Orange County DUI Factors to Expect

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Arrested for DUI in Orange County - Orange County DUIThe California Legislature has directed courts to follow sentencing guidelines for any person charged and convicted of an Orange County DUI. Judges and prosecutors have a broad range of guidelines and penalties for an Orange County DUI case. The prosecutors will consider several factors and will make an offer to the Judge. The Judge has the discretion to accept or deny any plea bargain presented by the prosecutor and the defense lawyer.

One of the things the prosecution will consider in determining their plea bargain is the general facts surrounding the case, such as the manner you were stopped: Were you stopped on the side of the road and sleeping? Were you pulled over on the freeway? Were you in a parking lot? Did the officer pull you over because you were speeding or weaving? Did you fail to stop at a stop sign? Were you involved in an accident? Many of these factors will also tie into a discussion about probable cause. That is, did the officer have probable cause to pull you over, or if you were already pulled over, to administer a test to detect the presence of alcohol? A skilled defense attorney can scrutinize whether an arrest report evidences probable cause sufficient to meet the legal standards required by law. To do so, a careful review of your police report along with an evaluation of the driver’s opinion are required to determine whether the statements made by the officer accurately reflect what happened.

The Prosecutor and the Judge will also take into account any prior criminal offenses.  They will consider previous DUI convictions and take into account their location and date. Your criminal record will only be considered for the ten years prior to the current conviction. Consequently, the sentence for a second DUI will be much harsher than for a first.

Probation will also be argued unfavorably by the prosecution. An Orange County DUI conviction will usually yield probation period from three to five years. Most non-injury, misdemeanor DUIs will require informal probation, whereas more serious DUIs will result in formal probation. Formal probation requires supervision and checking in with an officer at certain times.

The courts will also look at your previous driving history. Someone with an excellent record will receive a more favorable sentence than someone who has a more complicated driving record.

These factors are just some of the few the prosecution will argue in their favor. In addition to these basic factors, the legislature has indicated several aggravating circumstances referred to as enhancements. Enhancements may result in harsher punishments.

Due to the broad spectrum of possible sentences, an experienced attorney can protect you and argue for the best possible results. Consult an Orange County DUI attorney who will not only see your positive qualities but will fight hard to ensure that the Judge sees you in the same positive light.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


What Happens if I am Charged with an Orange County Open Container in a Moving Vehicle?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Arrested for DUI in Orange County - Open ContainerCalifornia Vehicle Code § 23222 makes it illegal for any person to have in his or her possession, while operating a motor vehicle, any bottle, can, or receptacle containing an alcoholic beverage. This includes any alcohol container which has a seal that is fully or partially broken, and which has its contents partially removed. Additionally the container may not be easily accessible by the driver.

California follows the Federal rules and allows for an exception to open containers in a moving vehicle. If a vehicle’s primary purpose is to provide transportation for compensation, then the passengers are permitted to have open containers of alcohol. The vehicles that fall under this exception include limousines, taxi cabs, and buses. It is important to distinguish between public buses and those hired privately for the sole purpose of transport. Having an open container on a public bus can result in a public intoxication or disturbing the peace charges.

If an open container is in a parked car, an argument can be made that the occupant had been driving with an open container, or even a public intoxication charge. Oftentimes the potential consequences can be a misdemeanor depending on the specific facts of the case. A misdemeanor may also be added as an additional offense to something more serious such as driving under the influence (DUI). In cases where driving with an Orange County open container is an additional charge, the penalty may be something more severe than the charge on its own.

An experienced Criminal Defense attorney can prepare a powerful defense to either have an Orange County open container charge dropped or reduced. If you are being charged with other violations, having such a charge dismissed may help to greatly reduce the potential consequences you may face.

To learn more about this topic and DUI’s in general visit the or call one of our attorneys at 888-652-5529.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


What Do I Say if I’m Arrested for DUI in Orange County?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Arrested for DUI in Orange CountyThe statements you make when arrested for DUI in Orange County are very important. Any statement you make will go onto the arrest report and can be used against you when you appear before the judge.

