Riverside DUI Attorney

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offense throughout the United States. In California, if you are over 21 years of age and are caught operating a vehicle with 0.08% blood alcohol content, you will receive a DUI charge. This same charge is applied to minors driving with a blood alcohol content above 0.01%. Though instances of drunk driving arrests are scary and emotional, there are resources available to help you navigate through the process of trial and conviction.

The team at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz in Riverside, CA wants to help local residents understand the dangers of DUI and know what to do after an arrest for DUI. Having the right attorney by your side during this difficult ordeal can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. Cases without experienced attorneys often see significantly longer, stricter punishments. It’s crucial to have someone you can trust, like the Riverside DUI Attorneys at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in California. Depending on the nature of a DUI offense, the potential penalties could include fines, driver’s license suspension, mandatory counseling, and even jail time. A DUI conviction will also remain on a driver’s record for up to ten years.

Is It Worth Getting an Attorney for a DUI?

The simple answer is yes. Cases that deal with DUI laws are complicated and emotionally charged. Navigating the procedures and paperwork without an attorney could mean gambling with your future. If your conviction goes to trial, the logistics become even more confusing, especially without someone who understands the legal system. Though it’s technically legal to represent yourself in these matters, it’s generally not in your best interests. It’s difficult to accurately determine the strength of the DUI charges against you, and not understanding the system puts you at a significant disadvantage.

What Happens If You Don’t Hire An Attorney for a DUI?

If you don’t hire an attorney, you will be left to navigate the court system and defend yourself in trial alone. Trials are often complicated and extremely intimidating if you don’t have significant expertise. You may also receive court-assigned legal representation in the form of a public defender. Though public defenders often have significant experience with DUI charges and will be knowledgeable about the situation, they are not ideal to work with if you don’t have to. Most public defenders have incredibly high volumes of cases and often can’t dedicate significant time and attention to your unique situation. It’s unlikely that you’ll receive better than average sentencing when using a public defender. Your best course of action in a DUI case is to hire an attorney.

What Does a DUI Attorney Do?

A DUI Attorney is an expert in state DUI laws and charges. They know how to appropriately present your situation to a judge. Their main job is to assess your individual case and recommend the best course of action to take in court. Your legal strategy matters so that you receive the most reasonable sentence possible. A skilled DUI attorney like the ones at the Law Offices of Catherine. A. Schwartz will find ways to get sentencing minimized or dropped altogether, depending on the situation. Your DUI attorney acts as the expert on your DUI case, walking you through the complicated legal process. They ensure you understand what’s happening during the court process. In the end, your attorney will work in your favor to get the most lenient sentence possible for your DUI.

Benefits of Hiring a Riverside DUI Attorney

Aside from being able to navigate the legal system to get you the best sentencing, DUI attorneys act as a resource for many parts of the DUI legal process. Though many people don’t consider it, the legal processes do not begin and end when charges are made. There are many long-term effects to consider that an experienced Riverside attorney will be able to assist with, including:

  • Staying on top of filing legal paperwork and submitting forms. Deadlines are an important part of the legal system. At best, forgetting a deadline could prolong the process of your case. At worst, there could be further legal ramifications. Attorneys not only understand the paperwork itself, but they can help you understand when and where to file it.
  • Getting your record expunged. In some cases, it may be possible to get your DUI removed from your record. DUI charges affect your credit score and your ability to get and maintain employment. As with DUI laws themselves, DUI expungement regulations often vary by state or county, making it an asset to have an experienced lawyer to help you navigate.
  • Help you understand what not to say. A Riverside, CA lawyer will advise you on what information is appropriate to divulge and when it is best to remain silent. Depending on your situation, a DUI attorney may advise that you refrain from testifying in court.
  • Keep you from feeling overwhelmed. DUI cases are stressful; there’s no question about it. An experienced Riverside DUI attorney will be able to synthesize the information and do the heavy lifting for you, so you don’t feel devastated by the process and potential outcomes.

Why Work with the Team at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz?

When you need legal representation for a DUI offense in Riverside, you need an attorney who can provide you with a solid legal defense and compassionate, professional legal counsel. Consider the following reasons to trust your case with our firm:

  • The attorneys at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz have extensive experience handling DUI defense cases. Founding attorney Catherine A. Schwartz has more than 30 years of legal experience as a Riverside DUI attorney.
  • Our firm understands every DUI case is different. We will take the time to get to know you, your situation, and the details of your case to provide the best defense possible.
  • As a former Riverside County Deputy Public Defender, attorney Catherine A. Schwartz has in-depth knowledge of the local criminal justice system and how the law applies to your case.
  • Our team is not afraid of intense litigation. We’ll work to navigate you through your case as swiftly as possible, but we will not shy away from an extensive legal battle if that’s what it takes to defend your rights.

When you choose to work with the Riverside DUI attorneys at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz, you can rest assured that you have decades of legal experience and a fiercely dedicated legal team on your side.

