What Kind of Fees Can I Expect with a DUI Charge?

Unfortunately, the cost of a DUI is very high.  This article will summarize some of the costs that you can anticipate, as well as give you helpful links to find out more.  Your attorney can also advise you on the costs to be anticipated, and can help you prepare for the road ahead.

  1. Impound Fees.  If your vehicle was impounded, you will be on the hook for administrative fees, plus the cost of towing and storage.  The administrative fee depends on where the vehicle was impounded, but for instance, the cost in Vacaville can be $234.  (See https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/dl/fees/miscdl_fees#misc_duireissue).  Also, be aware that the vehicle can only be released to the Registered Owner.  However, if the owner is incarcerated, then the jail can provide a Vehicle Release Form.
  2. Driver’s License Fees.  These vary depending on the age of the driver, and whether it is a first or second offense, but to give you an idea of the ballpark the Reissue Admin Fee for a Driver over 21, is $125.  This link will give you the specifics:  https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/dl/fees/miscdl_fees#misc_duireissue.
  3. Bail Fees.  If you have been incarcerated, you can anticipate a bail bonsdmen fee.  The way it works is that the court sets the bail.  The bonds company charges you a fee (usually a percentage of the amount of bail), and then the bonds company pays the full amount to the court.  When you appear at your hearing, the bonds company receives their money back, but they earned the fee.
  4. Court Fines.  These can run you at least $2,000.  According to the Yolo County Sentencing Guidelines for Infractions and Misdemeanors, Effective August 25, 2016, the minimum fine to be imposed for a DUI is $1958.  
  5. Other Miscellaneous Court Fines and Fees.   The Court will likely impose misc. fines and fees which total at least $300, depending on the jurisdiction.  See the excerpt below from the Yolo County Sentencing Guidelines for Infractions and Misdemeanors, Effective August 25, 2016.
  6. Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 8.57.36 PMCounseling – The amount of counseling ordered and the cost of the classes varies, but a conservative estimate would be at least $200 for counseling and classes.
  7. Restitution – If the DUI involved an accident, the court may order restitution, which means that you will have to pay for the damages incurred by the other driver.
  8. Interlock  – An interlock device is placed in your car so that your breath alcohol level is checked before you can drive.  The cost can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle and the company you choose.  One company surveyed charged a $60 installation fee and 69.95 plus tax per month.  
  9. Insurance – Automobile insurance rates are higher for those who have been convicted of a DUI.  To reinstate your license after a DUI, you will have to file a Proof of Insurance Certificate (SR-22).  These sites can give you more information about the insurance needed.  https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffdl35 

 

 

Can I get a DUI Expunged in California?

If you have a DUI conviction on your record that is interfering with employment or perhaps immigration, you may be wondering if you can get a DUI expunged in California.  The answer is maybe.  There is not right to have a DUI expunged, but it is possible to have one granted under certain circumstances.  This article will walk you through some of the important questions, but consult with an attorney to find out if you can get your DUI expunged.

  • What is expungement?

California Penal Code 1203.4 lists the circumstances in which a defendant (the person who committed the crime) can have their offense dismissed and be released from the penalties resulting from the offense.

  • Do I have the right to have my DUI expunged?

No, you do not have the right to have a DUI expunged. The court has discretion, which means that the court can look at the circumstances and decide whether or not to grant your request.  This means that you have a chance, but there are no guarantees.

  • Should I petition the court now?
  • You have to be finished complying with all the conditions that were imposed upon you at sentencing.  This includes:
    • Fines have to have been paid.
    • Counseling completed.
    • Community service if applicable is done.
    • Competition of any probation.
    • Completion of any other requirement of the court.
  • You are not currently charged with, on probation for, or serving a sentence for another offense.
  • You did not commit new crimes while on probation.
  • What is the interest of justice that is considered by the court in determining whether to grant my petition? 
  • The interest of justice is not specific, but there are factors that weigh in whether a court will consider an expungement in the interest of justice:
    • The length of time since the DUI
    • Employment considerations
    • Family considerations
    • The circumstances of the DUI itself
  • What is the process?
  • You will likely want to hire an attorney to assist you with the paperwork.
  • You request a dismissal of your charge, which is called a petition for relief.
  • The prosecuting attorney is allowed a certain amount of time to respond.
  • What are the limits of what an expungement can do for me?

