Got a DUI in Orange County? The Legal Clock is Ticking

A California DUI charge can trigger devastating, life-changing consequences. After you are arrested, you must act urgently. Otherwise, you will lose your opportunity to have a full hearing conducted at the DMV before your criminal case goes to court. You have only 10 days from your arrest date to file your hearing request (we handle this process for our clients). Depending on the circumstances of the case and your individual history, the maximum penalties can range from up to 6 months in jail to as much as 15 years to life in state prison. A great DUI defense lawyer will be able to exploit any holes in the evidence and possibly save your license, and they can learn how best to fight the case.

What Can Happen if You Don't Fight a DUI:

  • Jail or Prison
    Fines from approximately $2000 on up to $20,000
  • Payment of restitution to any victim of property or bodily injury
  • Probation for 3 to 5 years
  • License suspension from 4 months up to 5 years
  • DUI school from 3 months to 30 months at your expense
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID) installed in your vehicle from 6 months to 3 years
  • Pay for IID installation and monthly lease fees
  • Potential Strike on your record (Three Strikes Law)
  • Criminal conviction on your record
  • Employers can deny you a job if you have a DUI conviction
  • Landlords do not have to rent to you
  • Much higher insurance rates will be assessed
  • Banks and mortgage companies can deny you credit and lending
  • Disqualified from security clearance and jobs with government contractors
  • Denied entry into Canada, England, Australia, and many other countries
The Best, for a reason
DUI Lawyers
DUI Lawyers

Former DUI Prosecutor Hart J. Levin Fights DUIs and Wins

Attorney Hart J. Levin has defended over 3,000 DUI cases, with experience second to none. He was a DUI prosecutor and Assistant District Attorney before he became the #1 DUI defense lawyer in Southern California. He knows how your prosecutor will see the facts in your case and how the defense can challenge the State’s evidence to prevent a conviction. By seeing DUI evidence from a prosecutor’s perspective, Attorney Levin and his expert DUI defense team have the insight to fight the case at trial or to successfully negotiate the most favorable outcome possible in each case.

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and criminal defense firm in Orange County, CA

What Happens After a DUI in Orange County, CA?

Automatic License Suspension

When you get arrested on a California DUI charge, the police officer will hand you notice of license suspension that will automatically take effect if you don’t demand a DMV hearing within 10 days. Getting the best DUI defense lawyer in LA improves your chance to keep your license and virtually guarantees that you will be allowed to continue driving for several months before any possible suspension.

Pretrial Negotiations

Unless you have a skilled DUI lawyer representing you, the police and prosecutors will have no resistance in court and the judge will probably impose the sentence and sanctions the State requests. An experienced LA DUI defense lawyer will analyze the facts of your case and the law with a trained eye, identifying issues the prosecutor will have a problem proving. With a DUI defense lawyer by your side, prosecutors are much more likely to negotiate and reduce your charges because they know your lawyer will find holes in their evidence, resulting in lower penalties being imposed, if at all.

California DUI Penalties

The penalties for DUI in California are harsher now than ever. In 2022, the government put even stricter punishments in place.

  • 1st Offense

    Up to 6 months in jail, up to $10,000 fine, 4-month license suspension (up to one year), probation, IID installed for 6 months, and 3 or 9 months DUI school

  • 2nd Offense

    Min. 96 hrs. to 1 year in jail, up to $20,000 fine, 2-year license suspension, probation, IID installed for 1 year, and 18-month to 36-month DUI school

  • 3rd Offense

    Min. 120 days to 1 yr. In jail, up to $20,000 fine, 3-year license suspension, Probation, IID installed for 2 years, and 30-month DUI school

Aggravating Factors for Orange County DUI Charges

California law imposes significantly increased penalties for any DUI involving specific facts that make the offense and its consequences more serious. These aggravating factors include:

A bodily injury suffered by anyone other than the defendant in a DUI accident.

    • 1st Offense DUI with injury (misdemeanor) – Min. 5 days to 1 year in jail, up to $10,000 fine plus restitution to victims, probation, IID for 6 months, and either 3, 18, or 30 months DUI school.
    • 1st Offense DUI with injury (felony) – Min. 16 mos. to 16 years prison, fine up to $20,000 fine plus restitution to victims, IID installed for 1 year, and 18 to 30 month DUI school.

Blood alcohol content (BAC) reading 0.15% or higher 

    • If you are charged with a DUI in which your breathalyzer test registered 0.15% (almost twice the legal limit) or higher, your penalties increase, including more jail time, higher fines, longer license suspension, IID installed for a longer period, and longer DUI school, etc.

