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Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney

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Contact Top DUI Defense Attorney Mariya Melkonyan

A DUI for drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs are serious criminal charges that can have lasting effects on your life. It is possible to overcome this charge and your life back on track, but it takes an experienced defense attorney who knows how to handle these types of cases. If you need a California DUI lawyer, contact Melkonyan Firm today for a free consultation.

Overview of the DUI Defense Process In Los Angeles

If you are arrested in Los Angeles, California for DUI, you face a long legal process with many steps and various potential penalties. The Law Offices of Mariya Melkonyan have experienced attorneys based out of Los Angeles who have extensive experience on how to defend those charged with DUI offenses. Mariya Melkonyan is a graduate of USC and has spent over 13 years as former deputy district attorney. She brings years of experience in the effective examination of experts of different fields, forensic pathologists, and other resources to fight for you as your DUI defense attorney.

License Suspension

Your license can be suspended for four months if you are over the age of 21, took a blood or breath test that showed 0.8% BAC (blood-alcohol content) or more, and this is your first DUI arrest. The officer confiscates your license and gives you an Order of Suspension and Temporary License at the time of your arrest. More and more cases by law enforcement and prosecutors are arresting and charging drivers with DUI under the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f) VC.

Not only is it illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol and other illegal drugs, but it is also illegal to drive while under the influence of even legally prescribed medications that can cause impairment.

A DUI charge can also mean a disciplinary action for most professionals who are doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers and a like. Having the best possible DUI defense team working with the person charged right from the beginning is going to make a huge difference in the outcome of the case.

DMV Hearing

You may request a hearing with the DMV within ten days of your suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. Those who are convicted can lose their license for up to one year on a first time offense.

DUI Defense Criminal Proceedings

In an arraignment, you may plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. If your attorney and the prosecutor’s office reach a plea agreement, there will be no trial. If there is a trial, a jury will decide the verdict.

DUI Conviction and Penalties

The penalties of a DUI case vary depending on how you are charged, your BAC, and whether there was an accident or injuries to others involved in the accident.

California’s DUI Defense Laws

California addresses DUI under specific DUI laws addressing alcohol and drugs:

California Vehicle Code § 23152(a)

If you are pulled over while driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol (DUI), then a law enforcement officer can arrest and charge you with a DUI. This code specifically says it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle. One of the most important steps you can take at this stage is hire an experienced DUI defense attorney like Mariya Melkonyan to defend you.

California Vehicle Code § 23152(b)

Based on grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, it is illegal to drive with a BAC level of 0.08%. You can be convicted if you had 0.08% of alcohol in your blood and if you were tested within three hours after driving.

California Vehicle Code § 23152(f)

It’s illegal to drive when you’re under the influence of a substance, and you neglect your duty as a driver, such as causing injuries to others.

What to Expect if You’re Arrested For DUI

Once you’re arrested for DUI in California, the legal process starts. Many drivers don’t know what they’ll face when charged which makes having an experienced DUI defense attorney so critical. Here’s what happens at each step of the proceedings.

During The DUI Arrest Process

Most offenders are arrested at the scene of a car accident or when the police pull them over. You’ll go to a police station for booking and may spend the night in jail. If you’ve been involved in a serious accident and have injuries, you can also be arrested while in the hospital.

Before your arrest, the police administer a breathalyzer or blood test. Once arrested, the police take your license, and you’re given a temporary license on a pink slip for identification. The temporary license expires in 30 days, and you’re not allowed to drive during this time unless granted an exemption from the DMV.

Hire an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

You’re not required to hire an attorney by law. Depending on your income, you may be appointed a public defender for free, but public defenders have many clients and do not specialize in DUI cases. You may have a better outcome if you decide to hire a defense lawyer specializing in DUI defense cases. Your lawyer will have more time to investigate your case and has experience negotiating under these circumstances.

License Suspension and DMV Hearing

To avoid a suspension of your license, you must request a DMV hearing within ten days of your arrest. During the hearing, the DMV officer will ask you the following questions:

  • Was it reasonable for the officer to believe you were under the influence while driving?
  • Were you lawfully arrested?
  • Was your BAC level at 0.08% or higher at the time of your arrest?

These questions aren’t always easy to answer. You may not know what your BAC level was at your arrest, or you might be waiting for the results of bloodwork at the time of your hearing.

A public defender will not represent you at this hearing, but you can hire a private and experienced DUI defense attorney represent you at the hearing. Your lawyer can help you get test results and other key evidence before your hearing.

Arraignment in Court

The arraignment is the first court meeting with the judge, the prosecution, and your lawyer. Both the prosecution and your lawyer will present their cases. At the arraignment, the judge will remind you of your rights and inform you of your charges. They will then allow you to enter a plea: guilty or not guilty.