Getting your DUI expunged may help you in meeting your employment, licensing or educational goals.  However, getting the DUI expunged will not prevent your sentence from being enhanced in the event that you get a subsequent DUI in the future.  Also, it is rare that expungement lowers your insurance rates. Although your conviction has been dismissed, it may still be accessible through public records.

3 Essential Steps to Best Resolve a DUI Conviction

If you entered a guilty plea to a DUI or lost your case at trial, this article is for you.  It discusses what to do next once you have a DUI conviction.  Following these steps will help you succeed in completing your probation successfully and putting this conviction behind you.

Set Yourself Up for Probation Success

  • Know.  Make sure you find out what the terms are of your probation and how long it lasts.  Typically, you will at minimum be ordered to stay drug free and not have any other criminal offenses.    
  • Do.  Confirm that you have your paperwork and call the court for a copy if you have lost it.  This will list what you need to accomplish and when.  Typically you will need a counseling evaluation and a certain amount of counseling sessions. You may have community service obligations.  Following through with the Court’s orders is essential.
  • Report.  Ensure that anything you complete is reported, because you want to “get credit” for the counseling, etc. that you finish.  If you don’t know whether the court has a record of what you’ve done, be proactive to call and find out.

Do Not Drive with a Suspend Driver’s License 

  • Don’t drive while your license is suspended.  Typically, your license will be suspended.  Make sure that you do not drive during the suspension period.
  • Complete the DUI Program.   You will likely need to complete a DUI program prior to reinstatement of your license.    
  • More information about Suspended Driver’s License.  For more information about a suspended driver’s license in California go to http://www.dmv.org/ca-california/suspended-license.php

Compliant Driving after a DUI – Interlock and Insurance

  • Interlock.  An ignition interlock device prevents you from driving with a level of blood alcohol above the setting.  You will typically be ordered to utilize this device for a certain amount of time following your DUI, and you shouldn’t do anything to try to bypass the system.    
  • Insurance.  You need a special type of automobile insurance following a DUI.  It is often called high-risk or SR-22 insurance.  Make sure that you obtain the right kind of insurance and keep your payments current.

If you take the time to know and obey the terms of your probation, you can successfully overcome a DUI conviction.  Make sure that you find out what you need to accomplish, avoid driving while your license is suspended, and take the steps necessary once your driving privileges are restored.

3 Things Most People Do Wrong After Getting a DUI

If you were just charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence), then the last thing you want to do is make any more mistakes.  This article will explain what people often do wrong and what to remember to avoid those pitfalls.  

 

  • Mistake: Post to Social Media/Publicize to Friends.

 

Remember: “You have the right to remain silent.”

After getting a DUI, many people are fired up and furious.  Many feel that they were treated unfairly by the police or that there were extenuating circumstances in their case.  If you feel this way, you may be right, but you should exercise your right to remain silent even when you are not in custody.  Your public social media accounts are not the right place to post details about your arrest or charge, because anything posted publicly could potentially be used against you as an admission.  It is also a common mistake for people to tell friends or associates at work about the criminal charge.  While it may be therapeutic to share the story, it is often better not to share this information with friends or co-workers, as news often travels fast and there may be professional repercussions to you.  Remember, you are presumed innocent, so don’t let your own mouth get you into trouble before you have had your day in court.

 

  • Mistake:  Procrastinate.  

 

Remember:  “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Denial is real, and after getting a DUI many people want to forget about it and inadvertently lose track of details.  Some throw the paperwork in a drawer.  Others fail to find out when their administrative hearing is for the Driver’s License.  Many will put finding an attorney on their mental task list, but not follow through in taking that step.  The most important step you can take in your defense is the first one.  As the old adage says, you eat an elephant one bite at a time.  First, organize your paperwork.  Next, identify important dates:  When is your administrative hearing?  When is your first court date?  Third, decide on your legal defense:  Are you going to request a public defender?  Are you going to hire a private attorney?  

