DUI Lawyers Orange County

Being charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs) can be an intimidating experience, especially if it is your first brush with the law.

You will be tested, arrested, your fingerprints will be taken, and you will face a criminal record – often for an honest mistake that you made on the road.

At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, we believe that you should not pay a long-term price for a short-term error.

When you face DUI charges in Orange County, your reputation, finances, driver’s license, and freedom is at risk. You need help from a skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney who knows how to fight for your rights and future. 

At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, we have a long history of success in defending our clients against very challenging DUI cases. Contact us today if you have been charged with a DUI in Orange County.  We can help.

Even if the evidence against you seems overwhelming, you have a good chance of escaping the most serious consequences with our experienced Orange County DUI lawyers.

We are ready to defend you or a loved one against a DUI charge.

DUI Charge

If you are suspected by law enforcement of driving a vehicle while “under the influence” of alcohol or a controlled substance, they will likely charge you with a DUI.

With DUI charges, a person is considered to be “under the influence” of a substance if their physical or mental abilities are impaired to such an extent that they are not able to drive a vehicle with the same level of caution and care as a sober person would normally have.

According to the California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 23152:

(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.

(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

Each section of the statute above is treated as separate crimes in California. So, if you are stopped in Orange County and your Blood Alcohol Content or Concentration (BAC) is at 0.08% or above, you will usually be charged by law enforcement officers with not one but two crimes. Pursuant to the California Penal Code 654, you can only be punished once if both crimes are linked to the same incident.

Note that the law refers to driving a vehicle. This is not necessarily a car. It could be an automobile, a motorcycle, or even a bicycle.

Also, note that the vehicle does not necessarily have to be moving for a person to be charged with a DUI. In addition, you can be arrested if you are in control of a bicycle even without pedaling, if the police suspect you of being under the influence.

What happens if you are charged with a DUI in Orange County?

In Orange County, most people who are charged with a DUI are stopped by police and found to be driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher or under the influence of an alcoholic beverage.

The stop, or detention, may be for one of several reasons:

  • A routine stop
  • Erratic driving
  • The vehicle was involved in an accident
  • A crime was committed
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During the consultation, we will help you understand your rights and the charges against you.

By far the most common scenario for a DUI arrest is a traffic stop or a sobriety checkpoint where a law enforcement officer looks for symptoms of intoxication.

Based on the officer’s observations, including checking for the odor of alcohol on the breath of the driver, or in the vehicle, the driver may be asked to perform a few field sobriety tests to determine whether he or she is under the influence of alcohol.

You are not required by law to submit to any field sobriety tests. However, if you refuse, the officer may still arrest you.

After your arrest, you may be asked to submit a sample of either your blood or your breath. You may choose either, but must agree to one of them.

If you refuse to agree to submit to one of the tests, the officer will complete DMV forms stating that you refused to provide a sample. This will result in an increased suspension of your license and could lead to the filing of an enhancement under CVC § 23612.

You must resist the temptation to say anything to police officers after you are arrested – and must not admit guilt.

Exercise your right to counsel and contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian as soon as possible so that we may guide you through the legal process.

At the time of your arrest, you should be given a temporary driver’s license.  The temporary license is valid for 30 days and on the 31st day your license will be suspended as a result of being arrested for a DUI.

In order to contest the suspension of your license, you must request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, regardless of the circumstances of that arrest.

When you contact the DMV to schedule the hearing, you must also request a stay of your license suspension. An experienced attorney can preserve your driving privileges until your hearing with the DMV. If your driving privileges are preserved, your license will remain valid until the outcome of your DMV hearing. Once your DMV hearing is complete, the DMV will make a final decision about your license suspension and whether it will go into effect.

Since 2019, people charged with a DUI who are facing a license suspension in Orange County have been able to continue driving if they:

  1. Apply for a restricted license after 30 days of suspension, or
  2. Continue to drive with a normal license upon the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (see FAQs for an explanation).

So, even if your license has been suspended, your attorney may be able to restore your driving privileges.

How is a DUI proven by the prosecution?

