For the average person, driving under the influence (DUI) can be a complicated topic. When faced with a DUI stop, a DUI arrest and official criminal charges, the driver often doesn’t know what to say, how to act, or what to do. That said, here are seven things you should know about a California DUI.
1. You shouldn’t tell the officer how much you drank. If the police ask you how much you drank, tell them that you’re not sure. Anything that you say can and will be used against you in court.
If you lie about how much you drank, and a chemical test proves that you were above the legal limit of .08%, you’re going to ruin your credibility in court. Similarly, don’t tell anyone that you had several drinks because that won’t help you either. Exercise your right to remain silent.
2. You don’t want to choose just any attorney. Since the scientific and legal processes involved in DUI cases are complex, you want a lawyer who specializes in DUI defense. If you hire someone who only “dabbles” in DUI defense, you may not be hiring someone with enough experience to effectively defend you.
3. Not everyone can afford a public defender. If you meet California’s requirements for a public defender, you can get a defense attorney free of charge; however, you must have a very low income, and little to no assets to qualify. You will have to prove that you cannot afford the fees for a private defense lawyer. While public defenders may have significant experience with DUIs, they are overburdened with large caseloads and don’t have the same amount of time to devote to their cases as private attorneys do.
4. Typically, a first DUI is a misdemeanor. A simple first-time DUI without any aggravating circumstances is usually a misdemeanor. However, if someone was seriously injured or killed, it’s usually a felony DUI, which means higher fines, a longer prison sentence, and other consequences. If you are facing felony DUI charges, it’s extremely important that you have a good defense lawyer.
5. A DUI can damage your career. If you’re a driver, or if you’re in a position of trust; for example, you’re a notary, a teacher, a doctor, a police officer, a nurse, a CPA, or someone else with a professional license, a DUI can cause you to lose your job, or your professional license.
6. A DUI can affect your credit score. While a DUI is not reported directly on your credit report, it can damage your credit, especially if you can’t afford the financial consequences of a conviction. If you have enough savings stashed away, you’re in better shape.
When you add up court-ordered fines, the costs of an ignition interlock device, an alcohol education program, and skyrocketing insurance premiums, you can be forced to put them all on credit cards, which can damage your credit score. Also, if a fine is unpaid, it can go to collections, which would be reported on your credit for 7 years.
7. A DUI can affect child custody. If you’re in the middle of a child custody battle, a recent DUI will not be viewed favorably by a family law judge. If the judge believes you have a drinking problem, or that you might put the children in danger, the judge could award custody to the other parent. If you had a drug-related DUI, this poses a problem as well.
Contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. to arrange a free case evaluation with our Orange County DUI attorney who is Board Certified in DUI defense!