 

  • Mistake:  Have Another Run-In With the Law.   

 

Remember:  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

So you have a DUI.  It’s not good news, but it is manageable.  Even if it’s not your first DUI, you need to remain calm and focus on the future, not the past. The most important step you can take is to keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble.  The worst mistake you can make is to compound the DUI with subsequent criminal offenses.  It’s common for people to have problems after the DUI, so expect this from yourself and prepare for it.  Depression can push people back into an addiction cycle, where illegal drug use may be a problem.  Enlist the help of family members and friends to avoid anything that could lead to criminal offenses:  do not drink and drive, avoid situations that may erupt in domestic violence, beware of illegal drug use, do not drive if your license is suspended).  This is how you avoid the “big things,” but there are other small things you can do.  If you are a passenger, encourage the driver to obey traffic laws. Avoid situations or friend groups where illegal activities may be occurring, even if you aren’t participating.  The bottom line here is do everything you can to avoid getting charged with another crime.

 

 

 

 

Never Do These 5 Things after Being Charged with a DUI

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, you certainly have many worries and concerns about what you should and shouldn’t do.  This article will walk you through a list of actions you should avoid at this critical time, so that you can be in the best position to resolve your case as favorably as possible.   

    1. Don’t panic or give up.  A DUI can be one of the most stressful events in your life, so it’s understandable that you might panic or want to give up on all the good things you are doing in your life, like work or fulfilling family responsibilities.  Hire a great attorney as soon as possible and let your attorney guide you through this experience.  Ask your attorney a lot of questions, so that you understand the process. Don’t berate yourself for what can’t be changed and focus on problem solving in the future.

 

  • Don’t delay in hiring an attorney.  Don’t delay in hiring your attorney because you will have a DMV hearing typically prior to the resolution of your DUI case in court. After an arrest for DUI, the officer is required by law to immediately forward a copy of the notice of suspension or revocation form and any driver license taken into possession to the DMV.  The DMV automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results.  You have the right to request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days of receipt of the suspension or revocation order, and your attorney can assist you in the DMV hearing.
  • Don’t drive on a suspended or revoked license, don’t get another DUI, and don’t commit any other crimes.  Although it seems fairly obvious that you shouldn’t drive on a suspended or revoked license or commit any other crimes, it is somewhat common for defendants to slip up in this area.  This is a risk you do not want to take.  The penalties are enhanced for subsequent DUI offenses.  Plan ahead.  Look at public transportation or find someone to drive you to work so that you don’t get in a situation where you feel forced to drive on a suspended or revoked license.  If you are attending an event or party, make sure that your keys are safely out of your reach and that you are prepared to take a cab or Uber.  Discuss with your attorney and your family the strategies you will employ to avoid getting in trouble.
  • Don’t post publicly on Facebook or Social Media.  Consider changing your public social media accounts to private.  Do you have pictures of yourself with a drink in hand on the night you were arrested for the DUI?  You can’t destroy or delete evidence, but you are not under obligation to keep your social media account public.  Also, refrain from posting any new information about the DUI. Consult with your attorney about information on your social media accounts, as he or she will be in the best position to advise you how pictures or posts may impact your case.
  • Don’t forget to write down what happened right away.  Your memory is best when it’s fresh, so take the time right after your DUI to sit down and write everything you can remember:
  • When, where, and how were you stopped?
  • What did the officer say when he stopped you?  
  • What did you tell the officer?
  • What type of tests did you do?
  • How did you perform on those tests?
  • Was a breath test administered?  Where, when and how?
  • Was there anything that impacted the tests?  busy traffic, health impediments, etc.

 

In sum:  The most important step you need to take right now is to relax and look to building your case by finding a good attorney as soon as possible, avoiding escalating your problems with other offenses, being aware of your public posts, and recording your recollections as soon as possible to assist your attorney in providing an excellent defense for you.

