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Santa Barbara DUI Attorney

Former Deputy District Attorneys Defending You From Start to Finish

Unlike other criminal charges, a conviction for DUI can result in both administrative and criminal penalties. You could lose your driving privileges, be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle, pay fines, go to jail, and more.

Luckily, our Santa Barbara DUI attorneys at Appel & Morse are prepared to defend you when you retain our services. With more than 40 years of combined legal experience and a background that includes serving as former deputy district attorneys, we have the insider knowledge and skills necessary to fight for you, helping you level the playing field. Our DUI lawyers in Santa Barbara, CA are intimately familiar with our local courts and the dynamics of the judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officials. As such, you can count on us to:

  • Visit the location of the arrest
  • Examine the arresting officer’s background
  • Reanalyze your blood samples
  • Examine the breathalyzer test
  • Subpoena and cross-examine officers
  • Identify any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case
  • Fight to maintain your freedom and driving privileges
  • Negotiate for reduced or dismissed fines

If you’re looking for a proven Santa Barbara DUI attorney near you, look no further. Appel & Morse is your first line of defense when you’re facing accusations. To get started, contact us at (805) 467-6060!

Facing Santa Barbara DUI Charges? Our Firm Has the Experience & Resources!

Drivers of all ages and backgrounds are vulnerable to DUI accusations, and once an arrest has been made, it is critical to get a DUI defense lawyer who can handle every stage of the case. For these reasons and more, our Santa Barbara DUI services include but are not limited to:

Penalties for First and Second DUI Offense in California

A first-time DUI in California is a misdemeanor.

Consequences include:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • $5,000 fines or more
  • License suspension for up to 6 months
  • Participation in a 3-month or 9-month program

California does not treat first-time DUI convictions lightly and imposes steep punishments in the hopes of deterring drunk drivers.

Second DUI Offense in California

A second DUI within 10 years of a first DUI offense in California carries:

  • Mandatory jail time of 96 hours up to 1 year
  • $5,000 or more in fines
  • Loss of driver’s license for 6 months
  • Participation in a 3-month or 9-month program

What happens if You Get a DUI under 21 in California?

Under 21 DUIs in California are particularly serious because they not only involve driving under the influence but also underage drinking, both of which are illegal. The BAC limit for someone under 21 in California is under .01%, meaning anyone under 21 cannot operate a vehicle with a BAC of .01% or higher. Depending on the driver’s BAC level and prior offenses, a DUI conviction for someone under 21 could result in the following consequences:

  • Immediate driver’s license suspension for 1 year or more
  • Mandatory participation in DUI programs
  • Jail time
  • Fines
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device

What Are Probable Causes for a DUI?

First and foremost, a police officer must have probable cause to pull you over for DUI in California. Without establishing probable cause, an officer cannot legally pull you over and a DUI case may get dismissed altogether. For this reason, you should understand whether the police had probable cause to pull you over. To better understand this, take a look at the following information:

  • When the police have enough facts or evidence to support a reasonable belief that a crime was committed, they have probable cause. Probable cause for a DUI could include:
    • Speeding
    • Swerving
    • Drifting within your lane
    • Failing to stop
  • Police can use accidents or injuries as probable cause: If you were in an accident, whether or not it resulted in injuries, the police can use the accident or injury as probable cause to suspect you were driving under the influence.
  • Behavior can establish probable cause: If the police observe a certain driving behavior and pull you over as a result, they will continue to observe and gather information about you and your behavior. For example, if you were pulled over for rolling through a stop sign and, as you open your window, marijuana smoke exits the car, the police will have probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence.
  • You could fight a DUI charge with or without probable cause: If you believe the police pulled you over without probable cause and you got subsequently arrested for DUI, our Santa Barbara DUI attorneys can help. If we learn that the police did, in fact, have probable cause to pull you over, you can trust our Santa Barbara DUI lawyers to build a strong defense strategy to help get your charges reduced or dropped completely.

What Is a DMV Hearing?

A DMV hearing is a hearing that is held at the DMV to decide whether a person arrested for DUI should regain their driving privileges. DMV hearings are separate from DUI criminal proceedings. When a person is arrested for DUI, the police will issue them a “Notice of Suspension.” A “Notice of Suspension” acts as a temporary driver’s license for 40 days.

