Overview of a DUI Case
You Have Two Cases
If you are arrested for DUI, you have two problems – A DMV problem and a criminal court problem. The DMV and Court processes are separate, and each must be fought independently. The DMV case relates to your California driving privilege and license suspension. The court case deals with DUI punishment and may include jail, fines, DUI classes, license suspensions, formal probation, vehicle impound, installation of an ignition interlock or a combination of these things. Sentencing enhancements increases punishment.
DMV License Suspension vs. Court License Suspension
There are two ways your California driving privilege can be suspended. If you lose or default on the DMV hearing, a 4 month to 1-year suspension can occur. If you get convicted in court, it will trigger a 6 month to 2-year suspension. In some cases, your license can be revoked. In most cases, you will be able to get your license reinstated immediately with the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Important – DMV Hearing Date MUST BE SET Within 10 days of arrest
To get a DMV hearing you must call DMV to request a hearing, it is not automatically set for you. If you do not request a hearing within 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended 30 days after your arrest. The number to call to set your DMV hearing is on your Temporary License/Notice of Suspension.
When you are arrested, the police take your license and give you a Temporary License/Notice of Suspension. Read the Notice because it lays out your legal rights. If you request a DMV hearing, you can drive until your DMV hearing. If you don’t set a hearing, your driving privilege will be suspended 30 days after your arrest.
Restricted Driver’s License
If your license was valid at the time of your arrest, you will be eligible to apply for a restricted license. On a first offense you can apply for a work restricted license with no ignition Interlock device or a IID restricted license. In multiple offender cases, you can apply for a restricted license with an IID. If there is a refusal, you will be ineligible for a restricted license.
DMV doesn’t take action on you license on a drug DUI case. The only exception is if there is a refusal of the chemical test alleged. It is always best to set a DMV hearing and have DMV either set aside or set a hearing.
First Court Date – Arraignment
After you are released from jail, you are given a court date for your arraignment. Arraignment is where you are told about the charges and punishment you face. If you hire an attorney, they can appear for you, so you don’t have to go to court. If you don’t get an attorney, you must appear at your first court date or a warrant will issue.
Bail/Release Terms at First Court Date
In many counties, the prosecutor will ask a judge to order extra conditions when there are prior DUI’s, DUI with injuries, enhancements, accidents, or a high alcohol level. You could be ordered to wear an alcohol monitoring device, do random testing, be supervised by probation, do AA meetings, and/or GPS monitoring. In serious DUI cases, the court can increase bail. If you are not prepared for the bail motion, you will be taken into custody in court.
DUI Settlement Conferences
After the arraignment, there will be multiple settlement conferences where your attorney, the prosecutor, and the judge talk about case settlement. In between court dates, your attorney is negotiating for a dismissal, lesser charges, or lighter punishment. This is where case investigation, forensic analysis, blood retests, medical defenses, forensic defenses, no driving or drink after driving defenses or rising alcohol defenses are presented to the prosecutor in an effort to get a dismissal, reduction of charges, or lighter punishment. Mitigation evidence including character letters, rehab treatment, job issues, professional license issues, immigration issues, and commercial driving issues are also presented to the prosecutor in an effort to get a better resolution.
Trial Setting Conferences
The trial setting conference is when your trial dates are set. Continued settlement discussions occur all the way up to trial. Prior to trial, motions are filed to exclude evidence including Miranda and Suppression motions.
Pre-Trial Motion – Miranda Motion
If the officer didn’t read you your Miranda rights when he was asking you incriminating questions and you were in custody, a judge can suppress your statements and all evidence derived from those statements. In many cases, this is helpful especially if you made bad statements like admitting to driving or being impaired.
Pre-Trial Motion – Suppression Motion
Suppression motions are filed when there is unconstitutional police conduct in a DUI case. This includes illegal detention, arrest, or blood draws. Police can only detain someone based on a 911 call, observed vehicle code violation or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. If the officer cannot articulate why he detained you, a judge can suppress all the evidence in the case which means your case will usually get dismissed.
You never have to take a deal you don’t want. If you can’t get the resolution you want, you can always try your case in front of a jury. You only need one juror to vote not guilty to win your case. In many cases, your best chance for a dismissal or reduced charges in a defendable case is before trial because the prosecutor knows your serious. In most cases, even if you lose at trial on a first offense, not much is going to happen to you over what the original offer was. So, you don’t have much to lose and everything to gain by going to trial.
Why Innocent People Get Arrested
Innocent people get arrested because when you admit to drinking, smoking marijuana, or taking prescription drugs. The cop, because of liability, cannot let you go even if you pass the tests. If you admit to drinking, smoking marijuana, or taking prescription drugs you can pass all the tests and you will still get arrested.
Why You Need An Attorney
Most people think they don’t have a chance to beat a DUI because of bad facts, an accident, a high blood alcohol level, it’s the cop’s word against their word, or because friends tell them they don’t have a chance. You must aggressively challenge the government’s case because the government makes mistakes, innocent people do get arrested for DUI, and the government has the burden to prove the case against you.
The Government Makes Mistakes
The government has the burden to prove the case against you. Since most people plead guilty to DUI charges the police and government lab get sloppy because few people challenge their methods. An experienced DUI attorney will find the problems in the government’s case and use those to negotiate a non-DUI related charge or dismissal of the case. Problems include illegal stops, bad blood draw, or improper breath test procedures. The government is never going to tell you the problems in their case prior to you pleading guilty.
Why Commercial/Occupational Drivers Need An Attorney
If your job and ability to make a living is based on your ability to drive, you need a good DUI attorney. If the facts are right, like a low BAC, an attorney can negotiate with the judge and the District Attorney to save your job because many DA’s and judges are open to trying to save a person’s job when possible.
Why Pilots/Nurses/Dr’s/Attorneys/Professional People Need an Attorney
Professional License holders need a DUI attorney with experience in licensing issues because many licensing boards with mandatory reporting requirements will want to know about the charges, sentence, and conviction. It’s important to make sure that what happens in court and DMV won’t affect your professional license.
Even if you are convicted of a DUI, you can still get your case expunged. An expungement allows you to lawfully answer that you have never been convicted of a crime. To be eligible, you must have successfully completed probation, paid all your fines and fees, and completed the terms of your probation.
This information is intended to be informative, is not legal advice, and is not intended to address the specific facts of a case. Every DUI case involves different laws, facts, penalties, and procedures. You should always obtain legal advice from a DUI defense attorney who is familiar with the facts unique to your case.
You don’t have to plead guilty, contact our office today for a free same day consultation
We have successfully represented thousands of individuals accused of drunk or drugged driving. We have successfully obtained acquittals, dismissals and reductions of DUI charges and have had DMV suspensions set aside. Call our office today at (916) 939-3900 to speak directly to an attorney about your DUI case. We are open 24/7/365 to answer your questions.
CA DUI LAW – VEHICLE CODE SECTION 23152
(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.
For purposes of this article and Section 34501.16, percent, by weight, of alcohol in a person’s blood is based upon grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.
In any prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
(c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.
(d) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in Section 15210. In a prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
(e) Commencing July 1, 2018, it shall be unlawful for a person who has 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a motor vehicle when a passenger for hire is a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense. For purposes of this subdivision, “passenger for hire” means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed or expected as a condition of carriage in the vehicle, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vehicle. In a prosecution under this subdivision, it is a rebuttable presumption that the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of driving the vehicle if the person had 0.04 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood at the time of the performance of a chemical test within three hours after the driving.
(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.
(g) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.