Category Archives: Duiblog

Practical Ways to Help Someone after a DUI Arrest

Practical Ways to Help Someone after a DUI Arrest


People in America have been conditioned to have an automatic stress response when seeing flashing red and blue lights. It is a societal norm – a conditioned reflex so entrenched that even those who have done nothing wrong still feel their heart rates increase, their palms sweat, and the worry pervade: What if I am pulled over? What will happen?

After seeing police headlights behind them, most people second guess if they were driving under the speed limit: even if they just saw it posted, they automatically believe they are doing something wrong.

“This is easily the most common reaction. It doesn’t occur because the driver is doing something wrong; it’s an entirely different feeling than, say, seeing a cop after shoplifting,” according to Pacific Standard Magazine. “Rather, we could be doing everything completely right behind the wheel, but we’re still going to slow down to double check.”

“Most people are affected with fear, respect, and concern when they see a police car around them,” Leon James, a University of Hawaii psychologist who studies driving says.

That stress is short-lived for those who just happen to be by a police vehicle on the highway, or who are pulled over for a broken taillight or for going 5 mph over the speed limit.

But for others who fail a Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) breathalyzer, the stress is not short lived. Instead, the stress is just beginning with a long journey ahead. The stress of court proceedings, transportation juggling, work challenges, a strain on personal relationships, financial worry, and even, for some, a nebulous path through guilt if a person was harmed by their impaired driving.


The Right Legal Representation is Just One Aspect

After being charged with a DUI, most people don’t know where to begin or which DUI law firm and attorney they should choose. And it really is an important decision. This attorney will be their confidant, guide, and their ambassador in the court system, and it is important to find an attorney with experience and who specializes in DUIs.

Finding the right Orange County, Los Angeles, or Riverside DUI lawyer is only one piece of the puzzle to help those who are charged with a California DUI or have been accused of a DUI crash or accident.

Ask any of our DUI lawyers: Anyone experiencing a DUI arrest and charges is going through one of the most challenging times of their lives.

With so many things to juggle after the DUI arrest, one vitally important practical offer is to help them research attorneys and narrow the options to a few, that way they can focus on the outcome they would like and discuss probabilities with the selected attorneys during the first meetings.

Your loved one will need specific kinds of support from their family and friends so they can successfully traverse the unique personal, professional, and financial difficulties of a California DUI.


A Unique Stressor

Studies cited in the Psychiatric Times show that the “period after recent arrest may be a particularly vulnerable time,” and there is now a working hypothesis that being arrested is a unique stressor that it contributes to suicide risk.

Stressful circumstances and the inability to properly cope may have led to a DUI arrest in the first place, so the resulting DUI cost, including a California DUI Interlock device, court fees, and the price (and time investment) of a California DUI Class can leave people feeling desperate and depressed.

Chances are, you have friends and family members who are going through this right now, or who will. Forty-three percent of Americans admit they have driven under the influence of alcohol: 56% of men versus 29% of women, according to a recent survey by Value Penguin. Another 45% of respondents said they had gotten a ride from someone who had been drinking. Forty-eight percent of respondents who admitted to drinking and driving were stopped by the police.


Have a Real Discussion

The knee-jerk response of most people is to say they are “okay” or “fine” when asked how they are doing. The act of saying “I’m fine” when we aren’t is often “a way to deny painful feelings, avoid conflicts, and pretend that we don’t have problems,” according to Psychology Today. But the problems associated with a DUI arrest aren’t going to go away until there is a legal resolution. When speaking to a loved one who has received a DUI, let them know they can be honest with you and don’t have to hold back their feelings and emotions from you. Reiterate that you want to help and are willing to go beyond just moral support (if you are).


Approach With Kindness and Zero Judgement

Many people who are dealing with a first-time DUI arrest have never been in trouble with the law before. The level and type of stress they are under is probably unprecedented, and you can almost bet that several people have offered them unsolicited advice or even harsh criticism. Those who have been arrested for DUI likely feel that they are constantly being judged. They have to tell employers, coworkers, and family members what happened, all while they are kicking themselves for getting behind the wheel when under the influence. It is doubtful that anyone can say something they haven’t already considered. As a part of human nature, DUIs, or any legal problems for that matter, typically cause significant introspection.

Now is the time to be absolutely supportive, and that means you need to listen more and speak less; let them vent without feeling the need to offer your opinion or try to fix things. Put your phone down, shut the television off, turn the stereo down and actively listen. It is such a rare gift to give someone these days, and a particularly powerful approach when someone is struggling.

Don’t forget: At the end of the day, we are all human. All of us make mistakes. There are tons of old adages about this, but the premise is the same: don’t judge.

