If police are focusing their investigation on you, you absolutely should not talk to them for any reason whatsoever. Even if you are not arrested, your statements may be used against you even without any Miranda advisement because you have not yet been arrested.
You should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect you.
You need to contact an attorney with experience in federal asset forfeiture matters right away. Many such lawyers probably feel that a Petition for Remission or Mitigation is a mistake that unnecessarily sacrifices your rights. Specifically, there are no hearings on those petitions, they are decided by the executive branch (that is, the same people who want to take your money) and are rarely granted; and your rights to appeal those decisions are practically non-existent.
The better way to go...
You need to contact an experienced trial attorney immediately to discuss this matter and you will probably also need to have a rational discussion with your present attorney and/or her superiors at her firm (if there are any).
The short answer to your question is, "it depends." Many times clients, who are not trained in law and have no experience trying cases them selves, have a position on counsel's performance based on things that are not necessarily accurate or correct. It is therefore...
No one should represent themselves on appeal. You should either seek to employ experienced local counsel to handle the appeal or contact the appellate court (or Public Defender's Office) to seek appointment of counsel on appeal. Probably 90% of cases are upheld on appeal, and that's with an experienced attorney. Without an attorney, the odds are far, far worse.
You should address this question to the public defender assigned to the case or to their office generally. They will tell you whether (and when) you need to appear in court and can schedule any other meetings necessary to handle your case. Keep in mind that the attorneys in the PD's office have a high caseload and have very little time so that you will likely be dealing mostly with staff or with the attorney at court.
Public Defenders are often very good at what they do. And, just as with any other lawyer, some are better than others. It is foolish for people to pre-judge their attorney solely because they work for the Public Defender's office representing indigent clients. Whether or not a private attorney could get as good or better result in YOUR case is impossible to tell without a file or facts for us to review. (You would be foolish to post facts related to your case here, where DAs can read it.)
That depends on the analysis of what happened in your AZ case. Under California law, the AZ violation has to be the equivalent of a California offense before it is priorable. In part, that analysis may depend on the record of conviction itself, or the admissible evidence concerning the underlying facts that gave rise to that conviction.
You should contact an experienced local San Diego DUI defense attorney to help you with this. He or she is going to need as much information as you can...
Mr. Dane is correct, as usual. I would add that you should consult with an experienced DUI lawyer or criminal defense attorney to review your matter. This is not a "do it yourself" project. The mandatory jail requires you to be convicted, first. These cases are often defensible, but you'll never know if you have options unless you consult with someone.
You don't say whether you were actually arrested for, let alone convicted of, anything. If you were convicted of an offense, the record of conviction will show its status as either a felony or misdemeanor if you don't remember it. Receipt of a civil demand letter, as other lawyers suggest, is not proof of a conviction, which is the thing that matters.
You may also want to consult with an immigration attorney to help with your application.
I moved this to the personal injury board since it's less about defenses the accused has and more about how you can get money from someone. Victims of crime are entitled to restitution, and typically restitution is sought by the District Attorney. You have the right to an attorney of your own of course, who can advise you about whether you can obtain restitution and who may be willing to devote more time to obtaining compensation that the District Attorney sometimes puts into such hearings.