The onus is on the prosecution to prove your DUI. This is no straightforward matter. Typically, the prosecution will attempt to prove two counts, CVC 23152 (a) and (b).

To do that, the following elements of each crime must be met and proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecutor at trial:

California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 23152 (a)

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle; AND
  2. When (he/she) drove, the defendant was under the influence of (an alcoholic beverage/ [or] a drug) [or under the combined effects thereof]

California Vehicle Code (CVC) § 23152 (b)

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle; AND
  2. When (he/she) drove, the defendant’s blood-alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more by weight

How do you defend against DUI charges successfully?

As you have seen, the burden of proof is high in DUI cases.

Evidence often relies on the observations and actions of law enforcement officers and the accuracy of testing equipment – all of which can be contested by our experienced Orange County DUI attorneys.

Preparing your DUI defense

To help prepare your defense, write down all the details of what happened to you before, during, and after your arrest, as best you can recall.

At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, we will begin analyzing your case by examining all the available evidence against you to identify any legal or factual issues or inconsistencies.

This may include visiting the location where you were stopped, researching the training and background of the arresting officers, and examining their actions when they made the arrest.

We will also:

  • Analyze the results of the blood tests if blood samples were taken
  • Examine the maintenance history of the breathalyzing equipment
  • Subpoena officers and cross-examine them at DMV hearings, if it is determined that the officer’s actions or the procedures followed are in question

Defenses to DUI charges

The following are the most common defenses to DUI charges:

Unconstitutional search

To legally make a stop, a law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause to believe that the driver of a vehicle has violated the law.

Reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause can be established by the observation of any violation of the California Vehicle Code, such as speeding or driving too slow, unsafe lane change, driving without lights on, or an equipment violation.

Without reasonable suspicion and/or probable cause, the stop may have been illegal under the Fourth Amendment.

In the process of your arrest, the police may have violated one or more of your constitutional rights. If this is the case and the court that hears your case agrees, then it is possible that some or all of the evidence could be excluded from court. This can even result in the outright dismissal of the case against you.

Your attorney at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian will listen to the facts of your case as you best recall them to establish whether your constitutional rights were violated when you were arrested.

No driving

In order to be convicted of a DUI, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were driving the vehicle at the time and that you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

This can be challenging if a police officer did not directly observe the vehicle in motion with you driving.

In the absence of this direct observation, the prosecution will need to rely on other means to show that you were driving prior to their contact with you, which can be problematic.

BAC not above 0.08%

Most DUI complaints  filed in California by the District Attorney’s Office are based on the results of blood or breath samples taken after a DUI arrest.

As is the case with most types of technical equipment, the breathalyzers used by the police may be damaged, incorrectly calibrated, or simply used improperly.

Your lawyer will review the calibration records, readings, and histories of the equipment used to establish your BAC in the sample taken from you, as well as the procedures by which those samples were taken and tested.

Prosecutors have the power of the state behind them when investigating any criminal charge, including DUIs. That means you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights and freedom. At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, our team will sit down with you and start working on your defense strategy as soon as we know the facts of your case so that we are prepared to challenge the evidence against you.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with a DUI in Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, or San Diego counties, The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian can help. We will work to build a defense strategy that aims at getting the charges dismissed, reduced and/or the penalties mitigated.

What are the penalties for a DUI in California?

In California, the penalties for a DUI vary depending on:

  1. Whether you have any prior DUI arrests or convictions, and
  2. Whether anyone was injured or killed as a result of your DUI

The majority of DUI cases are misdemeanor offenses but if the actions of the accused results in death or bodily injury to someone other than the accused, or you have three or more prior DUIs on your record within a 10-year period, a felony charge may apply. In addition, potential jail sentences may accompany these charges.

