San Luis Obispo DUI Attorney

Aggressive Criminal & DUI Defense Attorneys based out of San Luis Obispo & Santa Maria.

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35+ Years of Combined Experience

Personalized Criminal & DUI Defense

The Best San Luis Obispo DUI Attorney

We are the Best DUI Lawyers in San Luis Obispo. Call us to discuss your case. You have everything to gain, and nothing to lose. If you are being charged with a DUI in San Luis Obispo, time is of the essence. You need a San Luis Obispo DUI Attorney who knows how to help you.  You only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to schedule a DMV hearing. It is imperative to call us immediately so that we can avoid an automatic suspension against your license.  We will protect your driving privilege immediately, while we prepare to represent you in a special hearing with the DMV. 

Our DUI Lawyers Can Help You Avoid An Automatic License Suspension

If you were arrested for an alcohol DUI with a blood alcohol level over 0.08 then the DMV is moving forward to suspend your license automatically.  We can STOP this process.  Once we are hired we will immediately contact the DMV to arrange for a DMV hearing at which we can defend your right to drive. In the process of securing this hearing for you, the DMV will “stay” (STOP)  the automatic suspension, thereby allowing you to continue to drive until we have completed your DMV hearing.  For more information on this specific topic, Please scroll down and see our Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of this page.

Our San Luis Obispo DUI Attorneys Will Aggressively Fight Your DUI in Court

After we avoid an automatic suspension against your license we will prepare to defend you in court. At court there is a prosecutor who is intent on punishing you to the full extent of the law. We will fight to ensure that each of your rights are protected and seek to minimize all punishments brought against you including fighting to avoid jail time.  In most instances, our DUI clients never have to go to court.  We can appear in court for you!  Having an aggressive and experienced San Luis Obispo DUI attorney provides many advantages when defending against DUI charges.

Avoid Jail

Our DUI attorneys have helped hundreds of people like you, who were facing possible jail time avoid jail all together. We know what to do to secure jail alternative for our clients. In most cases our clients do not need to go back to jail, and even where “jail” is required it can often be satisfied with a jail alternative such as a county work release program.  As I type this I can’t remember our last client facing either their first or second DUI who had to go back to jail after being released following the arrest.  We are excellent a keeping our clients out of jail.

We Often Save Our Clients Thousands of Dollars

One way in which we stand out from other DUI attorneys in San Luis Obispo is that our fees are reasonable. There are many local DUI Attorneys who will shamelessly charge you thousands of dollars more than us, and do far less. If you are being charged with a DUI, you owe it to yourself to speak to us before you hire another attorney so that we explain to you how we can save you money. Likewise, if we can get your charge reduced to something less than DUI or dismissed entirely, then this can save you thousands of dollars in fines.

Experienced and Local: The Best DUI Attorneys San Luis Obispo Has to Offer.

We have represented hundreds of individuals charged with DUI’s in San Luis Obispo. Our office is brief walk from the SLO courthouse. We are local and we are experienced. We have helped hundreds of individuals who have been charged with DUI. We can help you too. Call us for a free consultation.

Being Arrested For DUI Does NOT Mean You Are Guilty. Our DUI Attorneys Know How to Win in Court and in the DMV.

Way too many people who are arrested and charged with DUI surrender their rights way too easily by automatically pleading guilty. The reality is that being arrested does not necessarily mean you are guilty. Many people are wrongfully charged with DUI’s. An experienced San Luis Obispo DUI attorney will be able to analyze your case and implement and effective defense strategy given the individual facts of our case. Let us analyze your case and assist you in defending yourself to ensure that you are not unfairly convicted of a DUI.

We Set Ourselves Apart From Other DUI Lawyers by Fighting Aggressively

No one fights harder than we do. We genuinely care about our clients and we fight to keep them out of jail. Once we avoid jail we fight to minimize all of the potential negative consequences.