People going through such challenging times need to feel cared for and loved without judgement, which is rare, will be a welcome reprieve from their other interactions, and can make all the difference in the world.


Support Their Lifestyle Decisions and Abstain from Drinking Around Them 

A drink is probably tempting when someone is going through legal issues that are time consuming and stressful, but in the case of drunk driving/DUI arrests, it is the worst thing for them. Chances are high they will have to attend alcohol classes, and some may have substance use disorders that they are being forced to face for the first time.

It seems logical, then, to avoid inviting them out for a drink and instead suggest coffee or a walk, which will help to reduce stress and help them process their emotions.

Their shift in lifestyle may enhance feelings of alienation, when old social routines fly out the window, and there is a logical separation from many of the people they know socially through drinking or drug use. There are several logical reasons for this: your loved one needs to focus on making better decisions and will distance themselves from people who partake in things they might find tempting. Also, there can be a natural separation because those friends are unwilling to shift their routines (meeting at happy hour and drinking, for example) to include your loved one.

We, as humans, are basically tribal social animals, explains Simon Lenton, Professor and Director of the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University.  

“From an evolutionary perspective, early humans had to form social groups to hunt, gather food, protect each other and survive. As a result, we have evolved tendencies to support group cohesion by conforming to group norms and shunning non-conformity,” he writes. So, if we tend to associate with people who are like us and engage in similar behaviours, and we start doing things in a way that goes against the group norms, such as not drinking in a social situation, this can be a challenge to the acceptability of that behaviour in the group.”

A seismic shift in habits/behavior will challenge relationships, even ones initially perceived as strong.

People who experience a DUI arrest often suffer from depression and self-esteem/self-loathing issues in the following weeks and months. They may begin to pull away from social situations, partly due to transportation difficulties, likely not wanting to be tempted by social drinking or drugs, and also because of social isolation from dealing with the depression and guilt.

Chances are high that your friend who has experienced a DUI arrest will lose friends, and as a result will feel lonely. Show them that you value them and be willing to transcend old social patterns to help your relationship evolve, and to support them during a difficult time. In other words, be a true friend to them. Your friend needs you, so be there.


Think about Their Practical Needs

Help Them Get to Where They Need to Be

Public transit in many parts of the country is not conducive to working regular work hours or arriving at appointments on time. There is an ultimate lack of efficiency and convenience in public transit, even in many parts of California.

This forces people who are legally restricted from driving to explore ride-share apps or cabs, which when used consistently are financially prohibitive for many people. The result is that many people who have experienced a DUI arrest have to ask for rides and help from loved ones and friends. Dependability is key in these situations, because they may be counting on you to get them to court, one of their required DUI classes, or work. The loss of independence and ability to drive themselves, the loss of their freedom to that level, can have negative impacts on their mental health.


Help With Other Responsibilities

Those going through DUI arrest/charges/convictions have to invest a huge amount of time and money into classes, fines and navigating the pitfalls of a DUI arrest. Things like household chores, healthy cooking, and properly walking the dog can go by the wayside, especially if their mental health is suffering.

Offer to do specific tasks that you know will be supportive of them without being too burdensome to you. Show up, help them motivate—get them moving. It is painfully easy for people to get stuck in a rut after a DUI arrest. Be a bright light in their life and help them in little ways. The small things really do add up and equal a stronger form of support.

It is a common practice to turn away from situations that make us uncomfortable. While it is a standard defense mechanism, it also means that the person you care about—who was arrested for a DUI in California—is probably feeling hurt and alone. Imagine the stress you feel when you are pulled over for a simple traffic violation, now multiply that several times and extend that feeling for months to even begin to grasp the amount of stress your loved one is under. Be willing to take practical steps and be a guiding, supportive friend when they need it most.


Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney

Have you been charged with a DUI in Los Angeles or Southern California? An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.

Interested in this topic, or other topics similar to it? Find more articles on our blog, updated regularly!


Windsor Hills Crash Suspect Nicole Linton Charged with Murder

Windsor Hills Crash Suspect Nicole Linton Charged with Murder, Lawyers Argue She Had a Seizure

Anyone who saw the gas station surveillance video from the fiery car crash in Los Angeles, California on August 4, 2022, likely hasn’t forgotten it. But was there more than meets the eye with this crash?


On August 4, 2022, thirty-seven-year-old Nicole Linton, a traveling nurse from Texas blew through the intersection of La Brea and Slauson Avenues. Her Mercedes-Benz subsequently burst into flames, leaving active fire burning down the pavement and billowing smoke.

Six people died from the high-speed collision, including an eleven-month-old and an unborn baby. Eleven additional people were injured.

Linton survived the crash and was charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney with six counts of murder and five counts of gross vehicular manslaughter, according to the Los Angeles Times.

