Nobody sets out to face driving under the influence (DUI) charges on purpose. Most often, a person feels completely capable of driving after a few drinks over dinner. However, the legal limit is low, and various issues can contribute to being pulled over and being arrested for drunk driving.
A DUI offense involves driving under the influence of marijuana, drugs, alcohol or a combination of these substances. Drunk driving is typically established through police opinion, or evidence showing that:
- you are an adult over the age of 21 with a blood alcohol level (BAC) higher than .08%,
- you have a commercial driver's licence (CDL) and are driving your commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04% or more,
- you are a minor under the age of 21 who has consumed any alcohol,
- you are driving while showing the signs of intoxication caused by alcohol, marijuana or drugs.
California follows a zero tolerance for underage drunk driving and a strict .04% blood alcohol limit for commercial drivers.
Over the years, the laws that define DUIs and the procedures relating to collecting evidence of the offense have become extremely convoluted and complex.
For most people facing DUI charges, the first reaction is to be ashamed. However, there's no point to beating yourself up. The key is to arm yourself with a DUI attorney who can help protect you from the ripple effects of a drunk driving arrest, including:
- a criminal record
- jail time
- license suspension or loss
- ignition interlock device
- and more.
You need a skilled and experienced attorney who specializes in DUI cases who can apply the appropriate defense to the particular facts of your arrest.
DUI Arrest: First things first
Most often, it starts as a fun night out on the town, followed by being pulled over for erratic driving or weaving. Unless you violate the law, the police will have no legal justification to stop you.
Placing your driver's license and registration in an easily accessible spot will ensure that you can provide it promptly on request, instead of fumbling for it if you reach a sobriety checkpoint, which will set off the proverbial warning bells and cause you to be arrested and charged with:
- Underage Drunk Driving - Individuals under the age of 21 will be charged if their blood alcohol levels are .01% or more.
- Felony DUI - Felony drunk driving charges will be motivated by an accident that causes injury or death to another person while you are driving, or if you have had three or more DUI convictions in the preceding 10 years, or if your record contains a prior DUI felony.
- During Under the Influence of Drugs - You may be charged for a DUI if you drive while impaired by over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, or controlled substances.
- DUI for Marijuana - Recreational and medical marijuana is legal in the state of California, but it remains illegal to drive while you are impaired. The police will perform a test and you may be charged if your tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels are of a psychoactive amount. As with a first time offense for an alcohol DUI, a first offense DUI with marijuana is considered a misdemeanor. However, charges may be increased to a felony if your intoxication leads to an accident that seriously injures or causes the death of another person.
When asked whether you have been drinking, you are under no obligation to answer in any way or make an admission, as that would be self-incriminating. If the officer suspects that you have been drinking, he will smell the air inside the car to see if an alcohol smell can be detected. Other signs that you have been drinking may include:
- bloodshot or watery eyes
- unsteadiness on your feet
- leaning against the car
- trouble standing up or walking
- slow or slurred speech
As such, your admission to drinking will not be the primary focus. The best way to answer the question as to whether you have been drinking, would be to say that your attorney has warned you to never answer that question.
It is important to note that field sobriety tests are voluntary. In most cases, a police officer will not let you go after admitting the test. Instead, these preliminary alcohol tests are merely used to support the conclusion that you are driving under the influence of alcohol. In most cases, you will not be asked whether you would consent to the breathalyzer test. Instead, you will have to politely refuse. A field sobriety test (preliminary alcohol screening or PAS) is not necessarily a definitive way to provide evidence of a person's alcohol level.
However, you are required by law to submit evidentiary chemical breath or blood tests under controlled circumstances, typically at a police station. At this point, you will not have a DUI attorney present and if you refuse this test, your driving privileges may be suspended for up to a year. If given a choice, opt for the breath test rather than a blood test, as the law is based on your blood alcohol levels, which opens up several legal loopholes.
After all, the field of driving under the influence involves a wide range of technical and scientific knowledge and skills, including:
- convoluted laws (administrative and criminal)
- chemical evidence
- electrical engineering
- fuel cell chemical analysis
- and more.
Breathalyzer machines tend to be extremely unreliable and many police officers lack the proper training to operate them. The machine will assume your lung capacity and use that to calculate how much your water content and body weight deviates from the norm. Additionally, breathalysers are more easily manipulated than blood tests.
Fermentation from between your teeth, GERD, acid reflux and other digestive conditions can all influence the reading of the breath machine, which is sensitive to atmospheric pressure and temperature. All these issues can affect the accuracy of the reading.
What Happens When I Get a DUI?