However, a person arrested for DUI must schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days of their arrest or their license will automatically be suspended. A person can regain their driving privileges through a DMV hearing if they win.

DMV Hearing for DUI in California

After being arrested for DUI, you are given only 10 days to schedule a hearing at the DMV and regain your driving privileges. This process is purely administrative and is separate from the DUI criminal process. You will likely be scheduled for arraignment as well as the DMV hearing. Although you aren’t required to schedule a DMV hearing, you are strongly advised to do so. This is because having a DMV hearing after a DUI arrest can help prevent driver’s license suspension.

You can choose to attend this hearing or have your attorney attend the DMV hearing on your behalf. Should you retain our firm, our DUI attorneys in Santa Barbara can attend your DMV hearing and fight to prevent your driving privileges from being suspected or revoked.

The DMV hearing mainly focuses on the circumstances of your arrest rather than whether you are guilty or innocent. During the DMV hearing for your DUI, the hearing officer will evaluate your chemical test results and the lawfulness of your arrest. If you did not submit to a chemical test, the hearing officer will ask why you refused and confirm that you were informed about losing your driving privileges for refusing to take the chemical test.

What is the California DUI Court Process?

Many clients wonder if most DUI cases go to trial. The answer is sometimes. The prosecutor may offer a non-DUI resolution for a defendant, but if the resolution isn’t favorable to you, you may go to trial. The DUI trial process is separate from the administrative DMV hearing, as the result of your DMV hearing does not affect your trial.

The DUI court process starts with an arraignment, where the prosecutor will read your charges. You will then have the chance to plead guilty or not guilty, or no contest. If you please guilty, you will be sentenced, and a judge will issue criminal penalties. On the other hand, if you plead not guilty, your case will go to the pretrial phase, where your defense attorney will scrutinize the prosecutor’s evidence against you. The defense and prosecutor will negotiate resolutions to avoid going to court.

If you are unhappy with these negotiations, your DUI case will go to trial where you will have the opportunity to challenge the prosecutor’s case.

How Do I Get My License Reinstated After a DUI in California?

Among the first things people want to know is how to get their license back after a DUI. The arresting officer will usually issue a “Notice of Suspension,” which also acts as a temporary license that is valid for 40 days. Remember, however, that you must schedule the hearing within 10 days after being arrested; otherwise, your license will automatically be suspended. If you win at your DMV hearing, you can regain your driving privileges.

To get a license reinstated after a DUI in California, follow the steps below:

  • Wait until your license suspension has passed: If you received a one-year license suspension, then you must wait for at least one year to get your license reinstated.
  • Serve the entire prison sentence: If you were sentenced to incarceration, you must serve your entire sentence.
  • Finish DUI school: DUI school can last 3 to 30 months, depending on the terms of your conviction. Once you have completed your DUI school, you will then need a Notice of Completion from the school.
  • Finish all other sentencing conditions: Some conditions may require you to complete treatment or rehab.
  • Purchase the correct car insurance: Your insurance requirements will change after a DUI conviction. You should talk to your insurance agent about the special type of plan you will need and get a copy of your SR-22 form to prove you have the correct insurance.
  • Apply for Reinstatement: Your attorney can help you gather all the correct paperwork to bring to the DMV when you apply for license reinstatement.

Getting a Hardship License After a DUI in California

You may be eligible to obtain a hardship license—also known as a non-commercial restricted license—which enables you to only drive to and from work, school, household duties, and medical appointments. In general, those who have already served a driver’s license suspension upon getting arrested for a DUI or refused to take a post-arrest chemical test.

The following are the steps to obtain a restricted driver’s license in California:

  1. Wait until your “hard suspension” period ends – Before you can apply for a hardship license, you must wait 40 days, which is known as a “hard suspension” by the DMV. You are prohibited from driving at all throughout this period. Yet, you can shorten this period if you agree to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
  2. Take DUI traffic school classes – Enrolling in DUI school is a common part of any drunk driving sentence. These series of classes will teach you how to become a safer driver. Keep in mind, you don’t have to wait until you complete the course to apply for a hardship. Enrolling alone will suffice.
  3. Enroll in other programs required by the court – Whether its’ Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) or even drug rehab, the court may require you enroll in an addiction treatment program. Again, you just need to provide proof of enrollment to apply for a hardship license.
  4. Obtain proper auto insurance – Before you can drive, you must show “proof of financial responsibility,” which is another way of saying proof of car insurance. Unfortunately, a DUI conviction will result in increased premiums, which means your insurance will be costlier compared to the average motorist. Contact your insurer to request form SR-22 for the DMV.
  5. Apply for a hardship license – When you complete all steps mentioned above, you can apply for a restricted driver’s license by bringing your proof of enrollment, the SR-22, and other required court documents associated with your sentence to the DMV.

