Skip to Content
When Your Future is On the Line, We're Here to Help

Santa Barbara DUI Lawyer

Aggressive Advocacy in Santa Barbara, Venture, San Luis Obispo & Santa Maria, CA

A DUI conviction in California can negatively impact many aspects of your life, from employment to housing, advanced educational opportunities, professional license qualification, and immigration status for noncitizens. You can face reputational loss, and, in some instances, you could lose your job and livelihood, causing severe financial distress. 

Drunk and drugged driving is a serious offense and social issue. Aside from the reputational damage, you could face criminal penalties from jail time, license suspension, substantial fines and fees, community service hours, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and a permanent criminal record. 

Hiring a competent and trusted DUI defense lawyer in these cases is critical. DUI is a complex legal issue with many potential pitfalls. Without a professional, you risk facing the full brunt of its criminal consequences. At Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, you can work with a proven trial lawyer who will take every legal measure to help protect your rights, challenge the prosecution’s case, and work toward the best possible outcome.

Reserve your free initial consultation with our Santa Barbara DUI attorney. You can reach us online or at (805) 749-5670 to get started with an attorney near you.

Understanding the DUI Process in Santa Barbara

You will commonly be charged with two distinct but related criminal defenses when arrested for DUI. These include California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and 23152(b). 

A VC Section 23152(A) violation applies if you were arrested based on evidence that your mental or physical driving abilities were impaired. You can be charged with this regardless of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as measured in a breathalyzer or other chemical test. 

The VC Section 23152(B) violation is what is referred to as a “per se” offense. You can be convicted of this offense even if you drove perfectly and exhibited minimal signs of physical or mental impairment from intoxication. 

A “per se” violation only requires the prosecutor to prove that a lawfully administered chemical test of blood, breath, or urine established that you were operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 (the legal limit) or higher.

You can be charged with a California DUI when under the influence of drugs as well, including marijuana, controlled substances under California drug laws, prescription medicines, or over-the-counter medications, such as sleep aids, allergy drugs, cough medicines, and more. 

DUI Investigations in California

Unless you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint or involved in an accident, a DUI investigation usually includes being pulled over for erratic driving or a traffic violation.

When an officer stops your vehicle, they typically will not have enough evidence for a DUI arrest. The officer will likely ask you several questions about where you are coming from and whether you have been drinking.

While you should not lie to the officer, you should not answer these questions unless you have ingested no drugs or alcohol. While you should have your license and registration ready to provide to the officer, you are not required to answer questions about your activities.

These questions serve two functions for police officers. First, they want you to provide incriminating statements so that they can initiate a DUI investigation. Second, they observe you for physical signs of intoxication like red eyes, alcohol on your breath, slurred speech, and similar indicators.

No benefit exists in being belligerent. State that you are not comfortable answering questions without a lawyer.

Field Sobriety Tests

At some point, the officer will probably ask you to participate in field sobriety tests (FSTs) and to submit to a portable breath test. These preliminary forms of alcohol or drug screening are administered to support probable cause for a DUI arrest in California. Probable cause is based on the legal standard that officers must have justification for making an arrest. 

However, you are not obligated to submit to either of these screening procedures, so it is usually not in your interest to do so unless you have not ingested any drugs or alcohol. While the officer might still arrest you for DUI, you will have limited the evidence available to the prosecutor.

Penalties for Refusing Formal Chemical Testing

Understanding the penalties for refusing formal chemical testing under VC Section 23612 is vital. A refusal following a lawful arrest will result in additional penalties, depending on previous offenses.

For a first offense, these additional penalties include:

  • two extra days in jail, an administrative license suspension of one year,
  • and nine months in DUI school.

A prosecutor may also comment on the refusal as consciousness of guilt and continue to pursue a criminal case based on the officer’s observations.

Work with Our Seasoned Santa Barbara DUI Lawyer

You must understand your case, whether you face a first, second, or subsequent DUI offense. At Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense, our primary goal when meeting with you is to help you understand your charges. We want you to become aware of your rights, common defenses, DUI enhancements, if applicable, and the penalties and other consequences of a DUI conviction

Furthermore, by hearing about your arrest’s unique circumstances, we can determine if any illegal police actions occurred, such as an unlawful road stop or lack of probable cause. From there, we can determine the best defense strategy for your California DUI case.

Why Choose Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense?

  • Experienced DUI Defense: Our team has extensive experience handling DUI cases in Santa Barbara and is well-versed in California DUI laws. We have a proven track record of securing favorable outcomes for our clients.
  • Personalized Legal Strategies: Every DUI case is unique. We take the time to thoroughly investigate the details of your case and develop a tailored defense strategy that addresses the specific circumstances of your situation.
  • Aggressive Representation: We are committed to fighting for your rights. Whether negotiating for reduced charges or representing you in court, we provide vigorous advocacy at every stage of your case.
  • Compassionate Support: We understand the personal and emotional toll a DUI charge can take. Our team provides compassionate guidance and support throughout the legal process, ensuring you are informed and confident in your defense.

Call us at (805) 749-5670 or complete our online contact form today to start your FREE consultation process with a DUI lawyer near you. 

