If you have been charged with a DUI in California, you are about to embark on a complex journey which our Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will guide you through.
Step 1: The DUI investigation
In a general sense, there are only three events, which can trigger a DUI investigation.
While driving, you are stopped by an officer for an alleged traffic violation.
There is something wrong with your automobile, and an officer stops you based on that defect; or
While driving, you were in an accident, which required law enforcement to be called to your location.
Once the officer is in your presence, they may claim that you were showing “objective signs of intoxication.” Alternatively, they may claim they smelled alcohol, or another substance, on your breath. Once an officer has made this assessment, right or wrong, they will conduct what is known as a “field sobriety test.” After performing the tasks you are asked to perform, the officer will write a report on those results; if the officer believes you are under the influence, you may be arrested for violating California Vehicle Code §23152(a); driving under the influence.
Step 2: DUI Arrest
After you have been arrested on suspicion of violating California Vehicle Code §23152(a), the arresting officer will take you to the hospital, jail, or police station (depending on the situation) to conduct either a breath, or blood, test to identify your current “blood alcohol concentration” or “BAC.” The results of the breath test are immediate, while the results of a blood test may take days.
Assuming the result of the breath, or blood, test yield a BAC of over .08%, you will face a charge for another violation of the California Vehicle Code; specifically, California Vehicle Code §23152(b) – driving while under the influence of an excessive BAC. Alternatively, if the tests yield a result of less than .08% BAC, the arresting officer may choose to perform a second blood test or a urine test in an effort to develop evidence in support of their assertion that you were driving under the influence.
It is your right to choose not to submit to the secondary blood test, or the urine test, but that choice carries consequences. If you refuse to submit to the test, you may still be arrested on a drunk driving charge, but you may also be subjected to a “refusal” accusation as well. If a “refusal” accusation is added to the charges against you, you will face a mandatory sentence of 48 hours in county jail, as well as a driver’s license suspension of one year, or more.
Whether you are held, or released, after the results of your second blood or urine test, depends entirely on the facts surrounding your initial arrest. It should be noted that it is common practice for Los Angeles Officers to hold the people they have arrested on suspicion of DUI overnight. During the course of those 48 hours, it is likely that you will be informed that your license has been suspended for 30 days. Additionally, you will be provided a pink document, which will serve as your temporary license. In some cases, you will be released from jail after you sign a document in which you agree to appear in court on a predetermined date. Alternatively, you may be released after you have posted “bail”, which is set by the Court based on the nature of the accusations against you.
Once the results of any of the tests are received, assuming the result supports a charge, a report known as a “DUI Report” will be submitted to the Los Angeles prosecutor will be submitted by the officer who arrested you.
Step 3: Finding an attorney to represent you in the DUI charge against you.
At this point of the process, you have been charged with a DUI. Many people find this part of the process to be incredibly stressful, and intimidating. The lawyers at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm are aware of this, and dedicate themselves to informing you of all aspects of the process. It is important to contact an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm immediately if you have been charged with a DUI; their years of experience will allow them to attack the case against you, while the facts leading to the arrest are still fresh in your mind.
By contacting an attorney at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm, you will gain representation by someone who has the required knowledge to guide you through the entire process. The alternatives are a Public Defender, or another DUI attorney. There are two major issues with those options. First, the Public Defender, while undeniably competent, simply does not have the same amount of time to dedicate to your case as the attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm do. Second, other DUI attorneys simply do not have the legal expertise and experience that Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm has; our attorneys are trained by the best. Moreover, our attorneys represent our bedrock foundation of dedication, vigor, and integrity; this cannot be said of other DUI law firms.
Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible to obtain a Public Defender to represent you in the DUI charges against you. While most Public Defenders are aware of the laws, as they relate to DUI charges, they simply do not have the time to dedicate to the vigorous defense against the case against you. Further, the Public Defender you are assigned is random; you do not get to choose who represents you.
OTHER DUI ATTORNEYS
The alternative to a Public Defender is a private DUI attorney. Every DUI attorney makes bold promises that cannot be verified. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have a proven track record, positive reviews from clients, and a sincere desire to defend your case until you are either acquitted or given the minimum penalty. Choosing who represents you, while defending against DUI charges, is incredibly important to the outcome of your case.
At Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm, we understand that your money is yours; you worked hard for it. As such, you want the biggest “bang for your buck.” There is no other firm in Los Angeles that has attorneys available all day, every day, to help guide you through the legal process. Every attorney employed by Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm has been thoroughly trained by Vincent Ross, an attorney with 30 years’ experience, on every aspect of your case.
Retaining Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm will provide you with the best possible outcome of your case. This is true because our attorneys are dedicated to you and your life.
Step 4: The DMV
Once you have been charged with a DUI the charge against you will be sent to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and you will face a mandatory 30 day driver’s license suspension. The only way to avoid this is to demand a DMV hearing within ten (10) days of your arrest for a DUI. A DMV hearing can be conducted by phone or in person; this depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. When you demand the hearing with the DMV, the suspension of your license will be “stayed”, or delayed, until the final determination is made by the DMV. It is important to note that even if your DMV hearing goes in your favor, it is possible that you will still receive a suspension of your license in the event that you are ultimately convicted of your DUI. As such, it is essential that you have competent representation throughout the entire process. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have ample experience in all stages of the DUI process, and can advocate in a manner that best represents your interests.
If you demanded a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, the hearing will generally center around three questions:
Was your arrest proper? That is, did the officer have the requisite suspicion to place you under arrest on suspicion of a DUI
When the tests were conducted as a result of the officer’s suspicion that you were driving under the influence, was your BAC over the legal limit; 0.08%?
