeking approval from landlords, loan officers, and potential employers. This can make it much harder to support your family, particularly if job options are limited by transportation challenges or social stigma.

To avoid these negative consequences, it’s crucial to hire the best possible DUI lawyer in the Santa Monica area as soon as you’re arrested. With Attorney Hart J. Levin and team by your side, you can navigate the DUI process with minimal legal damage and safeguard your future prospects.

How Much Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Is Illegal?

In California, driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or other chemical substances is evaluated by assessing the level of “blood alcohol content” (BAC) present in your system, which is determined in part by using breathalyzer machines and breath testing devices that measure the alcohol in your exhaled breath.

In order to be found guilty of a DUI offense in California, the driver’s measurable BAC level typically must reach or exceed the “legal limit.” However, the legal limit varies based on factors such as the driver’s age and personal circumstances.

Driver is 21 years old or older . . . BAC of 0.08 or higher

Driver is under 21 years old  . . . BAC of 0.01 or higher

Any driver who is on probation for DUI  . . . BAC of 0.01 or higher

Any driver of a vehicle requiring a CDL . . . BAC of 0.04 or higher

Any driver with a paying passenger in vehicle . . . BAC of 0.04 or higher

A DUI charge can be imposed even in the absence of evidence regarding the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). In California, the legal consequences for a DUI offense remain the same for any individual operating a moving vehicle, whose consumption of alcohol or drugs has led to a significant impairment of their mental or physical abilities, to the extent that they are incapable of driving with the same level of caution that a sober and typical person would exercise in comparable circumstances. Additionally, in refusal cases where the driver does not give a breath or blood sample, the prosecutor will not need to prove that you were at or above the legal limit. The act of refusing itself constitutes a consciousness of guilt according to the law.

Will I Lose My License?

In California, a DUI conviction results in a license suspension, but there are often situations where driving may still be permitted despite the conviction. The laws regarding license suspension for DUIs in California can be complex. The duration of a driver’s license suspension can be affected by prior DUI or “wet offenses.” Additionally, the blood alcohol content (BAC) level at the time of arrest (whether above 0.08, 0.15, or 0.20) determines the length of the suspension, which can be extended as a penalty for being dangerously impaired.

Complicating matters further, the DMV can impose a suspension that remains in effect even if the driver is cleared of the criminal DUI charge. To minimize the length of a DUI-related license suspension, or potentially avoid a suspension entirely, it’s crucial to seek the guidance of an experienced DUI lawyer in Santa Monica.

An experienced Santa Monica DUI attorney can be instrumental in navigating the complexities of California DUI license suspension laws. They can help to determine whether the driver is eligible for restricted driving privileges or other alternatives to a full license suspension. With their knowledge of the law, they can also provide the best possible defense and representation to potentially avoid a suspension or reduce its length.

How Long Will a DUI Stay on My Driving Record?

Individuals who have been convicted of a DUI offense in Santa Monica, California, may have the opportunity to expunge their conviction from their public record. However, before being considered for expungement, the driver must fulfill all conditions of their sentence and pay any outstanding fines or restitution.

If the driver served time in prison as part of their sentence, they are not eligible for expungement. On the other hand, if the driver served time in county jail, it does not count as prison time and they may still be eligible for expungement.

To successfully expunge a DUI conviction from their record, the driver must provide evidence of rehabilitation that justifies the court’s decision to clear their conviction from the public record. For individuals with multiple DUI convictions, proving rehabilitation may be more challenging, but it is still possible for them to obtain expungement at the court’s discretion.

DUI Defense Before Trial in Santa Monica

The most skilled DUI attorney in Santa Monica takes a proactive approach in defending their clients, starting long before the trial even begins. By meticulously scrutinizing the prosecutor’s case, the lawyer can identify any weaknesses or gaps in the evidence needed for a conviction. This rigorous defense strategy involves drafting legal motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence, exposing flawed investigative techniques that lead to unreliable evidence, and challenging unsupported conclusions made by law enforcement officers.

With a track record of successfully dismissing DUI charges before trial and obtaining not-guilty verdicts at trial, as expert Santa Monica DUI lawyers, we can often convince prosecutors to reduce DUI charges to a lesser offense with fewer long-term consequences for our clients. By leveraging our knowledge and experience in expertly defending DUI cases, we provide a strong defense and a fighting chance for our clients.

Expert Santa Monica DUI Lawyer: We Are Available 365 Days a Year to Help You

DUI Attorney Hart J. Levin and his expert team have built a highly-respected reputation for expertise and success in handling over 6,000 DUI cases. They have developed a reputation for successful outcomes for clients through exceptional knowledge of California DUI legal procedures, hard work, and highly developed courtroom skills. Hart and his team specialize in defending clients facing DUI and related charges, from first-time DUI offenses to serious felony DUI cases involving severe injury or death.

You won’t find a more accomplished, devoted, or skilled DUI lawyer in Santa Monica or anywhere in California.

Call the Best DUI Lawyer on the West Coast.

Call the Law Office of Hart J. Levin.

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