Child aged 14 or younger in the vehicle during DUI

  • The potential risk of injury to a young child who is in a car whose driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs is very high. That elevated risk brings higher penalties to those convicted of a DUI under these circumstances. Prosecutors often seek jail time, parenting classes and a child abuse conviction on your record when you are arrested for DUI with a child in the car.  
Highest DUI Dismissal Rate in Southern California
We aggressively Defend your Driver’s License
Former Deputy District Attorney
94% of Clients Receive No Jail Time
Flexible payment Plans Available
24/7 Emergency Support

Collateral Consequences of a California DUI Conviction

DUI convictions in California can trigger additional consequences for drivers who belong to certain categories. The circumstances of each driver’s life could open them up to negative consequences that don’t apply to everyone.


Undocumented immigrants and some other non-naturalized persons risk being deported if their DUI conviction involves circumstances that elevate the severity of the case beyond a standard DUI with a BAC under 0.15.

The US government does not typically deport immigrants for first offense DUI, but each case depends on the individual’s personal circumstances, criminal history, and the facts of the DUI incident. If your DUI has aggravating circumstances, the U.S. government will probably initiate deportation proceedings against you. However, they have been aggressively enforcing deportation of undocumented immigrants with two or more DUIs.


Members of the armed forces may face added sanctions, including a formal letter of reprimand, restriction to base property, demotion, possible discharge, loss of pension, or additional duties assigned after the California court sentences the service member.

Health Professionals

California medical licensing authorities and medical disciplinary boards may impose formal sanctions on healthcare professionals found to have criminal convictions and/or excessive alcohol consumption incidents. These could be medical license suspensions, revocations, mandatory alcohol or substance use treatment and rehabilitation.

Lawyers and Judges

Legal professionals who suffer criminal convictions are subject to discipline from court authorities who are solely responsible for maintaining the fitness of practicing attorneys. Not only does that court have a duty to protect the public, it is also concerned with anything that brings the State Bar into disrepute.

Security Clearance

Any criminal conviction will prevent the offender from maintaining or receiving a security clearance. This can also threaten the jobs of employees of some government contractors, especially defense contractors. We work with many defense contractors (Lockheed, Northrup Grumman, Space X, etc) and many of our clients there have Secret or Top Secret security clearance – which is at high risk of being revoked due to a DUI.


Holders of US visas may have their visa revoked after a DUI conviction if they have other criminal involvement or priors that elevate the seriousness of this offense. A DUI arrest can also prevent a visa from being issued or delay its renewal.

DUI Lawyer in Orange COunty, CA

The Best Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys in the OC

Former Prosecutor Fights for You

 At the Law Offices of Hart J. Levin, we specialize in successfully defending DUI cases and criminal charges in all Southern California courts. We understand what is on the line when you are facing DUI or criminal charges: your career and your ability to provide for your family, your driver’s license, and the risk of harsh punishment through the courts. A DUI conviction can be financially crushing and humiliating.

As a former prosecutor and Los Angeles deputy district attorney, I know the inner workings of the prosecutor’s office, their undisclosed policies, and how they try to rack up as many convictions as possible. I began my own law firm to utilize that insider expertise and experience to even the playing field for those stuck in a criminal justice system. As I often say, “The best way to beat the prosecutor is to hire a better one.”

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DUI Lawyers in Orange County, CA

The Best Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys in the OC

We Will Develop a Customize DUI Defense Strategy For Your Case

In our mission to deliver the best results, we ask each client to be willing and open minded in providing us support for their case as we utilize new and inventive DUI defense strategies and techniques with Orange County judges and prosecutors. DUI punishment can be severe in California and especially so in Orange County courts, where judges and prosecutors often seek jail time. 

When charged with a DUI in Orange County, you face severe penalties including possible jail time (or prison in felony DUIs), massive fines, long DUI education classes, many years of probation, labor, community service, AA meetings, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and much more.

The Orange County DA Typically Seeks the Harshest Punishment for DUI Cases

If left unchecked, most Orange County district attorneys will seek harsh punishment and will not bother to consider what is fair or just. That is why it is critical to have a skilled and respected DUI defense attorney fighting your case immediately, to prevent you from being bullied by a prosecutor seeking another conviction on their resume.

Act Quickly to Avoid Lengthy License Suspension or Even Jail Time

DUIs are different from other types of criminal offenses due to their time sensitivity. If you do not act immediately, you will lose your driver’s license for a long period of time, in some cases up to several years. It is critical that you hire a highly skilled DUI expert immediately, who can secure your ability to drive with the DMV instantly and keep you on the road. 

The Orange County DMV gives only a small window of time in which to request to keep your license and fight the case. If you miss this window, the suspension is automatic and harsh. We here at the Hart J. Levin Law Firm will handle the entire DMV process for you and make sure it is done right, the first time, and on time. We know your job and livelihood may depend on it.