DUI Defense Services in Santa barbara

  • First-Time DUI Offenses: If this is your first DUI offense in California, you may be unfamiliar with the legal process and potential penalties. We guide you through every step, from understanding your charges to navigating court procedures.
  • Repeat DUI Offenses: Repeat DUI offenses carry harsher penalties. We work diligently to mitigate the impact of multiple charges and seek alternatives to incarceration whenever possible.
  • Felony DUI: DUI charges in California can be elevated to felonies under certain circumstances, such as causing injury or having multiple prior offenses. We provide a robust defense to challenge these serious allegations.
  • Underage DUI: California has strict laws for underage drinking and driving. We help minors and their families navigate these complex cases, aiming to protect their futures from the long-term consequences of a conviction.
  • DUI with Injury: If your DUI charge involves an accident resulting in injury, the stakes are even higher. Our Santa Barbara DUI lawyers conduct a thorough investigation to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and work towards minimizing penalties.
  • DUI and Drugs: DUI charges are not limited to alcohol. If you are accused of driving under the influence of drugs, we scrutinize the evidence, including the accuracy of drug tests and the legality of the traffic stop.
  • License Suspension Hearings: A DUI arrest can result in immediate license suspension. We represent you in DMV hearings to contest the suspension and strive to maintain your driving privileges.

The DUI Defense Process

  1. Initial Consultation: We begin with a confidential consultation with an experienced Santa Barbara DUI lawyer to discuss the details of your case, answer your questions, and outline your legal options.
  2. Case Investigation: Our team conducts a thorough investigation, reviewing police reports, breathalyzer and field sobriety test results, and any other relevant evidence.
  3. Defense Strategy: Based on our findings, we develop a strategic defense plan aimed at challenging the prosecution’s case and protecting your rights.
  4. Negotiation: We negotiate with prosecutors to seek reduced charges or alternative sentencing options, such as diversion programs or community service.
  5. Court Representation: If your case goes to trial, Our Santa Barbara DUI attorneys provide aggressive and skilled representation, presenting a compelling defense to achieve the best possible outcome.
  6. Ongoing Support: Throughout the process, we keep you informed and involved, providing the support and guidance you need to navigate your case confidently.


If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges in Santa Barbara, it is crucial to act quickly and secure experienced legal representation. Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense is here to defend your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

Call us at (805) 749-5670 or complete our online contact form to start your FREE consultation with a DUI attorney near you. 

California DUI FAQ


What should I do if I'm arrested for a DUI in Santa Barbara?

If you're arrested for a DUI, it's crucial to remain calm and cooperate with law enforcement. However, do not answer any questions or provide statements without an attorney present. Contact Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense immediately to ensure your rights are protected and to begin working on your defense.

What are the potential consequences of a DUI conviction?

The consequences of a DUI conviction in California can include:

  • Fines and court fees
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Mandatory DUI education programs
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Possible jail time
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Probation

Can I fight a DUI charge?

Yes, you can fight a DUI charge. Common defenses include challenging the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of field sobriety and breathalyzer tests, and any procedural errors made by law enforcement. Our experienced attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case to identify the best defense strategy.

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony DUI?

A misdemeanor DUI typically involves first or second offenses without any aggravating factors, such as injuries or fatalities. A felony DUI can result from:

  • Having three or more prior DUI convictions within ten years
  • Causing an accident that results in injury or death
  • Having a prior felony DUI conviction Felony DUIs carry more severe penalties, including longer prison sentences and larger fines.

How long will my license be suspended after a DUI arrest?

The length of your license suspension depends on various factors, including whether it's your first offense and whether you refused a chemical test. For a first-time DUI offense, the suspension can be up to six months. Refusing a chemical test can result in a one-year suspension. Our attorneys can represent you in DMV hearings to contest the suspension and seek to maintain your driving privileges.

What is an ignition interlock device, and will I need one?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer installed in your vehicle that requires you to pass a breath test before the engine will start. In California, first-time DUI offenders may be required to install an IID for six months, while repeat offenders may need it for longer periods. The court will determine if an IID is necessary based on the specifics of your case.

What are the steps in the DUI legal process?

The DUI legal process typically involves:

  1. Arrest: The police arrest you and may conduct field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test.
  2. Arraignment: You appear in court to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).
  3. Pre-Trial: Both sides exchange evidence and negotiate possible plea deals.
  4. Trial: If no plea deal is reached, your case goes to trial where both sides present their arguments.
  5. Verdict: The judge or jury delivers a verdict.
  6. Sentencing: If convicted, the judge imposes penalties based on the specifics of your case.

Can I refuse a breathalyzer or field sobriety test?

In California, you have the right to refuse field sobriety tests and preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) tests before arrest without immediate legal penalties. However, refusing a chemical test (breath, blood, or urine) after being lawfully arrested for DUI can result in automatic license suspension and other penalties due to implied consent laws.

Call us at (805) 749-5670 or complete our online contact form to start your FREE consultation with our Santa Barbara attorney near you. 

Continue Reading Read Less

The Right Firm Makes a Difference

Why Clients Choose Us
  • Aggressive & Compassionate Representation
    You are our number one priority in and out of the courtroom.
  • Former Prosecutor on Your Team

    Work with an experienced former prosecutor who knows both sides.

  • Providing Service in Spanish
    Criminal defense provided by a Spanish-speaking team.
  • Offering 100% Free Consults
    Talk through all of your legal options during a free consultation.

What Clients Are Saying

  • A former prosecutor, Sandy is a skilled litigator who understands both sides of the criminal justice system, which is a tremendous asset. While we hope never to be in a similar situation again, we can recommend Sandy without hesitation.
    - Ann S.
  • A great relief and reassurance to anyone potentially facing criminal charges.
    - S.A.
  • To say that Horowitz is a great lawyer is an understatement. I would highly recommend him to anyone dealing with a legal issue.
    - Haley S.
  • In addition to being highly intelligent and professional, he is incredibly empathetic and kind, which helps when dealing with life’s unpleasant situations.
    - Eli S.