 

How To Take Charge of Your DUI Hearing

If you are facing a DUI hearing, you may be feeling overwhelmed and scared, you are not alone.  Most people anticipating a DUI hearing are stressed and concerned.  There are easy steps you can take to be more prepared to have a successful outcome:

  • Bring Someone With You.  If you have the means to hire an attorney, call him or her before your first hearing.  Having an experienced, competent attorney by your side will give you confidence and often streamline the process.  You’re attorney will take the lead in discussing your case with the prosecutor, explain your options, and be by your side as you enter a plea or set it for another hearing or trial.  If you don’t bring an attorney, then you may want to bring a family member or friend for moral support.
  • Look Up Information Beforehand. If you are going to be asking to be represented by a public defender, you may be asked verbally by the judge about your income or you may proffer that information in a form.  Look up the numbers so that you will be accurate and confident in presenting the facts.
  • Dress Appropriately.  Appearance is always important, regardless of whether you are talking about a job interview or a court hearing.  Come to court clean, well-groomed, and appropriately dressed.  Judges strive to be impartial, so you appearance may not impact the outcome in obvious ways, but a judge will likely appreciate a professional, neat appearance, which may have a subtle positive effect on your case.
  • Be On Time.  It seems obvious to be on time to your court hearing, but being punctual can be challenging for many people.  A rights video may be shown at the beginning of the calendar or instructions may be given out.  You can’t go wrong with being on time, so make your hearing a priority.
  • Know the Dates of Your Priors.  If you have prior DUI offenses, you will want to check the dates because how old the prior convictions are will impact how you are treated for the DUI in question.
  • Don’t Drive Yourself.  Typically, you’re license will be suspended on your court date due to the DUI arrest, and it’s just not work the risk to illegally drive.  In some courts, the staff is instructed to watch for defendants who drive, or if you are entering a plea or being sentenced, the judge may ask you how you got to court.  Don’t take chances with driving on a suspended license to the courthouse.

4 Things You Should Never Do If You’re Accused of a DUI

If you are facing your first DUI charge, it can be a daunting and stressful time. You may be wondering what will happen next, what you should do next, and how you can get through the entire process quickly and return to normal life. During the process however, here are four things you should never do if you are accused of a DUI:

Confess to avoid a trial

Being arrested and charged with a DUI may feel like the end of the line, but it’s not. Many police officers may try and get you to confess to being under the influence of alcohol and provide details of your intoxication to expedite the processing of any criminal charges against you. However, remember that you have the right to remain silent, and providing a confession won’t do you any favors in the short or long term.

Forget that you are innocent until proven guilty

Once you are charged with a DUI, you may forget that being charged isn’t the same thing as being convicted. The prosecution will have to prove that you are guilty, and provide extensive evidence to that fact. Just because you have been charged doesn’t make you a criminal and doesn’t mean that you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Ignore what comes next

Things will move very quickly once you are charged with a DUI. Not thinking one step ahead of the prosecution will put you at a terrible disadvantage right from the start. While the list of things you have to do seem to be piling up, be sure that the first thing you do is hire an experienced and trusted lawyer experienced in criminal law and DUIs. Once you have a lawyer on board, they will be able to walk you through your options, the evidence, and any possible contingencies.

Forget to Ask Your Lawyer the Right Questions

Since there are probably a million questions running through your head, don’t forget to ask the right questions. While your attorney will go over all the important details of your case with you, don’t forget to ask them these questions as well:

  • Will I go to court?
  • How much will this case cost?
  • The police didn’t require me to take a blood/urine test, is this important?
  • Will I lose my job?
  • How can I avoid a conviction

The legal system can be a tricky maze for those who are being accused of their first DUI. Finding the best DUI lawyer and following their counsel will always be your best line of defense and offense in helping you navigate through the legal proceedings to come and help your life return to normal.

3 Tips Most People Don’t Know About Finding the Right Attorney

Attorney shopping can be quite the headache, especially when you consider that your reasons for actually needing an attorney may be a cause of unexpected stress in your life.  While many law firms claim that they are giving you the best lawyer in their firm, there are many other important factors to consider when finding the right representation for your case.

Here are 3 tips most people don’t consider when trying to find the right attorney:

  • The Right Attorney Is Available For You

Attorneys may be busy and may have a slew of other cases, however the right Attorney for you will be one that is available for you when you need him/her most.