What Happens if You Get Caught Driving With a Suspended License in California?

Driving with a suspended license is considered a misdemeanor in California. A first time conviction can lead to the following:

  • Imprisonment in a county jail for between five days and six months; and
  • A fine between three hundred dollars ($300) and one thousand dollars ($1,000).

After the first conviction, subsequent violations of this law, if they occur within five years of a conviction for the original offense, can result in increased jail time and fines. In addition, if your driving privileges were suspended or revoked because you were convicted of DUI, the court can require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) that will prevent your vehicle from starting if you cannot provide a breath sample that is free from any measurable amount of alcohol.

Common Mistakes After a DUI Arrest

The following are several common mistakes after a DUI arrest:

  • Ignore the DUI charge. One of the biggest mistakes you can make after a drunk driving arrest is to ignore your DUI charge. Doing nothing will not cause your charge to disappear. Additionally, failing to appear in court results in additional charges and a warrant issued for your arrest.
  • Not realize the true consequences of a DUI. A DUI conviction can result in jail time, fines, license suspension, probation, and other serious penalties. Additionally, have a DUI conviction on your permanent criminal record can damage your personal and professional reputation. Failing to understand the consequences of a DUI can have a significant, negative impact on your life.
  • Assume you are guilty. Many people incorrectly believe that “because I blew over the limit (or my blood test was over the limit), I might as well plead guilty and serve my punishment.” Oftentimes, individuals charged with drunk driving offenses will have many defenses available to them—even if they were above the legal limit. Furthermore, police misconduct and other mistakes could still provide defenses that allow you to avoid conviction.
  • Refuse to take a chemical test. According to California’s implied consent law, if you refuse to submit to a breath test after a DUI arrest, you will face automatic suspension of your driver’s license. Not having the ability to drive can make it difficult to commute to work, attend classes, make important appointments, and conduct day-to-day activities.
  • Talk your way out of it. Many people think it is a good idea to tell the police or the prosecutor their side of the story, believing that everything will be cleared up. Unfortunately, speaking with police or prosecutor, especially without an attorney present, can harm your case. Remember, whatever you tell them can and will be used against you in the court of law.
  • Not hire legal representation. When you are facing serious penalties, you cannot afford to try your case on your own. While you may know someone who thinks they know the law and is ready to offer some free advice, it is not wise to listen. Only a seasoned Santa Barbara DUI lawyer understands the complexities of the law in order to guide you through the process.
  • Assume all DUI lawyers are all the same. On the contrary, lawyers are not all the same. If you need brain surgery, you wouldn’t hire a heart surgeon to perform the task, right? You want an attorney who has the extensive knowledge of DUI law to help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible.

What Sets Us Apart

Choosing a Santa Barbara DUI attorney to protect your freedom and driving privileges is an important decision, so choose wisely and retain Appel & Morse for your defense. With decades of legal experience on both sides of the system and a track record for proven results, you can count on us to handle your case. Our priority is to work towards minimizing the impacts of your case by helping you stay out of jail, avoid fines, and maintain your driving privileges.

Other reasons you should turn to our Santa Barbara DUI defense lawyers include:

  • We provide free case consultations
  • We have extensive trial experience
  • We provide flexible appointment availability
  • We are a husband and wife duo
  • We employ a former district attorney
  • We are backed by 40+ years of experience

Do not make the mistake of navigating the complex legal system alone. You deserve a committed team of Santa Barbara DUI attorneys who prioritize your best interests, like us.

Facing Santa Barbara DUI charges? Wait no longer to schedule your free consultation online or by calling (805) 467-6060! Call our Santa Barbara DUI lawyers today so we can help you solve your drunk driving problems!

Work With Our Husband & Wife Duo

At Appel & Morse, we work to ensure our clients understand what is happening with their cases and how to best defend their interests. Our mission is to obtain the best results based on a true understanding of each client's unique circumstances.