Here is an at-a-glance overview of the DUI penalties:

1st DUI offense

2nd DUI offense

3rd DUI offense

A misdemeanor charge with:
  • 2 days to 6 months in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension for 4 to 10 months (or drive with an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) for 6 months)
  • 3, 6, or 9-month DUI school
A misdemeanor charge with:
  • 96 hours to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension for 1 year (or drive with an IID for 1 year)
  • 18-month DUI school
A misdemeanor charge with:
  • 120 days to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation for up to 3 years (or drive with an IID for 2 years)
  • 18-month DUI school

1st DUI offense

A misdemeanor charge with:
  • 2 days to 6 months in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension for 4 to 10 months (or drive with an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) for 6 months)
  • 3, 6, or 9-month DUI school

2nd DUI offense

A misdemeanor charge with:
  • 96 hours to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension for 1 year (or drive with an IID for 1 year)
  • 18-month DUI school

3rd DUI offense

A misdemeanor charge with:
  • 120 days to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation for up to 3 years (or drive with an IID for 2 years)
  • 18-month DUI school

DUI offense with injury

This can be a misdemeanor charge with:

  • 5 days to 1 year in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $5,000 plus restitution to injured parties
  • Driver’s license suspension for 1 to 3 years (or drive with an IID for 6 months)
  • 3, 6, 9, or 18-month DUI school

Felony DUI

A DUI may also be charged as a felony if the offense resulted in the injury or death of another person or if it is the fourth DUI offense within a 10-year period. A felony DUI incurs penalties of:

  • 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison
  • $390 – $5,000 in fines plus restitution to injured parties
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation for up to 3 years (or drive with an IID for 2 years)
  • 18-month DUI school

In addition to these penalties, there may be longer-term consequences related to a lifelong criminal record, employment prospects, etc.

Is it Worth Getting a DUI Attorney in California? 

Most drivers caught at a sobriety checkpoint or pulled over for a traffic infraction who are then charged with a DUI do not know the law, do not know the limits of what you can refuse to do and what you must comply with or even the consequences for conviction of a first offense. 

You have a right to an attorney and you should seriously consider hiring one if you are prosecuted for a DUI in California. An Orange County DUI attorney who has knowledge of criminal law and procedure, experience within the criminal justice system, and has relationships with police, prosecutors, and judges can use a variety of approaches to have the charges against you dismissed or the consequences of your DUI negotiated to less stringent penalties. Your attorney can also take steps to preserve your right to drive, especially if you are a first-time offender. 

With California amending its DUI statutes to include driving under the influence of drugs as well as alcohol, or a combination of both, the state has invested heavily and dedicated resources into enforcing these laws. Do not wait. Retaining an experienced DUI defense attorney early in the process allows for the time needed to investigate the stop, examine the laboratory reports, and determine a course of action that works best for the facts of your case. 

How Costly is a DUI in California? 

DUI arrests are expensive. Exactly how expensive depends on your individual case but even first offenses can result in stiff penalties under current California DUI laws. 

Current laws are the result of a high number of DUI incidents in California. In fact, driving under the influence is the number one crime committed in the state. These incidents include driving while intoxicated by alcohol, legal or illegal drugs, or any combination of these substances. According to California Department of Motor Vehicle reports, there were over 127,400 arrests in the state for DUIs in 2018. Most of these arrests were for misdemeanors, but more than 5,000 were felonies. 

Even misdemeanor convictions can be costly. A first offense results in stiff penalties that include the following:

  • Fines and penalties: minimum of $2,600
  • Mandatory jail time: 2 days to 6 months
  • Suspension of license: 4 to 10 months
  • Alcohol or substance abuse classes and/or DUI education classes
  • Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device 

However, the actual total cost of a DUI can exceed $15,000, taking into account the loss of income, the cost of placing and maintaining an Ignition Interlock Device in your vehicle, and the cost of substance abuse and/or DUI education classes, if made part of probation and sentencing. In addition, there are attorney fees and costs and a significant increase in insurance premiums. If you are not permitted to drive, you will also need to factor in the cost of transportation.

What Happens When You Get a DUI in Orange County?

Being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint or for a traffic infraction while driving under the influence can be a daunting experience. One must submit to the authority of a law enforcement officer, which means timely compliance with all commands. 

