You got a DUI in Ventura or Oxnard.
First of all, don’t panic. I understand that getting a DUI may be a very scary process, but by educating yourself on the situation, you can have an idea of what to do next.
I will refer to drunk driving as “DUI”, but if you are from another state, you probably are more familiar with “DWI”, “OMVI, or “OVI”.
If this is your first DUI and you didn’t cause any injury to a person, or damage any property, I recommend starting with some of my articles:
- Basic DUI charges in California (if you did not cause injury or property damages)
- What is the DMV proceeding for someone who got a DUI (driver’s license issues)?
- What is the punishment for a first offense DUI?
- What is the difference between the 2014 DUI law and the old DUI law?
If you want to get more technical, so that you can have an in-depth conversation with your lawyer, read:
If you are the under age of 21, definitely read this in addition to the other articles:
Also, if you are reading this online, you are probably out on your own recognizance (“O.R.”). But, if you are reading this on behalf of someone who is currently in custody (jail), you should call a criminal defense attorney immediately.
What to do after DUI arrest?
In a DUI, unlike other cases, time is of the essence!
You have probably read all over the internet about how you only have 10 days to request a DMV hearing. This is true. You, or your attorney, will need to request to the DMV within 10 days of the arrest to reserve a DMV hearing. Read more about DMV hearings.
Note that this is separate from your “appearance” date, which is the date that you are supposed to appear in court (or have an attorney appear for you).
Perhaps more importantly, I want to emphasize that you do not discuss the case with anyone other than your attorney (this includes any law enforcement, police, prosecutors, district attorneys, judges, or just about anybody else but your attorney). You should look for a criminal defense attorney or a DUI lawyer to 1) request your DMV hearing in time and 2) discuss your case.
What is a criminal defense attorney?
Drunk driving, or DUI is a criminal charge. Drunk driving laws are so complex that you should probably find an attorney that is familiar with this area, rather than a general practice lawyer. A criminal defense attorney is one who defends criminal charges. A “DUI lawyer” can be considered a subset of criminal defense attorneys. Either way, DUI lawyers practice in criminal court and know about criminal defense and criminal procedures.
Why do I recommend someone familiar with DUI? DUI’s are unique because they come with a separate proceeding for the DMV (called APS proceeding). The overlap between the two can be very confusing. You want someone that can help you reduce the amount of time that your license is suspended so that you can get back to school, work, etc. Also, DUI laws have gotten harsher over the years due to increased pressure from various organizations. DUI laws change constantly (see yet another update to the DUI law), and even lawyers fight amongst themselves on what law applies.
How to find a DUI lawyer?
You can look online, ask your friends and colleagues for a referral, or ask the local bar association for criminal defense attorneys, or DUI attorneys, or drunk driving lawyers. Most bar associations will know what you are talking about if you briefly explain your situation.
For Ventura County, I HIGHLY recommend finding a Ventura drunk driving attorney. I say this because Ventura is a very tough county for criminal charges. How DUI’s are treated in Los Angeles County may not be the case in Ventura County (in fact, count on things to be tougher in Ventura). You will need a lawyer who understands what will most likely happen in Ventura, rather than a lawyer that will give you generic advice about what usually happens in another county.
Also, if you are NOT a U.S. Citizen, definitely talk to a DUI lawyer that either knows about immigration law, or knows to refer you to a knowledgeable immigration attorney. (If you have Deferred Action or “DACA”, make sure to read about how DUI affects DACA).
In any case, what are some questions to ask your DUI lawyer?
You may want to talk about some important questions:
- What are the possible defenses for this case?
- Are there chances of reducing the fine? Sometimes your lawyer can help you negotiate the fine. This can mean the difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
- Are there chances of getting probation?
- Will I have to go to jail?
- If applicable, how will this affect immigration?
- How will a DUI affect my employment? This is very important in my opinion, because even if your DUI lawyer may not be an employment lawyer, they might not know of your long-term career goals. You may be a student now, but you may plan on becoming, say, a nurse. Letting your attorney know of your plans can greatly impact how your attorney will advise you on your case.
- If you are in a certain profession, ask if they will additionally help you with your professional license hearings, or if they will refer you to another attorney that handles this area.
- Will you help with my DMV hearing? Will there be an extra charge for the DMV hearing?
- When will I get my license back? You most likely have a temporary license at this point. You should understand that you might face 30 days of “hard suspension” at some point. Plan this out with your attorney so that you are able to find transportation to and from school or work.
Note that your lawyer probably cannot answer some of these questions (like the possible defenses) without getting a copy of your police reports through the discovery process (the process in which lawyers obtain information about your case from the other side). This probably won’t happen until they have appeared on your appearance date.
To help your lawyer, what you probably have in your possession is a citation (which is similar to a traffic ticket). First, be clear about when the appearance date is on the citation. If you or your attorney miss the appearance date, you could get a warrant for your arrest!!!! If you are unsure how to read this information, see my infographics on how to read a traffic ticket.
You also need to be very honest with your lawyer. Your lawyer can only help you if you tell them everything they need to know in order to defend your case. Don’t let them find out about a key piece of information from the prosecutor!!
You should also remember everything that happened during your DUI incident. You should remember everything, including how much you had to drink and what you had to eat. You should remember where you went and at what time. You should remember every witness (such as your friends and family) who was there. Even details about how long the officer talked to you are very important. These are all things your DUI lawyer should know about. This is why I emphasize the earlier you talk to a lawyer, the better. Your lawyer can have more time to talk to you about your case and possible defenses. There are many deadlines that may pass in the meantime. By talking to your lawyer earlier, you will give your lawyer more time to do pre-trial discovery and file applicable pre-trial motions.
If you need help with a DUI in Ventura County, please contact Charlotte or call 805-517-4LAW or 805-517-4529.