Frequently Asked SLO DUI Questions

Updated: 4/11/24

Question: Will I have to serve time in jail for a DUI?

Answer: While a DUI can be a felony, most DUI cases are misdemeanor cases. A misdemeanor DUI conviction will almost always include a sentence requiring “jail time”, however in many instances this “jail time” can be served through alternative sentencing such as Sheriff’s work program, or electronic monitoring (house arrest). If you have had multiple DUI’s in the past 10 years your chance of being sentenced to actual jail time increases dramatically. Also, if you are on probation your chance of being sentenced to jail goes up dramatically, but even if “jail” is required, we can often negotiate with the district attorney for alternative sentencing which keeps you out of jail. One of the primary reasons it is important to have an experienced San Luis Obispo DUI Lawyer fighting for you is to keep you out of jail.

Question: What is the DMV Hearing?

Answer: When you are arrested for a DUI, the DMV will seek to suspend your drivers license. Prior to suspending your license the DMV will give you the opportunity to challenge the suspension. This hearing can be very important for those who rely on their drivers license for work and other important aspects of your life. Remember you only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV hearing, so do not delay. We are happy to request the DMV hearing for you Simply call us and we request your DMV hearing. One of the many advantages of hiring a San Luis Obispo DUI attorney to represent you, rather than use a public defender, is that the public defender cannot assist you with the DVM aspects of your DUI case.  Click on the following link for in an in-depth explanation of the DMV hearing.The DMV Hearing

What are the penalties for a first offense DUI in San Luis Obispo?

Answer: If you are convicted for a first offense DUI you will face some combination of the following penalties:1. Jail/alterative sentencing ( typically from 2 to 10 days depending on various factors)2. Probation (commonly 3 years)3. Fines (Likely over $2,000 but your attorney can arrange low monthly payments with the court)4. Suspension of your drivers license  (approximately 6+ months)5. Alcohol classes.6. A conviction on your record.

For an in-depth discussion of the penalties for a first Offense DUI conviction please refer to the following link: First DUI Penalties.

If any of these penalties sound HARSH to you, you should call us immediately for a free consultation.  We fight every day to reduce the penalties for our clients.  Getting arrested for  DUI does not mean you must necessarily be convicted.  And even if you do get convicted, that does not mean some penalties can be softened or avoided all together. Call us!

Question: What should I do if I get a DUI in San Luis Obispo but I am from out of town?

Answer: One of the benefits of having a private San Luis Obispo DUI attorney (not a public defender) represent you on a misdemeanor case is that your attorney can appear in court on your behalf. We frequently represent clients who are arrested for a DUI in San Luis Obispo but who live out of state or out of town. We are able to appear in court on their behalf and they never have to come to court.

Question: Should I use the Public Defender or hire a private SLO DUI Lawyer?

Answer:There are a few things you should consider before choosing to be represented by the public defender in your DUI case:

First, not everyone is eligible to use the public defender. You will need to qualify financially in order to be eligible for the Public Defender’s services.

Second, contrary to popular belief, the Public Defender is not necessarily free. In most instances the judge will order you to pay approximately $500 if you use the public defender.

Third, the public defender cannot and will not represent you at your DMV hearing.  If your license and driving is important to you, you will want to fight to avoid a suspension by scheduling and fighting for your license at your DMV hearing. You will need a private attorney for this.  This reason alone should convince people to hire an attorney for thier DUI case.  

Fourth, as mentioned above, if you are represented by a public defender you will have to appear at each of your court appearances, therefore this may not be a good option if you live out of town, or do not feel like sitting at the San Luis Obispo courthouse for several hours for each hearing.

Finally, while a public defender my be able to provide you with a good defense, the practical reality is that public defenders have very heavy case loads and it is unlikely that they will be able to give you much personalized attention. If you prefer personalized representation then a private attorney may be the better choice.  For more information on this specific topic, Please scroll down and see  our “Should I Hire and Attorney” video at the bottom of this page.

