Most people think that pleading guilty after a DUI arrest is the only way out since there is evidence supporting their charges. However, there are many times that DUI enforcement officers make mistakes in their arrest, and the evidence collected is almost always weak in most DUI cases. Thus, you should not face a conviction after an arresting officer arrests you illegally, if any of your rights are violated, or the evidence presented is false.
We invite you to get in touch with our local Santee DUI attorneys, who are part of our team at the San Diego DUI Attorney if you are facing any DUI charges. We are also experienced in handling cases related to DMV, including representation in the DMV hearing to contest your driver’s license suspension or revocation.
If you have been arrested or you are facing a DUI arrest and DMV issues, you probably are not aware of what to do. However, we are here to guide you through these DUI laws and procedures so that you can increase your chances of a better case outcome.
Steps of a DUI Arrest in California
The process of DUI arrest can be overwhelming. Most people arrested for this crime wouldn’t know the expected steps and would probably have many questions. In case you have been arrested on DUI allegations, these are the ten steps you will undergo towards getting acquitted or sentenced. They include;
Being investigated for DUI in California may happen through one of these three ways;
- An officer stopping your vehicle at a traffic checkpoint for violating traffic rules
- An officer stopping you because your vehicle is defective, for instance, it has broken headlights
- You get into a mishap, and police officers arrive at the scene
If you show any signs of drunkenness or if the officer detects an alcoholic odor in your breath, you will be required to do sobriety tests. The outcome of the tests and the observations of the officer may prompt a DUI arrest as per Vehicle Code (VC) 23152a.
The DUI Arrest
Once arrested, you’ll be taken either to a police station, jail or hospital where you will be required to do a breath, blood or urine test to determine the level of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A breath test will provide instant results as compared to blood tests because blood samples take days to analyze. If you have a BAC that is greater than .08%, you’ll face additional charges of operating a vehicle with excessive BAC (California VC 23152 b).
Note that it is within your rights to decline to do a urine or blood test. However, you might still face additional charges of refusal to agree to chemical tests and face severe penalties. If you refuse to do these tests, you will serve a compulsory 48 hours county jail time. Your license will also be suspended for one year at the minimum. Thus, if you don’t want to submit to these tests, ensure you have an experienced Santee DUI attorney by your side who will fight to defend your rights.
Based on your criminal record and the facts of your case, you could be released or be booked. However, the arresting officer may keep you in custody for hours or sometimes for overnight. While in custody, you have to be informed about your license being suspended within 30 days. You’ll be given a form, pink in color, which will work as your provisional license up to when the suspension is effected. Your license will also be confiscated.
Based on the circumstances of the case, you could be freed after you agree in writing that you will appear before on a particular date. The arresting officer will submit the DUI report to the prosecutor. The prosecutor then decides whether or not to press DUI charges officially.
Hiring a DUI Attorney
Several arrestees find this step to be confusing. That is why our Santee DUI attorney will dedicate their time to speak with you directly about specific features of the case. They also strive to formulate a winning defense.
Here, you are given the opportunity of hiring an attorney, accepting a state’s attorney representation, or representing yourself. We don’t recommend that you represent yourself except if you have been trained as a DUI attorney. The legal process may be so overwhelming and complicated that you may end up with a weak defense strategy. Public defenders may be knowledgeable and experienced, but you may not get the best representation since they have limited time to commit to your case. Also, they have limited resources to prepare a strong defense.
Hiring a private attorney is the best option. However, you have to ensure that you hire an attorney who is well equipped to tackle your case since not all are skilled.
The Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) Hearing Process
After your license is seized, it is taken to DMV of California. It is then suspended after 30 days at the expiration of your temporary license. This happens automatically except if you demand a DMV hearing in the first ten days of the arrest. Based on the conditions of your case, the hearing could be conducted either in person or via the phone. If you demand this hearing, your license suspension might be delayed. Keep in mind that even after winning the hearing, your license can still be suspended if you get convicted for DUI in court.
To decide whether to delay or suspend your driver’s license, the DMV will want to know whether;
- You were lawfully arrested
- Your BAC was .08 or more
- The arresting officer had an adequate possible cause that made them believe that you were drunk driving
It is within your rights to be represented by your attorney in the DMV hearing. This hearing is different from your DUI court case hearings. Having your attorney’s representation increases the chances of preventing your license from being suspended. In case you lose this hearing, your license will be suspended for a period between four months and three years. Your license revocation period depends on whether or not you submitted to chemical tests and if you have been previously convicted for DUI.
The Court Process
After the DMV hearing, court proceedings begin. Present in the courtroom will be the prosecutor, you, your attorney, a judge, and sometimes a jury. The case starts with a court arraignment and ends with either sentencing or acquittal. In case of a conviction, your case remains open in the legal system of California all through your probation period until you fulfill your duty to the court.
This stage gives you the first chance to plead guilty or not guilty. At this point, the prosecutor will also have the first chance to present an offer to you. The offer includes an agreement to certain prison time if you plead guilty. Negotiations are rare at this stage. They often occur at pre-trial.
Pleading not guilty allows your attorney time to examine the case thoroughly and contest any evidence presented by the prosecutor. The evidence your attorney can request include the maintenance records of the chemical testing equipment used during the arrest and police reports. Pleading guilty will lead to the closure of your case unless you are required to fulfill probation terms.
Common DUI Defenses
Among the many defense strategies that your attorney can present include defective equipment (for example breath, urine and blood testing equipment), unlawful police investigation approaches, and inaccurate scientific calculators used to calculate the charges. Your attorney can use these defenses to negotiate a deal at the pre-trial stage. The more experienced and skilled your attorney is, the higher the chances they will build a strong defense as well as negotiate for you effectively.
