DUI Lawyers Orange County

Being charged with 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 be facing a criminal record – often for an honest mistake that you made on the roads.

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

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’re ready to defend you or a loved one against your 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, you will be charged with 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 for other road users 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.

These are 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 doesn’t necessarily have to be moving for a person to be charged with DUI. Also, 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.

Orange County DUI Attorneys

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What happens if you’re charged with DUI in Orange County?

In Orange County, most people who are charged with 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.

This may be for one of several reasons:

  • A routine stop
  • Erratic driving
  • After an accident
  • After another crime has been committed

By far the most common scenario for DUI arrests is an initial 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 or in the vehicle, the driver is 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 will likely arrest you.

After your arrest, you may be asked to submit a sample of either your blood or your breath. You can choose either.

However, if you refuse to agree to a test, 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 enhancement under CVC § 23612.

Resist the temptation to say anything to police officers after you are arrested – and do not admit guilt.

Ask to speak to your lawyer as soon as possible and we will guide you through the next steps.

At the time of your arrest, you may be given a temporary driver’s license if your official driver’s license is suspended.

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.

At that time, you must request a stay of the suspension and a date for a DMV hearing will be set.

An experienced attorney can preserve your driving privilege until your hearing with the DMV. The temporary license provided after your arrest remains valid during this period. At your hearing, the DMV will make a final decision about the suspension.

Since 2019, people charged with DUI and 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 partially restore your driving privileges.

How is 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 each of the 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

How do you defend 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

In preparation for your defense, write down all the details of what happened to you before, during, and after your arrest, as best you can recall.

We will then analyze your case, beginning by examining all the available evidence for any problems 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 blood samples taken
  • Examine the maintenance history of the breathalyzing equipment
  • Subpoena officers and cross-examine them at DMV hearings

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 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 arresting you, 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 discuss with you what happened and establish whether your constitutional rights were violated when you were arrested.

No driving

In order to be convicted of DUI, the prosecution must demonstrate that you were driving the vehicle at the time and that you were under the influence of alcohol 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 DUIs filed in California are based on the results of blood or breath samples taken at the time of the 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 analyzed.

What are the penalties for DUI in California?

In California, the penalties for 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 cases are misdemeanor offenses but if the actions of the accused result in death, 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. 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:

  • Up to six months in county jail
  • A fine of $390 – $1,000 plus a penalty assessment
  • Driver’s license suspension for four to 10 months (or drive with an Interlock Ignition Device (IID) for six months)
  • Three, six, or nine-month DUI school
A misdemeanor charge with:

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

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

DUI offense with injury

This can be a misdemeanor charge with:

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

Felony DUI

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

  • 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison
  • $390 – $5,000 in fines plus restitution to injured parties
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation for up to three years (or drive with an IID for two 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.

Been charged with a DUI in Orange County?

Many times, DUIs are honest mistakes. Unfortunately, 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.

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 defended 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 our client escaped with no formal jail time, no loss of a job, and was able to get sober and be reinstated on probation.

Your particular case will be treated with due care and attention to detail by our attorneys so you can limit the consequences of your arrest and charge.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino and are available 24/7. Our lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help! Book a free online consultation to get started today.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been convicted of 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 but this is not included in background checks conducted by potential landlords and employers. 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 three months up to 18 months, depending on whether it was your first offense or you have prior DUI convictions.

No. DUI classes must be attended in person.

You can see the penalties for DUI charges above. DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor offense unless one 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
  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, requiring 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 alcohol is detected on the breath.
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