Question: Can a San Luis Obispo DUI conviction be expunged?

Answer: Yes.  A DUI can be expunged.  Under penal code section 1203.4 you can petition the court to retroactively dismiss a DUI case after you have completed probation.  A good San Luis Obispo DUI Attorney can help you get this done.  However, even if the motion is granted and the case is dismissed, should you be charged with a DUI again within a 10 year period, the prior DUI will still be used against you for purposes of sentencing. For more information on DUI expungements click on the following link: Can DUI’s Be Expunged? Or call us to speak to one of our San Luis Obispo DUI attorneys.

Question: Does Expunging a DUI clean it from my DMV driving record?

Answer: Unfortunately not. An expungement serves to dismiss a case retroactively thereby making you more competitive for employment etc. but an expungement does not change your driving record with the DMV.

Question:  If my drivers license is suspended, can I get a restricted license?

Answer: Now, there are two options available to you in the event that your drivers license is suspended following a DUI arrest.  The new option is that you can get a restricted license if the following conditions are met:

1. Get and Ignition Interlock device installed in your car.

2. Your insurance company must file proof of adequate insurance (SR-22) with the DMV.

3. You must sign up for the appropriate alcohol class. The class administrators will file proof of enrollment with the DMV.

3. You must pay the DMV $125.00.

This is a nice option as it will allow to drive for all purposes, not just work.  If your diver’s license is suspended by the DMV following a first DUI, you can also obtain a restricted license which will allow you to drive for work purposes after the following 4 conditions are met:

1. 30 days of suspension must have elapsed. This is the mandatory “hard” suspension during which no restricted license is available.

2. Your insurance company must file proof of adequate insurance (SR-22) with the DMV.

3. You must sign up for the appropriate alcohol class. The class administrators will file proof of enrollment with the DMV.

3. You must pay the DMV $125.00.

Once all 4 of these conditions are met, first time DUI offenders will be eligible for a restricted license to drive to work, and to the mandatory alcohol classes.  As discussed above, For DUI arrests occurring on January 1st 2019 or later an additional option of having an ignition interlock device installed in your car can qualify you to drive without being restricted to an from work.  One of the advantages of hiring a DUI lawyer to represent you is that they can help you through this process of securing a restricted license. Those who elect to use the public defender will have to figure all of this out on their own.  Do yourself a favor and consult with a San Luis Obispo DUI Attorney if you need your license to drive following a DUI arrest especially in San Luis Obispo.

Question: Is a Restricted License Available to Me on a Second DUI?

Answer:  If you are being charged with your Second DUI you are still eligible for a restricted license, but you will have to have an ignition interlock device installed into your car. However, once you get the ignition interlock installed, enroll in the state approved DUI classes, and file an SR-22 then you should be eligible for restricted license. One exception here is if you refused the chemical test. A refusal disqualifies you for a restricted license.  If you have been convicted of a second DUI in 10 years, consult with a San Luis Obispo DUI attorney about the steps you should take to obtain a restricted drivers license to allow you to drive.

Question:  Where can I find information relating to the required alcohol classes?

Answer:  The following is the link the authorized alcohol class providers: DUI Class Directory The providers are organized by county. Find your county and the location nearest you and contact them to sign up for your alcohol classes.

Question: I did not consent to a chemical test. Is this going to hurt my case?

Answer:  In California if you do not consent to a chemical test during a DUI investigation, you run the risk of being penalized for a “refusal”. If at your DMV hearing, the DMV hearing officer determines that you were advised of your obligation to submit to a chemical test, and that you refused, the DMV will suspend your driving privilege for one year.

Question:  Is a Restricted License (a license to drive for work purposes) Available to Me if I am found to have refused the Chemical Test?

