Orange County is widely regarded as one of California’s toughest and most conservative counties when it comes to DUI and drunk driving enforcement. The OC district attorney hesitates to reduce DUI charges to dry reckless or non-alcohol related offenses. And the OC Courts frequently hand out substantial Orange County Jail time for multiple offense DUIs, felony DUI, and accident cases.
But this does not mean you cannot win your case. Many OC DUI cases rest on faulty police investigations by poorly trained officers as well as breath and blood testing equipment and techniques prone to error. A good Orange County DUI attorney can expose these evidentiary problems and use them to your advantage in fighting the case.
How the DUI Process Works in Orange County
A person arrested for DUI in the OC generally faces two criminal charges: Vehicle 23152(a) driving under the influence, and Vehicle Code 23152(b) excessive BAC. If your BAC falls below .08 or you are accused of DUI of drugs only, then probably just Vehicle Code 23152(a) will be charged.1
This Orange County DUI arrest brings about two separate proceedings: (1) a criminal case at one of the County’s four courthouses, and (2) a DUI DMV hearing at the Irvine Drivers Safety office to determine whether a driver’s license suspension will be imposed. Your Orange County DUI lawyer can represent you as to both proceedings. In most cases, your lawyer can appear at court and the DMV on your behalf — though you may be asked to attend for strategic reasons, especially if the case goes to trial.
The goal of any Orange County DUI case is twofold: (1) to keep the DUI off your record, or at least get it reduced to a lesser charge, and (2) to keep your driver’s license from being suspended. To that end, we need to scrutinize each piece of evidence and develop DUI defenses that make you more likely to win if the case goes to trial. Building up the strength of your case can convince both the court and the DMV to give you a more favorable result.
Orange County DUI Penalties & Sentencing
For a straightforward first-time Orange County DUI conviction, one might expect the following sentencing:
- Three years of informal probation to the court
- Fines and court fees of approximately $1800
- A three-to-four month California DUI school
- A six-month license suspension (though we are usually able to secure a restricted license that allows driving to and from work, and you should be able to continue driving without restrictions if you agree to get an ignition interlock device installed)
If there are prior DUI convictions, an accident, a high BAC, or a chemical test refusal, the DUI penalties will likely be higher, including a longer license suspension, more DUI schooling, and some Orange County Jail time. In any case, your Orange County DUI criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate lower penalties with the judge or prosecutor. For example, judges often are willing to let the person attend an alcohol or drug treatment program in lieu of jail time.
Arrested for drunk driving, DUI with injury, vehicular manslaughter, or any driving-related crime in the OC? Contact us immediately. Our team of Orange County DUI lawyers, private investigators, forensic toxicologists, and accident reconstruction experts takes a very proactive approach. We would be happy to speak with you by phone or at one of our local offices:
Newport Beach Criminal Defense
4000 MacArthur Blvd. Suite 900
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Phone: (949) 644-0600
Santa Ana Criminal Defense
500 North State College Blvd.
Orange, California 92868
Phone: (714) 288-9455
1Orange County DUI officers generally write your BAC level on the court citation (if you took a breath test). If you submitted to a blood test, you can check the blood result online using your last name and vial number. The Orange County Sheriffs Department Forensic Services usually take about 10 days to analyze the blood and publish results.