ORANGE COUNTY DUI LAWYER - MICHAEL REHM
FREE CONSULTATIONS - (323) 963-8283
Driving in the OC can be relaxing or stressful. Freeway and urban traffic is often unnerving. On the other hand, a road trip through Modjeska Canyon or down the Coast Highway rewards drivers with spectacular views. In almost any Orange County city or town, it's easy to find a delicious meal and amazing wines or surprising cocktails.
Too many cocktails — or even an extra craft beer at a local brewery — can lead to tense moments when a driver encounters a sobriety checkpoint. Being pulled over after drifting across a lane marker or failing to dim headlights can lead to prolonged questioning, field sobriety tests, and a portable breath test before a trip in handcuffs to the police department.
DUI Arrests in Orange County
Arrest rates for driving under the influence (DUI) differ among the various cities in Orange County. In the most recent year for which statistics are available, 471 drivers were arrested for DUI in Anaheim. In Santa Ana, the police made 564 DUI arrests. In the slightly smaller city of Irvine, the police made 406 DUI arrests.
In that same year, the police were particularly aggressive in Huntington Beach. Although it is the fourth largest city in Orange County, Huntington Beach recorded 711 DUI arrests. Garden Grove accounted for 366 arrests, while 432 drivers were arrested in the city of Orange.
Additional DUI arrests were made in other communities. The Highway Patrol and Orange County Sheriff's Office arrested drivers for DUI on interstate highways and county highways. In total, more than 10,000 drivers were arrested for DUI in Orange County.
Most DUI arrests are for driving under the influence of alcohol. In Orange County, about 10% to 12% of DUI arrests each year are for driving under the influence of drugs. That percentage is more than double the statewide average.
DUI Prosecutions in Orange County
Most DUI arrests are prosecuted as misdemeanors. Prosecutors can charge a DUI as a felony if the driver was responsible for an accident that caused serious injuries.
Prosecutors also have discretion to charge a felony when the driver has at least three prior DUI convictions in the last ten years. In Orange County, only 3% of DUI cases are charged as felonies.
Orange County prosecutors obtain convictions in about 86% of their DUI cases. That conviction rate is higher than the statewide average. Still, hundreds of cases are resolved through plea bargains, dismissals, or acquittals.
About 3% of Orange County DUI charges are reduced to a different traffic offense. In most of those cases, the amended charge is a form of reckless driving known as “wet reckless.” A “wet reckless” conviction exposes the driver to a shorter maximum jail sentence and to lower fines than a DUI conviction.
Drivers must nevertheless contend with the possibility of an administrative suspension that might take effect before their case even reaches court. It is vital to ask for an administrative suspension hearing within 10 days for a DUI arrest to challenge the administrative suspension.
In 10.8% of DUI prosecutions, Orange County prosecutors obtain no conviction at all. In most of those cases, a DUI defense attorney obtained a dismissal by proving that the evidence was obtained in violation of the driver's rights. In other cases, a jury found the driver “not guilty.”
Multiple defenses can be used to challenge a DUI prosecution. Michael Rehm can help fight for a favorable resolution of their cases.
Orange County DUI Procedures
Most Orange County DUI arrests are prosecuted by the District Attorney's office. Those charges are filed in Orange County Superior Court.
Depending on where the arrest is made, cases are typically heard in one of four courthouses:
- The Central Justice Center at 700 Civic Center Drive in Santa Ana
- The Harbor Justice Center at 4601 Jamboree Road in Newport Beach
- The North Justice Center at 1275 North Berkeley in Fullerton
- The West Justice Center at 8141 13th Street in Westminster
The median time to resolve a DUI charge involving alcohol in Orange County is about five months from the date of arrest. When the DUI charge involves a driver who was allegedly under the influence of drugs, the median time increases to about eight months. Since cases involving drugs are more difficult to prove, they typically take longer to resolve.
Drivers who do not hire a lawyer tend to plead guilty quickly. When lawyers file motions to improve their negotiating position, cases may take a bit longer to resolve. Delay often leads to a better resolution of the case. For more information on how your case can be improved, or how the law applies to the facts of your incident, call Michael Rehm at (323) 963-8283 for a free, confidential consultation, anytime.