Answer:  Under California law, drivers are deemed to have impliedly consented to submitting to a chemical test during a DUI investigation, by driving on California roads. Therefore, it is in your best interest to submit to an evidentiary breath or blood test at the time you are arrested ( Some DUI Attorneys advise refusing the preliminary alcohol test, and in theory this can be helpful, but as a practical matter, this is somewhat risky, unless you are certain that there is not confusion as to what you are actually refusing.) If you refuse the chemical test, even after being admonished by the police officer that doing so could result in the loss of your license for one year, then you will likely have your license suspended for one year. If your license is suspended for a refusal, you are NOT eligible for a restricted license. Your license will be suspended for one year, without the benefit of a restricted license.

Question: What is the likelihood of my San Luis Obispo DUI being reduced to a lesser charge?

Answer: Each DUI case is unique, and it can be difficult to predict, before obtaining police reports and meeting with the DA, which case will be reduced. In San Luis Obispo, if a case has a lower BAC then it stands a better chance of being reduced to a Reckless Driving charge (Wet or Dry Reckless). In other cases, the level of the concentration of alcohol in the blood may not be an issue at all. It may be that the stop was bad, or the officers did not see the defendant drive. In some cases we have had DUI cases reduced to a Public Intoxication charge.

Question: What is a “Wet Reckless”?

Answer: California Vehicle Code section 23103 is the statute for the crime of reckless driving or driving on a highway in a way that demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety of others. Vehicle Code 23103.5 is the code section for a special kind of reckless driving charge, specifically, one which is substituted for a DUI in a plea bargain. The slang used for this type of charge is a “wet reckless”. The “wet” refers to the fact that this stems originally from a DUI charge, and the “reckless: refers to the substituted charge of reckless driving. A “wet reckless” has several benefits over a standard DUI including: 1. It appears better on one’s record than a DUI. 2. Lower fines 3. A wet reckless does not automatically trigger a suspension of the drivers license from the court (a guilty plea to a DUI triggers a license suspension from the court). 4. In some cases, a Wet Reckless will result in less intensive alcohol classes etc.

However, one special feature of a plea to VC 23013.5 (a wet reckless) is that it will be treated as a DUI for purposes of sentencing on any subsequent DUI convictions in the next 10 years. So, for example, if you were to be convicted for a “wet reckless” as your first conviction ever, and then get charged with DUI within 10 years, the new DUI charge would be treated as a second DUI. This is what is referred to as being “prior able”.  Obtaining a “wet reckless” is one of the primary goals of our DUI attorneys when they work on a DUI case. For a more detailed discussion of Wet reckless charges click Here

Question: If I am a Commercial Driver, What Will Happen If I Am Found Guilty of DUI?

Answer:Commercial drivers (those with Class A or Class B licenses) face the potential of losing their commercial license for one year  (if this is a first offense) if they are found guilty of DUI or if they lose their DMV Hearing. This is a one year hard suspension with no right to a restricted or provisional license relating to the commercial aspects of their license. However, these individuals can still get a restricted license relating to the class C (non-commercial) driving privileges.  In the event that this is a second DUI as a commercial truck driver, and the driver has already lost their commercial license once before for a DUI, then the stakes are EXTREMELY high as the potential punishment is a lifetime loss of the commercial license.  If you are a commercial driver being charged with DUI, this is high stakes. Call us immediately to speak with a San Luis Obispo DUI Attorney.

Question: Can I be charged with DUI if there was no alcohol in my system?

Answer: Yes! In order to be charged and convicted for a DUI, the government need only prove that you were “impaired” while you were driving. It is possible to be “impaired” on alcohol, drugs, marijuana, prescription medications, even something as simple as cough medicine. It is important to remember that alcohol is just one of many types of intoxicants that can trigger a DUI arrest and conviction. However, just because the District Attorney is accusing you of being impaired, does not mean you are guilty! We can defend you!

Question: How Does the Change in California Marijuana Laws Affect Marijuana DUI Cases?