She faces life in prison if convicted of all charges, according to Times reporting.

Such severe charges are typically reserved for DUI offenders who have been convicted of a DUI offense and have taken DUI education classes.

Some news outlets reported that Linton was under the influence of alcohol, hinting at a California DUI; however, Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said shortly after charges were made that there was no evidence of alcohol in her system.

The District Attorney’s office is building its case against Linton around her previous dangerous driving behaviors, particularly after the California Highway Patrol investigators discovered she was involved in thirteen prior crashes.

Prosecutors are citing that with her history of dangerous crashes, she should have been aware of the hazards and repercussions of reckless driving.


Linton Denied Bail

A Los Angeles judge denied a motion to let her out of the city’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility and allow her to be treated in a psychiatric hospital. She remains in custody and under a “no bail” hold.

“We are disappointed with the judge’s ruling,” her attorney Jacqueline Sparagna said at the time, according to the New York Post. “We believe that a psychiatric lock-down hospital— where Nicole would not have been able to simply walk out— is the most appropriate place for her to remain pending this case. There’s no question here that this is a mental illness-related car accident, and she should be housed at a psychiatric facility where she can receive treatment and undergo the testing necessary to determine what actually happened.”


Prosecutors said data shows Linton floored her car for at least five seconds before reaching the intersection, reaching speeds of 122-130 mph.


The Times obtained motions and attachments filed by Linton’s defense attorneys that cite a “frightening” mental health crisis in the time before the crash. The attorneys also detailed her four-year struggle with bipolar disorder and unwillingness to continue bipolar medication after an online therapist told her she simply had anxiety.

After quitting her medications cold turkey and not sleeping for days, they say, she had a deteriorating mental health crisis that resulted in the crash.

“She has no recollection of the events that led to her collision,” wrote Doctor William Winter on Aug. 6. Winter treated Linton at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, according to The Times.


At the Crux of the Legal Argument

“Linton’s attorneys argued in their Aug. 29 bail motion the nurse lost consciousness as she drove her Mercedes into several cars, triggered by her bipolar disorder or a seizure,” according to the New York Post. “They asked that Linton be released with conditions so that she could be evaluated at the UCLA Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital.” 

Meanwhile, prosecutors argued a psychiatric evaluation showed no indication of a seizure and reported that the vehicle’s data and surveillance video showed that she had “complete control over steering.”

“This NASCAR-worthy performance flies in the face of the notion that she was unconscious or incapacitated,” they added in a motion.

Pushing the Defense at the Preliminary Hearing

In an atypical move, Linton’s defense attorneys are planning to call a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy and seizures at the preliminary hearing.

Sparagna, Linton’s defense attorney, noted her client’s history of mental health issues and said she has had seizures in the past. The witness, she said, is a leading expert in seizures and epilepsy.

“Everything the doctor has reviewed is consistent with her having a seizure. People who fall asleep at the wheel go limp, but if they have a seizure, everything tenses up. This is consistent with why her foot was on the pedal,” she said, according to a recent article in the New York Post.

Linton pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder and five counts of vehicular manslaughter. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 17.

What do you think about Nicole Linton’s case? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts!


Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney

An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.

Interested in this topic, or other topics similar to it? Find more articles on our blog, updated regularly!



Offering Effective Emotional and Cognitive Support After a DUI Arrest

Offering Effective Emotional and Cognitive Support After a DUI Arrest


Statistically speaking, we will all know a number of people in our lifetimes who will face a DUI or DWI arrest or accident. No one wants to be the person stopped at a DUI checkpoint, asked to do a sobriety test, take a DUI breathalyzer, or receive a first-time DUI in California. While everyone knows the saying “friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” not everyone has someone around to stop them from doing so, and the lowered inhibitions produced by alcohol or marijuana can lead to buzzed driving.  “Among convicted DUI offenders arrested in 2018, 72.5% were first offenders, according to the 2021 California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) Annual Report of the California DUI Management Information System. The quest for the best Orange County DUI attorney is only part of the struggle after an OC DUI arrest. After the initial question of “I just got a DUI, what do I do?” is answered and an experienced DUI lawyer has been hired, DUI arrestees still have an abundance of other legal, practical, and financial issues left to tackle.

Studies have shown that the stress of an arrest, particularly for first-time offenders, is uniquely and powerfully disruptive to individuals’ well-being. Some people fall into depression after a DUI arrest or conviction in California. This leaves friends and family members wondering how, exactly, they can be supportive during such a trying time.

The short answer is that it is not easy. There may not always be a “right” thing to say to support your friend or family member who is struggling after being arrested for DUI.