Arresting officers have a right to ask investigative questions. It is their job to build a case and to gather as many facts as possible. You have the right to not say anything self-incriminating. While you must give the officer your basic information (name, address, driver’s license, insurance, etc.), you don’t have to answer all of their questions pertaining to your evening.

Officers will ask if you have been drinking, where you were that evening, how much you had to drink, how much you had to eat that evening, and any other questions that will help them build a case against you. You are not required to answer any of these questions. The first question, “Have you been drinking,” is critical. A “Yes” answer automatically provides officers with enough probable cause to continue with their investigation after a person has been arrested for DUI in Orange County.

Often people feel that if they do not comply with officers they will be treated rudely or charged with not complying. How can they avoid these questions without feeling guilty?  Remember, it is extremely important to remain courteous and respectful throughout the whole process. When you do not wish to respond to a question, simply tell the officer that you are sorry but wish to refrain from answering that question, or decline to comment on that.

The sobriety test is given before being arrested for DUI in Orange County. You can decline that test without incurring a penalty if you wish to do so. However, the chemical test given at the station is required by law and you do not have the option to decline.

An experienced Orange County DUI attorney is well versed in what statements are incriminating and which statements are better left unsaid. Once having been said and put on record, a DUI attorney is also knowledgeable on which arguments will prove most powerful in assessing the statements. Sometimes, simply remaining silent is the best defense tool.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


Can I be Charged with a Drug Related DUI in Orange County?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Drug Related DUIYes, an individual can be charged with driving under the influence of drugs in Orange County. California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) governs drug related DUIs. That section makes it unlawful to drive under the influence of alcohol. However, both types of cases invoke different arguments and defenses.

In a regular alcohol related DUI, an individual is considered to be intoxicated for DUI purposes if their Blood Alcohol Level is .08% or higher. This is an objective test and a reading is obtained through the use of chemical tests (blood, breath, and/or urine). In contrast, there is no objective test for a drug related DUI charge.

Typically, a person under suspicion of a drug related DUI will be checked by an officer for several different subjective signs of intoxication. The officer will include such information in their police report, which will ultimately be used to support their drug related DUI allegation. This is required because an officer must be able to articulate the probable cause required by law to justify an arrest.

Generally, a peace officer will observe a suspects behavior, and check their pulse and heart rates if they believe the individual is under the influence of drugs. Additionally, the officer may ask the individual to complete a horizontal or vertical gaze nystagmus test.

During a gaze nystagmus test, an officer asks a person to follow an object with their eyes only, without moving their head. The officer checks for involuntary jerking movements of the eyes. The officer will also ask the person to complete a series of Field Sobriety Tests, such as walking in a straight line, “finger to nose”, or a balance test. A urine test is also generally requested and submitted for drug analysis.

The officer’s statements regarding his observations and tangible evidence such as urine samples obtained during the arrest will be forwarded to the District Attorney (DA).  The DA’s office will utilize the facts and evidence to prepare their argument and to prove in court that the driver was under the influence of drugs.

An Orange County DUI attorney with experience handling drug related DUIs is essential to obtain a favorable outcome. The DA is trained to scrutinize every piece of evidence obtained and portray it in their favor.  However, with the help of a skilled Orange County DUI attorney, a dismissal or favorable reduced settlement can be reached.  Core Law Group’s DUI Defense attorneys are trained to accomplish such results.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


Can I Change Criminal Defense Attorneys in an Orange County DUI Case?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Change Criminal Defense AttorneysYes, an individual always has the right to select who their attorney is. Attorneys are held to a high standard of ethics by the State Bar of California. There are many rules that are designed to protect a person and their legal rights. There are also guidelines an attorney must follow so that they provide the most diligent, competent and effective legal help available.

