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Los Angeles DWI, Driving While Intoxicated

When facing a drunk driving charge in Los Angeles, you need a criminal defense attorney on your side immediately. Cases move quickly following an arrest, and you need a lawyer to challenge your license suspension within a few days. Waiting will often hurt your case and result in overly harsh consequences. Reach out to a Los Angeles DWI lawyer.

With a DWI case, you risk having a conviction on your record, face license suspension, and even risk going to jail. Even though you do not think your DUI conviction will affect your life, it can for years to come. If you drive for a living, it can also affect your employment status. You have the chance to minimize the effects of a DWI charge if you immediately hire the right defense firm in Los Angeles.

Do not take your chances by working with a public defender or trying to handle your case independently. Instead, hire a top DWI and DUI law firm in Southern California to protect your future. Chudnovsky Law has dealt with thousands of DUI cases, and we are ready to take on yours. We jump into action to help clients facing a DWI arrest, so please reach out today about your situation.

Trust the DUI Defense Lawyers at Chudnovsky Law

Trust the experience of Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys who get results.

Some of our recent DUI case results include:

  • Felony sixth DUI with an accident causing significant bodily injury, Torrance Courthouse. The client faced up to 16 years in prison. Result: 6 months in jail.
  • First DUI enhanced due to high BAC and 100+mph speeding in a residential area, Torrance Court. The client faced up to 240 days in jail. Result: No jail.
  • First DUI was enhanced due to 0.28 BAC and high speed; foreign citizens faced six mo jail and deportation. Result: 15 days ankle monitor, no jail, no immigration consequence.


DUI and DWI are used interchangeably, and there are few differences. You can face the same penalties for either offense. Typically, California uses the term DUI to describe these offenses but recognizes out-of-state DWI charges. Driving while impaired can often mean driving under the legal BAC but still having a significant impairment on the way you drive.

First offense

You might not think a first-time DWI or DUI offense will amount to heavy penalties, but it can.

In Los Angeles County, you can face the following consequence for a first-time conviction:

  • Three years probation
  • Three-month drug and alcohol program
  • Fines of $390 or 13 days of roadside work or in jail
  • A 6-month driver’s license suspension or the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device

Second offense

The penalties for a second offense are:

  • Three to five years of probation
  • One year with an Ignition Interlock Device
  • A fine of $390 plus additional penalties can bring the total to $2000
  • DUI school for 18 or 30 months
  • Jail time of 96 hours, which you can serve over two weekends in a local jail like West Covina Jail. You can also face one year in jail.
  • Driving privilege suspension

Third offense

Some of the same penalties for first and second offenses will apply to a third offense.

  • Five years of probation
  • Fines totaling $2,500
  • DUI school for 30 months
  • Minimum of 120 days in jail to a maximum of one year
  • An Ignition Interlock Device for two years
  • Three-year driver’s license suspension

Los Angeles judges can impose a slew of penalties on DWI offenders, but you can prevent these steps with the help of a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. A judge can order additional penalties like requiring attendance at AA meetings or other treatment programs. You can also need to do community service and go to victim impact meetings.

Aggregated driving while intoxicated

In addition to the first, second, and third offense, you can also face an aggravated driving while intoxicated charge, which is more serious due to specific factors.

These cases have an enhancement such as:

  • Excessive speeding
  • Refusal to take a chemical test
  • There is a prior DUI on your record within ten years
  • Extremely high BAC
  • Having a minor in the vehicle
  • Injury or death or one or multiple parties

The key difference is how the court will see your case. When there is an aggravated DUI, it is terrible in the eyes of the court. With the classification of aggravated DWI, you will face much steeper penalties; you can face longer jail time and additional fines.


Other charges

In addition to the offense types, different laws can affect a DUI charge. These laws are much more complex than being stopped for driving while impaired.

Some laws that are not well known but can affect you are:

  • Open container law: When transporting alcohol, you should ensure it is closed and in the trunk. In California, no one in a vehicle, whether driver or passenger, can consume alcohol while the vehicle is in motion. Law enforcement can use open container laws when the alcohol is in a thermos or other cup. If a container has a broken seal and is missing alcohol, that is also sufficient for law enforcement to issue a DWI charge.
  • Zero tolerance- underage: Anyone under the legal drinking age will be charged with a DUI or DWI, regardless of how much alcohol is in their system. These parties have a one-year license suspension, jail time, fines, and DUI school. California has a zero-tolerance policy for these cases.
  • Manslaughter DUI: When a person drives while intoxicated and it results in someone’s death, they will face a manslaughter DUI charge. A misdemeanor charge results in a one-year jail sentence and a driver’s license conviction. Whether the driver acted with gross or ordinary negligence will impact the charges.
  • High BAC: All DUI cases depend on the level of intoxication, but when there is a higher BAC, penalties are harsher. A BAC of over .15 percent is a high BAC, and the court can request higher penalties. However, the mandatory sentence for these cases is a nine-month alcohol program. The nine-month program is higher than the standard three months for a regular DUI conviction.
  • Commercial Driver’s license and DUI: If you are a California driver with a commercial license, you have a higher responsibility, even if you are not working. Instead of the standard .08 percent BAC, you cannot go over a .04 percent BAC. If you do, you will have a commercial license suspension of one year and lose your job during that time.
  • Possession of alcohol with a person under 21: Drivers or passengers in a vehicle with alcohol can face an infraction. California strictly punishes anyone under 21 in possession of alcohol. The alcohol does not need to be consumed. Penalties for underage possession or consumption are much different than other penalties.
  • Driving with a suspended license: When you have a driver’s license suspended and continue driving, you will face additional penalties. There is a minimum ten-day jail sentence. If you are a repeat DUI offender, you can spend three days in a local Los Angeles county jail.