DUI Defense Pre-trial Phase

During the pre-trial phase or discovery phase, the prosecution and your lawyer exchange details about the case. Under California’s penal laws, both sides must share information such as real evidence and witness testimonies.

Both parties can ask the judge to cancel or dismiss their case and prohibit evidence from being used. They can also discuss possible ways of settling without going to trial.

DUI Defense Trial Phase

If your case doesn’t settle out of court, then it may go to trial. A typical California jury trial comprises the following steps: choosing jurors, opening statements by each attorney, presenting evidence, and closing arguments from both sides.

The jury will deliberate about their decision together before reaching a verdict that can be followed with sentencing if necessary.

Penalties for California DUI

California regulates driving under the influence by penalizing those caught driving with 0.08% or higher blood alcohol content. A DUI comes with different penalties depending on whether you have had any prior DUI convictions and if anyone has been injured because of your actions. An ignition interlock device (IID) may be required for drivers under certain penalties.

1st Offense Misdemeanor DUI

A 1st offense misdemeanor DUI in California includes up to six months in county jail and $390-$1,000 in fines. Your driver’s license is suspended for four to ten months, and you have to attend a court-approved drug or alcohol education program for three to nine months.

The judge may require the defendant to install an IID for six months to continue driving without restrictions.

2nd Offense Misdemeanor DUI

A second offense misdemeanor DUI carries a sentence of 96 hours to one year in county prison and fines ranging from $390-$1,000. You can drive instead with an IID for one year, or your driver’s license will be suspended for two years. You must also attend a court-approved drug or alcohol education program for 18 or 30 months.

3rd Offense Misdemeanor DUI

In a 3rd DUI offense, you will face one year in county jail and be required to pay $390-$1,000. Your driver’s license may be suspended for up to three years, or you must install an IID on top of 30 months of a drug or alcohol education program.

4th Offense DUI

In a 4th DUI offense, the penalties are severe. You will be tried as a felon with possible criminal penalties resulting in 16 months or longer in state prison. Fines accompanying a 4th offense DUI can range from $390-$1000 or significantly higher depending on the “penalty assessments” the court determines the defendant should pay. You may also be required to attend DUI classes for 30 months.

Driver’s license penalties for a 4th DUI offense include having your license revoked for 4 years and retaining status as a Habitual Traffic Offender for 3 years.

Note that regardless of whether it’s your 1st or 4th DUI offense, you can be tried as a felon if you injure someone while driving under the influence. The stakes are very high once someone is being charged with a felony. Make sure you have a strong DUI defense team working on your case to best protect your rights and get the charges reduced or dropped entirely.

Second Degree “Watson Murder”

Based on the 1981 California Supreme Court case, People v. Watson, a driver with a previous DUI conviction can be charged with second-degree murder if they kill someone in another DUI crash. The driver is charged with second-degree murder under California Penal Code 187 and faces additional DUI charges.

If convicted of second-degree murder, the defendant faces 15 years to life in state prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Jail time can increase to 25 years to life if the victim is a peace officer. This conviction is a serious felony and counts towards California’s Three Strikes Law which increases punishment for repeat offenders with each strike.

A second strike doubles your sentence and third strike sentences you to a mandatory minimum of 25 years to life in state prison. We cannot stress how important it is to hire the most experienced DUI trial attorney you can to prevent prison time if at all possible.

Additional Probation

A California court can sentence you to probation with the following conditions: You may not drive if you have any detectable alcohol level in your blood, and you must not commit more crimes. You also cannot refuse a blood, breath, and in some cases, a urine test if you are arrested for another DUI.

There could be other aggravating factors that are key in deciding your DUI penalties and probation, such as a refusal to submit to a chemical test, excessive speeding, or if your BAC level is high at 0.15% or over. If you have been charged with DUI in California, you will need an experienced DUI defense attorney to help you navigate the system and offer you legal guidance.

Getting your License Reinstated

Your license is not automatically reinstated after the suspension ends. You have to go through a reinstatement process, following procedures accurately to get your license back.

Complete All the Penalties and Conditions of Your DUI Convictions

You must serve out your full suspension period. You need to complete an alcohol treatment program and traffic school. You may need to install an ignition interlock device on your car if required by law.

Get Proof You Completed All Court-Ordered Programs

You will receive certificates after completing treatment programs and traffic school. You will need proof from your installer if required to place an ignition device on your car.

Affects of DUI Conviction on Car Insurance

After your DUI conviction, you’re identified as a high-risk driver. Your car insurance company may charge you more to cover the risk.

