The Truth About DUI Charges in Los Angeles

Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer


End of the summer means stepped up DUI enforcement in Los Angeles County. Indeed, the LA Times recently reported that an 18-day summertime crackdown yielded 1,258 arrests. I don’t often blog about DUIs, but with the increased enforcement, I figure it is worth discussing. The internet is filled with all kinds of DUI advice, but here is some practical advice that a lot of other lawyers may not tell you about what you should know about fighting your DUI charge in Los Angeles County.

  1. EVERY COURTHOUSE IN LOS ANGELES TREATS DUIs DIFFERENTLY. The way your DUI is handled completely depends on where your case is being heard. Is it being handled by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney, or one of the smaller City Attorney Offices like Long Beach, Inglewood, or Hawthorne? Which court are you in? Metro? Pomona? Airport? Were you arrested by West Hollywood Sheriff? Beverly Hills Police? California Highway Patrol? LAPD? Be sure to ask your attorney for a REALISTIC assessment of how the case will be handled in a particular courthouse.
  2. DUIs ARE NOT EASY TO GET REDUCED. Is your prospective attorney is promising  you a reduced charge like a “dry reckless” or a an “exhibition of speed.” Get that promise in writing (which the attorney won’t do). Any experienced criminal defense lawyer will tell you that it is often easier to negotiate reduced charges on serious felonies than it is on DUIs. Your lawyer needs to know what kind of problems to look for in the case and be ready to go to trial if necessary.
  3. YES, THERE ARE LAWYERS WHO WILL HANDLE YOUR DUI FOR $1,000, BUT THEY WILL PROBABLY JUST PLEAD YOU GUILTY TO THE DUI CHARGE AT THE FIRST OR SECOND COURT APPEARANCE. See #2 above. These cases take work. No lawyer in private practice is going to do the work necessary to investigate and defend a DUI for $1,000. For $1,000 you save yourself the trouble of going to court and that’s about it. If you can only afford $1,000 or less for a DUI lawyer, save your money and go with the public defender (who will be assigned to you at your first court date if you show up without an attorney).
  4. LAWYERS RARELY WIN DMV HEARINGS. Even the lawyers who devote their practice solely to DUI can count on one hand, maybe two hands, the number of DMV Administrative Per Se Hearings they’ve won in DUI cases and I guarantee you that they remember all of the winners. These are very difficult to win. Why? Because unlike court you are presumed guilty by the DMV and your lawyer has to convince a DMV employee that you are innocent. It’s ridiculous. Often the only chance on winning these hearings is by filing an appeal with the appellate division of the superior court. But this can be costly and also not often successful. This means that you can generally count on your license being suspended for at least 30 days, even longer if this is a second offense. If you want to get a restricted license after the initial suspension period you’re going to have to enroll in a state mandated DUI awareness class. Good times.
  5. YES, YOU SHOULD STILL TRY TO FIGHT YOUR DUI CASE. I’m not trying to discourage you, I’m just trying to be realistic. DUI lawyers love to make big promises, and it’s worth fighting if you have a lawyer who knows HOW to fight the case and is honest with you about what to expect.

If you or a loved one is in need of an Airport Courthouse DUI attorney or are facing DUI charges at any other court in Los Angeles County, contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or via the secure contact form on this page for a free consultation.

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