Experienced Los Angeles DUI Attorney
The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm understand that being accused of a DUI if a frightening experience. Everyone understands that it will have an impact on their life, but most people do not truly understand the extent of the impact a DUI conviction can have on their lives until they contact an attorney. At Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm, we have the benefit of tutelage from one of the best. Vincent Ross, Esq., has nearly three decades of experience in criminal law, and three decades of experience obtaining impressive results.
The cost of a DUI in Los Angeles is astronomical, and that is in a purely financial sense. The non-financial impact of a DUI conviction in Los Angeles is even more frightening. If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, and your BAC was over 0.08%, you will receive an automatic license suspension; the suspension can only be fought at a DMV hearing. DMV hearings are not designed to assist you in obtaining favorable results. Having an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm on your side throughout the process has the benefit of providing peace of mind to our clients; if it can be done, our attorneys will do it. It cannot be denied that the person looking for representation relating to a DUI charge will have to wade through a vast number of pretenders – people claiming they can help you when they are I, in fact, incapable of handling your case. At Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm, we don’t take your case unless we know we can provide some benefit to you, and your case.
The benefit of having an attorney include: (1) superior advocacy at your DMV Hearing, (2) Experienced staff whose only job is to help obtain evidence that will ultimately result in an acquittal, or the charges being dropped altogether; and (3) presenting the best defense possible based on the facts of your case. For this article, we will address: (1) your DMV hearing, (2) the criminal case against you; and (3) what your attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm can do for you:
What Will Happen at my DMV Hearing?
The DMV hearing provides you the opportunity to advocate against the suspension of their license. At the hearing, the accused (or the accused’s attorney) will have an opportunity to present evidence in support of their contention that suspension of their driver’s license is not appropriate in their case. It should be clarified, the DMV hearing will not be determining whether, or not, you are guilty of driving under the influence; they will simply be determining whether the administrative remedy of suspending your license is appropriate. Guilt, or innocence, is decided by the Court; the Courts are part of the judicial branch of government. At your DMV hearing, the following questions will be addressed:
1) Was there reasonable suspicion to believe that the accused was driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs, or alcohol? “Reasonable suspicion” is less than the “probable case” requirement for an arrest, but “the police officer must be able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts…” that the individual has committed a crime; which can include traffic violations1.
2) Was there “probable cause” to place the accused under arrest for driving under the influence? “Probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge and of which they had reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.”2
3) Was the accused properly informed that a consequence of refusing to perform the blood, or breath, test may result in a suspension of their driver’s license for an undetermined period of time3?
4) After being informed of the consequences of declining to perform a test, as requested by the arresting officer, did the accused comply with the officer’s request that they perform either a blood, or breath, test to determine their blood alcohol concentration4?
After the administrative judge hear s, and sees, all the evidence relating to the four (4) questions listed above, they will issue something referred to as a “Notice of Findings and Facts.” In this document, the administrative judge will decide whether or not to “set aside” the DMV license suspension against you. It bears noting that the administrative judge’s finding of fact does not carry over to the criminal proceedings against you. That is, the administrative judge’s decision cannot be used as evidence of guilt or innocence.
What Happens When if I am Successful in my DMV Hearing?
If the administrative judge determines that there is not sufficient evidence to support a license suspension, they will set aside the license suspension, and your driving privileges will be restored. While it is true that the finding of fact will not benefit you in the criminal proceedings against you, it does serve as a useful bargaining tool for your attorney when they speak with the District Attorney who has been assigned the case. Your attorney can attempt to gain leverage in the bargaining process by pointing out that the DMV opted to set aside your license suspension based on the facts of your case. It is important to note that if the ultimate outcome of your case results in a conviction for a DUI, or a “plea bargain” is reached where you plead guilty to a charge that involves driving and drugs/alcohol, the DMV may suspend your license at that point; this is why it is important to have competent representation throughout the entire process.
What Happens if I Lose my DMV Hearing?
1 Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1, at 21
2 Brinegar v. U.S. 338 U.S. 160, at 175-176
3 The standard period of time that a license is suspended for refusal to submit to a test is one (1) year, but it can be longer in some circumstances.
4 In some circumstances, the accused has a physical disability, which prevents them from complying with the request. For example, some people do not have the lung capacity to provide an adequate breath sample; this is not treated as a refusal by the DMV, if they are satisfied that you suffer from that malady.