Still, you have options to ensure you aren’t contributing to their anxiety, and ways to be a supportive part of their life’s foundation when they need it most.

There’s a learning curve and there will likely be growing pains, but even reading this and being open to learning how best to support your loved one after a DUI arrest is progress. It demonstrates caring and compassion for your loved one.

So, buckle up, and let’s embark on a journey of understanding.

Please note that these tips may also help you navigate ways to support any friends or family member who are struggling, not just those who have DUI convictions or need a DUI criminal defense attorney.


Use This as a Learning Opportunity for Yourself: How Can You Emotionally Support Your Friend?

Elise Kalokerinos, a senior lecturer in psychology and co-director of the Functions of Emotions in Everyday Life Lab at the University of Melbourne studies how people manage emotions and navigate daily life.

She notes that people have a difficult time supporting friends who are struggling, and part of that difficulty is revealed in a recent survey about methods used to manage friends’ emotions: 378 strategies were identified, with some being better than others. The good news, she reiterates, is that supportive behaviors can be learned; it’s a skill.

Kalokerinos outlines 5 actions and strategies to consider when helping friends through difficulties:

#1 Resist the Temptation to Downplay Their Problems

“Whatever your own take on your friend’s dilemma, it’s important to be responsive to their requests, and to prioritise trying to understand how they feel,” she writes in Psyche. “Some studies suggest that being supportive is helpful only when we are responsive in this way. Moreover, being responsive to other people – trying to understand them, valuing their opinions and abilities, and making them feel cared for – is a cornerstone of good relationships.”

#2 Ask Questions and Actually Listen

Kalokerinos also advises against trying to empathize too quickly and “jumping in with rapid advice”. The flaw in this is that while we believe we are intuitive and can discern how someone is feeling, studies have shown that we often miss the mark. The only thing that gets us closer to understanding is by directly asking the person how they feel. Ask how your friend is feeling, do not just assume you know based on how you would feel in a comparable situation.

Listening is also a challenge for most people. The keys to being a more effective listener are simple, she explains: First, be attentive to the person and send nonverbal signals that you are hearing them. Examples include nodding your head or making eye contact when they are speaking to you. Second, provide ‘scaffolding questions’ that help your friend elaborate on their story and their feelings. Examples include: ‘How did you feel after that?’ or ‘What happened next?’

Yet another strategy is to try active listening: paraphrase what your friend has told you in your own words. This can help them feel better, heard, and supported.

#3 Emotional Support Should Come First, Cognitive Support Should be Second

Validating your friend’s feelings is a form of emotional support that is truly valuable when they are struggling. Immediately trying to find the bright side of a situation, although you may feel that it is a comforting approach, can downplay your friend’s emotions. Instead, it is “better to validate and comfort,” as your friend talks through the situation, Kalokerinos writes. Helping someone find another perspective is a form of cognitive support that is often helpful, but only when validated by hearing and sympathizing with your friend first.

“One additional concern with cognitive support is making sure that the reframe you suggest doesn’t slip into invalidating or downplaying your friend’s feelings. The dividing line here can be difficult to navigate,” she writes. “The key is to ensure your reframe doesn’t negate your friend’s feelings that the initial situation was upsetting. Instead, focus your reframing on unexpected upsides not yet considered, or future avenues to move past the initial problem.”

#4 Don’t Take Charge of the Situation

Offering obvious and direct help/advice can contribute to your friend feeling helpless in the situation. In other words, if the advice you offer is too take-charge it may make them feel like they are incapable of handling things on their own.

“In research, people who received obvious and visible social support – rather than subtle, invisible social support – felt more stressed about an upcoming negative event,” Kalokerinos writes. A better approach is to ask your friend what they want, how they might be able to reshape the situation, and listen attentively as they discuss their options. This places you in the position of a sounding board, something everyone needs when they are going through a stressful event.

Your goal should be to facilitate your friend’s decisions, not dominate them.

#5 Don’t Vent Together

This is something to be weary of because sometimes venting about a situation with someone can spiral into negativity. In psychological lingo it’s called “co-ruminating” and can make both you and your friend feel worse in the end.

Some researchers suggest that simply knowing about co-rumination can be enough to stop it.

Kalokerinos says that simply bringing up that you are spiraling into negativity can do the trick, or even changing the subject a bit and shifting focus as a distraction can work.


“Distraction can interrupt that feeling of being stuck in a problem,” she writes, so you can opt to agree to halt the discussion for a few hours and do something that is pleasant and distracting for you both. Then you can come back to the situation once you’ve had that break.

Validating-and-reframing is an evidence-backed approach that helps stop the spiral of rumination.

It is equally important to consider a strategy of support that is appropriate to the situation. Some researchers are exploring how the most effective way of giving support may be dependent upon who, where, and when regarding the situation.

