Do I need an attorney?

I’m sure that you are wondering if you need an attorney and what the hell good will they do for you or is it just a waste of money!

  • DUIs are much more than just a traffic ticket. A DUI is probably the most serious criminal offense that you will face in your lifetime.
  • DUIs involve the County District Attorneys who’s job it is to convict you.
  • DUIs involve the Superior Court who’s job is to put you in jail if you are convicted.
  • DUIs involve the DMV who must suspend your driver’s license, but they are just doing what the legislature ordered them to do.
  • DUIs involve notifying the DMV that you want to contest the license suspension.
  • DUIs involve DUI Classes with varying lengths of required attendance.
  • DUIs involve the County Sheriff and alternative ways to serve your jail sentence.
  • DUIs involve the payment of fines.
  • DUIs involve special insurance problems.
  • DUIs involve Probations Violations* if you intentionally fail to do what you are told to do, or do something you were ordered not to do.
    • *Probation Violations often involve more punishment than the original offense, even for simple “rather unintentional” violations.
  • An attorney can help you before your little problem becomes your big problem.

You can go up against all of these folks by yourself, or you can buy some help from attorney’s that have done this work day in and day out for many years.

So what do you expect from an attorney in a DUI case.

At a minimum, an attorney that mainly handles criminal cases, and in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Courts. There are advertising campaigns from attorneys throughout California that have no real presence in San Luis Obispo County. You may receive mailings from these folks asking you to hire them. My clients have shown me booklets that they have received from these law offices. Fees starting at $7500 are not unusual but the attorney fees can easily go up from there. I believe that they make that clear in their information package. I frankly don’t know how or why someone would do that except out of desperation from their recent arrest. Forgetting about the LA-SF law firms above, there are then several local options for you.

Some lawyers offer a $6500-$7500 attorney fee including jury trial. Now I will admit… that’s a real good deal for some folks that are going to trial. There are many excellent DUI lawyers throughout California belonging to our California DUI Lawyers Association. http://www.california-dui-lawyers.org. However not all DUI arrests will result in a jury trial, in fact very few. While every lawyer prepares the case for trial, the result of that work is a fair disposition of the case.

This is what I do, and it is what I have recommended to anyone that called me about a DUI case outside of SLOCo.

Look for a qualified lawyer that is not going to break the bank right out of the box.

Yes you do need help trying to clear up this problem one way or another, but take it easy at first until you find out more about your case. That is the way I handle these cases. The attorney fee on a first offense is between $2500 and $3500* and I do appreciate that even that is a lot of money.
*non-injury accidents; refusal to take a chemical test; etc.

Normally my fee is $2500 to handle the following:

  • Once I take your case, for all practical purposes you are personally done with all of the “DUIs” processes that I outlined above.
  • I will notify DMV that you want to preserve your right to a DMV hearing concerning the suspension of your license.
  • We will schedule your DMV hearing in person at the the SLO DMV office.
  • I will obtain a new temporary driver’s license for you that will be valid until the result of the DMV suspension proceeding is over.
  • There may or may not be a DMV hearing based on our investigation of your case, but at least you will have tried.
  • I will appear in the SLO County Superior court on your behalf, you do not have to be present.
  • I will have your blood sample ( if there was one ) retested at an independent laboratory.
  • I will obtain and forward your police report to you. We will go over your thoughts after you have read the report.
  • Your case will take several weeks to review and some additional court appearances.
  • You will not be present in court unless you want to be there.
  • Nothing will happen in court without you knowing about it first.
  • If I can reach a reasonable disposition with the District Attorney based on the facts of your case, we will discuss that option.
  • If your case turns out to be relatively hopeless, we will discuss the consequences and decide what to do.
  • If we feel that any offer in your case is unreasonable, we will make a decision concerning jury trial or not, and discuss the cost based on the issues in the case.

Frankly I feel that jury trial should be a last resort. I will try to resolve your case fairly without trial. But you always have Jury Trial as YOUR option, it’s one else’s decision but your’s. Once a case is over, if there are obligations, I will make sure that you know exactly what is expected of you.

  • Jail vs. Sheriff Work vs. Sheriff Home Detention in some cases.
  • Jail in your home county is a possibility.
  • DUI Class
  • Fine Payments, how, when, and where.
  • Restricted Driver’s License.
  • AND… if there is a problem with any of this, you will call me before it becomes a big problem. I will try to fix it before it goes to violation.

After you have reviewed all of the above that goes on in each and every case, you can decide, first, if it is in your best interests that you have an attorney, and, second, you can decide how much you want to pay that attorney to work with you on this problem.

Hopefully this explanation has been of some help to you.

Can the case be transferred to where I live?

Sorry, county where you live is not interested in San Luis Obispo’s problem; the case must be heard here.

Can I do the DUI Class where I live?


Is it possible that I will actually have to go to jail if convicted?

Yes and no. Yes, you will be ordered to jail however the sheriff has several options available for you serve this obligation. Depending on your case, you may: serve the jail time; serve weekend-jail, apply for home detention; or work on the Sheriff Work Alternative program.

Can I do the jail where I live?

This may be possible, but must be determinded by the SLO Sherriff’s Department and your own County Sherriff’s Department.

How do I speak with a Public Defender?

In San Luis Obispo County, the appointment of a Public Defender is considered during the first court appearance. You will be asked to fill out a financial statement in court and the Judge will decide that day whether or not you are eligible. The Public Defender is generally not available before being appointed by the Court. NOTE! Public defenders are paid by the county to represent you in court. They are not paid to represent you in a civil action i.e. to represent you regarding your DMV suspension. You would be on your own for that matter. The County charges a minimum of $500.00 to provide a public defender.

What happens if I miss my court date?

This is not a good idea. The Court will issue a warrant for your arrest immediately. However the Court may understand that a problem has occurred, and if it does immediately go to the Clerk’s Office of the Court branch where you were supposed to appear. If you are there within 7 days, they may agree to put you back on calendar without having to post bail.

I have an outstanding warrant for my arrest, how do I go to court to clear this up?

Many counties allow you to show up at 8:00 a.m. Monday through Friday and turn yourself in. Unfortunately that is not normally an option here. However that should be the first thing that you should try to do. You can ask the Clerk of the San Luis Obispo Criminal Department if you can do a court surrender. (805) 781-5670

  1. Post the entire bail amount to the Court; the entire bail amount will be returned to you at the end of the case;
  2. Turn yourself into the Sheriff for court surrender. It would be best to do this early in the week so you do not have to spend the weekend waiting to be brought into court. This is not the most pleasant option

What do I do if I cannot be in court for my first arraignment?

Contact the Courthouse and ask if they can help you. Often they will be able to assist you with a new court date.

What do I do if I cannot go to jail as ordered?

If you know early enough that you cannot serve your sentence as ordered, call the Court and schedule a probation modification. The Court will have no problem accommodating your problem. However if you fail to appear as ordered, you must contact the Court to reschedule the jail time, but expect additional consequences. If you have an excuse, I suggest that you bring supporting evidence concerning what happened and why you were not in jail as ordered.

What do I do if I can’t pay my fine on time?

Contact the Court to schedule a probation modification. The Court will not be upset with you and will try to find a solution, including community service work in order to work off the fine at $10.00 per hour if you wish.