Accordingly, the client has many rights when it comes to choosing and retaining an attorney. An individual has the right not be hassled or pressured when selecting an attorney. Furthermore, attorneys may not actively solicit your business in a courtroom, hospital, or even the scene of an arrest.

Similarly, an individual who has retained an attorney has the right to terminate the attorney-client relationship at any time. An attorney, however, cannot do so without good cause and permission from the Judge.

Let’s consider an example: a client hires an attorney to help them with their Orange County DUI Case. The attorney misses a hearing due to disorganization and a warrant is issued for the client’s arrest. Furthermore, when the attorney eventually appears, he pleas guilty on behalf of the client without the client’s consent. Due to this incompetence, the client informs the Judge that they no longer wish to be represented by that attorney and wishes to change criminal defense attorneys. The client has every right to do so, and the Court will allow it.

If an individual is being represented by an attorney that is not doing work on their case to their satisfaction, they should know that they have every right to change criminal defense attorneys. An individual pays good money for outstanding legal representation, and should have the peace of mind that their case is being handled to the best of their attorney’s ability.

A DUI is a serious criminal accusation. An individual has rights that need to be protected. Proper representation effects the disposition of an individual criminal case, whether they are convicted of a felony, a misdemeanor, or even if the case is eventually dismissed. Keep in mind that there are standards that your attorney must meet. These standards are designed to protect your rights. If those standards are not being met one should change criminal defense attorneys to ensure that they are.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


Misdemeanor vs. Felony DUI in Orange County: What’s the Difference?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Felony DUI in Orange CountyA DUI conviction can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony DUI in Orange County. The difference between the two will affect the final sentence. A misdemeanor conviction will result in a lighter sentence whereas a felony will result in a much harsher punishment, especially when there is significant bodily harm.

Misdemeanor DUIs are charged as violations of California Vehicle Code Section 23152.

First, California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) reads that it is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle.

Alternatively, California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (b) reads that it is unlawful for any person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

Section 23152(a) was the previous DUI law and 23152(b) was added twenty years ago. The legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level used to be .10% and has been reduced to .08% in California with a trend towards reducing it further to .06%. Compared to many countries who require a 0% BAC, we are still much more tolerant. A conviction under either Sections 23152(a) or 23152(b) will result in a misdemeanor charge.

One should note that although the two sections are independent of each other it is almost always certain that the prosecuting agency in an Orange County DUI case (usually the District Attorney) will charge a person accused of DUI with a violation of both sections. Normally, Section 23152(a) will be charged as Count 1 against the accused and Section 23152(b) as Count 2. This is done as a safe measure by the Prosecution so they can still move forward with the case against an individual under Section 23152(a) (which does not have a .08 BAC requirement) in a situation where the BAC results are below .08.

A felony DUI in Orange County is charged pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23153. Like a misdemeanor DUI, the section is divided into two sections with one additional statement.

California Vehicle Code Section 23153(a) reads, “It is unlawful for any person, while under the influence of any alcoholic beverage or drug, or under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”

Whereas, California Vehicle Code Section 23153(b) reads, “it is unlawful for any person, while having 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.”

You may be charged with a felony DUI in Orange County if there was a certain kind of bodily injury to a victim, as the code indicates. Bodily injury varies greatly and will guide prosecution in the plea bargain they present to the Judge. A minor soft tissue injury with mild discomfort will still be considered a bodily injury, but will be on the lower end of the scale in comparison to fractures or other major internal injuries that yield much harsher punishments in the eyes of the law.

