Experienced San Diego DUI Attorney
At the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm, we understand that being accused of a DUI can be an extremely overwhelming experience. If you have been charged with a DUI, you know that the penalties you face could impact you for the rest of your life. It’s extremely important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure you understand the penalties you face, and what course of action to take. Our Chief Trial Attorney, Vincent Ross, has nearly thirty years of experience in representing DUI defendants, and has achieved impressive results for his clients, time and time again.
We understand that the cost of a DUI in San Diego can be unexpectedly expensive. The non-financial impact of a DUI charge can seem equally, or even more, intimidating. If you, or a loved one, has been arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in San Diego, having an experienced and affordable attorney on your side will give you the best chance of having your charges dismissed, or having your penalty reduced.
Some of the benefits of having an attorney for the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm include:
- Superior representation during your DMV Hearing;
- A team with the time and resources necessary to treat your case with the individual attention it deserves;
- Attorneys who have experience, and have had success, in negotiating plea bargains; and
- Superior representation if your case does proceed to trial.
If you were recently arrested for a DUI, you likely have a number of questions. This article is intended to give you an overview of the DMV Hearing, the Criminal Case, and what the lawyers at the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm can do to help your case.
The DMV Hearing
If this is your first time going through the DUI process, you may not be aware that you will actually be going through two separate proceeding. The first is the the DMV Hearing, and the second is the Criminal Case.
The DMV Hearing is where you will have the opportunity to argue against the suspension of your driver’s license. You are permitted to have an attorney represent you during the Hearing, and doing so can be beneficial for a number of reasons. While the DMV Hearing will seem somewhat similar to a criminal trial, it is important to understand that it will not determine your guilt or innocence with respect to your DUI charge. All that will be determined is whether or not its appropriate to suspend your driver’s license. In determining whether your license should be suspended, the DMV Hearing will address the following questions:
- Did the police have reasonable suspicion to indicate that you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? This means that the police made a reasonable presumption that you were driving under the influence.
- Did the police have probable cause to place you under arrest for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion, and exists when the police can point to articulable facts that indicate you were driving under the influence.
- Were you adequately informed of the the consequences of refusing to submit to a blood or breath test? You must be informed that refusing to be tested could result in a suspension of your driver’s license. In California, when you are issued a driver’s license you give implied consent to agree to submit to post arrest DUI tests.
- After being informed of the consequences, did you submit to the DUI test?
Once the administrative judge reaches conclusions as to these questions, a “Notice of Findings and Facts” will be issued. This document will contain the administrative judge’s decision as to whether or not your license should be suspended. As noted above, this decision will not carryover into the criminal case, and it will not be used as evidence of your innocence or guilt.
If you prevail at the DMV Hearing:
If, at the DMV Hearing, it is determined that there is not enough evidence to support a suspension of your license, the administrative judge will set aside the suspension, and you will maintain your driving privileges. While, as noted above, success at the DMV Hearing does not amount to your innocence, it can be helpful for a number of reasons. For one, it will be helpful in negotiating with the District Attorney for a potential plea deal. It also means that the evidence the prosecution has against you might not be terribly strong. Even so, it’s important to understand that winning the DMV Hearing does not mean that your license will ultimately not be suspended. You will maintain your driving privileges during the criminal case, but if you are eventually convicted of DUI, your license will then be suspended by the DMV. For this reason, it is extremely important that you receive competent representation throughout the entirety of the DUI process.
If you do not prevail at the DMV Hearing:
If, after the DMV Hearing, the administrative judge determines that the evidence supports suspending your license, the Notice of Findings and Facts will indicate the date your suspension will end. Typically, your driving privileges will be suspended for one (1) year. However, the length of the suspension will be determined by a number of factors, and will vary from case to case. Just as if you prevail in the DMV Hearing, losing will also have no affect on the outcome of the criminal case. As such, even if your license is suspended at the DMV Hearing, the suspension can be lifted if you are acquitted in the criminal case.
How the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm can improve your chances of prevailing at the DMV Hearing
Our attorneys have all been trained by one of the best in the business, Vincent Ross. Attorney Vincent Ross has been practicing DUI defense law for nearly three decades, and now serves as our Chief Trial Attorney. No matter the facts of your case, it is likely we have defended someone in a similar situation. As such, our team will know exactly what to look for in building you the strongest defense available. Some of the more common arguments we make include:
You were not actually in control of your vehicle at the time of arrest.
