How Can a Lawyer Help Me Get into a DUI Diversion Program?

How Can a Lawyer Help Me Get into a DUI Diversion Program?

How Can a Lawyer Help Me Get into a DUI Diversion Program?

Despite the constant warnings about drinking and driving, driving under the influence or DUI continues to be a constant problem nationwide. In fact, over 120,000 people in the state face DUI arrests every year. Approximately 5,000 of those arrests involve felony DUI charges, while the remaining DUIs are misdemeanors.

When a state prosecutor satisfies their legal burden of proof and obtains a conviction against a DUI offender, the offender can face numerous legal penalties, including fines and jail time. They may also look at collateral consequences that affect them for the rest of their lives.

However, some DUI offenders have an opportunity to keep a conviction off their criminal record through a diversion program. Offenders may qualify for one of these programs if they meet several qualifications.

If you are currently pending a criminal DUI charge, you should have an experienced DUI defense attorney in your Los Angeles, CA area representing you at every stage of the legal proceedings. In fact, defending yourself in a DUI case is almost always a serious mistake. If you show up to court without a lawyer present, the presiding judge may assume that you’re waiving your right to legal representation at trial. Consequently, the judge can make you go forward with your case without an attorney present.

Generally speaking, the sooner you retain a DUI defense lawyer to represent you in your case, the better off you will be and the more likely your chances of success. Your lawyer can first meet with you to discuss the circumstances of your DUI arrest and determine if you are eligible to participate in a diversion program. If so, your attorney can help you apply for the program and represent you in all criminal court proceedings.

Schedule A Free Consultation

When Can a Police Officer Arrest Someone for DUI?

An individual is legally intoxicated if Breathalyzer evidence determines that they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. Minors who are under 21 years old must follow stricter legal standards. When a driver’s BAC violates the legal standard, a police officer may arrest them for DUI or some other drunk driving offense.

Moreover, when a driver appears impaired, a police officer may arrest them for DUI, even if they have a BAC that is less than the legal limit.

Impaired driving maneuvers often include weaving in and out of a travel lane, aggressive speeding, and erratic driving. Moreover, a police officer may determine that a driver is intoxicated if they smell alcohol on the driver’s breath, when the driver has bloodshot eyes, or if the driver performs poorly on one or more field sobriety tests. Common field sobriety tests that police officers administer include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and the heel-to-toe test.

What Are the Potential Penalties for a DUI Conviction?

how can a lawyer help me get into a dui diversion program

For a defendant to receive penalties following a DUI arrest, the state prosecutor must meet their legal burden of proof, proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In a criminal DUI case, the defendant does not need to prove anything. Moreover, if the case goes to trial, the defendant does not need to take the witness stand and testify in their own defense.

In a criminal DUI case, the prosecutor must establish that you operated a motor vehicle while you were under the influence of alcohol. If the prosecutor can satisfy this burden and obtain a conviction against you, it is up to the sentencing judge to impose penalties.

Every DUI case is different, and the penalties that a judge imposes will depend upon various factors, including the sentencing guidelines and state minimum and maximum penalties that the legislature establishes. Other factors that influence the dui penalties a judge imposes include whether or not the individual is a repeat DUI offender and whether they have prior criminal convictions on their record.

Judges may also consider the amount of alcohol the driver had in their system while behind the wheel. Finally, judges will consider whether you caused a traffic accident that led to property damage or personal injuries.

In a DUI case, potential penalties often include:

  • Jail time.
  • High monetary fines.
  • Court-imposed community service.
  • Probation.
  • Mandatory participation in a drug or alcohol treatment program.

A best DUI lawyer can represent you at your sentencing hearing and argue for the fairest possible penalty on your behalf.

In some cases, individuals facing criminal DUI charges can raise a successful legal defense at trial. Even though a DUI offender does not need to prove anything in their criminal case, a successful defense may work to negate one or more legal elements of the state prosecutor’s claim. If a judge or jury believes your defense, it might result in a complete dismissal of your DUI charge.

Since every DUI case is different, not all offenders will be eligible to raise the same defenses at trial. These defenses are very much case-specific. A knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer in your area can determine which of these defenses you might successfully raise at trial.

First, you might argue that the Breathalyzer equipment which the police officer used to measure your BAC was defective in some way. Breathalyzer machines, like other machines, sometimes malfunction and provide inaccurate readings. Moreover, you might allege that a medical condition or illness prevented you from successfully completing a field sobriety test. For example, you may suffer from a health condition affecting your balance or vision. In those circumstances, you can allege that you would likely have failed the field sobriety test even if sober.

In addition, you might argue that the police officer initiated an unlawful traffic stop when they pulled your vehicle over. According to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, individuals must be free of unreasonable searches and seizures. A police officer can lawfully pull a vehicle over if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is violating a traffic law no matter how insignificant.