Consider the personality (and self-esteem) of the person you’re helping: People with lower levels of self-esteem are often more responsive to emotional support that validates their experiences, according to a series of studies conducted at the University of Waterloo. These studies revealed that people with lower self-esteem “benefited less from reframing and other forms of cognitive social support.”

“People with lower self-esteem found this reframing cognitive support less helpful, and the people who provided the support felt worse about the interaction, themselves and their friendships more broadly,” she writes.

These findings suggest that it is vital to carefully consider your friend’s personality and their preferences when you provide support.

Consider culture, too, when providing support:

Some families and cultures are more comfortable with more direct support, whereas others appreciate more subtle actions. According to Kalokerinos, cross-cultural studies between European, Asian and Asian American, and the Latino cultures in the US show varying levels of willingness to both ask for and to be receptive of support: bottom line, different cultures often have different dynamics.

Consider when: Online or in-person

People have grown skeptical of interactions based in the digital world, but this can still be incredibly effective, particularly with the younger generations and especially with young people who have limited support in-person.

“Indeed, studies with young adults have found that support received digitally (e.g., through messages and video calls) was just as helpful as face-to-face support,” Kalokerinos writes. If digital support is readily available, as is often the case, then it is worth using, she notes, explaining that the strategies she has shared are equally applicable in the digital world and can be helpful in supporting friends from afar.

The great news from all these recent studies that she discusses is that there is an opportunity for everyone to be a better friend and family member. Challenging times are growth opportunities for the person struggling, and for those striving to support them. So much of life is the continual process of learning; the willingness to humble yourself and discover a new and better path. EQ or emotional intelligence is really not intrinsic to people, it is learned—a skill that is cultivated with time that can help you become a tremendous asset to those you care about: a sounding board, a place of comfort, a guiding force for good in a world where everyone is struggling in some capacity.


Were you or someone you know arrested for driving under the influence in California? If so, contact our SoCal DUI lawyers for a free consultation to discuss how we can help fight DUI charges.

Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney

An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.

Interested in this topic, or other topics similar to it? Find more articles on our blog, updated regularly!



Should I Enter a Plea of No Contest for a California DUI?

Should I Enter a Plea of No Contest for a California DUI?

When a police officer arrests you for driving under the influence in California, you have the right to enter a plea before a judge. However, determining which plea is in your best interest depends on many factors. The best way to know how you should plea in California DUI cases is to talk with an experienced California DUI attorney.

A DUI lawyer can analyze the specific factors in your case and advise you on what plea you should enter for a California DUI charge. You should never enter a plea in a criminal case until you meet with a DUI lawyer for a free consultation.

Types of Pleas Under California Law for DUI Charges

When you go before a judge, they will ask you what plea you want to enter. Under California law, you can enter one of three types of pleas for DUI charges: guilty; not guilty; or no contest.

Pleading “guilty” means that you are admitting guilt and a certain level of responsibility for the crime which you are charged. A guilty plea means that you will agree to accept the sentence that the judge orders without fighting the charges in court.

Pleading “not guilty” means that you do not admit to any wrongdoing. A not guilty plea maintains your claim of innocence and forces the prosecution to prove you committed the legal elements of the charges they are bringing against you.

Finally, a plea of “no contest” is neither a guilty or not guilty plea. However, it can have the same consequences as a guilty plea, even though you are not admitting guilt.

Should I Say Guilty or Plead No Contest When I Am in Court for DUI?

Ideally, you want an experienced DUI attorney to represent you when you are in court for charges related to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Your attorney will be able to advise you whether you should plead no contest, guilty, or not guilty when you appear before the judge for your initial hearing. Your plea is important because it occurs at the initial hearing and determines what happens next in your case.

What Happens If I Plead Guilty to a DUI in California?

If you plead guilty to a DUI in California, the court schedules a sentencing hearing. At the sentencing hearing, the prosecution may offer evidence for enhanced sentencing. Enhanced sentencing usually means that aggravating factors involved in your DUI arrest could justify a harsher sentence than the bare minimum. Aggravating factors may include:

The type of enhanced penalty you receive for a DUI guilty plea depends on the circumstances of the aggravating factors and your criminal record. Before you plead guilty to DUI, contact a Southern California DUI lawyer for a free consultation. Not only will an experienced attorney be able to help you navigate the judicial process, but they may also be able to help you apply a DUI defense to fight the drunk driving charges.

What Does a No-Contest Plea Mean in a DUI Case? Is It Better than Pleading Guilty?

A plea of no contest is the standard way of saying a plea of nolo contendere. When you plead no contest in a DUI case, it means you give up your right to defend yourself against the charges in criminal court. You do not admit that you were driving under the influence, but you agree to accept the sentence given by the judge without fighting the charges.