Our Results for DUI Clients
Speak for Themselves

Most attorneys promise results, even DUI case dismissals, without seeing police reports and properly evaluating a new case. Sounding more like used car salesmen than attorneys, it can be hard to trust someone who is so desperate for your business. Here at the Hart J. Levin Law Firm, we do not make guarantees about outcomes. We guarantee service – dedicated and personalized to you. While we often receive outstanding results, we do not “sell” and believe our testimonials speak for themselves.

How to Choose the Best
Orange County DUI Lawyer

Important considerations in hiring a DUI attorney include: 

  • Prior experience: are they a former prosecutor or district attorney? If so, they will have a tremendous home field advantage in court. 
  • Are they highly respected in the legal community?
  •  And most importantly, did you feel a connection with the attorney?

 Hiring and choosing the right attorney for you is one of the most important decisions you will be faced with since it will make the difference between guilt and innocence, and jail vs. freedom.


DUI Lawyer in Orange county, CA

OC DUI Attorneys: Former Prosecutors Know the System

We specialize in DUI defense and as former prosecutors, have a rare insight and training in to how to attack the prosecutor’s case. We know when the prosecutor has a weakness or is bluffing and we will aggressively attack their case. If you want to beat the prosecutor, hire one. We have strong relationships with Orange County judges and district attorneys. Working in Orange County courts day after day, week after week, has earned us a reputation as respected and successful DUI trial attorneys who aggressively fight each DUI case. We know the system and the dangers and how to properly navigate a tricky justice system designed to over punish and dehumanize people. Our DUI attorneys serve all of Orange County including Santa AnaIrvineAnaheimLaguna BeachFullertonTustin, and all other surrounding areas.

Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our clients include other attorneys, police officers, California Highway Patrol officers, FBI Agents, DEA agents and even judges. DUIs can happen to anyone and we are flattered when fellow attorneys or law enforcement officers turn to our firm in their time of need. Recently, we had a case filed against a DEA agent dismissed in the Fullerton court, and a case against an FBI agent dismissed in the Santa Ana court. Both dismissals resulted in our clients keeping their jobs and preserving their reputation. When it matters most, we are here to answer your questions and to defend your livelihood. 

over 3,000 DUI Cases Represented

Mr. Levin, or Hart as he prefers to be called, has dedicated his entire career to criminal defense. Starting out in the district attorneys office, he worked in the organized crime unit and specialized in death penalty cases.

As a district attorney for over five years, Hart handled over 3,000 DUI cases from start to finish, giving him an expertise that is second to none. He established strong relationships and friendships with judges and prosecutors that he believes is part of the key to his success.

Hart has been a legal expert on several TV shows, radio shows, podcasts and now on Netflix, where he is featured on the Chelsea Handler show. If you or a loved one are in need of help with a DUI case, call us anytime for a free consultation. We offer assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We offer generous payment plans with no interest and accept all credit cards. Take the first step towards your freedom by calling us now.

Orange County DUI FAQs

How much does a DUI cost in CA?

The true cost of a California DUI is far higher than the fine. The minimum costs begin with a $360 minimum fine, over $1,200 in court fees, over $500 for DUI school, a $200 tow fee, and about $1,000 more each year for insurance. If you need to post bail, add $2,000. Then add attorney’s fees.

How likely is jail time for the first DUI?

A first-offense DUI involving no accident, and no other aggravating factors, is unlikely to result in any jail time. However, that can change if your DUI resulted in an injury to someone else, your BAC exceeded 0.15, or there was a young child in the car. 

How long does a DUI stay on your record in California?

A DUI conviction can be expunged from your record as long as you did not serve time in prison (or you would not have under Prop. 47), you completed your probation, and you don’t have other charges pending. The DUI stays on the DMV record and counts as a prior if you have another DUI within 10 years.

Can I drive after a DUI in California?

Yes, once your period of license suspension expires, you can reinstate your license. You can usually drive sooner if you install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in your vehicle.

Can a DUI be dismissed in California?

Yes, if your DUI defense lawyer successfully challenges the legality of the traffic stop, shows the unreliability of the breathalyzer test, or otherwise challenges the credibility of the state’s evidence.

Are DUI checkpoints legal in California?

Yes. California law permits police to set up DUI checkpoints and drivers must stop as directed if they are signaled to do so. The vehicles must be stopped in a predetermined pattern (every third car, for example) which prevents unfair racial or other illegal discrimination.

What’s the difference between DUI and DWI?

The two terms are essentially the same. DWI is an acronym for “driving while intoxicated” or “driving while impaired.” While people generally associate intoxication with alcohol, DUI means “driving under the influence,” which could refer either to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.   California generally does not use the term DWI, only DUI.

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DUI Lawyer in Orange COunty, CA

The Best Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys in the OC

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