A DUI arrest can lead to legal penalties, fines, and other related consequences. Whenever a police officer stops you, several considerations follow. You will have to go through a field sobriety test, court arraignment, and a formal court process. San Diego DUI Attorney will assist you in every procedure that you will go through in your DUI cases in Holcomb Village, CA.
Field Sobriety Exams
Field Sobriety Exams are several mental and physical exercises used by police administered in a DUI investigation. If a suspect performs poorly, this is an indication of impairment from drugs or alcohol. The results that the enforcement will get from the test determines whether you will get arrested or not.
Please note, taking a field sobriety exam is entirely optional. Sober drivers can also test positive, which does not have anything to do with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). Although it is optional to undergo such a test, police might need it to be sure of your BAC levels.
There are two kinds of field sobriety tests that one can undertake. These tests include standardized and non-standardized ones. Let’s have a closer look at these types of field sobriety tests.
Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
These tests are defined as a series of three that the NHTSA has approved as reliable for DUI testing. The evidence presented by the DUI officer is more acceptable compared to non-standardized field sobriety tests. This makes them highly preferred by police officers while conducting DUI testing. In standardized field sobriety tests, the traffic officer performs three types of exams which are:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
- Walk and Turn Test
- One-leg Stand Test
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Exam
This is a type of test that involves the involuntary eye jerking when one moves his or her eyes sideways. Apart from being involuntary, the person undergoing this experience is not aware of its occurrence.
During the test, the officer will instruct you to closely follow a stimulus with your eyes to the left and right sides. The officer will note the angle of your pupil to check if you will display nystagmus, which is the involuntary jerking of the eye.
Early-onset of the nystagmus before 45-degrees is considered as a high BAC. NHTSA claims that an HGN test can indicate 88% reliability of BAC reading.
The Walk and Turn Test (WAT)
This kind of test is referred to as the divided attention field sobriety exam. In this kind of test, the suspect should concentrate on his or her physical and mental capacity.
When the DUI officer is administering the walk and turn test, you should take nine power walking steps on an imaginary or real line, pivot around, and Make another nine-step back using the same imaginary or real line.
When the officer administers this testing, he or she will be watching for eight signs that show the possibility of impairment. These signs include:
- Whether you can maintain your balance during the instruction
- Whether you will start too soon
- If you will stop walking
- If you fail to reach a power walking stance
- Whether you will step away from the line
- If you will use your arms to maintain balance
- Whether you will turn correctly
- If you will make the wrong steps
The NHTSA asserts that a WAT test can achieve a 79% correlation between poor performance to a BAC of 0.08% or greater of BAC. Even so, our Holcomb Village DUI attorney can disapprove of the results provided by the DUI officer despite the correlation between your poor performance and the possible BAC level.
One Leg Stand Exam
The one-leg stand, popularly known as OLS, is a type of test that aims to divide your attention that is part of the three types of standardized field sobriety test. At this point, the traffic officer will ask you to raise your foot around six inches from the ground, remain still at that position, count from 1001 to 1030, and look down at your foot.
As the officer conducts this test, he or she will check for clues such as swaying using your hands to regain balance, hop, and putting your foot down.
NHTSA claims that there is an 83% possibility of a blood alcohol content above 0.08% if a driver displays one or more of the clues that result from the OLS. Despite such a claim, our Holcomb Village DUI attorney will ensure that your charges are dismissed or reduced when the law enforcement officer presents your OLS results to the court.
Non-Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
Besides the three testing procedures that the NHTSA A has approved, there are several other field sobriety tests used routinely by California law enforcement in DUI investigation. The issue with these tests is that there is no relevant correlation between them and possible DUI impairment.