Whether a plea of no contest is better than a guilty plea depends on the specific facts of your case. Giving up your right to defend yourself without first consulting an experienced SoCal DUI attorney is never wise.

Why Is No Contest Better than a Guilty Plea?

Entering a plea of no contest can be better than pleading guilty in some cases. However, because a plea of no contest moves your case directly to the sentencing phase, it is best to talk with a California DUI attorney to weigh the pros and cons of entering no contest pleas in DUI cases.

Benefits Of Pleading No Contest 

The main benefit of pleading no contest to a crime is that it can prevent a DUI conviction from being used against you in civil court. For example, if you caused a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol, pleading guilty to the DUI charge automatically provides an admission that you were intoxicated when causing the crash. This leaves the door open for possible injury victims to sue you for damages. Simply put, a guilty plea may can be used as evidence against you in any possible subsequent civil lawsuits.

However, if you plead no contest, you are not admitting that you were under the influence at the time of the car crash. Instead, you only waive your right to defend yourself against the DUI charges.

Another benefit of pleading no contest as part of a DUI plea deal is avoiding a potentially embarrassing and stressful DUI trial. It can also be more cost-effective to enter a no contest plea as part of a negotiated DUI plea bargain.

When to Plead No Contest

After discussing your case with an experienced California DUI lawyer, you may want to plead no contest if you are unsure of your ability to be acquitted should your case go to trial. If the prosecution has a strong case, you might want to consider entering a plea of no contest to avoid the trial and conviction. Again, this is a serious decision that is best made with the advice of an experienced Southern California DUI attorney.

The most common reason individuals enter a plea of no contest is to avoid a guilty verdict or plea being used against them in a civil lawsuit. Accident victims often wait until after the criminal case settles to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit so they can use possible guilty pleas or verdicts as evidence of your responsibility for causing the car accident.

However, pleas of no contest to felony DUI offenses can still be used against you in a civil lawsuit. Therefore, if you face felony DUI charges, pleading no contest might not be your best option unless there are other compelling reasons to give up your right to fight DUI charges in California.

When You Should Not Plead No Contest for a DUI Charge

One of the main foundations of the American judicial system is that citizens accused of crime are always considered innocent until proven guilty. This means that the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty before you can be punished for a felony crime. You also have the right to defend yourself against criminal charges by the presentation of evidence, testifying on your own behalf, calling witnesses, and cross-examining witnesses.

If you enter a no contest plea, you give up your rights to defend yourself through the methods mentioned above. Therefore, you must consider all the advantages and disadvantages of pleading no contest to DUI charges before going forward.

Drawbacks of Pleading No Contest in Most California DUI Cases

The potential drawbacks of entering no contest pleas for drunk driving offenses include:

  • Giving up your right to defend yourself in court;
  • Accepting the fact that you will have a criminal record;
  • Submitting to DUI penalties by the judge without contest; and
  • Living with the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction.

You should not enter a no contest plea if you or your experienced SoCal DUI attorney believe you can win your DUI case. Another consideration to keep in mind is the judge presiding over your case. For example, some judges may view pleading guilty early as a sign of remorse, which could impact your DUI sentence.

Therefore, if you believe you cannot beat the charges and the DUI did not result in injury, you might not want to enter a no contest plea. Instead, you may want to enter a guilty plea as part of a negotiated plea deal.

How to Challenge DUI Charges in Los Angeles, Orange County, and Riverside County

Challenging Southern California DUI charges begins by investigating the DUI stop and arrest. An experienced SoCal DUI attorney will analyze the evidence gathered by the police and investigate the arrest. Doing so allows them to determine whether the police officers had reasonable suspicion and probable cause for your traffic stop and/or DUI arrest.

Your criminal defense attorney may also employ other tactics such as challenging the results from chemical tests, roadside breathalyzers, and field sobriety tests. There are numerous ways to challenge blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) results. Procedural errors, police misconduct, environmental factors, and a driver’s health condition are all examples of factors with the ability to impact the reliability and accuracy of breath tests, blood tests, and other evidence.

Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Southern California

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be severe. Even a first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction could result in jail time and significant fines. Repeat offenses and felony DUI convictions could result in prison sentences. If you enter a guilty plea or a no contest plea for DUI charges, you could face:

  • Suspended driver’s license;
  • Revocation of driving privileges;
  • Jail time or prison sentence;
  • Three to five years of DUI probation;
  • Fines and assessments totaling thousands of dollars;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (“IID”); and
  • Attendance at DUI school and other DUI programs.


