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RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 13486
Experience:  Experience in numerous areas of the law.
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My friend got pulled over and arrested DUI She declined a

Customer Question

My friend got pulled over and arrested for s DUI She declined a breathalyzer and had a BAL of 1.6 at the police station. What should her next step be? Does dhe need s lawyer or should dhe go to court by herself to save the money zed hope for the best?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Traffic Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you.

Honestly, the best thing your friend can do right now is to make a consultation with one or two criminal defense lawyers. This is a misdemeanor criminal offense but with an alleged high BAC and although jail time is unlikely, she doesn't want a conviction for a DUI if possible. And, she doesn't want to go to criminal court without a lawyer.

The first hearing would be her opportunity to hear the charge against her and enter a plea. Since the state has the burden of proof, it does her no good to simply show up and plead guilty. She should plead not guilty, after which the matter will be set on the court docket. If she has a lawyer, she may not even have to attend the court date. A lawyer can also discuss with her any potential defenses she may have and how to best approach the case. Typically, a defense lawyer is going to make a request for all the evidence the prosecution has (called "discovery) and review it before coming up with a strategy. If there are no good defenses, they still will likely be able to negotiate a plea to reduce the charge or the penalties, especially if your friend has no other prior criminal history. If you tell me what state this is in, I can give you an idea of the possible penalties for a first time DUI.

The other thing your friend will want to discuss with a lawyer is getting a hardship license. She's looking at a license suspension, but should be able to get a hardship license to travel to/from work, to doctor appointments, etc. While I realize a criminal lawyer for a DUI is probably going to run her somewhere between $3500-$7000 in attorney fees, on average, it is well worth paying that versus just rolling the dice and facing much stiffer penalties.

If you need more information or clarification, kindly REPLY and I'll be happy to assist you further. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We're in CA. What are her (estimated) chances of going it alone? Assuming she goes in pleading not guilty?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

A conviction for first offense DUI in California normally triggers these penalties:

  1. 3 to 5 years of informal probation (typically three years);
  2. DUI school ranging from 3 to 9 months (typically 3 months)
  3. A fine of around $1900
  4. A 6-month license suspension, with the possibility of a restricted license after 30 days
  5. In some counties, a short jail sentence or work release

She's also looking at potentially paying more in insurance coverage for her vehicle.

I'll be honest and say that her chances would be VERY slim without having a lawyer and trying to plead not guilty. She won't know court procedures, she won't know how to request or gather evidence or get witnesses, she won't know what motions she could possibly file, how to prepare said motions, or do the legal research, and she doesn't have the same ability to negotiate with the prosecutor that a defense lawyer does because they have a working relationship with them. If she does not have the means for a private attorney, it still would be worth her talking to a private attorney before her first court date (many offer free or low cost consultations without any obligation) and then she can request a public defender at her first hearing.