Whether you are charged with a felony or a misdemeanor DUI, the ultimate goal is to avoid any kind of conviction. You need someone who will fight in your corner to obtain a dismissal or alternatively reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor, or a misdemeanor charge to an infraction.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


Can I Be Convicted of an Orange County DUI if the Police Didn’t See Me Driving?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Orange County DUIIn an Orange County DUI arrest, the typical scenario is where a police officer pulls someone over and then determines they should be arrested for an Orange County DUI. Here, the officer actually observes the person driving. However, there are situations where an arrest is made without the officer making such an observation. Often times the officer arrives at the scene after an accident has occurred. This can even be a solo accident or simply a driver who had a flat tire. In these situations, a person can be arrested and subsequently convicted of an Orange County DUI even if the officer never observed the individual actually driving.

One of the required elements that must be proven to find an individual guilty of an Orange County DUI is that they were “driving” while under the influence. However, the rule is not concrete. The arresting officer can still make an Orange County DUI arrest without observing the person driving, but must meet some additional requirements. This adds an additional set of burdens for the government when prosecuting the driver for an Orange County DUI.

An officer not actually observing an individual driving opens the door for more complicated arguments and perhaps a weaker case for the prosecution. In such a situation, the prosecutor has to build the case circumstantially. In other words they will have to create their case based on the surrounding facts, looking at any witnesses and statements made by the driver.

For example, if there are people who saw the driver driving and are willing to attest to that fact, the case becomes stronger for the prosecution. If a driver is found sleeping in the car at the side of the road, with the keys in the ignition and the radio on, these facts create a strong presumption that you were driving. In contrast, if you are parked in a parking lot, sleeping in the back seat with the keys in your pocket, the government will find it more difficult to prove that you were driving and will have a weaker case. However, the most damaging is when an individual simply “admits’” to the police officer that they were driving the vehicle. Once the admission is recorded the prosecution’s case becomes much simpler. It is always the best course of action for an individual to say nothing to the officer at the scene and let them independently conduct their investigation. This does not mean lie; but simply to exercise one’s right to stay silent.

Regardless, the reality is that most individuals arrested for an Orange County DUI did not have the advantage of reading this blog prior to the incident and most cooperated with the police in assembling facts against them. However, one should note that there are innumerable situations and, as demonstrated, some less incriminating than others. There is a diverse amount of arguments that can be made by both sides. An experienced Orange County DUI attorney will know exactly how to present the facts so as to create the strongest possible case to obtain a dismissal.

Get the help you need to make sure the prosecutor will not present the facts in an unfavorable light towards you, and get an attorney that will confidently weaken the government’s case and present the facts to strengthen the defense.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


What Does the Government Have to Prove For an Orange County DUI Conviction?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Orange County DUIFor an Orange County DUI Conviction, the district attorney must meet all elements of California law for DUIs. One of these is that the government must prove that you were driving while you had a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) high enough to justify arrest. There are many different ways the prosecutor can prove an Orange County DUI. However, some situations are more complicated and more difficult to prove than others.

The first and easiest is if the police had a valid reason to pull you over in the first place.

There are several situations where you may be lawfully pulled over and questioned with regard to an Orange County DUI. The arresting officer may pull you over for any vehicle code violation, whether it is related to alcohol impairment or not. Alternatively the stop does not even need to be directly tied to driving at all. If the officer had probable cause (that any crime was committed and that you likely committed it) then they can make the stop to further investigate. The key however, is whether or not the officer can sufficiently “articulate” the reason for the stop.

If the officer can articulate the reason for the stop, then there will be sufficient probable cause for the officer to further investigate whether or not he can make an Orange County DUI arrest. This may seem like a simple task, but in truth this stage is where the government’s case is most vulnerable.

It is always the primary goal of Core Law Group’s DUI defense attorneys to immediately investigate whether the initial stop was valid.   If it was not (and often it is not) then any evidence obtained by the officer from that point on can be argued as inadmissible and result in a dismissal of your case. However, it takes a trained eye and knowledge of the vehicle and penal codes to identify errors made by an officer at the arrest stage.

The second requirement is if the officer has sufficient probable cause to investigate whether you were driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance.

