DUI stands for driving under influence. Driving any motorized vehicle after the use of alcohol or illegal drugs is a serious crime in all states of the United States of America. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels sufficient for arrest vary from state to state but BAC of 0.08% or higher can be an offense. Even small amounts of alcohol in the blood can cause serious health issues. Alcohol can take 30-120 minutes to absorb in blood. Alcohol directly affects breathing by slowing down the breathing process. It also delays cognitive skills. That is why driving after drinking alcohol is dangerous not only for the driver but also for others. Let’s see about the DUI case process in Orange County.
The police officer can arrest you for DUI under Vehicle Code section 23152(a) or Vehicle Code section 23152(b). Police can book you after taking you to the police station. You will spend time in jail until post bond.
If someone is arrested for the first time after drinking alcohol then DUI is charged for the misdemeanor. But if he is arrested the first time after drinking alcohol/other drugs and injures or killed some people then he is charged with a felony. In some states, DUI arrest for the first time with high BAC levels is considered a felony. If someone is arrested with a DUI type offense more than once then he can be charged with a felony. People with suspended driving privileges are also charged with a high-level offense if arrested with a DUI-type offense.
After the arrest with a DUI-type offense, the next step is to go to court for the arraignment. During this process, you are informed about charges against you. At this point, you have the right to plead guilty or not guilty or no contest. There will be discussions about your bail if required and how much. Other motions are also filed by the district attorney and your Orange County DUI Lawyer. You don’t need to attend arraignment if charged with a misdemeanor DUI case. Your attorney has the authority to enter not guilty on your behalf.
In a misdemeanor case, a pretrial hearing is set during the arraignment. During the pretrial hearing, there will be a discussion between attorneys to settle. There can be more dates of pretrial hearings. Your attorney can attend the pretrial hearings in case of misdemeanor DUI case. If the case is not settled in pretrial hearing then the next step is trial.
DUI Preliminary hearing
A preliminary hearing takes place in case of a felony. Most of the DUI offenses are misdemeanors you may be charged with felonies due to many reasons as discussed in DUI offenses. During the preliminary hearing, the attorney tries to give strong pieces of evidence and the judge decides to continue the case or not. If the judge is convinced that there is sufficient evidence against you to precede your case a felony, then the following steps will be taken.
- You will be held to answer
- The second arraignment will be set in the trial court
It will take 2 weeks to start proceeding in the trial court where the plea is again entered.
When your case will go under trial depends upon the type of case. If you are charged with a misdemeanor case the trial can start within 30 days of arraignment if you were in custody at that time. It can take 45 days if not in custody at arraignment.
In felony cases, the trial can start within 60 days of the second arraignment. Before the trial, a lot of investigations are done by the attorney. This requires more time and the attorney can request more time. So, it can take months to start your trial.
Trials are also a lengthy process and can take weeks to reach a decision depending upon the following elements.
- complexities of case
- Number of witnesses
- Time is taken by DUI experts which are called by local attorneys during the court process.
Once a verdict against you is finalized then the next phase starts that is the sentencing phase of the trial. You can get minimum sentencing or alternate sentencing depending upon how your lawyer effectively presents evidence in your favor. There is the possibility of one-year imprisonment if the DUI case is a misdemeanor. It can be more than one year in the felony. The judge can also go for the option of probation instead of or both jail and probation.
There are many alternatives to jail available for DUI offense defendants. These alternates are also for the defendants who a plea bargain agreement. Following are alternative sentencing options.
- City Jail or private jail
- House arrest (also called electronic monitoring)
- Residential treatments
- Community services
- An alcohol program or drug rehab program
- Counseling program
- Work furlough
- Sober living program
In misdemeanor cases, probation includes the following.
- Summary probation
No need to report to anyone including the probation officer. You have to fulfill terms of probation only.
2. Supervised probation
In this type of probation, you have to report to a probation officer on regular basis. The probation officer may require many things to do. But this demand depends upon charges. These are given below.
- Drug testing
- Anger management classes
- Drug rehab classes
The probationary period can be for 12-60 months. If you are on probation and charged with a new misdemeanor or felony case, this situation is also called a violation of current probation. This can result in imprisonment along with charges of the new case.
Right of appeal exists for everyone. You can challenge the verdict/ruling against you in appellant court. But you should remember that appealing will start the entire trial process again. There is the possibility of getting new counsel to focus your appeal.
You can be considered illegible for expungement after completion of probation successfully. In the expungement, your criminal record is erased. The court replaces a guilty/guilty verdict/no contest with not guilty and your case will be considered as closed. Getting expungement can be beneficial in many ways in especially getting new jobs.
DUI Penalties in Orange County
DUI charges in Orange County are divided into three types depending upon how much time is charged.
- DUI – First time in Orange County
DUI penalties in Orange County are not severe as in other counties. Following are some typical punishments given to first-time DUI in Orange County.
- Three years of summary probation
- Fines and penalties of total $2000
- Attend a 3-month alcohol/drug program
- Suspension of driving license for six months (Driving is allowed if a driver drives with Ignition Interlock device)
- Attend One day course on Mother against Drunk Driving
2. DUI- Second time in Orange County
- Summary probation of 3-5 years
- A total of approximately $2000 as fine and penalty
- County jail imprisonment for 90 days to 1 year. 45-90 days imprisonment in county jail is not common in Orange County for second DUI offenders. But there is the possibility that these punishments may be converted to home confinement or Caltrans.
- Attend and complete an 18-30 month Drug /Alcohol program
- Attend and complete Alcoholic Anonymous class (AA class) of community service
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock device for one year
3. DUI third time In Orange County
- Summary probation of 3-5 years
- A total of approximately $2800 as fine and penalty
- Minimum jail of 120 days or more
- Installation of an Ignition Interlock device for two year
- Attend a 3-month alcohol/drug program
How to hire a DUI lawyer in Orange County
There are 3 options for you to precede your DUI case. These options are given below.
- Represent yourself in the court
- Representation by the public defender
- Hire a private DUI attorney
It is friendly advice not to present yourself especially when the prior experience of a DUI case is lacking. At the same time process are length and complex. The public defender is also not a good choice regardless of your economic conditions. It is fact that public defenders know much about the DUI case process but it is usually seen that they don’t have much time and the best resource to develop the best defense for you.
If you choose a private attorney then remember that every private attorney is not competent enough to understand and proceed with your case. The technical knowledge and skills of all attorneys are not equal. Choosing of wrong or incompetent attorney will lead to wastage of time and money. The results will not be in your favor and you may be punished or penalized heavily. Your expenses will increase as you will pay to the attorney and also fines in terms of dollars.
By keeping in view above mentioned disadvantages of hiring a public defender or inexperienced attorney will not be good for you. So, it is better to choose a professional and experienced attorney to save money, time and to get results in your favor.