Los Angeles First Offense DUI Lawyer

Have you been arrested for your first DUI offense in Los Angeles, CA? In California, DUIs are “priorable” crimes, meaning penalties increase with each subsequent offense over a 10-year lookback period. A first offense (within the last ten years) non-injury DUI under VC 23152 is a misdemeanor. However, unlike other misdemeanors, your right to drive a vehicle at stake, which can impact your ability to remain employed or get a job, especially if your job involves operating a vehicle or equipment.

You also will face far more severe penalties with each subsequent DUI within ten years of your conviction. Immediately following an arrest, a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles first offense DUI attorney can help you, both with the DMV and criminal parts of your case.

How Our Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help When You’re Accused of Driving Drunk

DUIA drunk driving arrest can alter the course of your life forever. However, an arrest doesn’t mean that you’ll face criminal charges or lead to a conviction. You have the right to fight back and defend yourself. The best move you can make is to be sure that you have an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney fighting in your corner.

At The Rodriguez Law Group, we have decades of combined experience handling complex criminal matters in Los Angeles County. Our founding attorney is a former prosecutor, so he has an incredibly unique understanding of how your case will likely be handled. Our lawyers will use that insight and our experience to work to get the best possible outcome in your case.

When you call us for help, we will

  • Investigate the circumstances leading up to and surrounding your DUI arrest
  • Determine if the arresting officer deviated from acceptable policing standards
  • Follow the chain of evidence, searching for indications that it was broken along the way
  • Search for weaknesses in the state’s evidence and its case against you
  • Challenge any evidence that is unreliable or was gathered in violation of your rights
  • Handle all conversations and plea negotiations with the prosecution
  • Handle the administrative aspects of your case and work to get your license back in your hands as soon as possible

Our lawyers will work diligently to get the charges against you dropped or, at the very least, negotiate a plea with terms that are favorable to you. If the state won’t cooperate and offer a fair deal, we’ll be ready to take your case to a jury.

We offer a free consultation, so don’t hesitate to reach out to our Los Angeles law firm to schedule a time to discuss your legal options today.

Penalties for a First DUI Conviction in Los Angeles, California

If you are arrested for a DUI in California, you will have to deal with the criminal court system and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The criminal case and the DMV case are independent of each other, and success in one of them does not guarantee any outcome in the other.  Even though jail time is unlikely, a driver’s license suspension and the stigma of having a DUI can make a first offense DUI an extremely undesirable misdemeanor. A lawyer can help you do everything possible to get charges reduced or dropped, and reach the best possible outcome for your case.

A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor (not a felony DUI) in all 50 states, including California. Penalties for a non-injury first offense DUI in California may include:

  • Three to five years of informal probation (3 years is typical)
  • DUI school ranging from three to nine months (3 months is typical)
  • Fines and penalty assessments totaling between $1,500 and $2,000
  • Up to six months in jail (not required if probation is granted)
  • Attending a MADD victim impact panel
  • Requirements to install an ignition interlock device

These consequences do not include the DMV’s administrative consequences, like having your license suspended, or the indirect penalties like dropped insurance, increased car insurance premiums, or being ineligible for certain types of employment. For example, in order to drive for Uber in California, you must not have been convicted of a DUI within the last ten years.

Getting First Offense DUI Charges Reduced to A Lesser Charge of “Wet Reckless” in California

It’s best to contact a DUI defense lawyer in Los Angeles about your rights and options. It may be possible to get charges reduced to reckless driving or a “wet reckless” (VC 23103/ VC 23103.5). A “wet reckless” is a unique kind of charge that you cannot be charged with initially. It is a charge that a DUI can be reduced to. A wet reckless indicates you were convicted of reckless driving, and alcohol was involved, but it is not a DUI.

Reckless driving on a criminal background may be significantly better than a DUI. Also, a wet reckless will not trigger a driver’s license suspension. While there are advantages of a “wet reckless” plea bargain, it is still a “priorable” offense. If you are convicted of another DUI within the next ten years, you will be considered a repeat offender.

Your car insurance company may also treat a “wet reckless” as a DUI, and may raise your premium. Since a DUI arrest (not conviction) triggers DMV proceedings, you will still need to request an APS hearing. Talk to a lawyer about potential defenses and options.

Potential Defenses to First Offense DUI

A defendant charged with driving under the influence will have a few defense options available, including:

  • Unlawful stop by police
  • Deviation from standard field sobriety test protocol
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Necessity (to prevent a greater evil)
  • Improper collection and storage of blood alcohol samples
  • Medical conditions / illness
  • Improper/coercive interrogation or Miranda violations
  • Violations of the rules of evidence or procedure.

