Cross-Cultural Legal Defense: Results for a Korean National DUI Case in the U.S.

Visual of a single-car accident on a freeway: damaged red sedan.

International Visitor Arrested for a DUI: Case Study of a Korean Citizen

Background of the Case

A Korean citizen, in his mid-20s, visited the United States and faced unexpected legal challenges during his vacation. While enjoying his time and driving a rental car, he unfortunately got involved in an accident and was found to be under the influence of alcohol. This led to his arrest and a citation for a DUI which required him to appear at the Westminster Courthouse, a situation that became complex due to him being a Korean National Arrested for a DUI international visitor status.

Challenges Faced by the International Visitor

As a Korean National without a permanent residence in the U.S., and having returned to Korea, our client was at risk of a warrant for his arrest for not appearing in court. This not only complicated his case but also posed potential international travel restrictions due to reciprocity with other countries.

Legal Representation and Strategy

Our law firm was tasked with handling this unique case, especially since the client was outside the country. Utilizing Section 977A of the Penal Code, we were able to represent the Korean National in court in his absence. At the arraignment, we entered a not guilty plea, commencing the pretrial negotiation process. Despite the judge’s orders for no drinking and driving, and adherence to legal identity requirements, our ability to have him released on his own recognizance allowed us to represent him without his physical presence in the U.S.

Resolution and Outcome

The case was resolved to our client’s satisfaction, avoiding the need for him to return to the U.S. We successfully prevented the issuance of a warrant and negotiated terms that allowed him to fulfill his probation and attend necessary classes online from Korea. This prevented potential probation violations often faced by international clients unable to attend in-person classes.

Lessons Learned and Services Offered

This case underscores our firm’s ability to represent international clients facing DUI charges in the U.S. Our expertise in handling such cases ensures that our clients can comply with legal requirements from their home countries. We encourage international visitors, who find themselves in similar situations, to contact our office for legal assistance. Our successful track record in representing clients internationally makes us a reliable choice for handling DUI cases without the need for physical court appearances.

What were the specific circumstances leading to the Korean citizen’s DUI arrest in the U.S.?

The specific circumstances leading to the Korean National DUI arrest in the U.S. involved him going out for a night of drinking. After drinking, he drove home but did not make it and ended up in an accident while behind the wheel of a car. This led to the DUI arrest.

How did being an international visitor impact the legal proceedings for the DUI case?

Being an international visitor impacted the legal proceedings of this DUI case because he did not stay in the country. He eventually went back to his home country. The challenges presented when he returned to his home country included the inability to phone in or Zoom into court, as this was not a possibility in the court he was assigned to. As a result, he had to appear in court in person. However, with him being outside the country and most visitors not typically staying for two months, we had to handle the case for him.

What legal risks and consequences did the Korean National face after the DUI arrest, especially in relation to his status as a visitor?

If the Korean National did not show up to his court date, then a bench warrant for a DUI would be issued for him by an Orange County Superior Court judge. If this happened, he would be considered a fugitive, which could lead to travel restrictions worldwide.

How did the law firm utilize Section 977A of the Penal Code in this case, and what does this section entail?

We utilized Penal Code Section 977A to appear in court without needing our client present. This entails informing the court that we are appearing on behalf of our client. In many circumstances, we can do this throughout the whole case, saving our clients the trouble of having to fly across the country or the world to appear in court.

What strategies did the legal team employ to negotiate the terms of probation and online classes for the client?

We understood that being halfway around the world is problematic for attending an in-person DUI class. We informed the judge that the client was outside the country and requested that the classes be done remotely or online. Additionally, part of a DUI with accidents involves jail time, Caltrans, or community service. The Orange County Courthouse has a window called One OC which coordinates community service and Caltrans. As the client had a term of probation to do community service but was unable to check into the window, we negotiated an agreement where the judge allowed him to do his community service at any nonprofit in Korea.

What were the key factors that led to the successful resolution of the case without the client’s physical presence in the U.S.?

Key negotiation tactics achieved a favorable outcome for our client while he was in Korea. These included emphasizing that it was a solo accident with no additional injuries. The starting point from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office was jail, but they were willing to move to Caltrans. We negotiated a compromise for a guilty plea to avoid jail, resulting in a resolution that satisfied the client. Additionally, we coordinated with the judge and the DA to let the client complete his classes outside the country and log online to pay his fines.

How does this case highlight the law firm’s ability in handling DUI cases for international clients?

Our law firm has handled many DUI cases for international clients. In addition to handling DUIs for domestic clients, we have also dealt with public drunkenness, death cases, and several other crimes. If you are an international visitor arrested in Southern California or the surrounding area, you should reach out to our office. In many cases, you can leave the country, and we will represent you in court at the local courthouse.

What advice or precautions does the law firm offer to international visitors in the U.S. to avoid similar legal situations?

It’s important not to leave the country right away and risk having a warrant issued for your arrest. Having a warrant for your arrest from the United States can result in further travel restrictions and being considered an international fugitive. Preventing a warrant is crucial.

Contact Us for Assistance If you are an international visitor arrested for a DUI and need legal representation, our firm is ready to assist. We have a history of successfully managing cases for clients from various countries, ensuring favorable outcomes without the need for them to be present in court. Contact us for expert legal support in your DUI case.

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Hand down the best attorney I have ever worked with!!! My friend recommended Hieu because I needed to expunge something I did when I was young and dumb. Hieu is very humble, personable, and made me feel very comfortable. He's surprisingly funny too. Something not all lawyers are / can do. His pricing is very reasonable and he updated me on everything frequently. I highly recommend him!!!!

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I had interviewed many attorneys to discuss my very unfortunate situation that was set by someone I knew. Hieu Vu was the most honest, caring, and professional attorney with compassion and empathy I ever interviewed. HE REALLY HAD A HEART. His fees were very reasonable and he will fight for you not just for your dollars but because he cares for his clients... I would strongly recommend him if you feel your life is upside down. Things happen but we learn to become better person.

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