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Three Ways to Minimize the Penalties for a First DUI Offense

Los Angeles DUI attorney Being charged with a DUI in California can be a stressful experience from the moment you get pulled over to the day of your conviction. For first time offenders in particular, it’s not unlikely to feel guilt and shame along with the uncertainty surrounding court proceedings. Your main concern should be how to minimize first time DUI penalties and associated costs. Thankfully, there a few practical ways of going about it depending on the circumstances of your arrest.

Hire an experienced attorney

The single most important thing you can do is hire a reputable attorney who specializes in DUI cases and is familiar with your local court system and judges. You may not think you need a lawyer as a first time offender, but they will give you the best chance at receiving minimal penalties and reduce expenses such as increased insurance premiums of up to $2,500 per year. They will guide you through pre-trial processes and undertake “discovery” and arm you with confidence and knowledge as you prepare for your day in court. Though obviously case-specific, you may find you’re eligible for rehab, probation, or alcohol classes that may significantly impact your record. An experienced attorney will not only argue for alternate sentencing, they will try to persuade the judge by defending your character and highlighting your previously clean record and the problems the prosecution has with proving it’s case.

Contest DUI charges

There are several instances that constitute a complete dismissal of DUI charges. Though hard to defend against, unlawful practices at the time of arrest can be the basis for a dismissal. If you experienced one of the following, you may have a chance at contesting the DUI entirely.

  • Faulty Equipment: A skilled lawyer understands breathalyzers in terms of mechanical operation and the protocol involved in administering the breath test. If the equipment used was not properly calibrated, the evidence could be inadmissible. There are also strict protocols involved with the blood samples used to determine your level of intoxication.
  • Lack of probable cause: If you feel the arresting officer pulled you over without reasonable suspicion, you can fight your DUI. Note this is difficult to prove because it will be the officer’s word against yours. Discrimination and random stops are against the law.

Related: Top 5 Police Mistakes in a DUI Investigation

Accept a plea bargain

Before pleading guilty to DUI, if you have an attorney that fights DUI’s and goes to trial, you may be offered a plea bargain which can either mean a reduced sentence, a reduced charge, or both. For example, instead of having a DUI on your record, it may be a “wet reckless” or “dry reckless.” The best case scenario is that the charge is further negotiated to the violation that prompted the traffic stop. A wet reckless simply means that alcohol was involved in your arrest. In comparison to a DUI, the penalties are less severe. You’ll avoid a mandatory license suspension, probably pay fewer fines, and not have to put an interlock device in your car as required in Los Angeles county. The downside of a wet reckless is that if you were to get a second DUI within 10 years of the wet reckless, you’d be charged as a repeat offender. A dry reckless means you were driving recklessly but that no alcohol was involved. It is still a misdemeanor, but does not count as a DUI.

Whatever the circumstances of your DUI, it’s advisable to hire an attorney so that you can move on with your life as easily as possible. No amount of research or advice from friends or family can take the place of a skilled attorney who will know how to fight your case and minimize first time DUI penalties.

If you’ve found yourself in need of a lawyer as a result of a DUI, contact Jon Artz by filling out the contact form or call 310-820-1315 today.

You can also learn more about why Mr. Artz is continually recognized as one of the best DUI attorneys in Los Angeles.

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