When you’re shopping for an attorney, make sure that during your initial meetings you aren’t rushed out the door, or made to hurry over important details. The right attorney understands that your time and your circumstances are just as important as theirs and won’t make you feel rushed.

  • The Right Attorney Has Experience in Your Specific Type of Case

You are most likely aware that you should seek the help of a divorce lawyer if you want to get divorced, or a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been injured in an accident. However in addition to seeking the help of a lawyer who specializes in your type of case, you should also find one who actually has experience in your type of case.

Though an accidental injury lawyer may know the specifics about getting the compensation you deserve, a lawyer who has had experience with the specific insurance company you’re working with will be the right attorney for you!

  • The Right Attorney Has Confidence in You and in Your Case

In some types of cases, the attorney doesn’t get paid until you get paid, right? While that may be enough incentive for the average lawyer to work hard on your case, it is important to remember that the right lawyer for you will be one that has confidence in you and your case, and doesn’t just want to win for a paycheck.

Having confidence in your case means more than just bragging about their track record with similar cases and behaving arrogantly. The right attorney will exhibit confidence in your case by making the most of your situation, those involved and will in turn provide the best outcome for you.

So instead of being impressed by how many cases your prospective attorney has won in their career, consider choosing an attorney based on their availability, confidence in you, and how many cases they have won that are very similar to yours to have the most success with your case!

How Do I Win a DUI?

You drank and drove and now you are facing a DUI.  Don’t give up!  A variety of defenses may be available to you, and it is your constitutional right to defend yourself from criminal charges.  Even if you feel you are “guilty” you should not enter a guilty plea without considering your options, and this article will discuss strategies to win a DUI (driving under the influence) charge.

1.      Hire an Experienced Criminal Attorney Who Will Listen and Research

The most important step in winning a DUI is hiring the right lawyer.  Lawyers are not equally qualified.  You need someone who practices criminal law and who frequently works in the jurisdiction in which you are charged.  An experienced attorney will know the prosecutor and judges and be able to plea bargain on your behalf effectively because he or she has established the relationships.  Although they try to remain fair and impartial, prosecutors and judges are people and can be influenced by personal relationships.  An attorney familiar with the jurisdiction may know background on the police officers, which will also be helpful.  Most importantly, you need an attorney who will listen to you carefully and research every possible defense.  A DUI charge is very fact specific, so your attorney will need to customize your defense to the exact scenario you experienced.  If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience, contact David Knecht at DavidKnechtlaw.com. 

2.      Fight the Stop

An officer must articulate facts that support reasonable suspicion for the stop.  It cannot be based solely on a gut feeling.  A stop that is motivated solely by racial bias is also illegal.  Your attorney can evaluate the basis for the stop and consider whether to file a motion to suppress.  If you can win a motion to suppress, the evidence obtained after the stop cannot be used against you, which typically means that the prosecutor will drop the DUI case. 

3.      Undermine the Credibility of the Field Sobriety Tests

There are many factors that can influence the credibility of the field sobriety tests.  Did you have an illness, injury, allegries, obesity or permanent medical condition that would affect your ability to complete the field sobriety tests?  Were they administered properly?  Were there other distractions, such as a busy road, darkness, uneven surface etc. that could impact the tests?

4.      Undermine the Credibility of the Breath Test

Like the field sobriety tests, the breath test is not indefensible, and an attorney can ferret out defenses to its reliability such as whether it was administered properly and whether the equipment was functioning properly.  Also, the point in time the test is administered can be relevant, as the level of blood alcohol may have risen between the point of driving and the time of the test.

5.     Plea Bargain

A plea bargain can be a partial victory with a DUI.  The penalties can be sever and typically include suspension of the driver’s license, fines, and jail.  An expert attorney may be able to whittle down the penalties for you, which can be significant.

6.      Exercise Your Rights in a DUI Case

While it is admirable to accept responsibility, you should remember that you have a right as an American to challenge the case against you and a judge or jury can’t penalize you for forcing the prosecutor to prove his or her case against you.  For more information about whether you can win your DUI case, contact contact David Knecht at DavidKnechtlaw.com