After your arrest, a court date may be scheduled for some time in the future. The physical copy of your photo license will probably be taken away from you during the DUI arrest, however, you will receive a "Notice of Suspension" which serves as a temporary license that is valid for thirty days. Technically, you still have a full drivers license.
Upon your release, you should note that you have to navigate your way through two proceedings. Firstly, you must demand an administrative license suspension hearing with the DMV.
However, you are required by law to request a hearing within ten (10) days of the arrest, or else your license may be automatically suspended. The DMV hearing will typically take place in approximately a month from the date of your request, but you must make the request within ten days, weekends included.
Benefits of scheduling a DMV hearing include:
- receiving a copy of the police report of your arrest
- an opportunity to question the police officer
- a chance to conduct an investigation before a court case is filed.
Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney will request a DMV hearing on your behalf to ensure that you don't miss the deadline. Importantly, you will have a knowledgeable expert on your side to expertly handle the case from start to finish.
If you fail to request a hearing, your license will automatically expire 30 days after the arrest date. However, a certain loophole exists whereby you can obtain a duplicate drivers license by completing the DL-44, which is the DMV's duplicate license form.
An experienced DUI attorney may be able to have the charges reduced or dismissed, after which your license should be fully reinstated without any suspension.
A four month suspension is applicable to first DUI if:
- you fail to request a hearing
- you lose the hearing
- you are convicted
In most cases, three months can be converted to a suspension, with one month being considered a hard suspension. You can avoid the trouble and negative effects of a DUI conviction by ensuring that you request a hearing within the ten days and that you find an experienced DUI attorney who can help you prepare for and win the hearing as soon as possible.
Your DUI attorney will also be able to guide you through the criminal prosecution in state court. The state will charge you with two offenses and you may be convicted of both:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) - This offense is straightforward and involves driving while intoxicated with alcohol, drugs or marijuana.
- Per se DUI - This offense is for driving with a .08% or higher blood-alcohol level.
If you refuse chemical testing and the police do not take a blood sample by force, you will not be charged with a "per se" offense, due to the lack of evidence. It is important to note that you may face higher penalties on your DUI charges since you refused the tests.
While the penalties are the same, they can only punish you for one.
DUI and Jail Time
As with all other charges, the law applies minimums and maximums to DUIs. If this is your first DUI, the minimum penalties you will likely face will be:
- a $390 fine
- and other fees
The maximum penalty for a first offense is typically fines totalling $3,000+ and a 6-month jail sentence. In most cases, first time offenders do not receive jail time.
An experienced DUI attorney can often help you avoid jail time in lieu of alternative sentencing, even if it is not your first offense and there are special circumstances, such as:
- driving under the influence with a minor passenger
- causing an accident while driving under the influence
- speeding and DUI allegations
- refusing to provide tests
- a blood-alcohol level of .16% or more (double the legal limit)
While you can't go back in time to change the way you handled the situation, considering how you might have done it differently might provide great insight that could benefit you in the future.
You may decide not to drink and drive in future, and instead:
- assign a designated driver
- hire a taxi or take public transportation when you drink
- drink more water to flush the alcohol from your body
- eat protein or fatty foods to absorb the alcohol
However, if you choose to take a chance, or if you have no option but to drive when you are under the influence, it is important to obey all the rules of the road, including:
- ensuring that your lights, equipment, stickers and tags are in proper working conditions;
- focusing on the road;
- putting your phone aside.
However, following the safe drunk driving practices above may not be enough to prevent being pulled over and arrested.
Getting Help with Your DUI Case
When you are arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, CA, the police officers must read you your Miranda rights and inform you of your rights to remain silence and have an attorney present. Invoke your rights as soon as possible and call Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney.
Dealing with an experienced DUI specialist means that you have someone in your corner who knows what to anticipate during the preparation for your DWI/DUI pretrial as well as the trial proceedings. A DUI attorney is well-versed on the topics of license suspension, sentencing, license revocation and more. Your attorney will be able to devise a criminal defense strategy based on issues surrounding:
- unauthorized stopping by police officers
- testimony of civilian witnesses
- substantive offenses
- professional responsibility during evidence collection
- challenging breathalyzer, intoximeter, urine analyses and blood tests
- suppressing evidence
- successfully opposing prior convictions
- cross-examining the arresting officer and chemical experts
- providing compelling instructions to the jury
- and more.
Your attorney's goal will be to either have the charges against you reduced or dropped.
If you have been arrested or are being investigated for any DUI charges, get in touch with Jonathan Franklin DUI Attorney right away by calling 323-464-6700. After a preliminary case assessment, your attorney will determine the best cause of action for defending you against the DUI charges levied against you.