Happy (Belated) New Year
Even though we're already a week into 2015, I'd like to take a moment to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year! Many religions and cultures have celebrations and observances throughout the month of December and into January including Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and, of course, New Year's Eve.
Ringing in the New Year with friends and family gives us a chance to come closer together and celebrate the things that are most important to us. However, New Year's celebrations are often marked by social drinking, including a toast at midnight, leading several revelers to wake up with a hangover, or worse, in a jail cell.
Drunk Driving Arrests Increase over the New Year
According to figures released by the California Highway Patrol, CHP officers made 97 DUI arrests in Orange County alone on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day this year. Ultimately, in the period between 6 PM Wednesday and 6 AM Sunday, the CHP made over 1,000 arrests due to impaired driving statewide, which is more than double the number made the previous year. And those figures are solely for the CHP, local law enforcement agencies have also been cracking down on drunken driving with traffic stops and checkpoints (http://patch.com/california/newportbeach/chp-makes-nearly-100-oc-dui-arrests-over-new-years).
A DUI Charge is a Serious Matter
If you've never been charged with DUI in Orange County, you might not know just how big an impact it can have on your life. Because driving drunk is such a risky behavior, the state of California imposes severe penalties for a DUI conviction, even for a first time offense. DUI is usually considered to be a misdemeanor when it doesn't cause serious personal injury or property damage, but DUI convictions have a cumulative effect that can ultimately lead to a driver facing felony charges.
Punishments for DUI in Orange County
Although it is a misdemeanor, a first DUI conviction is meant to be punished harshly enough that the defendant will be deterred from driving while drunk or high again. At a minimum, someone's first conviction for DUI will comprise 3 years of probation, during which time they absolutely cannot drink and drive, court fees and fines of no less than $1200, 6 months suspended license, 12 hours of DUI school, and 48 hours of jail time, and each of these can be increased depending on the circumstances of the case and the ability of your lawyer.
A second conviction carries a full 2 year suspension of your driver's license which may be renewed after one year with restrictions allowing you to drive to and from work or school, 18 months of DUI school, and 96 hours of jail time. A third conviction will bump the license suspension up to three years and carries a minimum 4 month jail sentence in addition to probation and fees. A fourth conviction or a DUI charge that includes an injury could lead to a felony DUI charge that could mean 2 to 4 years in state prison and additional sentencing for other charges resulting from the injury.
How to Fight a DUI Charge
If you've been charged with a DUI it might seem hopeless, but there are a number of successful strategies for fighting a DUI. Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) testing methods are not always completely accurate, particularly a breath test, and don't always hold up in court as evidence. Similarly, field sobriety tests such as walking in a straight line, eye tracking, and memory tests are not always reliable and are subject to the arresting officer's interpretation.
Hire an Experienced DUI Attorney
When it comes down to it, the best weapon to have when fighting DUI charges is experience. Most people simply don't have the skill set necessary to defend themselves in criminal proceedings. That's why criminal defense attorneys are such a vital part of our justice system. A skilled OC DUI attorney can help you put together a winning defense.
So two resolutions you might consider taking up in the New Year are:
- Don't drink and drive, and
- Don't go to court alone.
Call us at (714) 530-9690 if you were arrested for DUI in Orange County over the holidays and want a proven defense attorney who can help you fight the charges.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.