The penalties for a San Diego DUI conviction can be very harsh. For example, even if you are a first-time offender, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, five years on probation, a fine of $1,000, and participation in a nine-month mandatory drug and alcohol education program. The judge may also require that you install an ignition interlock system on your car, in which case you can drive without restriction. Otherwise, your license could be suspended for up to ten months.
Given the serious nature of these penalties, many people facing a DUI charge are interested in learning what they can do to reduce the charges or penalties they may face upon a conviction. Of course, not every DUI case results in a conviction; however, it is still a good idea to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
While driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol places others in significant danger, there has been a shift towards an increased understanding of why people get behind the wheel while intoxicated. Rather than view these offenses in isolation, courts are now more willing to consider that a DUI defendant suffers from addiction, and that their addiction played a role in their commission of the offense. That being the case, one of the things that can help mitigate against a hefty DUI sentence is to seek drug or alcohol treatment while the case is pending.
Enrolling in a drug or alcohol treatment program can only help your case. First, if your case eventually does go to trial, the fact you are in a treatment program is not admissible at trial, so it won’t hurt your chances of beating the case. Second, if you are proactive in getting help, prosecutors will likely view you in a more favorable light, which may increase their willingness to consider dropping certain charges, or agreeing to a less severe penalty.
In San Diego criminal courts, there is a specific unit to address substance-abuse issues. At the judge’s request, you may be referred to the Substance Abuse Assessment Unit (SAAU), which consists of trained addiction specialists. The purpose of the SAAU is to identify those defendants in need of substance-abuse treatment, and the extent of their treatment needs. If you are already enrolled in treatment, it shows that you take addiction seriously, which, in the minds of judges and prosecutors, means you are less likely to re-offend.
Of course, there are other things you should do to mitigate a DUI sentence, including:
- Remaining arrest-free;
- Showing up to all court dates on time; and
- Treating the judge and prosecutor with respect.
Finally, if the facts of your arrest warrant it, you should consider being open to a plea bargain. Chances are, even if you get on the prosecutor’s good side, they are not going to completely drop the charges. They are more likely to make an offer in which they will withdraw the lead charge, and amend the indictment to add a lesser offense, such as a traffic infraction.
Contact a Dedicated San Diego DUI Defense Attorney to Learn More
If you were recently arrested for a San Diego DUI offense, contact the Law Offices of Susan L. Hartman for immediate assistance. Attorney Hartman is a dedicated DUI defense attorney who is known for obtaining impressive results for her clients. She is both a skilled negotiator and an aggressive litigator, and can switch between these roles as a case requires. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call 619-260-1122 today.