At the time you were arrested, did the officer have “probable cause”, or a “reasonable articulable suspicion” that had been “driving under the influence”?
Once you have been accused, and once you have demanded a DMV hearing, you have the right to have an attorney represent you at that DMV hearing. It bears noting that the DMV hearing is not the same as your court case, but having an attorney versed in DUI law will vastly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome in your hearing. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm have years of experience representing people accused of DUIs, and that knowledge translates into results.
If you decide to forego obtaining an attorney to represent you in your hearing, and represent yourself; you will have effectively waived your right to a Public Defender; this will have a significant impact on the outcome of your case if you go to trial on your DUI charges,
In the event that you lose the DMV hearing, the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license for some amount of time ranging from 4 months to three years; this determination is based on your prior convictions for DUIs, and your compliance with the arresting officers.
Having an attorney from Los Angeles DUI Attorney Law Firm representing you at your hearing with the DMV has many tangible benefits. Your attorney can advocate for a lesser time frame for your license suspension, they can expose police misconduct during your arrest, and use the information presented at the hearing to prepare for your criminal trial.
Step 5: The Court Process
After your hearing with the DMV, the criminal process against you will begin. The following people will be present: your DUI attorney (if you have hired one, otherwise the Public Defender), the judge, the Prosecutor, and the jury in certain situations.
The start of your case occurs at “arraignment”, and the end of your case occurs when you have either been acquitted, or you are sentenced.
In the unfortunate event that you are convicted of the DUI, you case remains “open” with the Court until you have satisfied all the conditions the Court has imposed on you.
Step 6: The Arraignment
Your “arraignment” gives you the opportunity to hear the charges against you, and you will have the opportunity to respond those charges as either “guilty”, “not guilty”, or “no contest.” Further, this is the first opportunity for the Prosecutor to make you an “offer”, also known as a “plea deal”; a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. This is generally not the point of the process where negotiations will occur, negotiations typically occur in “pre-trial, which is discussed in “Step 8”
By pleading not guilty, your attorney and you gain the right to review the evidence against you, and challenge the portions that may hurt your case. Once you have entered a not guilty plea, your DUI attorney can demand evidence including the entire police report that the arresting officer created, and all information relating to the machines that were used to determine your BAC. Having competent counsel at this phase is essential. The reason you want the very best attorneys on your side is because evidentiary objections can be very difficult to win, experience translates to success in this context.
Alternatively, you may plead guilty; this ends the case against you. As noted above, the case stays “open” until you have satisfied any conditions the Court has imposed on you for probation.
Step 7: Defending yourself against the DUI charges against you
There are many theories of defense when faced with a DUI charge in California. One theory of defense is that the equipment the officer used to determine your BAC was faulty; based on defective parts, failure to calibrate, or even whether conditions. The attorneys at Los Angeles DUI Attorney Firm have the experience and skill necessary to effectively present that defense to the Prosecutor and jury.
Step 8: Pretrial motions and plea bargains in the DUI case against you
At the phase of your DUI trial, your attorney has done all their investigation, and has a plan of attack prepared. Bringing the full weight of their years of experience to bear, will provide the best opportunity for you to win your case, and will encourage the Prosecutor to consider making an “offer” to you.
A tactic the Prosecution frequently employs when attempting to persuade a defendant to take a deal, is assert that they have given you the best offer they are authorized to make; skilled attorneys know that his simply not true. Your DUI attorney will put pressure on the Prosecution and obtain a better “offer.”
Pretrial motions are an import part of the criminal process. Pretrial motions are generally requests your attorney is making to the Court prior to trial, Pretrial motions can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
- One of the most influential pretrial motions is known as a “motion to suppress.” If the Court grants the motion, it has determined that some evidence against you must be excluded because the arresting officer obtained it illegally, or it will cause unreasonable prejudice against you.
- Another pretrial motion is known as a “pitchness motion.” If the Court grants this motion, your attorney will gain historical information about the arresting officer, which may allow your attorney to discredit the officer at trial.
- Finally, there is a motion for a probable cause hearing. At this hearing, your attorney will challenge whether the arresting officer had a sufficient basis for arresting you.
After your attorney has made all the pretrial motions, conducted their investigation, and built their defense for your case, they will contact the Prosecutor to discuss your case. At this point, the Prosecutor may offer you a plea deal.
Step 9: The jury trial
It is uncommon for a DUI case to make it all the way to trial; most cases reach a plea bargain before this. If that happens, the process generally goes as follows:
- Your attorney will choose the jury for the case.
- The Prosecutor will make their opening statement, and then your attorney may make an opening statement.
- The Prosecutor presents the evidence against you, this is known as the Prosecutor’s case-in-chief.
- Your attorney presents your defense.
- Both sides make a closing statement.
- The jury renders their verdict.
- The Court imposes the sentence against you.
It is important to note that unless the Prosecutor proves their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt, you cannot be convicted of a DUI.
Step 10: Sentencing and punishment
In the event that you are either found guilty, enter into a plea bargain, or simply plead guilty, the judge will apply a punishment to you based on your history, and the facts of your case.
Generally, the penalties associated with a DUI include:
- Monetary penalties.
- Loss of driving privileges.
- Mandatory alcohol and / or drug treatment programs (as long as the program is approved by the Court).
- Incarceration in state prison, or county jail.
Contact our office today at 424-285-5400 for a FREE DUI consultation.