California requires high-risk drivers to purchase policies that cover $5,000 of damage to physical items. Your policy also needs $15,000 to cover costs associated with an individual’s injuries or death from an accident. Your plan must include $30,000 to cover the cost of multiple people hurt or killed in a crash.

The DMV requires proof that your insurance company knows you’re a high-risk driver through form SR-22. You must purchase a policy with higher coverage before submitting the form to the DMV. California will suspend your registration if you do not have the appropriate insurance for your car.

If you’re charged with a DUI offense, contact our offices and speak with one of our felony DUI trial lawyers before speaking with law enforcement.

Drugs and DUI Laws in California

DUI laws apply to more than just alcohol. You can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs.

The testing process for a drug DUI differs from alcohol. Drivers suspected of drug DUI are given blood or urine tests only. Currently, if you’re found with any amount of drugs in your system, you’ll face DUI charges. In California, you’ll face drug DUI charges for illegal drugs and legal substances like marijuana and prescription medications if they impair your driving.

What are The California DUI Sentencing Guidelines

If you are facing DUI charges, it is imperative that you are informed of the potential consequences that come along with a conviction. These consequences may include jail time, fines, or both. Those who have a history of driving under the influence in California face harsher penalties for their most recent infraction.

It is absolutely necessary to speak with an experienced criminal DUI defense attorney in order to receive the most appropriate guidance for your particular circumstances. If you’re looking for more information on the California DUI Sentencing guidelines, look into vehicle code sections 23536 and 23552.

An Experienced Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney

If you are facing charges for drunk driving in California, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights during these proceedings. At The Law Offices Of Mariya Melkonyan, we understand what it takes to put together a solid defense case.

Our team of Los Angeles based felony DUI defense lawyers know how to best defend your interests because we know DUI laws in-depth. Mariya Melkonyan has over 13 years of experience as a former Deputy District Attorney and knows how the prosecution builds a case. We’re confident that we can help protect your rights and get you a favorable outcome for your DUI case.

Long-term consequences of having a DUI

Having a DUI arrest on your record goes beyond the criminal penalties. You will have a very difficult time getting work, applying for a loan, renting a place to live, going to college or even acquiring a professional license of some kind to better your life.

The DUI charge remains on your record for a decade and is 2 points on your driving record.

Speak directly with Mariya Melkonyan, a top Los Angeles DUI Defense attorney today at (424) 901-3131 for a free case evaluation. Her team can analyze your case and explain to you in plain English what DUI defense options you have for your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Refusing to take a blood alcohol test in California is illegal. California law follows the implied consent law, meaning you agreed to these tests as part of your driver’s license application. You do have the right to choose between a breath and blood test. Police use three types of tests to check for DUI.

A breath test, also known as a breathalyzer, may be administered at the site of your car or in a police station. The machine tests your breath for the presence of alcohol. Results are available immediately after the test.

If a police officer suspects you’re under the influence from a combination of alcohol and other substances, they may also administer a blood test.

Blood tests are performed in hospitals, and the results can take days to weeks to come back.

Urine tests are used if drugs or substances other than alcohol are suspected in your DUI. This test is administered in hospitals, and the results take several days to weeks.

You’ll face penalties for refusing to take a blood-alcohol test, including a license suspension for an additional one to three years and potential fines.

In certain circumstances, you can refuse a test. People with conditions requiring anticoagulation medications or those suffering from blood clotting disorders like hemophilia are exempt from blood tests.

They must take a breath test if it’s available. If you’re unconscious, you cannot give your consent for any test. A blood or urine test cannot be administered until you wake up.

Information from your driving record can be used against you in a DUI case. Your record contains your history of previous traffic offenses and violations and indicates previous DUI charges and crimes. Demerits from DUIs remain on your record for 13 years.

Getting a DUI in California is expensive. California courts estimate the minimum cost of a DUI at $45,435. Drivers are responsible for paying fines, attorney fees, necessary alcohol treatment programs, and traffic safety classes. You’ll also be paying more annually for car insurance as a high-risk driver.

DUI Defense Law Firm

Getting arrested for DUI can be extremely stressful and overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles for your case. At The Law Offices of Mariya Melkonyan, we always have our client’s best interest at heart. From the moment you contact us for a consultation, we start planning solid defenses for your case.

Most clients feel ashamed, frustrated, and angry after being charged with a DUI crime, but our legal team is here to reiterate that you, as a citizen, have basic rights, one of which is to hire an attorney. Before you speak to authorities, remember that you do not have to answer any questions without a lawyer present. Mariya Melkonyan is a former Los Angeles District Attorney who has tirelessly fought countless felonies and misdemeanors and can apply those same skill sets in your case.

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