Potential Penalties for DUI in San Bernardino and Riverside

When the police suspect that a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol in Riverside, the officers handling the traffic stop will administer a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) test. In most cases, this is done with a breathalyzer device that detects alcohol on a driver’s breath. The legal limit for BAC in California is .08%. If a police officer pulls over a driver to administer a BAC test and the driver’s BAC registers .081% or more, the officer will arrest the driver for DUI. However, a DUI could be for marijuana or even prescription drugs.

When a police officer pulls over your vehicle for suspicion of DUI in Riverside, taking the chemical test for BAC is not optional. California operates under an implied consent law; as part of using your California driver’s license, you offer your implied consent to BAC testing if a police officer stops you for suspicion of DUI. There is no other option, nor can the test be deferred or refused. If a driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, the driver will lose their driver’s license for one to three years, depending on whether the driver has prior DUI convictions. 

Possible Penalties for a First DUI Conviction in Riverside

California law classifies first-time DUI convictions as misdemeanor criminal offenses. Anyone convicted of a DUI for the first time faces fines of $390 up to $1,000. It’s also possible for the offender to face additional financial penalties, depending on the facts of the case. A first offense may also lead to jail time of 48 hours to six months, but this generally only applies to cases involving significant destruction of property or DUI violations that caused injuries or fatalities.

Many California judges will be lenient to first offenders and willing to reduce the penalty to probation. This probationary period can last up to three years, during which time the driver will need to complete a mandatory drug and alcohol education course and a three-month DUI school with a total of 30 classroom hours. According to California law, drivers on DUI probation may not have a blood alcohol content of more than .01% until the end of their probationary period.  Drivers with an initial BAC of .20% or more should expect a nine-month school and 60 classroom hours.

A driver convicted of a first DUI offense should also expect a six-month driver’s license suspension and an administrative license suspension from the California Department of Motor Vehicles for four months. When a driver faces both types of suspensions, they typically overlap, so the driver will not have to wait out two consecutive license suspensions for one violation. It’s possible for a first time DUI offender to apply for a restricted license to get to and from work during the suspension period. This generally requires the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) that verifies the driver’s BAC level before starting the vehicle. 

Escalating Penalties for Repeat Offenses

California law applies substantially harsher penalties for multiple DUIs. If a Riverside driver has subsequent DUI convictions, they will face increasingly higher penalties:

  • A second DUI conviction is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines plus penalty assessments, 96 hours to one year in jail or house arrest, a two-year driver’s license suspension, and up to five years of probation with a requirement to attend an 18 to 30-month DUI school.
  • A third DUI conviction is also a misdemeanor, carrying penalties including fines up to $1,800 plus penalty assessments and jail time for 120 days to one year. If the judge grants a third-time offender probation, jail time could reduce to 30 days as long as the offender attends DUI school for 30 months. The convicted driver should also expect a three-year driver’s license suspension and a mandatory two-year IID requirement.

Riverside, CA drivers should know that DUI offenses involving injuries or fatalities to others could qualify as felonies and also leave the offender vulnerable to civil lawsuits from the victims and their families.

Defending Against DUI Charges

A DUI arrest can be a traumatic experience, but the right attorney can help a driver obtain a reasonable penalty and potentially avoid jail time. In some cases, it’s possible to plea down to a “wet reckless” or reckless driving charge with substantially lighter penalties. Generally, a DUI offense recorded at a routine traffic stop that involved a relatively low BAC level and no injuries or deaths will carry a much lighter sentence than an extreme DUI offense with a recorded BAC over .20% that resulted in injuries or fatalities to others.

Should You Plead Guilty to a DUI?

After a DUI arrest, the best plans of action will vary. There’s not an overarching answer to whether you should plead guilty to a DUI, but your Riverside DUI attorney can help you decide which is the right tactic for you. Factors in whether to plead guilty include:

  • Registered blood alcohol content
  • Number of offenses
  • If there were any injuries
  • If significant damage was caused

It’s best to consult a Riverside attorney who can assess your unique situation and determine what’s best for you. Though each case is unique, generally, there are basic standards by which the court determines penalties for driving while under the influence. For instance, if your case is fairly straightforward and seems as though you’ll be found guilty in trial, it may be best to plead guilty and avoid the trial altogether. If it’s your first offense, the DUI could be treated as a misdemeanor criminal offense. However, if you’ve already had multiple arrests for DUIs, it could end up as a felony charge. Keep in mind, too, that injury to another or serious property damage could also affect the outcome of the case and may factor into your decision to plead guilty.

Again, a Riverside DUI attorney will be able to advise you on the best course of action when it comes to pleading.

When you or a loved one face DUI charges in Riverside, CA, it’s vital to secure legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney. The team at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz have the experience and resources to help you reach a more favorable outcome with your DUI case. Contact our firm online today or call us at (951) 686-8190 to schedule a free initial consultation and learn more about how our firm can help you with your DUI case in Riverside or San Bernardino.