California DUI Overview
Do You Need a DUI Lawyer?
Every state has some sort of "drunk driving" statute. The term "drunk driving" is in quotes because none of these laws require that you be "drunk" or "intoxicated" to be guilty. All that is required is that your ability to operate a vehicle has been impaired to any extent at all or that your Blood alcohol level exceeds the state limit (which is now .08% in all states). Some states call it DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), but it refers to the same offense. The consequences of DUI differ drastically from state to state and are influenced by your age, blood alcohol limit (BAC), whether you have been arrested for DUI in the past, and whether you caused injury or death during the DUI.
A DUI Lawyer can help...
Assess your legal situation
An experienced DUI Defense lawyer can help you understand what you are up against and the fines you may be required to pay. A DUI lawyer mostly deals with DUI matters and knows the process inside and out – including options that a public defender may not tell you.
Explain the consequences
The consequences of a DUI vary greatly from state to state and a DUI lawyer will be able to explain how those consequences in your state apply to you such as (1) harsher punishments for those arrested with BAC limits over .08, (2) special laws for underage drivers arrested for DUI, (3) possible community service or plea bargaining, (4) overlapping jurisdiction of Courts and your state's motor vehicle licensing department to suspend or revoke your license, and (5) contingent license programs that allow you to use your vehicle to get to and from work.
Manage the process
Dealing with the motor vehicle department can be frustrating and time consuming. A DUI Lawyer can manage the process for you by completing the required forms; making phone calls; scheduling and/or representing you at a Motor Vehicle Department suspension hearing, and making other necessary arrangements.
Represent you in court
An experienced DUI Lawyer knows the ins and outs of the courtroom and may be able to obtain a lesser sentence for you if your situation and state law allows for it.
Don't know if a DUI Lawyer is right for you? Here are some general guidelines:
Definitely hire a DUI Lawyer if you already have several DUI's and receive another; or if your DUI arrest was the result of an accident or if anyone was injured; or if you are a professional driver whose livelihood depends on keeping your license.
Seriously consider hiring a DUI Lawyer if you've been arrested for a second DUI (in the same or another state) or were arrested with a BAC limit over double the legal limit as harsher penalties may apply.
You might want to hire a DUI Lawyer if you don't understand your rights or DUI laws, what you need to do, or the consequences you face. You also might want legal representation if you are in a profession (or plan to be) that requires bonding or in which any criminal conviction might prevent you from getting or keeping a professional license. If you don't know the requirements, then you need expert advice before handling the case yourself.