Once an individual is pulled over for an Orange County DUI, they are almost always asked by the police officer if they have had anything to drink. Every police officer is trained to do this. The reason is that an answer in the affirmative automatically gives them necessary probable cause to move on to the next stage of investigation. This is when individuals should stay silent. However, experience shows us that almost all of our clients by nature are honest and tell the officer if they have been drinking. Once you tell the officer that you have had any measurable amount of alcohol to drink they can automatically continue to observe (and test) you.

However, if an individual does not admit to having consumed alcohol then the officer has to take the additional step of using their skill, knowledge, training and experience to determine if the objective signs of impairment are visible. Again they must be able to articulate these facts, which can be difficult. Therefore, it is best that an individual does not volunteer or admit they have consumed alcohol.

This is normally the stage where the officer asks a driver to step out of the vehicle and perform multiple field sobriety tests (FSTs).   However, the law only states that an officer must observe the driver for fifteen minutes prior to determining whether the person was driving under the influence. This includes simply observing an individual while they sit on the side walk for fifteen minutes. Of course, this option makes it more difficult for the officer to articulate why they believe the driver was under the influence.

To ease their burden, police departments have instituted various FSTs. Through FSTs officers can document why they believe an individual was driving while impaired. However, these tests are not perfect and there are many specific requirements officers must meet while documenting the results of the test. If the FSTs were not administered properly, the arresting officer may lack the probable cause necessary to make the arrest.

Of course, police departments have found a way to ease their burden at this stage of the investigation as well. Just about every agency in California uses Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) tests as a means to bolster their argument for probable cause. This is when the officer offers the driver a Breathalyzer at the scene of the investigation. Police officers know that most individuals mistakenly believe they have to consent to this test and they use that to their advantage. The reality is that prior to arrest, the breath test is voluntary.

If an individual agrees to the Breathalyzer and blows over the legal limit then the officer has easily established probable cause. However, the arrest at this stage is not fool-proof. California law requires the arresting officer to give a very specific admonition to the driver stating that the PAS test is voluntary.

Finally, the mandatory chemical test must provide sufficient proof of probable cause for the arrest.

California Law requires a driver must agree to a chemical test (either a breath test or blood test) after they have been arrested. A refusal results in automatic suspension of driving privileges and sentencing enhancements in the criminal case. This mandatory chemical test (unlike the PAS test above) is given at a police station or sub-station and the driver is given the election of which test to take. If a breath test is elected, a breathalyzer is administered to record the individual’s BAC. If a blood test is elected then a sample of blood is taken for further testing. Once again, neither test if fool-proof.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


During an Orange County DUI Arrest, Is a Field Sobriety Test Required?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys - Orange County DUI ArrestDuring an Orange County DUI Arrest, taking a field sobriety test (FST) during an Orange County DUI arrest is not mandatory. Many different facts and circumstances help determine the outcome of a person’s driving under the influence case. When you have been charged with an Orange County DUI under California Penal Code § 23152 or 23153, arguably the most important evidence will be your blood alcohol content (BAC) level. However, determining a driver’s BAC is a complicated process.

When a person has been stopped on suspicion of DUI, they may be asked to submit to a FST. Although the test is not mandatory, one should note that if a driver refuses to take the FST, the officer can still arrest an him or her on suspicion of driving under the influence based on subjective observations given the officer’s experience. What is critical is that an officer must observe the driver for at least fifteen minutes prior to making such a determination.

Another misconception is that a driver is required to submit to the breathalyzer test which is given to them on the scene. This Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test is not mandatory. Like the FSTs the PAS test is intended to aid police officers determine whether or not a driver is under the influence of alcohol. If a driver refuses (which they have a right to do), then the police officer can make an Orange County DUI arrest based on his observations.

In contrast, once a driver is arrested and taken into custody they are required to submit to either a breath or blood chemical test. A refusal of the chemical test after an Orange County DUI arrest will result in harsher potential criminal and DMV consequences. These consequences include, but are not limited to, harsher fines, longer jail time and/or longer driver’s license suspensions. A refusal at this stage should be avoided.

