Answers to frequently asked questions about driving under the influence (DUI) in Fresno, CA.
Myth: “There is nothing that a Fresno DUI defense lawyer can do.”
Truth: Absolutely not true. Over the past 7-10 years, the conviction rate in California for DUI's is only around 70 percent. That means that 30 percent of the charges are being reduced to charges that are less than a DUI charge or not guilty verdicts are being returned. I have the ability and have won Fresno DUI cases. Do not give in to despair and believe that you are destined to lose. Entering a guilty plea to a DUI charge when the evidence against you can be challenged may result in an expensive mistake that could haunt you in the long run.
Myth: "The machine says I was over the limit so it must be true."
Truth: This is absolutely FALSE. The breath machines are not as accurate as the government would like you to believe. As with most machines, there is a range of accuracy and you may be at the low end of that causing you to fall below the legal limit.
Myth: “I consumed alcohol and drove, I must be guilty.”
Truth: It is not a crime for a person to drink alcoholic beverages and then drive a motor vehicle. It is considered to be a crime when that driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. With a BAC of 0.08 percent or greater the driver is considered to be under the influence of alcohol. If you are over the age of 21, had a drink of an alcoholic beverage and had a BAC level below 0.08 percent when you were driving, then you have not committed a crime.
Myth: “I will make it worse for myself by fighting.”
Truth: The truth of the matter is that you are a defendant in a criminal case. It is also true that 100 percent of criminal defendants that enter guilty pleas are found guilty. The only way to be acquitted of the DUI charges is for you to assert your rights. I use my two decades of law practice experience and participation in continuing legal DUI education seminars in order to challenge the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Myth: “I am a good citizen and a good person. I will get the case reduced because of this.”
Truth: In many jurisdictions across the state of California, lack of a criminal record is the only characterization that is used to evaluate you when considering the charges that you are facing. It is my responsibility to emphasize that you are person who has more to offer than person without a criminal record.
Myth: “I can always get a public defender to help me.”
Truth: Given current economic conditions, the public defender's office will not just take your case. First, strict income requirements have to be reviewed in order to determine if you qualify for representation by the public defender's office. In fact, at the time of your arraignment, you will have to provide information regarding your income situation in open court in order for a judge to decide if you qualify. Persons who are on government assistance, for example, should almost always qualify for representation by the public defender's office. You will quickly realize that just because you have bills and do not have much cash left over does not mean that you will qualify for representation by the public defender's office. I have the ability to agree to flexible payment arrangements for individuals that have personal situations that make money an issue. In addition, I will accept credit cards.
Myth: “There are all kinds of hidden costs in hiring a DUI lawyer.”
Truth: When I execute a retainer agreement it is on a flat fee basis and all of my expenses are included. The only additional cost will be that of an alcohol expert and/or investigator. I will not incur this cost unless you approve of them in advance.
Myth: “There are no hidden costs in pleading guilty to a DUI.”
Truth: There are significant hidden costs. Initially, the fees and fines are spelled out in the California Vehicle Code. However, the $390 dollar fine specified in the code will be increased by at least $2,000 as the result of mysterious “penalty assessments and court fees.” In addition, court restitution requirements and booking fees can amount to hundreds of dollars. A DUI driver educational class can cost between $300 and $900 dollars or more. The fee for driver's license reinstatement is currently at $125. With regard to liability insurance for your vehicle the premium for an SR22 policy is expensive and will trigger the biggest hidden cost in a DUI case. It is a fact that most auto insurance companies have in place a DUI “surcharge” that can double or triple your car insurance premiums for years. In some cases, the surcharge can be as long as 10 years. In addition, the loss of a driver's license can result in the loss of employment. Professional licenses and immigration status can also be impacted by criminal convictions, affecting earning potential for years to come.
Myth: “DUI defense lawyers do not believe the public needs to be protected from drunk drivers.”
Truth: When an attorney defends a a client who has been charged with burglary it does not mean that the attorney is supportive of the act of burglary. Because I defend persons who have been accused of DUI does not mean that I think DUI should be legalized. However, I want my clients to stay out of trouble simply because I care about them and it is the job of the prosecutor to determine the nature and act of criminal behavior. The job of the defense attorney is to find the good in their client, to force the prosecutor to prove their case and to represent the person who has been accused of DUI.
Contact a Fresno DUI attorney
If you are facing charges related to a first offense DUI, do not think that your only choice is to plead guilty. Take a moment to contact Terry A. Wapner and schedule a consultation in order to discuss the facts of your case and be advised of your options.