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Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

California DUI Law Overview

Driving under the influence (DUI) in Los Angeles is a commonplace, but very serious offense. If convicted, you may face imprisonment, fines, community service, and suspension of your driver’s license.  Charges that are more serious can be filed against you depending on the circumstances, for example, when another person is injured or killed due to drunk driving. The most important thing you can do after an arrest for drunk driving is to contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. The only chance of retaining you driver’s license or having the charges dropped or lessened is with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer representing you.

California DUI Charges

There are two specific charges under California law for DUI offenses:

  • California Vehicle Code 23152(a): driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • California Vehicle Code 23152(b): driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher (the “per se” offense).

Even if your BAC is below .08%, you can still be charged under subsection (a) for driving under the influence if your abilities were impaired. If your BAC is above the legal limit, you will be charged with DUI under subsection (b), regardless of whether your abilities were impaired or not. Most often, drivers are charged with both offenses, but penalties are only applied to one of the offenses, rather than for both. If you refuse to submit to chemical testing, then you can only be charged with a DUI, and your penalties are enhanced if convicted.

California DUI Penalties

The actual DUI charge is handled in court where a sentence is decided. There is also an administrative hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to determine whether to suspend or revoke your license. You must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest or your license will be automatically suspended.  Penalties for a first time DUI offense are imposed by both the court and the DMV and can include any or all of the following:

  • Probation: you may be subject to "summary" or informal probation.
  • Jail Term: a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 6 months in the county jail.
  • Fine: a fine will be assessed between $390 and $1,000.
  • Court Costs: can possibly be substantially more than $1,000.
  • Suspension of Driver’s License:  your license will be suspended for at least four months, however the court may approve a temporary restricted license with proof of financial responsibility (California SR22 insurance required).
  • DUI School: you must attend and successfully complete a “Driving Under the Influence Program.”
  • Interlock Ignition Device: you may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device (breath analyzer) on your vehicle at your own expense.

California DUI Penalty Enhancements

California law provides for elevated penalties in certain circumstances. The most common reasons for enhancement include:

  • excessive speeding
  • driving with a minor under the age of 14
  • occurrence of property damage, personal injury or death
  • refusal of chemical testing
  • blood-alcohol level over .15%
  • your age is under 21 (“zero tolerance” laws require lower blood-alcohol concentrations and provide for longer license suspensions for those under 21)
  • prior DUI convictions

Los Angeles DUI Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, proper legal representation is vital. You should contact an experienced and reputable Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible. Depending upon your circumstances, the Law Offices of Elena Mebtahi may be able to have the case against you dismissed, the penalties reduced, or help you to keep your license.

10866 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 400
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Phone: 310-207-4005