In addition to the criminal penalties, a DUI conviction has collateral consequences such as:

  • Higher insurance premiums;
  • Problems with child custody and visitation;
  • Difficulty finding employment;
  • Suspension or revocation of a professional licenses;
  • Loss of federal student aid eligibility; and
  • Ineligibility for some government programs.

This list is not exhaustive; there may be other consequences of a DUI conviction in California not listed above. The good news is that an experienced California DUI lawyer can help you fight a DUI charge or negotiate an acceptable plea deal.


Negotiating a Plea Deal

Pleading guilty or no contest usually results from a negotiated DUI plea bargain. Your lawyer uses the evidence in your case and mitigating factors to negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges and penalties.

For example, first-time DUI offenses can often be pled down to a wet reckless charge, which can reduce your DUI sentence. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate a plea of no contest so that you do not need to admit you were driving under the influence, which can benefit you if you hold a professional license.


Contact a Southern California DUI Attorney for a Free Consultation

Were you arrested for driving under the influence in California? If so, contact our SoCal DUI lawyers for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you fight DUI charges.

Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney

An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.

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How Does Informal Probation Work After a California DUI Conviction?

How Does Informal Probation Work After a California DUI Conviction?

A common sentence for DUI convictions in California is probation. However, probation is not the same for all cases under California law. You should not assume you will receive the same probation terms as someone else. Instead, you need to contact an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible to discuss your DUI case. You could face jail time and probation for a drunk driving conviction.

What Does Informal Probation DUI Mean in California?

Most people convicted of misdemeanor DUI offenses in California are placed on informal probation, also known as summary probation. Informal probation for misdemeanor offenses does not require you to meet regularly with a probation officer.

Instead, the judge sets the terms and conditions of probation. The court expects you to complete each of the probation requirements by the deadline. The court can set future hearing dates for you to appear to provide proof of completing various probation terms.

Does Everyone With a DUI Get Informal Probation?

Probation is a typical DUI sentence for all types of drunk driving offenses. Whether you receive informal or formal probation depends on the DUI charges and facts of your case.

Many counties in California impose informal or summary probation for misdemeanor DUIs, unless there are aggravating circumstances involved in the case. However, a few counties impose formal probation, even for first-time DUI convictions.

To avoid probation, you need to contact experienced California criminal defense attorneys immediately to discuss ways to fight DUI charges.

How Long is Informal Probation After DUI in California?

Drivers convicted of DUI in California can be sentenced to three to five years of DUI probation. The duration of your probation depends on your criminal record, the specific DUI offense, whether there were aggravating factors, and the county in which you are sentenced.

How Long is California Probation for a First DUI Conviction?

Again, the length of your probation depends on numerous factors. However, many courts throughout California impose a one to three-year summary probation term for first-time DUI convictions.

If there are no aggravating circumstances, you cooperated with the officers, and you appear remorseful, the judge might impose the least amount of probation (one year). An experienced California DUI defense lawyer can usually give you an idea of the typical summary probation terms for first-time DUI convictions in your county.

California DUI Probation – How It Works

Summary probation or informal probation is unsupervised. The court does not assign a probation officer you must meet with periodically throughout your probation period. Even though you do not meet with a probation officer, it does not mean the court does not monitor your case. If the judge assigns terms of probation that require you to meet deadlines, the court monitors those deadlines. Failing to meet the deadlines could result in a probation violation and bench warrant.

Throughout your probation period, you must follow specific rules to “terms” of probation. There are general probation rules that apply to all individuals on probation. There are also probation rules that apply in DUI cases. In addition, a judge might order specific rules based on the facts of your case.

What Are the Conditions of Probation in a DUI Case?

The general and specific terms of probation in a DUI case include, but are not limited to:

  • Refraining from committing any additional criminal offenses while on probation
  • Submit to chemical tests if arrested on DUI charges, including blood tests and breath tests
  • Submit to a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test if stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence (breathalyzer or cheek swab test)
  • Refraining from driving with any measurable amount of alcohol or drugs in your system
  • Payment of restitution to accident victims
  • Complete community service
  • Attend a DUI program
  • Participate in a drug and/or alcohol treatment program
  • Attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings
  • Pay fines and court costs
  • Submit to random drug and/or alcohol testing

Some judges make refraining from consuming alcoholic beverages a condition of probation. Therefore, if you fail a drug and/or alcohol test during probation, the court might charge you with violating probation. It is crucial that you read the entire list of probation requirements to ensure you understand your responsibilities and probation requirements.

Probation Is Often a Component of a Sentence for DUI

Judges may sentence people to probation instead of serving a jail term. If so, the person can avoid going to jail for DUI by completing their probation term.

