So, you got a DUI, and you’re not sure what to do next. You can always represent yourself, but how much about the court system and law do you really know? If your answer is “not much” or “a little” or “I’m not a lawyer,” then well, you need an attorney. Even the most seasoned lawyer may not have adequate experience with drunk driving cases, so you need to be sure that whomever you are consulting with does. Consultations are free, and it is best to consult with more than one legal professional before choosing your counsel. It is also wise to ask questions, just to get a feel for your prospective attorney, as well as to make sure he understands your situation. Some questions to ask are:
What Is Your Experience With DUI Cases? How Long Have You Been Dealing With These Cases?
While this seems like an easy enough question to ask, the fact is many do not ask their prospective lawyer their track record or longevity in terms of how many cases or how many years he or she has dealt with DUI cases. In addition, this should not be the only question you ask, as a seasoned legal professional who has practiced law for 30-plus years may not have had the experience that you need, including a younger, confident-sounding legal professional who may not have the experience. Remember that each drunk driving case is different, and not all lawyers are the right fit for every case.
How Strong Is My Case?
As mentioned, all cases are different, and honestly, not all cases are strong cases. However, you must tell your prospective lawyer all of the circumstances. Regardless, if you were intoxicated and swerved into another lane or drove into a house, your lawyer needs to know all of the facts. Also, be sure if you refused to take a chemical test, as this could change the outcome of your case. Remember that whatever you tell your lawyer is protected under attorney-client privilege laws, so do not worry about telling too much information, as he cannot divulge any information to other parties even if you do not hire him.
What Options Do I Have?
California law is straightforward on DUI sentencing; however, you should still ask your prospective attorney his thoughts on what your sentence may be. A lawyer who is seasoned at navigating the court system could have you're sentenced reduced in exchange for a guilty plea. However, if you have multiple drunk driving arrests, this may not be likely. Regardless, be sure to question him about his thoughts on the likeliness of a sentence reduction or in some cases, jail time.
How Long Will The Process Take?
Even the smallest court cases can experience delays, so be sure to ask your attorney the average timeline for a case similar to yours. Just as all cases differ, all court jurisdictions differ, as well. At times San Diego County may have a quicker case system than Orange County or vice versa.
What Will Happen To My Driver’s License?
What typically happens is that the arresting officer will confiscate your driver’s license, and forward a request for suspension. The license suspension actually has nothing to do with the court process, but it is an administrative ruling with the DMV. The DMV automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results. If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the administrative review, you may request a hearing to contest the suspension or revocation. An experienced DUI attorney can help you navigate your way through the system, as this can be a rather tricky thing to deal with.
How Can I Drive To Work Without A License?
Well, you cannot, as that would be illegal. However, California can offer you a temporary license, but there is a catch, as the outcome of your drunk driving case can affect the chances of you obtaining a restricted license. If you were successful in your DMV hearing but were found guilty in criminal court, you can immediately apply for a restricted license. If you were unsuccessful in your DMV hearing and were found guilty in criminal court, you must wait 30 days from the date of your DMV hearing to apply. Either way, you will have to file an SR-22 insurance form (proving that you have insurance and are claiming financial responsibility), enroll in a 3 month “First Conviction Program,” and pay the DMV fee for a restricted license. A restricted license will allow you to drive to and from work, as well as to any drunk driving or First Conviction Program classes. This is a lot of information to take in, but an experienced drunk driving law firm can help you navigate the system effortlessly.
How Much Will This Cost?
That dreaded question has to be asked. It is safe to say that lawyers, good or bad, are not cheap. However, just because a lawyer is high priced does not mean that he is any better than a lesser priced legal professional. What really matters is the lawyer’s experience and knowledge of the area of law, as well as how well he understands your case. That being said, this question is last in this article because it should be the last question you ask in your consultation. Many firms take payments, so you do not have to worry about coming up with a large sum of money instantly. Also, some legal professionals choose to charge hourly rather than a flat fee, which can be significantly more expensive, so be sure to ask them for a “reasonable estimate.”
While a DUI may not seem like a serious crime, it is indeed a crime. Even if no one was injured, your criminal record will be affected, and you will more than likely lose your ability to drive for a while. Regardless of your case circumstances, it is always best to consult experienced legal professionals before deciding to plead guilty or representing yourself, as court systems and the California DMV are hard to navigate without knowledge of their systems. You should ask the above questions, as this is your future in jeopardy, and an experienced DUI attorney will have the answers and knowledge you need to hopefully go through the process as effortlessly as possible.
Southern California DUI Law Firm
Those facing drunk driving charges in California may have several options for their defense. If you or your loved one are in need of a skilled Southern California DUI attorney to represent him or her for his or her case, you are invited to contact the Law Offices of Randy Collins, located in Newport Beach, California.
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