Once a chemical test is submitted the arresting agency will document the driver’s BAC. BAC can be measured either by taking blood, or through breath. Each has its pros and cons and the ultimate decision of which one is taken is determined by the person being charged with an Orange County DUI.

Although the Penal Code states that a person may be charged if they have a BAC of .08 or higher, it also states that it is not required. A person can just as easily be arrested with a BAC of .07 or less. However, if your BAC is closer to .08, it is more likely that an experienced Orange County DUI lawyer can either have the case dismissed or reduced.

Consider this example: David Driver has been charged with an Orange County DUI and his BAC is .08. He was barely drinking and was pulled over because of expired registration tags. An experienced Core Law Group Criminal Defense attorney will go into court on David’s behalf and argue that the Prosecution does not have enough evidence to move forward with the case, that a .08 is within the range of error of most BAC tests, and therefore hardly enough to indicate impairment.

Under such circumstances the Prosecution is more likely to agree to reduce the charge from DUI to a “wet and reckless” or “dry and reckless.” These charges are still misdemeanors, but they will not be a DUI on the record and the consequences are much less severe.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.


Do I Need an Orange County DUI Attorney to Represent Me at a DMV Hearing?

Orange County's Best DUI Attorneys-DMV HearingWhen facing a DUI, an attorney is necessary not only in criminal court but also at a DMV hearing. In California your driving privileges are just as important to your criminal record, and will be decided at a DMV hearing. Even though the DMV hearing is less formal and takes place in front of a “Hearing Officer” instead of a criminal judge, the consequences can be just as serious as in criminal court.

A DMV hearing requires careful review and assessment of discovery. Standard “discovery” includes police reports, police observations, and any other evidence used by prosecutors in proving their case. The attorneys at Core Law Group take it a step further: We will immediately subpoena the audio and video of the pursuit, investigation, and arrest from the police agency making the arrest.

The audio and video acquired by our Orange County DUI attorney team can then be used as evidence in front of the Hearing Officer at a DMV hearing. Deficiencies can be pointed out and the video can be used to cross examine the police officer who made the arrest.

If you are representing yourself at a DMV hearing, it might take some time for you to obtain applicable surveillance tapes and police reports. An experienced DUI lawyer is familiar with the proper procedure to get discovery from the DMV, and generally DMV employees and officers are more willing to comply with lawyers. Having all the necessary evidence before appearing at a DMV hearing could be the difference between a dismissal and a six-month suspension of your driving privileges.

Additionally, the burden of proof and the elements that need to be proven vary greatly from criminal court to a DMV hearing. Although the process seems more informal than criminal court, there is still a high burden of proof, requiring proper demonstration through testimony and evidence.

Another benefit of having an experienced Core Law Group criminal law attorney represent you driver at a DMV hearing and in criminal court is that the evidence obtained through subpoenas as part of a DMV hearing can often provide an early opportunity to review the facts of the arrest and what defenses are available. A DMV hearing usually moves much more quickly than the criminal proceeding. Reviewing the evidence prior to the start of the criminal proceeding is advantageous because in many cases the Prosecutor has not even looked at the file for more than ten minutes prior to the criminal arraignment.

When deciding whether you should retain an attorney to represent you at a DMV hearing as well as in criminal court, consider the benefits of having someone prepare a strong argument on your behalf—someone who understands the elements that the DMV must prove for license suspension and someone who knows how to prepare a powerful defense to minimize (or even prevent) suspension.

Facing a DUI on your record can be stressful. Let a knowledgeable professional handle preparation and appearances on your behalf and allow them to complete the case from beginning to end, including the DMV hearing to ensure the best chance of a dismissal.

To learn more about this issue or other areas of law visit the Core Law Group blog or call one of our attorneys at 949-505-2479.