Answer:  In California, it is illegal to drive while you are impaired on any substance, whether that substance is alcohol, or marijuana, or other drugs or medications. While it may be legal to smoke marijuana in California recreationally, this does not change the laws regarding driving while impaired. If you are stopped by police and smell like marijuana or admit to smoking marijuana, the police will conduct a DUI investigation. If you are arrested for a Marijuana DUI, you should contact our office immediately to discuss your situation with an experienced San Luis Obispo DUI attorney and to protect your  rights.

Question: I Was Arrested for a Marijuana DUI, Do I Still Need a DMV Hearing?

Answer:  In general, the DMV is supposed to only take action to suspend your license following a DUI arrest if your Blood Alcohol Concentration was over 0.08.  However, I advise requesting a DMV hearing within 10 days of any DUI arrest, even if there was no alcohol in your blood, out of an abundance of caution. Likewise, the DMV can pursue a suspension under the allegation that you refused a chemical test, which could also result in a severe suspension of your license. Therefore, while it may prove to be unnecessary in some situations, I recommend requesting a DMV hearing following any DUI arrest, and then hoping that the DMV does not suspend your license on their own volition.  This is a better approach than not requesting a DMV hearing, and then learning by surprise that the DMV pursued a suspension against your license you and you missed your opportunity to defend yourself.  Any time you are arrested for a DUI you should consult with an  experienced DUI attorney and discuss these types of strategical decisions.

Question: The Officer Lied About Why he Pulled Me Over, Preceding My DUI Arrest.  Does That Matter?

Answer: Yes! The 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution makes us free from unreasonable searches and seizures from the government. In the case of a DUI, this means the officer has to have a valid basis for stopping you. If the officer does not have a legal basis for stopping you, the remedy is to have the evidence that the officer obtained from the stop (your blood or breath sample) suppressed (thrown out of court). In a DUI case, suppressed breath or blood will often result in a dismissed case. Just last month our DUI Attorneys were successful in having evidence in a DUI case suppressed and the case was dismissed. Experienced DUI Attorneys know how to analyze a DUI case for potential 4th Amendment violations that could warrant suppression of evidence. If you think the office had no good reason to stop you, you should call one of our DUI attorneys to discuss your case immediately.

Question: With So Many DUI Attorneys in San Luis Obispo, How Do I Know I Have Found the Best DUI Attorney San Luis Obispo Has To Offer?

Answer:  It is true that there are many DUI attorneys in San Luis Obispo, and several of them are very good. Below are a few tips for finding the best DUI Attorney San Luis Obispo has to offer:

1. Read online reviews. Now days, social media allows individuals to post reviews on attorneys. You can research these reviews to help figure out which DUI Attorneys provide quality representation that makes their clients happy.

2. Read their website. If the website is informative, then that tells you that this DUI attorney knows his craft. Other websites that are bare bones, should make you a little bit nervous.

3. Interview the attorney. This is the best way to know if you have found the best DUI attorney San Luis Obispo has to offer, or the best DUI attorney for you. Trust your instincts! Talk to the DUI attorney, interview them. How do they make you feel? Do they seem to know what they are talking about? Are they friendly? Do they have a good attitude? Chances are if you like them, the D.A.’s and judges will like them too.

Question: When was the last time the attorneys at Central Coast Criminal Defense won a jury trial in San Luis Obispo?

Answer: Last Week! Just last week our attorneys Adrienne Haddad and James Askew took a case to trial in San Luis Obispo and secured an acquittal for our client (Jury Found him NOT GUILTY). We always hope that it doesn’t come to that, but if our clients need to take their case to a Jury Trial, our team of attorneys have the knowledge and skills to get the job done. That being said, every case is unique and past success does not guarantee an future outcomes.

Question: If I am facing a DUI in San Luis Obispo, Do I need a DUI Attorney specifically, or will any criminal defense attorney suffice?