Be polite and non-threatening. When asked, present your driver’s license, car registration, and proof of insurance. 

Do not say anything unnecessary. You are required to state your name and address but you do not have to answer questions as to where you are going, or where you are coming from. Remember that you do not need to answer incriminating questions, such as whether you have been drinking, smoking, or taking any legal or illegal drugs.

You might be asked to take a field sobriety test or a roadside breath test. The officer is not required to tell you the results of any field sobriety or roadside breath test once completed. If you are arrested, you will be taken to the station where a blood test or a more sophisticated breath test will be administered. Delays in drawing blood might affect the results of those tests. For more information, click here. 

Have you been charged with a DUI in Orange County?

Many times, DUIs are honest mistakes. Most people believe that after drinking a beer or two, they are under the legal limit of 0.08 and can lawfully drive.

This is a dangerous mistake to make as you have seen the severe potential consequences addressed in this article.

With an experienced DUI attorney who is familiar with the Orange County legal system, you have a chance of escaping a conviction. Our OC DUI lawyers have successfully defended against very challenging DUI charges.

In one case, our client was arrested for a third DUI while on active probation for a first and second DUI. This would normally result in a jail sentence but the result of our defense strategy was no formal jail time, no loss of a job, and our client was able to get sober and be reinstated on probation.

Your particular case will be treated with due care and attention to limit the consequences of your arrest and charge.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been convicted of a DUI in California, we may be able to help you get the conviction removed from your criminal record.

Law enforcement and the DMV will both be able to see the DUI on your driving record for up to 10 years.  However, background checks by employers and landlords may not reach back this far. Read more about this here.

If you are convicted of a DUI charge in California, you need to take the DUI classes arranged by the DMV unless you have a waiver.

This waiver can only be granted once in a motorist’s life and you can apply for it by completing a 1650 waiver packet issued by the DMV, should the facts of your case apply.

Classes range in duration from 3 months up to 18 months, depending on whether it was your first offense or if you have prior DUI convictions, whether there was a collision and your BAC.

As a general statement, DUI classes are in person.  However, there are some exceptions.

You can see the penalties for DUI charges above. A DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor offense unless one or more of the following applies:

  1. The DUI is a fourth offense within a 10-year period;
  2. The driver has a prior felony charge for DUI; and/or
  3. The driver causes an accident in which another person is injured or killed.

An ignition interlock device or IID is a type of breathalyzer that is fitted to an individual’s vehicle.  It requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting or continuing to operate the vehicle. It will not allow a driver to operate the vehicle if any amount of alcohol is detected on the breath.

When arrested for a DUI, your driver’s license will be confiscated by the arresting officer and you will be given a 30-day temporary license. During that first 10 days, you must request a CA DMV Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing with the Driver’s Safety Office of the DMV in the county wherein you were arrested in order to preserve your right to drive beyond the 30 days and into the future. However, if you refused to take a blood or breath test after you were arrested for a DUI, or if you have prior DUI convictions, your driving privileges might be suspended for a year or more. 

This is another reason why retaining a skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney is essential in preserving the options you have available to you, and your future ability to drive legally in California.

Mandatory jail sentences are part of California’s statutory sentencing guidelines, which are included in the most recent legislation as a serious deterrent to driving while under the influence.  Even a first offense requires some jail time: 48 hours to 6 months. A second DUI arrest within 10 years brings the minimum jail time up to 4 days with 1 year as the maximum term of confinement. A third offense within 10 years means a minimum of 120 days to 1 year in the county jail. Additional DUI offenses within the 10-year period can mean confinement in state prison for up to 3 years.

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The criminal defense attorney you hire to represent you is one of the most important decisions you will make.

Here are the values that guide our services:

  • Experienced: Our firm has over 17 years of experience, so you can feel confident you will receive quality legal counsel.
  • Client-Centered: We put our clients first. Drawing on that belief, and our knowledge of criminal law, we find solutions that best meet our clients’ individual needs.
  • Superior Results: Regardless the legal matter, we work tirelessly to achieve exceptional outcomes for our clients.
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