California DUI cases are rarely hopeless. Police officers bungle roadside investigations. Breathalyzers and blood testing are prone to error. Medical conditions render falsely high BAC readings. Good DUI defense lawyers capitalize on these issues to win cases. Most people arrested for a California DUI charge assume the evidence against them is insurmountable. Most of them are wrong.
FIGHTING A DUI CASE ALMOST ALWAYS MAKES MORE SENSE THAN SIMPLY PLEADING GUILTY.
- More than 100 interfering substances, medical conditions and equipment malfunctions can cause DUI breathalyzers to generate falsely high readings?
- DUI blood testing is prone to error. When we re-test clients’ blood samples at independent laboratories, we frequently get different results…and sometimes find that the original sample was contaminated?
- Police officers are supposed to follow a standardized set of procedures in DUI roadside investigations…and very few of them do?
THE DUI ARREST
Most California DUI arrests begin with a traffic stop or a checkpoint. The officer asks you to perform a series of field sobriety tests and to blow twice into a handheld breathalyzer. After arrest, the cop usually will ask you to take a blood or breath test at the police station, jail or hospital (you’re required by law to take this test…refusing the chemical test may result in tougher California DUI penalties and a one-year drivers license suspension).
For most misdemeanor DUI arrests, the police will release you within a few hours of arrest and booking (but for a felony DUI or accident case, you may have to post bail). Upon release you should be given two documents: a citation to appear in court, and a pink temporary license. The cops will usually take your California drivers license and mail it to the DMV. If you’re from out of state and get a California DUI, the police here can’t take your physical license.
THE DMV PROCESS
You must contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to demand a hearing. Otherwise you forfeit your right to a hearing and your license automatically goes into suspension after 30 days. If you hire a California DUI lawyer, he/she can request the hearing for you. It’s usually better that way, because your lawyer can often schedule the hearing further out (thus getting more time to prepare) and he/she can sometimes influence what DMV hearing officer gets assigned to the case.
Generally your California DUI attorney conducts the hearing on your behalf. You may or may not be asked to attend. Your lawyer’s primary objectively is to convince the DMV not to suspend your drivers license. But your lawyer may also use the DMV hearing as an opportunity to gather evidence that may prove useful in court.
For example, we can subpoena the breathalyzer’s maintenance and calibration logs, often revealing a history of malfunctions and inaccurate readings. We can also subpoena the arresting officer to testify at the DMV hearing…and illicit testimony about poor DUI training and mistakes in the investigation.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the DMV’s hearing officer takes the matter into consideration and later issues written findings. The decision usually gets mailed out in one to 30 days. If the DMV finds in your favor, no license suspension is imposed (though a DUI conviction in court could trigger a separate suspension). If the DMV finds against you, your license goes into suspension within a few days of receiving notice.
Note: DMV hearings only occur for DUI of alcohol arrests (to determine if you drove with a .08 or higher BAC, or any positive BAC level in the case of an underage DUI). If you got arrested for a California DUI of drugs charge–including DUI of marijuana, DUI of Vicodin or DUI of Ambien–there is no DMV hearing. But if you get convicted of any of these charges in court, the court conviction will trigger a drivers license suspension.
IF YOUR LICENSE GETS SUSPENDED
If you do sustain a drivers license suspension, you can usually get a restricted license within 30 days. This allows you to drive to and from work related activities and any court or DMV imposed alcohol program. Sometimes we can make arrangements to get you a restricted license right away. But you must heed the suspension while it’s in effect. Driving with a suspended license in California is a crime and can lead to jail time, a probation violation and a longer license suspension.
DUI COURT PROCEEDINGS
Most people whose BAC exceeds .08 get charged with two misdemeanor crimes: DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Driving with Excessive BAC under Vehicle Code 23152(b). Your objective is to avoid conviction for either of these offenses.
Your California DUI attorney most likely can attend all the DUI court proceedings on your behalf…unless there’s a hearing where you have to testify, or the case goes to trial. Most DUI cases may involve several court dates, and can span over several months. During this time, you DUI attorney collects evidence, runs motions, and negotiates with the judge and prosecutor seeking a dismissal or a reduction in the charges.
If a settlement is reached involving you pleading to a DUI or a lesser charge, this can be completed one of two ways. You may come to court and plead in person before the judge. Or in many cases, your California DUI lawyer can have you sign notarized documents (called a Thal waiver) outside of court. You attorney can then brings the documents to court and execute the plea on your behalf.
If no settlement can be reached, the DUI case ultimately will get set for jury trial. Prosecutors and judges often give better deals after a case gets set for trial…as there may be more trials on the docket than courtrooms available to accommodate them. Also, problems in the state’s evidence become more apparent when a trial D.A. finally takes a hard look at the case.
CHARGED WITH A DUI?
- FIRST DUI
- MULTIPLE DUI CONVICTIONS
- UNDERAGE DUI
- FELONY DUI
- DRUG DUI
I was looking at some pretty serious charges for my DUI, my first and no previous record, with the wonderful staff here I felt I was in the best of hands. I was assured that they would do the very best for me that they could. They followed through, in a BIG way. Instead of jail and the intense DUI programs, I am able to continue working and have been able to keep bettering myself through the course of my DUI. They saved me, literally from losing everything.
POSTED BY KARI ON APR 9
SAN DIEGO, CA
This firm was recommended to be by an attorney friend of mine and I am glad he did. Alisha Wood was able to reduce my DUI case to a drunk in public!! Even if my case did not end as favorable as it did I would still be glad that I hired this firm. They were truly nice people, very helpful and I felt that my money was well spent. I would recommend to any of my friends.
POSTED BY ROB ON MAR 14
SAN DIEGO, CA
I didn't really know where to turn at first after my arrest, after have meeting with 4 other attorneys in the area I was referred to Alisha A. Wood by a co-worker, my case didn't look as though it would turn out very well. The firm displayed unparalleled knowledge and professionalism. Carmen, my case manager kept me completely informed and no matter who I talked to in the firm they were knowledgeable of my case I felt that they communicate well and worked very hard to get my more favorable outcome than I had thought for my case. Overall they're awesome!
POSTED BY MARSHALL ON AUG 25
SAN DIEGO, CA