As a DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles, California, by far the most common case that I see is when my client is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or more commonly referred to as DUI. Over the years I have dealt with a wide variety of DUI cases the issues that may arise during a DUI defense.
In this blog I have narrowed down some of the most common issues that arise during A DUI case. Please note however that every case is unique and the facts of your case may be different than the next person's. That is why it is crucial to contact an experienced dui defense attorney as soon as possible to review your case.
FOR A FREE CONSULTATION AND CASE EVALUATION BY AN EXPERIENCED LOS ANGELES DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEY CALL US TOLL FREE AT 818 325-0570 OR CONTACT US TODAY.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT
When a person is stopped by a police officer in Los Angeles and the officer suspects that the person has driving under the influence, the first question that the officer will ask is “Have you been drinking?”
In all of my years representing people for DUI, no one has ever said “yes officer I've had a lot to drink.” Rather they will say I had a glass of wine or one beer or something similar.
By admitting to drinking even one sip of alcohol you have given the officer the right to conduct a further investigation as to whether a DUI has been committed. By making this admission, a person has incriminated themselves.
The right to remain silent, and not incriminate yourself, attaches from even the first encounter with police officers on any case, including DUI.
That means that if an officer asks you if you have been drinking, you can politely refuse to answer his questions. The officer may not like the answer but that is not the point, the point is to be able to later have your DUI defense attorney be able to establish a defense and win your case. By refusing to make an admission you are creating a situation where the DUI will be easier to defend later on.
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS ARE VOLUNTARY
In almost every scenario where a person is arrested for DUI, they will first have to perform a series of tests called field sobriety tests. These tests generally involve some physical action such as walking in a straight line, touching your nose with your eyes closed or standing on one leg and estimating 30 seconds.
These tests are extremely subjective in nature and will generally do a lot more harm than good to a person. The officer who at that point has pulled you over and taken you out of your vehicle wants nothing more than to cite you for DUI and will look for even the slightest mistake to conclude that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. They will then write their opinion in the police report that will be used in a DUI case before the criminal court.
As a DUI defense attorney who has seen countless DUI cases, many times my clients will tell me that they passed the voluntary field sobriety tests when the police report in the DUI case will say otherwise.
The field sobriety tests will also later be used by prosecutors in your DUI case in court as evidence that you were driving under the influence of alcohol and in an impaired manner.
When asked by an officer to perform these tests you can politely refuse to do so. Many people who are charged with DUI do not know this and when I explain this to them, they are very surprised. That is because police officers will not explain this to you when they are investigating you for a DUI. Don't help the police and prosecutors convict you of DUI, refuse this test. This will help an experienced DUI defense attorney later defend your DUI case in court.
YOU HAVE TO SUBMIT TO A BLOOD ALCOHOL (B.A.C.) TEST BUT YOU CAN CHOOSE WHICH ONE. CHOOSE A BLOOD (CHEMICAL) TEST
By California law, police officers who suspect a person of DUI have to notify them that they have a choice as to whether that person wants a breath test or a chemical test (most commonly the chemical test will be a blood test). I have found over the years however, that this is not the common practice. Generally the officer will try to intimidate a person into taking a breath test right there on the spot and will the give them another breath test at the station.
The reason that police officers want to do this is because it is the fastest and easiest way to determine that a person has been driving under the influence of alcohol. The other reason is that later on, it makes it harder (but not impossible) to check to make sure that their results are accurate.
Breath dissipates in the air and cannot later be retrieved. A blood sample, however, must remain in the evidence locker of the police station and an experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to have a private, independent laboratory recheck it to make sure that the results are accurate and that his client may in fact be charged with a DUI.
Many times we have been able to prevail on DUI cases because the police laboratory made errors in conducting the blood alcohol test. Even a slight difference in the results from the police laboratory to ours will give a DUI defense attorney an argument to make later during the DUI case in criminal court.
Lastly, unlike a breathalyzer test which the police officer conducts in the field, a blood test needs to be administered under the right conditions. These conditions are generally found in the hospital. That is where most of the DUI blood tests occur. It takes time to get to a hospital and if there are more pressing matters going on at the time, there may be considerable delays in drawing your blood to determine of you are in fact driving under the influence of alcohol. This delay may be of great benefit to a person who is suspected of DUI. As you blood alcohol content lowers over time, the more time that passes, the better it is for you.
IT IS NOT IN YOUR BEST INTEREST TO REFUSE TO TAKE A BLOOD ALCOHOL TEST
Even if you have been drinking copious amounts of alcohol, it is still not in your best interest to refuse to take any B.A.C. test. All licensed drivers in California agree to something called “implied consent”. Basically what it means is that submitting to a B.A.C. test when you are suspected by a police officer of DUI is one of the conditions of your having a California Driver's License.
If you refuse to take a BAC test and it is proven at the DMV, your license will be suspended for one year. Likewise, if it is proven that you refused to submit to a BAC test in court, you will face stiffer penalties for DUI.
That is why it is in your best interest to submit to a chemical test only as discussed above.
THE DMV LICENSE SUSPENSION AFTER A DUI
Usually a person who is charged with a DUI will be released without having to post bail and will be given a series of paperwork on their way out of the police station. One of the things that they will get is a temporary license, as the police will confiscate their permanent license. This temporary license allows a person to drive for thirty days from the date of issuance after DUI arrest.
At that point you will have Ten Days to contact the DMV and request a hearing as to whether or not there will in fact be a suspension. If the request is not made within ten days then the suspension will go into effect, for four months, on the expiration date of the temporary license. There are many benefits to requesting a hearing and often times an experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to save a person's license after a review hearing.
The issues at the hearing will be limited to the following:
- Did the police officer have reasonable cause to believe that the person charged with DUI was driving a motor vehicle in violation of the drunk driving laws?
- Was the person lawfully arrested? (I.E. did the police lawfully pull the person charged with DUI over?)
- Was the person charged with a DUI driving a motor vehicle with .08% or higher Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?
The issue of whether or not a person needs to drive for work or any other reason does not come up at this hearing, only the issues listed above. At the hearing, which may be telephonic or in person the police report and other items will be presented and the person charged with a DUI will have the right to also present their own evidence.
The DMV is an opportunity for your DUI defense attorney to save your license and also obtain valuable information that he or she may later use in defending your DUI matter in the California criminal court. That is why it is crucial to hire an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible so that you do not miss the ten day deadline to request such a hearing.. .
YOU CAN OBTAIN A RESTRICTED LICENSE TO DRIVE TO AND FROM WORK AND TO DUI CLASSES
If the DMV rules to suspend a person's license after a DUI, that person will be eligible to obtain a restricted license which allows them to drive to, from and for work as well as to any DUI classes that the person is enrolled in.
The requirements for obtaining such a license are as follows:
- Enroll in a DUI treatment class
- Show proof of insurance by filing a form SR-22
- Pay a mandatory fee to the DMV
Please also note that in certain counties in California, one of which is Los Angeles, the DUI law also requires you to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) prior to getting a restricted license. This however will allow the person to drive for all purposes during the restriction period.
AN EXPERIENCED DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEY CAN FIGHT AND WIN YOUR CASE
There are many issues that can be raised by an experienced DUI defense attorney at both the DMV and while fighting your DUI case in a criminal court. This blog is simply meant to go over things that come up often in my practice where I deal with Los Angeles DUI cases very regularly. Every DUI case however is unique and it is in your best interest to have your case reviewed by an experienced DUI defense attorney.
FOR A FREE CONSULTATION AND CASE EVALUATION BY AN EXPERIENCED DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEY CALL US TOLL FREE AT 818 325-0570 OR CONTACT US HERE.