Apart from that, there is significant variance among police officers. Therefore, the legitimacy of these tests is usually highly questionable. The non-standardized field sobriety tests are as follows:
- The finger-to-nose test
- The hand pat test
- The Rhomberg balance exam
- The finger count test
Factors that Affect the Accuracy of FSTs
Although there are stringent procedures that ensure the accuracy of the field sobriety test, several factors can affect the accuracy of the results achieved. The kind of factors that affect the accuracy of the field sobriety tests results from personal conditions, personal choices, or environmental influences. Some of these factors include:
The health of the DUI suspect has the highest chances of inaccurate field sobriety tests. The health conditions that influence the result are usually preexisting conditions such as:
- Physical disability
- Mental disability
- Eye and vision problems
- Certain medication
Being of old age and having a significant weight can also affect your performance. Besides, the anxiety that you might be feeling in the presence of police officers might also cause nervousness, which might be incorrectly interpreted as intoxication.
The kind of clothes that you wear can profoundly influence your movement, which the officer might mistake to be impairment. Outfits such as high heels, cowboy boots, non-athletic shoes, and flip-flops can significantly affect your balance. Baggy clothes can also hinder your movement, and police officers might interpret your movement to be incorrect.
Your surroundings can also negatively affect your physical capacity. Poor weather conditions such as snow, rain, and wind can impair your visibility, balance, and hearing. Besides that, lights from passing traffic and the surface that you stand on can significantly distract your testing.
With these factors at hand, our Holcomb Village DUI attorney is in an excellent position to help in the dismissal of your charges if your arresting officer solely relies on field sobriety test results in your expenses.
The California DUI Arrest Process
Once you have been arrested for DUI, you will be taken to a hospital, jail, or police station for a breath test. Breath tests are readily available for analysis compared with blood and urine samples.
If the test reveals a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you will be charged with California Vehicle Code 23152(b). If you have a lower breath test than expected, the officer will charge you with Vehicle Code 23152(f): Driving under the influence of drugs.
Please note, failing to submit to a chemical test can also get you arrested for drunk driving. However, you will be charged with refusal to carry out a test, which includes an additional penalty of suspending your driving license for a year and mandatory jail time of two days in county jail.
After the police officer completes the testing process, you should be booked and released. Your release depends on the facts related to your case and your criminal history. You will be held in the jail cell for a few hours before your release.
The arresting officer will complete the report about your DUI arrest and then submit to the local prosecuting agency for review. The review will prompt the prosecutor to either decline the charges or charge you with a California DUI.
California DMV Hearing Process
The process of your license suspension is different from a court proceeding when it comes to DUI charges. Often, most arrestees assume that DMV hearing and a court process are the same, and one does not need to complete a DUI court process.
Since your license is suspended for thirty days after your arrest, you can attend a DMV hearing and plea for the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) or a restricted license. If you decide to apply for an IID, you will be able to continue with your driving but with the device installed in your vehicle. An IID is a breathalyzer that cannot allow you to start your vehicle if it detects alcohol.
First-time DUI gets the IID for four months, while those with successive DUIs have the IID installed for one year.
If you decide to plead for a restricted license, you should request the DMV for a hearing within ten days after your DUI arrest, unless you have the IID restricted license. Requesting the DMV hearing within the provided ten days window will help you delay the suspension of your license until the outcome of the trial is reached.
The DMV hearing is usually independent of the DUI case, and you can have your Holcomb DUI attorney represent you during the trial. The trial can be conducted in-person or over the telephone. Your private defender can represent you, but a public defender cannot. Therefore, if you do not hire a private attorney, you will have to represent yourself.
Besides the chance to save your driving privileges through a DMV hearing, you can also prepare for your California DUI court case. Your Holcomb Village DUI attorney will use this opportunity to cross-examine the arresting officer and everything that went on. The attorney can expose several blunders and weaknesses that will negatively affect the prosecutor’s case. He or she will go through the testimony provided by the officer as a way to prepare for your California DUI court process if negotiations fail.