Pre-Trial Motions and Plea Bargains
At this point, your attorney will use their understanding of the California legal system and commit substantial time to look into every aspect of the case. The period that this stage lasts is subject to the facts of the case. Your attorney will collect relevant proof and have an in-depth consideration of the factors favoring your case. The proof is taken to the prosecutor or the judge in a manner that allows your attorney to negotiate a dismissal or reduction of your charges.
Most of the time, the prosecutors will stick with the deal they offered at arraignment. However, your attorney should be able to challenge this and get you a more effective deal. Your attorney can request that the judge decides on a particular matter before the beginning of the trial. This request is known as a pre-trial motion. This motion may have a significant impact on the trial, testimony, and evidence. After your lawyer has collected adequate proof and conducted a pre-trial motion, a plea bargain may begin. This means both parties agree on a particular matter out of court.
Many DUI cases in California settle before a trial. However, if there has to be a trial, the following is to be expected;
- Selecting the jury
- Defense and prosecution opening statements
- The prosecution presents its case
- Your attorney presents your case
- Statements to close
Sentencing and Penalties
If you plead guilty or the jury finds you guilty of the DUI charges against you, your sentence will be determined. The penalty depends on your criminal record and the conditions of your cases. Penalties include license suspension, fines, probation, compulsory DUI school programs, and state prison or county jail sentences.
Cases We Handle
A DUI conviction in California is contingent on your prior DUI convictions and if you caused injuries to another person. Many of these cases are misdemeanors. However, if you had more than three prior DUI convictions or if your actions caused an injury to another person, the case is always a felony. DUI charges are subject to the above factors. Different charges you can face include;
- First DUI offense
- Subsequent DUI offenses (second, third, and fourth/felony DUI)
- DUI causing injury
- Aggravated DUI
- DUI/Watson murder
- Underage DUI
- Non-immigrant visa DUI
First Offense DUI
A conviction for a first offense DUI happens when you get arrested for DUI for the first time. If your criminal history has no previous DUI charges, it is a first offense DUI case. A first offense DUI is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and up to 6 months of county jail time. An experienced Santee DUI attorney may negotiate for five years of informal probation instead of jail time. Other punishments may include six months driver’s license suspension and a court-approved compulsory DUI school program.
Subsequent DUI Offenses
First offense penalties are usually meant to warn offenders not to repeat a DUI offense. However, if you are rearrested for DUI for the second or several times, you may face second offense, third offense or fourth offense DUI charges depending on how many times you have been arrested. A second DUI offense usually has severe consequences than a first offense, and the punishments continue to get severer for the third and fourth offenses. You may also be required to register as a Habitual Traffic Offender if you commit subsequent DUI crimes.
DUI Causing Injury
Under California VC 23153, DUI causing an injury can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor offense includes a first DUI offense that results in an injury. Its penalties include up to five years informal probation or a maximum of one year county jail time, restitution, license suspension, and a fine not exceeding $5,000. A felony offense attracts penalties of a maximum of four years county jail time, license suspension for five years, three strikes on your criminal record, and registration for a habitual traffic offender.
Some factors may have a negative effect after your DUI conviction. When these factors are present in your case, the judge may term your case as more severe as compared to a standard DUI case. These are known as aggravating factors. They may result in more severe penalties as well as sentence enhancements. The factors include;
- DUI with a minor
- DUI resulting in an accident
- DUI of over .20% BAC
- DUI hit and run
- Refusing to submit to medical tests
- DUI of drugs
- DUI on an expired/suspended license
- DUI above the stipulated speed limit/ reckless driving
- DUI while on probation
Non-Visa Immigrant DUI
As an immigrant, fighting DUI charges can be confusing and overwhelming because of the punishments the charges come with. Apart from criminal penalties, your immigration status can be negatively affected if you are guilty of any DUI charge. You also risk deportation and inadmissibility, especially if your case has aggravating factors like DUID, DUI resulting in injury, DUI with a minor, and DUI on a revoked license. Punishments include more than a year state prison sentence and a hefty fine.
According to the US immigration laws, you may be denied a United States citizenship if you get convicted of multiple DUI offenses that have their total sentence adding up to 5 years or more. Your entry into the country may also be denied. The good news is, our Santee DUI attorney could help you contest these charges to prevent deportation and be allowed the country’s citizenship.
This is also referred to as Vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated (California PC 191.5). It is a charge you will face if another person passed on due to your act of driving under the influence. DUI murder is a felony that is prosecuted as second-degree murder. Its penalties are a maximum of 10 years state prison time, three strikes on your criminal record, up to $10,000 in fines, and formal probation. If you have had any prior DUI convictions, you will be sentenced to an additional 15 years to life imprisonment. Additionally, your license gets revoked for three years.
Before a conviction of DUI murder takes place, the prosecution must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that;
- You knowingly and intentionally acted with disrespect for human life
- The consequences of your actions were risky to human life
- It is your actions that directly caused the death of the victim
California laws make it an offense to drive under the influence if you are below 21 years of age. The state uses two laws to prosecute this crime. They include under 21 DUI with .05%-.07% BAC (VC 23140) and the zero tolerance law (VC 2136).
Furthermore, underage DUI offenders can be prosecuted under VC 23152. The punishment for this offense is license suspension for a year. Based on the conditions surrounding the case, underage DUI offenders could be prosecuted under any of the DUI laws of California.
Finding an Experienced DUI Attorney Near Me
San Diego DUI Attorney has experienced DUI attorneys in Santee, CA, that are well versed with how the local DUI arrests happen and how they can protect you. We invite you to get in touch with our local office at 619-535-7150 so that we can plan on how to help you.