The officer can pull a vehicle over even if the minor traffic violation is a pretext for a suspected DUI. However, police officers may not pull vehicles over randomly. If you can demonstrate that the arresting police officer initiated an improper or illegal traffic stop, your DUI case may be subject to dismissal.

Furthermore, according to the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, individuals need not incriminate themselves. Moreover, when a police officer arrests a driver, the officer must advise the driver of their right to the presence of legal counsel during questioning. If the driver requests that an attorney be present, the officer must stop their questioning immediately. However, if the officer continues to question the driver, and the driver says something incriminating, that statement may be subject to suppression at trial.

A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer in your area can determine if you can successfully assert one or more of these legal defenses at trial. If so, your lawyer will zealously advocate for your legal rights and interests in court and pursue a “not guilty” finding from the deciding judge or jury.

Available DUI Diversion Programs

In addition to defending against your charges in court, you may qualify for a DUI diversion program. California has several DUI programs that offer DUI offenders an opportunity to participate in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, treatment, education, and support groups. The primary purpose of these programs is to rehabilitate DUI offenders and, most importantly, to lessen their chances of becoming repeat offenders.

The judge handling your criminal case has sole discretion when it comes to allowing you to participate in a diversion program. Therefore, you want to have an experienced DUI attorney representing you in court and advocating for your legal interests.

Your lawyer can point out reasons why a judge should allow you to participate in the program, such as:

  • That this is your first-time DUI offense
  • That you do not have any other criminal arrests or convictions on your record
  • That you are currently employed and take an active role in the community

At a hearing, your lawyer may also present documentary evidence to compel a judge to let you into a DUI diversion program.

Potential Advantages and Disadvantages of Participating in a DUI Diversion Program

Participating in a DUI diversion program has several advantages and disadvantages. One advantage of participating in the program is that completing it successfully helps you avoid the black mark of a conviction on your criminal record. However, one possible disadvantage is that you must waive your constitutional right to a speedy trial under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

You must waive this right because to participate in the program, the court must continue your trial for up to 24 months. This will allow you the time you need to finish the diversion program successfully.

To complete the program successfully, you will need to follow all of the court’s instructions. For example, you may need to:

  • Attend and participate in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings
  • Attend drug and alcohol treatment sessions
  • Go to counseling
  • Participate in victim impact panels
  • Refrain from possessing firearms while your case is pending
  • Pay monetary compensation in the form of restitution, if your DUI caused property damage

Driver’s License Considerations

DUI arrests have two main components. The first is the criminal prosecution, while the second is the administrative process. The California Department of Motor Vehicles or DMV handles the administrative component.

If you are facing DUI charges, it can be extremely difficult to dismiss the DMV portion of your case. In most instances, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license. To obtain restricted driving privileges such as for going to work you must petition the DMV for those privileges. Likewise, to obtain a limited reinstatement of your driver’s license, you must buy a special kind of motor vehicle insurance that covers you throughout the suspension period.

In addition, you may need to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle. This is a portable Breathalyzer device that you must blow into to start your vehicle. If the device detects any amount of alcohol on your breath, your vehicle will not start.

You must also pay to have someone install the device on your vehicle and pay regular, ongoing maintenance fees.

How Do DUI Diversion Programs Help Offenders?

There are many benefits to participating in and completing a DUI diversion program in California. The main benefit of participating in such a program is that you avoid having a criminal prosecution not to mention the possibility of a DUI conviction on your permanent record. The court will dismiss your misdemeanor DUI charge if you complete all the program requirements successfully. Moreover, the court will seal the file containing information about your arrest and participation in the program.

If you incur another DUI arrest, the court will treat that arrest as a first-time offense, not a second offense. Moreover, a judge can only impose penalties for a first-time conviction if you ultimately sustain a conviction.

Call an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney Near You Today

When it comes to escaping a DUI conviction and the potential penalties, DUI diversion programs can be extremely helpful. If you successfully complete the diversion program, you don’t have to worry about a conviction on your record, penalties, or collateral consequences in your case.

However, DUI diversion programs can have strict requirements, and you should consider whether you can comply before you agree to join a program. Be open and honest with your defense lawyer about any hesitations you have, and they can help address them before you begin a diversion program. This counsel is invaluable in your DUI case.

As soon as possible after your DUI arrest, you should contact a best DUI law firm in your area. Your lawyer can determine your eligibility for a DUI diversion program, represent you in court, and help you qualify for the program. In short, your attorney can safeguard your legal rights throughout your case and help you pursue the best possible result.

Schedule A Free Consultation

Law Firm Review & Testimonial

Law Firm Review & Testimonial

Was this just a consultation or did you hire us?