As you probably already guessed from having a first time DUI, the legislature, the police, the prosecutors and judges take DUI’s very seriously. These are political crimes that demand punishment by the public and the powers that be because of the potential ramifications of somebody driving while intoxicated on the road and hurting another person. If you’re on probation for a DUI and you pick up another one, the first thing the judge and the prosecutors are going to think is that you have a problem with alcohol that needs to be addressed, and if you don’t address it, they’re going to address it by placing you in custody as long as they possibly can to try to impress upon you how dangerous it is to drink and drive and to make it a deterrence so that you will not do it again. However, technically and procedurally, if you drink and drive while you’re on a first probation then you’ll violate that first time probation and if it’s a first offense, then you’ll be looking at up to six months in custody for the probation violation alone. That on top of looking at up to a year for the new second time DUI and other potential ramifications that can come along with that.
The open case is obviously going to be treated more harshly than a regular second time DUI because you’re still on probation and you’re continuing to drink and drive despite the fact that you’ve pled guilty to a crime and you’ve been ordered not to drink and drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system and you pretty much ignored the court’s order So, you’re going to be looking at being treated harshly by the judge who has that probation violation and the judge who has the open case. Typically, in LA County what they do is they will combine the two cases and your lawyer will have to deal with both of those cases at the same time in trying to resolve the case. If there’s a jury trial in the case, then they will wait and see whether you’re found guilty or innocent on the new case before they do anything with the probation violation, and for the probation violation, even if you were technically found innocent, you can still be violated on your probation if they can prove that you drank with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
A lot of times if people are continuing to drink and drive while they’re on probation, the prosecutors and judges perceive that they have a bad alcohol problem. This could either cause them to think the person needs to go to jail for a long time or be taken out of the community in a residential live-in alcohol program, where not only can the public be protected from them because they’re in custody in a residential live-in program, but also the person can get help for the root problem which is obviously, from their perspective, alcohol abuse. So, that’s certainly one potential punishment if a person wants to avoid jail time. Also, they will make you do an 18-month alcohol program – this is mandated by the legislature – and it will also be mandated by the department of motor vehicles in order for you to ever be able to get your driver’s license back. There’s typically a fine of approximately $390 plus penalty assessment which usually works its way out from somewhere between $2,000 to $3,000 once that fine is tacked on along with all the various fees that the courts collect in order to sustain themselves. Other potential penalties can include AA meetings, they can also make you do Caltrans, which is roadwork on the side of the freeway, community service. They can make you visit the hospital and morgue to see what happens when people drink and drive. They can make you do a one-day seminar put on by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which basically shows you the ramifications of a DUI. There’s a myriad of other punishments that can be exacted against somebody who’s charged with a DUI depending on exactly what they did and what type of behavior they were engaged in.
In order to get the best possible resolution and avoid some of the harsh penalties that can come along with a DUI case, obviously you’re going to want to find an attorney who has handled probation violations, second time DUI’s in the courthouse where your case is pending. That attorney will be able to get a better feel for what you’re looking at and exactly what you can do to help the attorney achieve the best possible resolution for your second time DUI case.
What I have people do is come into the office, sit down with me. We go over all of the specifics of their case, and really what we’re angled at is why are you back in this position again? Why have you gotten another DUI while you’re on probation? Because these are the types of questions the prosecutor and judge are going to ask. Once we get to the why then we’re going to get to, okay, what can be done to make sure this is never going to happen again? What can we come up with to assure the court that you’re not going to drink and drive anymore and that you’re not going to put the public at risk, because when you think about this, what the courts and prosecutors are concerned about when they do these DUI cases – second offense, third offense, fourth offense – they’re concerned that you’re going to kill somebody out on the road and then whoever gets that case is going to be looking back and say – hey, how come the judge or prosecutor didn’t do anything about this person? The writing was on the wall and they didn’t figure out how to stop this person from killing somebody.
So, if you look at things from that perspective, then when we start to build a case and either the defense or we build a strategy to get you the best resolution by way of plea bargaining with the judge and prosecutor, then you can see that we’re going to have to show them that this was an aberration and that it’s not going to happen again and that you’ve got a specific plan to show them how you’re going to deal with this problem. How they can trust that you will not back in this situation again and they can trust that the public is going to be safe. This takes time, it takes character letters from people who know you from your job, and it takes showing the judge getting a little personal – giving your version of events about what happened and why you find yourself in this position, and that you really weren’t given that much of a chance on probation and they should give you one more chance because you will show that you can be a productive member of society and not get yourself in this position again.
So, sitting down with your attorney, giving them an honest account of why this happened, what you can do so it won’t happen again is a good strategy. Also, your attorney needs to tell you what you can do to help him or her achieve the best result for you and give you some peace of mind as to what can be done to actually help you. Because you have two problems. One, you have to deal with the prosecutors on the new case – they’re typically going to weigh-in heavily on what happens to you, and two, you’re going to have to deal with the judge on the probation violation because judges control probation violations in DUI cases in LA county. So, there’s two different entities that have to be dealt with so it’s crucial that you get an attorney that can deal with both of these entities effectively in your DUI probation violation case.