DUI Defense Lawyer Serving Ventura County
Getting a DUI is by no means a good thing. But before you walk into court and plead guilty it is important that you consider whether or not you have a defense that would allow us to get your case dismissed. DUI law in California is complicated. But remember, just because your blood alcohol level was in excess of the legal limit when they tested you, does not mean that you are guilty. We have won DUI cases in which our client’s blood alcohol level was as high as .40!
A DUI Has Two Parts: (1) the DMV, and (2) the Court
A DUI arrest in California triggers two separate processes. The first is your arraignment in court, where the District Attorney will file criminal charges against you. No matter what happens in court, however, the DMV will have an independent administrative hearing to determine if facts exists that will allow the DMV to suspend your license.
These DMV hearings are based heavily on procedure. Often, even if you plead guilty to the DUI in court it is possible to win the DMV hearing.
Nevertheless. the worst case scenario is to be convicted of DUI, or to plead guilty to the charges. If this occurs numerous penalties will be imposed on you. Jail time may be anywhere up to one year for misdemeanor charges, and a prison commitment for felony cases.
However, in most circumstances, using sentencing alternatives that are available, it is possible to avoid spending any time in jail, even on a second or third DUI.
Protecting yourself is the most obvious reason you should hire an attorney if you are arrested for DUI. Even on a first offense DUI the District Attorney may, and often does ask the court to impose a minimum of 48 hours in jail, and as much as 6 months in extreme cases.
However, having a DUI defense lawyer represent you offers many advantages, the most obvious of which is the ability to avoid jail and potentially get your case dismissed or license suspension set aside.
The DMV: Drivers License Suspension
Being arrested for DUI means you will have to fight a battle on two fronts: one in court and one with the DMV. In California, when you are arrested for DUI your California driver’s license is taken. At the same time you are given a pink temporary license. This license is valid only for 30 days, after which your license will be automatically suspended. However, this suspension can be temporarily avoided if we contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest and request a formal hearing in order to determine whether or not the DMV has the right to suspend your license.
If we request this hearing in a timely fashion, your license will continue to be valid, even after 30 days from your arrest. The license will be valid up until the time of the hearing (which is usually about 2 or 3 months away).
If we win the DMV hearing, you will get your license back immediately and will never have any suspension of your license.
If you lose the hearing, there will be a suspension, the length of which depends upon whether this is your first or subsequent offense.
The Law Office of Paul Tyler handles many such hearings every month. If there is any way for your license to be saved, we will find it and do our very best to argue the law and facts at the hearing. This may require the testimony of you, any other individuals in your vehicle, the arresting officer, or even a forensic alcohol expert.
The length of any potential suspension depends on whether or not your case is a first or subsequent offense. Here is the length of the suspension:
A FIRST OFFENSE SUSPENSION WITH THE DMV may be served in any of the following three ways:
- A four month suspension (which means no driving at all);
- A 30 day suspension, followed by a four month restricted license which you can only use to go to and from alcohol school.
- A 30 day suspension, followed by a five month restricted license which you can only use to go to and from alcohol school and to and from work. To and from work includes everywhere you need to go in the course of your employment. So if you deliver mail for the post office, you can drive all day. This option is by far the most commonly selected.
Which option you chose is entirely up to you. To get the restricted license, you must pay a reissuance fee of approximately $125, show proof of insurance to the DMV (SR‑22 form), and show that you are enrolled in alcohol school.
On a SECOND OFFENSE SUSPENSION WITH THE DMV your license is suspended for 12 months.
A THIRD OFFENSE WITH THE DMV can result in a three year revocation of your license. However, under certain circumstances you may apply for a restricted license after only one year.
If you refused to take a breath or blood test after being arrested, the suspension will be for one or two years.
The Court: Penalties for Pleading Guilty or Being Convicted
Ventura County, California is often thought to have some of the most extreme DUI penalties in the state. In some cases this is true, but in others it is not.
Below is a summary of a standard sentence for a first and a second offense DUI in Ventura County. Please note that these sentences assume that you are only charged with a standard first or second offense DUI and there was no accident, injury or other aggravating factor. The sentence for DUI with bodily injury is higher than for a standard DUI. Additionally, if you are charged with any other crimes, such as resisting arrest or driving on a suspended license, there may be additional fines or jail time added to your sentence.
First Offense—Basic Probation
- Jail: If your BAC is .10% or less, we can get you credit for time served. If it is .11 to .14% we can get you credit for time served or one day of communty service. If it is .15 to .20% you must do 48 hours in jail or 5 days of work release. A blood alcohol level above .25 will generally result in mandatory jailtime.
- Fines: Fines and fees total approximately $3,200. These are the highest fines and fees of any county in California of which we are aware.
- Probation: Serve 36 months of formal probation. As part of the terms of your probation, you must be under the supervision of a probation officer, not leave the county of your residence for more than 72 hours or change your residence without prior approval by your probation officer, nor shall you leave the state without the approval of your probation officer.
- Alcohol school: Alcohol school lasts for three months. Each session lasts from 1‑2 hours, and approximately 20 sessions are required. There is a fee for enrollment in alcohol school of approximately $800. If your blood alcohol level is above .15%, you may be ordered to do the 9 month school which costs approximately $2,000.
- Not operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in your body.
- Submit to and complete tests of your breath, blood or urine when requested by a police or probation officer.
- In addition to the above, the DMV will attempt to suspend your license. Information concerning this administrative suspension can be found elsewhere in this web site.
Second Offense Within Ten Years
- Jail: Serve a minimum of 30 days in the Ventura County Jail. In lieu of jail time it may be possible to do work furlough. This program requires you to be at the work furlough facility located at the Camarillo airport for at least 12 hours per day. This program is for those who must work during the day. Whether you serve the time in jail or in the work furlough program, you will get time off for good behavior. This typically means that you may only end up serving only 1/2 of the time to which you are sentenced.
- Fines: Fines and fees total approximately $3,200.
- Probation: Serve 60 months of formal probation. As part of the terms of your probation, you must report to a probation officer, not leave the county of your residence for more than 72 hours or change your residence without prior approval by your probation officer, nor shall you leave the state without the approval of your probation officer.
- Alcohol school: Alcohol school for a second offense lasts for 18 months.
- Not operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in your body.
Submit to and complete tests of your breath, blood or urine when requested by a police or probation officer.
- Install an Ignition interlock device on any vehicle you own or operate for one year. The purchase and installation of this device costs about $950 for the year one installation.
- You cannot drink or possess any alcohol at any time.
Third Offense Within Ten Years
The penalties for a third offense are the same as a second offense, but there is a minimum of 120 days in jail.
Fourth Offense Within Ten Years
A fourth offense is always filed as a felony, which subjects you to felony probation terms and possible prison commitment.
Where to Go from Here
Paul Tyler has appeared on thousands of DUI cases in Ventura County. As such he is totally familiar with all issues which can arise in these cases. Please call him at 805-889-9000 for a free consultation on the facts of your case.