If the administrative judge reaches the conclusion that a license suspension is appropriate, they will issue their finding of facts, and it will inform you of the date that your driving privileges will be restored; this is usually a year. As a word of caution, the consequences of a DMV license suspension are different for every license you have; and the consequences to your license(s) will also depend on whether or not the current DUI charge is your first offense. Once again, it should be kept in mind that even if the DMV decides to suspend your license, it has no bearing on the outcome of the criminal case against you.
What Can my Attorney do to Improve my Chances of Winning at the DMV Hearing?
Under the supervision of attorney Vincent Ross, the attorneys at Los Angeles Dui Attorney Law Firm have gained the benefit of tutelage from an attorney who has practiced, and obtained superior results for nearly three decades. Having been trained by the best, our attorneys know every trick in the book to improve the chances of a favorable outcome at your DMV hearing. Some of these strategies/arguments include:
(1) At the time you were stopped, and subsequently arrest, you weren’t actually in physical control of a vehicle:
It is an often overlooked requirement for a DUI that the person accused of driving under the influence was actually operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. As mentioned above, two of he questions the DMV hearing is designed to answer include: (1) was there reasonable suspicion to stop you on suspicion of driving under the influence in the first place, and (2) was there probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. It is a point of contention, but in most circumstances there is nothing illegal about being pulled to the side of a road, or walking around your car at a gas station while inebriated; so there cannot be reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. Next, it is debatable that on these facts, an officer can form a reasonable articulable suspicion, based on the act of being asleep in a car, or intoxicated at a gas station, that the accused was ever operating the motor vehicle.
(2) Your arrest occurred as the result of a DUI checkpoint that was not in compliance with the requirements set forth by the California Supreme Court:
Utilizing this argument will require your attorney to have a comprehensive understanding of all the facts surrounding your arrest at a DUI checkpoint, every fact matters. For a detailed discussion of how DUI checkpoints are supposed to operate, please review our article on “DUI Checkpoints.” If the particular DUI checkpoint where you received your DUI arrest was non-compliant with any requirements set forth by the Supreme Court of California, the arrest itself is invalid, and thus your license cannot be suspended as a result of it.
(3) There was insufficient reasonable suspicion to pull you over in the first the place:
As mentioned above, an officer must have what is known as reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot in order to initiate a traffic stop. If reasonable suspicion is not present before the stop is made, then you have been subject to a violation of your Constitutional rights, and all subsequent evidence must be suppressed as a result of the “Exclusionary Rule.” Thus, if the only reason an officer pulled you over was because you were driving on a busy street at 2 in the morning on a weekend, despite the fact that you were obeying every traffic law; it is unlikely the officer satisfied the reasonable suspicion requirement to initiate the stop in the first place. question you. There are many reasons that probable cause could be an issue at your DMV hearing and your lawyer will discuss each of these with you during your consultation.
(4) The officer who performed the Preliminary Alcohol Screening (“PAS”) Test did not wait the required 15 minutes between the stop and performance of the test:
California Code, specifically Title 17, mandates that a police officer, who suspects that a driver is under the influence and intends to perform a breathalyzer test on that person, wait for 15 minutes before collecting a breath sample. The purpose of this period is to reduce the possibility of “mouth alcohol” causing the test to yield an artificially inflated BAC. It also serves the purpose of allowing the driver and make sure they do not eat, drink, smoke, or vomit in the interim, which would also artificially inflate the BAC result. For a more detailed discussion about the breathalyzer, and things that can increase the reported BAC improperly, please review our article on breath and blood tests.
These are only a few of the arguments an attorney can make it your defense at your DMV hearing in an effort to convince the administrative judge to set aside your license suspension. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have ample experience, and training, presenting a persuasive and cohesive argument in support of their belief that it would be improper to suspend your license until a final determination of the criminal charges against you. Many of the same arguments will be put forth in the criminal proceedings, and it will be beneficial to have the same attorney who represented you at the DMV hearing represent you in your criminal trial; having an attorney who is intimately familiar with the facts of your case will dramatically increase the chances of an outcome that is in your favor.
If you have been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles County, contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately so we can begin preparing your case for your DMV hearing, as well as for your criminal case. Contact us at 424-285-5400