Getting an OC DUI is no joke and no fun. If you have recently been charged with an OC DUI, you already know this to some extent.
However – knowledge is power, and as a traffic defense attorney practicing law in Southern California, I have seen first hand how informing my clients of their rights and options can bring some peace and calm to an otherwise very stressful situation.
What follows are five tips and tricks for staying calm after being charged with an OC DUI, as well as information on what to expect after being charged with an OC DUI.
#1 You Have the Right to Keep Your Driver’s License After Charged with an OC DUI
If you were arrested for an OC DUI, upon your release they kept your driver’s license and handed you a pink piece of paper called the DS-367. Be sure to read the fine print!
That piece of paper will serve as your temporary driver’s license for the next 30 days. Further, it will inform you of your right to request a hearing with the DMV to prevent the suspension of your driver’s license as a result of being charged with an OC DUI.
You heard me correctly – DMV can suspend your license even though you haven’t been convicted yet!
The good news is you have the right to present evidence, testimony, call witnesses, and cross-examine the citing offer in a DMV hearing called the “Administrative Per Se” hearing to contest you were driving with a BAC over .08.
Further, even if DMV finds you were driving with a BAC over .08 and decides to suspend your driving privilege, you still may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license which allows you to drive for limited purposes such as to work or school.
#2 The Prosecutor Bears the Burden of Proof
When charged with an OC DUI, you face potential time in jail (for misdemeanor DUIs) or prison (for felony DUIs).
But simply because you are arrested and charged for DUI, this does not make you guilty.
As a criminal defendant, under the U.S. Constitution you have certain rights that protect you from unlawful prosecution, such as your 5th Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination, your 6th Amendment right to counsel (see #4 below), and your 4th Amendment right against warrantless searches and seizures.
The prosecution of your case is left to the task of the State or City Prosecutor, who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt you are guilty either because:
- You drove a vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol – VC 23151(a);
- Your drove a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or more – VC 23152(b);
- You drove a vehicle under the influence of any drug – VC 23152(f); or
- You drove a vehicle under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs – VC 23152(g).
Whether you violated the law is a question of fact to be decided by 12 impartial jurors (your 6th Amendment right).
There are many facts pertaining to your arrest that may raise reasonable doubt as to whether you are in fact guilty. These questions should be asked by your lawyer in order to ensure your rights are protected.
#3 Even though You Face Potential Jail Time, there are Other Non-Jail Options
On a first time DUI, you may have spent 1-2 days in jail immediately after you were arrested. Assuming there were other extenuating circumstances such as no injury to person or property, it is not uncommon to receive an “offer” from the Prosecutor that does not include time in jail.
A competent DUI attorney can help you achieve a sentence from the judge that is commensurate with your rights and with what the facts are able to prove.
By definition, a “misdemeanor” offense is punishable by time in jail, but the Prosecutor also has the ability to enter into a “plea bargain” with you that would include probation, fines, classes, and other requirements but exclude spending time in jail.
#4 You Have the Right to an Attorney
It can be scary and intimidating facing prosecuting attorneys and a judge in court. The prosecuting attorney is ethically and morally bound to stay within the confines of the law while prosecuting your case, but there are many things about legal proceedings and the law itself which are open to interpretation.
That’s when an attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable – to make sure your Constitutional rights are being protected, to guide you through the confusing and often scary court process, and to speak up for you in court as your advocate.
If you can prove to the court you have low income, you may qualify for the services of a Public Defender (a criminal defense attorney appointed to represent indigent members of the public).
You also have the right to hire a private attorney to defend you in court against your OC DUI charge.
#5 You Can Expunge an OC DUI Conviction to Prevent a Harmful Effect on Your Future
Assuming the worst case scenario – that you were convicted of an OC DUI either because of a plea negotiation or because you were found guilty at trial – then a conviction will go on your criminal record.
Many employers ask about past criminal convictions. A DUI conviction can even prevent you from traveling to Canada (random!).
However, you can expunge your criminal record under Penal Code 1203.4. After obtaining an expungement in California, an employer cannot use evidence of that expunged conviction for any reason – especially not to discriminate against you by not hiring you.
An expungement attorney can file your expungement motion for you.
Free Consultation on Your OC DUI
If you are considering hiring an attorney to represent you, we offer a free OC DUI consultation. Please contact me by clicking the button here.