Many charges are associated with driving under the influence or while intoxicated in Los Angeles.

Out-of-state convictions

While California primarily uses the term DUI, they also recognize out-of-state DWI convictions. The court will use a nationwide database to pull your driving record and assess these charges. Having a DWI conviction in another state will enhance any charge or conviction you face in California for the same thing.

The DWI charge will stay on your driving record for ten years. Instead of facing a first offense DUI in California, you will face a second offense due to the charge in another state. Having a Los Angeles DUI attorney on your side from the very beginning is vital because these charges stay on your record for ten years. If you face a fourth offense, the charges will be a felony, and you will face a prison sentence.

Volitional movement standard

You do not have to be driving a vehicle to get a DUI. Law enforcement does not need to see you driving - only suspect that you are under the influence. The most common instance is when a motorist sleeps in their vehicle while drunk. Most drivers think it is a good idea to sleep off the alcohol before getting on the road and will choose to use their vehicle to get some rest. While that is a responsible thing to do, law enforcement disagrees.

While you can face DUI charges while sleeping in your vehicle in some areas, that is not true in Los Angeles. An L.A. police officer must pull you over for a traffic violation and realize you are under the influence. The officer must prove volitional movement. That means the vehicle must be moving and not stationary.

In a few other instances, circumstantial evidence will suffice for a charge. Many times, DUI collisions without any witnesses will result in a DUI charge. While sleeping in a vehicle is not an offense, you can still face drunk in public charges if you are intoxicated. While sleeping, the office can look for evidence that the vehicle was in motion, such as a warm engine.

Do not fall for their traps; you may have turned on the engine to lower the windows or lock the doors. There are possible defenses for these actions, and you need a Los Angeles DWI attorney to help build a solid defense in these cases.

Prison vs. county jail

We have mentioned the various penalties you can face for a DUI conviction, including jail time. While a first offense does not typically carry jail time, subsequent offenses do. A first offense can result in jail alternatives, and some cases can result in prison time. When we refer to jail, those are local facilities like:

Hermosa Beach Police Department Jail

Temporary holding only

540 Pier St, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

(310) 318-0361

Manhattan Beach Police Department Jail

Temporary holding only

420 15th St, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

(310) 802-5140

Marina Del Rey Jail (LASD)

Temporary holding only

13851 Fiji Way, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292

(310) 482-6000

Redondo Beach Police Department Jail

Temporary holding only

401 Diamond Street, Redondo Beach, CA 90277

(310) 318-0616

The state runs prisons, and this is where people might go after a felony DWI conviction.

Some local prisons are:

North County Correctional Facility

29340 The Old Road, Castaic, CA 91350

(661) 295-7804*

Pitchess Detention Center North Facility

29320 The Old Road, Castaic, CA 91384

(661) 295-8059*

Pitchess Detention Center South Facility

29330 The Old Road, Castaic, CA 91384

(661) 295-8011*

Steps in the DWI process

Before you serve any jail time or pay fines, many steps need to happen.

The steps in the DUI/DWI process are:

  • DUI investigation
  • DUI arrest
  • Hiring a Los Angeles DWI attorney
  • DMV hearing or automatic suspension
  • Court
  • Arraignment
  • Pretrial motions and plea bargains
  • Jury trial
  • Sentencing

While these are all of the steps, your DUI case may not go through all of them. The most critical step on this list is hiring a Los Angeles DUI lawyer from the very beginning. The sooner Chudnovsky Law gets to work, the sooner we can resolve your case.

We Know How to Fight for You

There are different defenses to fight a DWI charge, especially when there is an aggravating factor. The judge assigned to the case will be less likely to budge unless you have a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer with experience handling these cases.

We will dispute and build a defense by:

  • Request courts throw out evidence when police do not use proper protocol
  • Dispute chemical test accuracy
  • Dispute the validity of the initial arrest
  • Fight For the removal of the aggravating factor by questioning the evidence

You need a Los Angeles DWI lawyer who will fight every aspect of the prosecutor’s case until there are lower or no charges left. These are serious offenses, and it is vital to have them reduced, so you have a better chance of success and moving forward from this incident.

Criminal defense is at the core of what we do. The penalties for driving while impaired in California are steep, and you need lawyers who have been handling these cases for decades, not someone who just started a week ago. Chudnovsky Law represents clients in Los Angeles county and throughout California. Contact Chudnovsky Law today at (213) 212-5002 to begin building your case.

Call (213) 212-5002 to get help now

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