This defense is often overlooked, but it can be extremely effective. In order to be convicted of a DUI, you must be operating a motor vehicle, and be under the influence at the same time. In some cases, a defendant will be arrested for DUI, because they were in, or near, their vehicle while they were intoxicated. However, this does not necessarily mean they were operating, or driving, their vehicle. Remember that establishing whether the arresting officer had probable cause is one of the questions addressed during the DMV Hearing. If the defendant was never seen driving the vehicle, we may be able to argue that the police lacked probable cause to make a DUI arrest.
Your arrest was the result of an improper California DUI Checkpoint
In California, DUI Checkpoints must be set up in compliance with a number of regulations set forth by the California Supreme Court. Some of these regulations include:
- Supervising officers must make all operational decisions;
- Neutral criteria must be used for stopping motorists;
- Checkpoint locations must be reasonably safe, last a reasonable amount of time; and be held at a reasonable time of day/night; and
- Drivers stopped can only be detained for a reasonable amount of time.
If you were arrested at a checkpoint that failed to comply with these regulations, your arrest may have been invalid, and your license should not be suspended by the DMV.
The police did not have reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle.
As discussed above, in order to initiate a traffic stop, the police must have reasonable suspicion that you are violating some law. In some cases, the police may think you are intoxicated based upon the time of night, or the road you are driving on. While the police may have correctly assumed that you were intoxicated, if you were complying with all traffic laws, they may not have had the right to stop your vehicle. If your vehicle was stopped without reasonable suspicion, any evidence that results from the stop should not be admissible.
Your initial breath test was not administered properly
If you were stopped for being suspected of driving under the influence, you were likely given a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test. Title 17 of the California Code requires that an officer administering a PAS test must wait 15 minutes before they administer the test. This waiting period is intended to reduce the possibility of “mouth alcohol” causing the test to result in a false-positive, or be artificially inflated. The officer must watch the driver during the 15-minute waiting period to ensure they do not drink, eat, smoke, or vomit before taking the test, as any of these occurrences could also affect the results.
These are just some of the many arguments our attorney can make in defending you at the DMV Hearing. At the DMV Hearing, we will do everything in our power to help preserve your ability to drive.
The Criminal Case
Following the DMV Hearing, the Criminal Case will begin. The first step will be what’s known as the arraignment. At the arraignment, you will be given the opportunity to plead no contest, not guilty, or guilty to the charges brought against you.
Unless you plead guilty, the case will move forward to the “pre-trail” phase. At this time, your attorney will be able to file a number of motions on your behalf, and can request any necessary hearings. Additionally, your attorney will negotiate with the District Attorney in attempt to get the charges against you reduced, or your case dismissed. Often time, the District Attorney will make a plea bargain offer, which will allow you to plead to some offense less severe than a DUI (typically a “wet reckless”).
If a plea bargain agreement cannot be reached, your case will proceed to trial, where the prosecution must prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. At trial, out attorneys will make a number of arguments on your behalf including:
- Lack of Probable Cause;
- Failure to be read Miranda Rights;
- False-positive readings;
- Illegal DUI Checkpoint; and/or
- Title 17 violation.
Contact the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm today to schedule your FREE DUI consultation.
If you are convicted of a DUI, it will permanently remain on your criminal record. This can greatly impact your livelihood, and compromise future employment opportunities. Additionally, it can place a financial and emotional burden on your family. The state of California has very strict laws regarding DUIs (often referred to as “drunk driving”). A conviction can cost you your driver’s license, you may be required to pay heavy fines, your vehicle may be impounded, and you may be sentenced to jail time.
Given the consequences of a conviction, we strongly encourage you not to represent yourself in a DUI case. At the San Diego DUI Attorney Law Firm we will diligently represent you to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Drinking and driving cases are surprisingly complex and the laws that govern them vary greatly among California jurisdictions. Our San Diego DUI attorneys are familiar with the intricacies of all local and state DUI regulations. We have experience working with police departments, prosecutors, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you have been charged with a DUI in California, contact us immediately to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer.
We begin your defense with an initial consultation at no charge. At this meeting, we will thoroughly examine the facts of your case to determine the best defense strategies. Our lawyers will look for inaccuracies, failure to follow proper protocols, administrative errors, and other details that may result in the dismissal of your charges.
Contact our office today at 619-535-7150 for a free DUI consultation. We specialize in DUI and Criminal Defense Law in San Diego, Vista, El Cajon, Oceanside, Chula Vista, and other San Diego County communities.