Winning your DMV hearing will have your license not suspended, although you can still have it suspended in the DUI court process. On the other hand, if you lose the hearing, you will prompt the suspension, which can last for four months to three years based on your prior DUIs and whether you refused to take a chemical test.
California DUI Court Process
Despite winning or losing your DMV hearing, you will still be subjected to a California criminal court process. The leading players of the court process include you, your Holcomb Village DUI attorney, prosecutor, judge, and possibly a jury.
The California DUI court process starts with the arraignment and ends with your acquitting or sentencing. If you get convicted, your case remains open throughout your probation until you fill every court obligation.
DUI Arraignment Process
This is the first stage of a California DUI court process. The prosecutor gives you a first “offer” where he or she recommends and agrees to your guilty plea to your charges.
The arraignment gives you the chance to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to your DUI charges. Pleading guilty will have you sentenced with the opportunity of fulfilling the terms provided in your probation, and the case will be closed.
Pleading guilty will allow your DUI attorney to challenge the prosecutor’s evidence, which includes a copy of the police report and chemical testing results. Your DUI attorney can be engaged in negotiations during the arraignment, but they are actively involved during the pre-trial phase of your DUI case.
Pre-trial Motion and their Connection to DUI Plea Bargains
Most DUI prosecutors allude that the best deal is offered during the arraignment process as a way of making an offender accept responsibility. However, this is not the case since DUI attorneys have the opportunity to scrutinize a case after receiving the prosecutor’s evidence. In that case, they can know the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution and know which deal to make.
A pre-trial phase usually lasts between weeks to months. At this point, your attorney should investigate your case meticulously by doing everything, such as visiting the scene of your arrest and checking the BAC testing equipment.
The more issues and evidence favors you, the higher the chances of the prosecutor or judge of reducing or dismissing your charges. The attorney can decide to run a DUI pre-trial motion, based on the facts related to your case. At this point, the DUI attorney might choose to run a probable cause hearing and contest the validity of your initial stoppage. The attorney might also run a motion to suppress your hearing and ask the court to exclude any evidence that is deemed to be illegally collected or has unjustly prejudiced you. Finally, the attorney can decide to run a “Pitchess hearing” with the effort of learning about the complaint history of your arresting officer as a way to discredit his or her testimony or report.
Alternatively, the attorney can consider pleading a bargain. Soon after the attorney has gathered enough evidence, conducted the pre-trial motion, and consulted the defense expert witness, he or she is in a good position of negotiating on your behalf more effectively. If the prosecutor exposes any flaws in the case, the prosecutor will become less confident and will resolve into reducing the charges to a lesser offense, such as wet or dry reckless. The prosecutor can also dismiss your charges.
However, if the attorney fails to get a satisfactory resolution for your case via the plea bargain or negotiation, the case will go through a trial.
DUI Trial Process
Anyone facing trial must have an awareness of the intensive nature of going after a not-guilty court process. In such a case, you will expect the prosecutor to expose your criminal activities in a way that taints your reputation in the juror’s eye. Once you go to a court trial, you are at war, and you should expect your ego to be bruised during this time.
In a typical DUI court jury trial, you will expect the following:
- Jury selection
- The prosecutor’s and defense’s opening statement
- The case from the prosecutor
- The argument from the defense
- Prosecutor’s and defense’s closing statement
- The sentencing of the defendant
To be convicted with DUI, the prosecutor should convince the jurors that you were not guilty. There are various advantages and disadvantages of going to trial based on your case. Your attorney should help you weigh in between the pros and cons and choose the best strategy to pursue.
Find a Holcomb Village DUI Attorney Near Me
DUI allegations are not as easy as they seem. One must have a substantial legal background to be in a position of handling these cases. With the help of our DUI attorneys, you can easily manage to handle such types of cases and increase the possibility of winning. San Diego DUI Attorney offers credible legal services to anyone facing DUI allegations to people arrested in Holcomb Village, CA. For more information about us, contact us at 619-535-7150, and schedule a free consultation.