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Driving Under the Influence and Driving Offenses in Santa Barbara

If you are facing charges for driving under the influence (DUI), align yourself with a proven Ventura DUI lawyer immediately. Without legal counsel acting on your behalf, you could find the process to be not only costly but also extremely time-consuming and even embarrassing.

At the Law Office of Christopher P. Welch, our team is passionate about seeking results that are in the best interests of our clients. With guidance from a former prosecutor, you benefit from extensive experience and unique insight as to how the opposition will approach your case.

Learn about your legal options and how we can help fight your charges by calling us at (805) 467-6542. Your initial consultation is free.

Act Quickly After a DUI Arrest

After an arrest for DUI, you face driver’s license suspension – even if your case hasn’t gone to trial or you haven’t been convicted. Within 10 days, you must request an administrative hearing with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Doing so can effectively place the suspension of your driver's license on hold until the conclusion of your court proceedings. During the hearing, you must present a compelling argument as to why you should not lose your driving privileges.

If you choose to have a public defender represent you, please note that these lawyers are given large caseloads. They are often unable to dedicate adequate time to any individual case. A private Ventura DUI attorney, on the other hand, can give you undivided attention and design a defense that is uniquely suited for you. Our lawyer, Christopher P. Welch, can stand by your side and help argue your case.

What Are the Potential Penalties for a DUI in California?

If you’re convicted of a DUI, you could face severe penalties. The specific punishments imposed upon you depend on various factors, including any past convictions for this offense or other aggravating factors.

A first-time DUI conviction could result in:

  • Driver's license suspension for 6 to 10 months
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • Mandatory alcohol/rehabilitation classes

A second-time DUI conviction within 10 years of the first could result in:

  • Minimum of 96 hours in jail
  • Minimum of 3 years of summary probation
  • Driver's license suspension
  • Mandatory traffic school
  • Fines

A third-time DUI conviction could result in:

  • Minimum of 120 days in county jail
  • Minimum of 3 years of probation
  • Driver's license revocation for up to 3 years
  • Mandatory traffic school
  • Hefty fines

If the DUI resulted in injury to a third party, it will be charged as a felony, and a conviction can carry a 3-year state prison sentence.

Myths About DUIs

When it comes to DUI, there are several mistruths and patently false information that many people take at face value. We’re here to set the record straight for 5 of the most common myths about DUI.

Myth #1: You Can’t Be Charged with DUI if You Aren’t Driving

In California, you can be arrested for DUI even if you are not actively driving, provided the officer has reason to believe that you were driving or planned to drive while intoxicated. There are countless examples of people being charged with DUIs after they were found sleeping in a parked car. You can also be arrested for boating or bicycling while under the influence!

Myth #2: Breathalyzers & Blood Tests Can’t Be Beat

Many people mistakenly believe that chemical blood alcohol content tests are always accurate. This is far from the truth. In a recent example, more than 2,200 blood tests were found to be potentially inaccurate after authorities discovered an issue at the Orange County Crime Lab.

Myth #3: If You’re Drunk & Get Pulled Over, You Should Lie

Police officers regularly interact with many different people from all walks of life, most of whom have some sort of excuse or reason for their behavior. Because of that, it’s extremely unlikely that they will believe you, especially if they already suspect that you’ve been drinking. Furthermore, if you’re determined to be driving under the influence, they can tack on additional obstruction of justice charges.

Myth #4: A DUI Arrest Isn’t Really a Big Deal

Some people mistakenly believe that a DUI charge is basically a trumped-up traffic ticket. Driving under the influence is actually a serious misdemeanor criminal charge, and, if certain circumstances exist, is often escalated to a felony. If you’re convicted of DUI, you will face severe penalties, including suspended driving privileges, expensive fines, and time in jail.

Myth #5: You’re Better Off Pleading Guilty

Some people, usually those with clean driving and criminal records, will plead guilty to DUI charges in the hopes that they will receive a reduced sentence. Unfortunately, this rarely works out as planned. Even if a Ventura DUI lawyer can’t get the charges against you dropped, they may be able to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf. California has a separate and much less serious violation called “wet reckless,” which is essentially designed just for DUI plea bargains.

Common Mistakes

Most people who are charged with DUIs have never faced any type of real criminal charges before. As a result, they often feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and eventually make poor decisions regarding their DUI defense. For this reason, and many more, it is critical to secure tough representation from an experienced Ventura DUI lawyer who can skillfully guide you through the process and work to protect your rights.

1. Assuming That You Can’t Beat the Charges

Accepting their fate is perhaps the single biggest mistake made by people facing DUI charges. Many incorrectly believe that if they’ve been arrested for DUI, a conviction is essentially guaranteed. In reality, DUI is a highly complex area of law, and many, many factors could completely invalidate the case. The impact of a DUI conviction is severe, so you should always fight charges with the help of a Ventura DUI attorney.

2. Waiving Preliminary Hearings/Not Filing a Pre-Trial Motion

After an arrest, a preliminary hearing is held – this essentially requires the prosecutor to prove that there is enough evidence to take the case to trial. Waiving the right to this hearing is almost never a good idea, as it guarantees that a case will be heard in court. To the surprise of many, a great number of DUI cases are thrown out at this stage, before trial even starts.

Sticking with the same theme, pre-trial motions should be filed for nearly every DUI case. These are essentially arguments to set the boundaries for a trial.

Pre-trial motions are often filed with the goal of:

  • Dismissing all charges or certain charges
  • Excluding or suppressing certain evidence
  • Excluding specified witnesses

3. Accepting the Results of Roadside Tests

Another extremely common misconception about DUI cases is that the results of a field sobriety or breathalyzer test are always right. This is completely incorrect, as many of these tests are fundamentally flawed. The classic “walk a straight line” and horizontal gaze nystagmus tests are laughably inaccurate for determining whether or not someone is impaired. In fact, some studies have found that the most reliable tests are only accurate about 65% of the time. Chemical tests, such as breathalyzers or blood tests, are typically more reliable, but still have many flaws that could lead to inaccurate or inadmissible results.

Are you facing DUI charges? Don't wait to contact our Ventura DUI lawyer at (805) 467-6542 today for a free consultation!

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See What Our Previous Clients Have to Say
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