However, the judge often imposes other DUI penalties as part of the sentence. Other penalties for a DUI arrest in California include, but might not be limited to:

  • County jail time, which could be suspended if you complete your probation term
  • Fines and assessments totaling thousands of dollars
  • Complete the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s DUI School
  • Suspended driver’s license
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles you own
  • Designation as a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO)
  • A strike against you under California’s Three Strikes Law (for felony DUI convictions)
  • Revocation of driving privileges

The sentence for driving under the influence depends on your criminal record, prior DUI history, aggravating factors, and the circumstances of your arrest.

DUIs are priorable offenses in California. For prior DUI convictions within a 10-year period, the sentence increases in severity. A felony DUI conviction counts as a priorable offense, regardless of the date of the conviction.

Does Informal Probation Go On Your Record?

Your DUI case file contains the specifics of your DUI probation. However, your official criminal record should only contain the date of your arrest and conviction for drunk driving.

However, if you violate the terms of probation, a probation violation becomes part of your criminal record if you are convicted.

DUI Informal Probation Violations

If you violate the terms of informal DUI probation, the judge might:

  • Revoke probation and require you to serve your original county jail sentence
  • Reinstate informal probation, but lengthen the duration of the probation period
  • Add more terms and requirements to probation

A judge could sentence you to other criminal penalties for a violating the terms of your probation. Police officers can pick you up on a probation violation with or without an arrest warrant.

Formal Probation Is an Involved Process for the Individual and Entails Regular Visits With a Probation officer

Formal probation or supervised probation is different. Typically, formal probation is granted in felony DUI cases. Therefore, it is often referred to as “felony probation.” The probation term begins after your release from prison. The term for formal probation is typically three to five years.

With formal DUI probation, you must meet with a probation officer. You could be arrested if you miss a meeting with your probation officer. Your probation officer monitors your progress in completing the terms of probation. You must meet the deadlines set by the probation officer. In addition, your probation officer might conduct random drug and/or alcohol tests. The terms of formal probation might be much stricter than the terms of informal probation.

DUI FAQs About Informal Probation

Our Los Angeles DUI attorneys answer numerous questions about California DUI probation. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the terms of DUI probation.

What Is California’s Zero-Tolerance Law?

California Vehicle Code Section §23154 makes it unlawful for anyone on probation for DUI to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01% or higher. In other words, any measurable amount of alcohol in your system while driving during probation is against the law.

The implied consent section of this statute states that a person on DUI probation is deemed to have given their consent to preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) tests and other chemical tests for BAC levels. Therefore, you cannot refuse a breathalyzer, cheek swab, blood test, or breath test before or after a DUI arrest without penalty.

When Is An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Required?

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) prevent a vehicle from starting unless the driver provides an alcohol-free breath sample. After a DUI conviction, an IID might be required to obtain a restricted driver’s license. A judge might order the defendant to install an IID if the defendant had a high BAC level (above .15%), had prior impaired driving convictions, or refused to take a chemical test as conditions of probation.

The installation period for an IID depends on several factors, including your driving history and whether you injured someone while driving under the influence. If you are driving with a suspended license after a DUI, the judge might require an IID for one to three years after you reinstate your driving privileges.

Are There Driving Restrictions While On DUI Probation?

A person on probation for DUI cannot operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol or drugs in their system. They are not permitted to commit other crimes while on probation. Therefore, driving without a valid license or automobile insurance would be considered a probation violation because those actions are against the law. In addition to punishment for violating probation, the person may also face penalties for the additional criminal offense.

What Is Alternative Sentencing?

Instead of imposing a jail sentence, a judge might give the defendant probation, including alternative sentencing. For example, alternative sentencing might include community service, Cal-Trans roadside work, house arrest, or electronic alcohol monitoring with a SCRAM device.

Am I Required To Attend Special Classes Or Programs?

Probation terms often include attendance at one or more DUI programs or classes. For example, the judge might require you to attend MADD’s Victim Impact Panel or the Hospital and Morgue Program.

You may also be required to attend counseling and/or substance abuse treatment programs. Probation requirements might also include attending AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings. California DUI school is often included in a DUI sentence, which could require 12 hours to 30 months of DUI school.

Do I Have To Show Proof Of Compliance To The Court?

Yes, you must provide proof that you completed each of the probation requirements. That includes attending classes, completing treatment programs, paying restitution, installing an IID in your vehicle, etc. Failing to provide proof of compliance with probation terms by the deadlines set by the court could result in a violation of probation and a bench warrant for your arrest.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney for a Free Consultation

Were you arrested for driving under the influence in California? If so, contact our Los Angeles DUI lawyers for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you fight DUI charges.

Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney

An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.

Interested in this topic, or other topics similar to it? Find more articles on our blog, updated regularly!