Hiring a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney knowledgeable in drunk driving defense laws will give your case the best possible outcome available. An experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case or find mitigating factors. Before you accept a plea offer, talk to a knowledgeable lawyer, and discuss your options.

Getting Legal Representation After Your Initial Release from Jail

Following a First-Offense DUI arrest in Los Angeles where there were no injuries, most people are released by the police without having to post bail, although practices vary from county to county. It commonly will take several hours, up to 24 hours, for you to be processed and released.

If you were arrested for DUI causing injury, or gross vehicular manslaughter, bail will be required. If you’re released without bail, do not be fooled into thinking you are not facing serious charges. Particularly in regard to your license to drive, you must be proactive and take immediate action.

The DMV’s 10-Day Rule and APS Hearing

When you’re arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will take your driver’s license and return it to the DMV. When your license is confiscated, you will be issued a pink temporary license (DS-367), which is good for 30 days. This starts a very important time clock, as you then have 10 days to request a DMV “Administrative Per Se” hearing, frequently referred to as an APS hearing.

As long as you request the APS hearing within 10 days, you can continue to drive while awaiting the hearing, which will not be before the effective date of the suspension/revocation. If you do not request a hearing within 10 days, your license will be suspended 30 days from the date you were arrested. Driving with a suspended license can bring additional criminal charges, and add additional points on your driving record.

To request a hearing, you must contact the DMV Driver Safety Office near you, again within ten days of your arrest. These offices are separate from DMV field offices that provide licensing and vehicle registration services. Below are some frequently asked questions about APS hearings.

What Happens at an APS Hearing?

Although the DMV action is separate from your criminal case, your criminal defense lawyer can represent you at your APS hearing. In some ways, the DMV hearing officer serves as a judge, prosecutor, and jury, even though they are neither. The APS hearing can involve evidence, objections, witnesses, expert testimony, and legal arguments. Your hearing can be handled over the telephone or in-person if you request. You should not go into this hearing unprepared. If you do not win your hearing, the maximum period of suspension for a first failure is four months. You may be eligible for a restricted driving permit to go to school or work after 30 or 60 days.

Do You Need a Lawyer at Your APS Hearing?

Without an attorney, it may be difficult to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and if any law enforcement mistakes that could lead to dropped charges, are evident based on the police report. A lawyer with a thorough understanding of the California Vehicle Code, California Penal Code, California Code of Procedures and Administrative Law, and California Evidence Code will be helpful in raising numerous possible defenses or legal issues regarding:

  • Inaccuracies with blood alcohol evidence.
  • Illegal search and seizure issues
  • Issues with the reliability of the chemical test(s)
  • Lack of probable cause to arrest you
  • Lack of proof that you were driving, time of driving, specific BAC, etc.
  • Lack of reasonable suspicion to stop or detain you
  • Law enforcement officer’s failure to comply with specific legal requirements and regulations
  • Violations of other constitutional rights

The Driver Safety Hearing Officer will have three choices:

  • Uphold (sustain) the suspension
  • Modify the suspension
  • Rescind (set aside) the suspension.

You can request an administrative review or appeal the decision. If you are not familiar with APS hearings and California laws, it is best to contact a lawyer who understands what is at stake and how to protect your driving privileges. These hearings are not easy to “win.” Testimony given under oath at an APS hearing is usually admissible in later proceedings, so in effect, this hearing serves as a “free deposition,” and can be strategically used to gather information before your criminal case trial.

What if You are an Out of State Driver?

If you have a license issued by another state, the police officer does not have the authority to take your license. However, following a DUI arrest as a non-resident, you will have three legal issues:

  • You’ll have to deal with your home state DMV
  • You’ll have to deal with the LA County criminal court
  • If you want to drive in California again, you’ll have to deal with the California DMV.

If you move to California, you must get a California driver’s license within ten days. In reality, many people don’t head to the DMV within the first ten days of moving to California. However, not having a license in California and then getting a DUI in California can be complicated.

If you are an out-of-state driver, The Rodriguez Law Group can help you with your criminal case in California, as well as California DMV proceedings. Contact us to discuss your rights.

Get a Free Consultation with a DUI Lawyer in Los Angeles

Following an arrest, quickly hiring an attorney with experience, knowledge, and a deep understanding of the law can be one of the most important steps you can take. Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, the founder of The Rodriguez Law Group, has more than 13 years of experience as a Senior Deputy District Attorney and knows how DUI cases are handled in Southern California, both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

Call our Los Angeles first offense DUI attorneys today at (213) 995-6767 to schedule a free case evaluation. We will review your case, answer your questions, and discuss your rights and options to defend your charges. As always, your first case evaluation with our law firm is 100 percent free.

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Los Angeles First Offense DUI Attorney, Ambrosio E. Rodriguez

The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Office

626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460
Los Angeles, CA 90017
P: (213) 463-1993