Answer: This is a very good question. If you are facing a DUI in San Luis Obispo you will want to hire a lawyer, or law firm, who fights DUI’s in San Luis Obispo very regularly (like daily).  And, you will want an attorney who focuses on criminal defense exclusively, not someone who is trying to juggle family law, and personal injury law and DUI defense on the side. Pick someone who does criminal law exclusively. That being said, almost all criminal defense attorneys handle DUI’s as well as other types of crimes. Further, you will want an attorney with a broad range of experience to bring to the table. Attorneys who are fighting the good fight against the district attorney in all manner of criminal cases have the experience you are looking for. So, don’t worry if your criminal attorney handles crimes other than DUI, but make sure that DUI defense is a significant portion of their practice.

Question: Can Felony DUI’s ever be reduced to Misdemeanors?

Answer: Yes! There are many time in which felony DUI’s can be reduced to misdemeanor DUI’s. The most common instance of this is when a DUI starts as a felony because there was an accident and somone was injured, and then once the medical records are brought into court, it turns out the injuries were very minor. Aside from this, Felony DUI’s can be defended just like misdemeanor DUI’s. In both cases, the government carries the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that every element of the crime was committed. A skilled DUI Attorney in San Luis Obispo will be able to break down a felony DUI case and figure out what defenses apply. If you are facing a felony DUI, all hope is not lost. Hire an experienced DUI attorney and fight it!

Question: The police officer who arrested me told me my DUI will likely be reduced to a Wet Reckless. Should I believe him?

Answer: I cannot believe how often I have clients tell me that the officer who arrested them, also gave them legal advice. The two most common are: “You will likely get this reduced to a Wet Reckless” and “you dont need to hire an attorney for this”. All I can say is please be smart enough to not take legal advice from the officer who arrests you. They are certainly NOT looking out for you best interest. Further, they usually have no clue about the truth. For example, Wet Reckless resolutions are not easy to get. But if you listened to the police officers, you would think everyone initially charged with DUI gets a wet reckless in court. That is NOT true! I actually believe the officers who tell people this know dang well it is not true. They are either trying to save face, or they are just messing with you. In any event, if you are facing A DUI in San Luis Obispo, please consult with an experienced DUI attorney for expert advice you can count on. Do not take legal advice from cops.

Question: What Changes in the DUI laws took effect in 2019?

Answer: As of 2019, those arrested for DUI have new options available to help them return to driving again as soon as possible following a DMV or court initiated drivers license suspension. If you were arrested for a DUI after January 1st 2019, then in addition to the option of getting a restricted drivers license to allow you to drive for work purposes following a license suspension, you can now get an ignition interlock device installed in your car. This will allow you to get back behind the wheel faster, and this option will allow you to drive for more than just work. If you are facing a DUI in San Luis Obispo you should contact the best San Luis Obispo DUI attoreny immediately to discuss your options.

Question: How do you defend a DUI refusal case in the DMV hearing?

The most common ways to defend against allegations of a refusal to consent to the chemical test upon request in a DUI investigation is to attack either the refusal, and show that one did not actually refuse, or to prove that the officers failed to provide a proper admonishment that refusing to provide a chemical test would result in a one year, or more, license suspension. In many instances individuals do not actually refuse the chemical test, but they may delay or inquire about their rights in a way that frustrates the arresting officer. Dishonest police officers may use this as an opportunity to punish the driver by alleging that they refused. In many cases, the way to defend these types of cases is to either have the driver testify at the hearing that they did not refuse, or to pull the officers body camera to show that the driver did not actually refuse.

The other typical way to defend against refusal allegations, in a DUI case, is to prove that the officer failed to properly warn of the risk of losing your license for failing to consent to a chemical test. When an officer requests for an individual to submit to a chemical test as part of a DUI investigation, they are obligated to warn the individual that failing to submit to the test with result in the loss of a license. The process of warning against the risk of license suspension is known as “admonishing”. When an officer is proven to have failed to admonish then you should win your DMV hearing and avoid the harsh one year license suspension.

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