Santa Ana DUI Lawyer

Every year, hundreds of people are caught with illegal amounts of alcohol in their system while driving on the roads of Santa Ana. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the most seriously treated offenses in the criminal defense system because it is seen as an inherent danger to anyone else on the roads.

While DUI can be charged on different levels, even the most minor charge comes with the possibility of harsh consequences. Unfortunately, the strategies and standards used by prosecution in the process of trying someone for DUI are often weak, leading many to suffer penalties disproportional to their supposed offense.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Vehicle Code Sections 23152 and 23153 outline Driving Under the Influence or DUI laws. 

A DUI offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on factors involved, such as injuries or prior record of the defendant.

Under Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), a person can be charged with a DUI if they have any amount of alcohol in their system and it impairs their driving.

And if the person driving has a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or greater, they may be additionally charged under Vehicle Code Section 23152(b).

When stopped for a DUI, the officer will administer a blood or breath test to measure the amount of alcohol in your system.  Under the “Implied Consent” law, any person who operates a motor vehicle in California is obligated to consent to chemical testing at the request of law enforcement.  You can choose to take either a blood or breath test, or both.  A refusal to take either of these tests can lead to your license being suspended.  However, you may refuse the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test without any negative consequences, which is a hand held breathing device given prior to an arrest near your vehicle. 


Common defenses to a DUI include: (1) an improper stop by the police, (2) no probable cause for the arrest, or (3) an unreliable blood or breath test.


Penalties for a DUI vary according to your level of blood alcohol concentration, your age, your prior convictions, and any injury caused.

First Offense

A first-time DUI involves the following:

  • license suspension of 4 months or longer
  • up to 6 months in jail
  • fines and fees of up to $1,000 plus penalty assessments
  • a 3 to 9 month DUI program
  • possible Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) meeting
  • possible installation of ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • 3-5 years of probation

Second Offense (within 10 years)

A second-time DUI involves the following:

  • license suspension of up to 2 years
  • up to 1 year in jail
  • fines and fees of up to $1,000 plus penalty assessments
  • 18 months to 30 months of DUI school
  • AA meetings
  • mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
  • 3-5 years probation

Third Offense (within 10 years)

A third-time DUI involves the following:

  • driver's license suspension for up to 3 years
  • 120 days to 1 year in jail
  • 18 months of alcohol classes
  • AA meetings
  • ignition interlock device installed on vehicle
  • up to 5 years of probation

Fourth Offense (within 10 years)

A fourth-time DUI involves the following:

  • felony charges
  • license suspension for up to 4 years
  • 18 months of alcohol classes
  • AA meetings
  • Jail or prison time

Types of DUI Charges in Orange County

Penalties for DUI in California vary based on a series of factors involved with each alleged offense. Generally, they are categorized according to the repetition of offenses in the following way:

  • First Offense DUI: As a misdemeanor DUI offense, a first time DUI conviction usually carries up to $1,000 in fines, as well as up to six months in jail. License suspension and probation are also commonly included as penalties for first and any repeated offenses.
  • Second Offense DUI: If an individual is convicted of DUI within ten years of his or her first offense, he or she will be treated as a repeat DUI offender. There is little leniency found for individuals charged with DUI a second or third time and penalties often include up to one year in jail and mandatory alcohol treatment in addition to other general penalties such as fines and license suspension.
  • Third Offense DUI: Repeat offenders facing their third (or consecutive) charge within 10 years of their first 2 will face felony penalties including a minimum of 6 months in jail and license suspension.

DUI charges may vary in seriousness based off of several factors. Other factors that may lead to more serious charges include the contrast between the legal limit and the recorded BAC, injuries, or property damage as a result of the offense, as well as whether any children were present in the vehicle at the time of the stop.

Darwish Law: Dedicated to Your Defense

At Darwish Law, we have been fighting for the rights of individuals facing DUI throughout Orange County for years. We understand the strategies of prosecution, as well as the many weaknesses in their cases. Our job is to protect you and your rights from an unfair outcome to your case and from the penalties associated with conviction. Regardless of how minor you may think your charge is, do not attempt court without a Santa Ana criminal defense attorney you can trust. The prosecution will be pushing for the maximum sentence for your conviction but Darwish Law is prepared to provide you with the defense and representation you deserve.

Contact our Orange County Criminal Lawyer to schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about how we can help you.