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California and society in general have changed their attitudes toward driving under the influence (DUI). And your DUI Attorney Los Angeles will surly tell you that the reasons for this change are many. DUI convictions have changed from an attitude of nothing more than a Traffic Ticket, to one of major societal import. The lobbying efforts of groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was a major factor in the changes in legal and societal treatment of drunk driving. But when the “party lights” of the police car come on and you are pulled over, what happens next?
At LA Jewish Lawyer we work diligently to connect you with the Best DUI Attorney Los Angeles for your DUI case. Once we connect you with your DUI defense attorney he or she will most likely start by offering the following details: The DUI statute in California is Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) and (b). The statute has two sub-parts which place liability on you for driving either under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and/or driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. The most prudent thing to do, is pull over. If you decide to attempt to run away, the stakes go up in an exponential fashion. If you flee, additional police cars will be called in to apprehend you. Additional criminal charges will be added when you are caught (evading, other traffic laws e.g. speeding) will be waiting for you at the end of the chase. The police use a variety of tactics to locate DUI drives. They include their own perception (finding probable cause), DUI checkpoints, notification from citizens, etc.
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The police are out in force at various times of the year to look for DUI drives. We have all seen news stories at major holidays (4th of July, Christmas, New Year’s) which typically involve the consumption of alcohol. The police cite the gruesome statistics that from 2003-2012 10,327 people in California were killed in crashes involving a DUI driver. Besides the devastating emotional toll this takes on families, we have increased medical expenses in attempts to save these people. The trend that is used to curb DUI is multifaceted. These include sobriety checkpoints, community mobilizations, mass media campaigns, school based educational programs.
Once you are pulled over, the officer will typically conduct a Field Sobriety Test (FST). First, when the police officer comes to you, he/she will ask if you have been drinking. S/he will then perform the FST. These tests are inherently difficult to perform when a person is sober and are prejudiced against a DUI defendant. Can you recite the alphabet backwards when you are under the gun (no pun intended)? FST’s may include walking heel to toe and then turning around to go back, touching finger to nose, the alphabet test and a possible blowing into a field unit to ascertain your Blood Alcohol Level (BAC).
If you are arrested and refuse to take a test to ascertain your BAC, your license will be automatically suspended for the refusal. When you first got our license, you agreed with the state that you will submit to testing if an officer demands it. This is called the “implied consent law”. Typically, you have a choice of testing (either a breath test at the police station) or a blood test. In rare circumstances, you may get a urine test. This exception to the general rule has been scaled back since 1999.
Depending on how you perform these tests, the officer may take you into custody for DUI. When this occurs, the system is swift in it application of punishment. The officer will take your drives license from you. A temporary license will be issued to you by the DMV. You must request a hearing from the DMV within 10 days to challenge the validity of this action. Should you fail to do so, your license will be suspended for a period of one year potentially. If this is your first DUI, typically you are faced with a 90 suspension. The suspension will be a “hard” 30 days suspension. This means that you will not be able to drive for 30 days. After paying a fee to the DMV you will be issued a restricted drives license. This means that you may drive to/from work, to/from a court mandated alcohol school for 60 days.
When you go to court, your first appearance will be at arraignment. This is a process where the court apprises you of the charges against you and provides you with an opportunity to enter a plea to the charges. You will be given the discovery from the people. This discovery will include the police report, your test results and various other documents. Do not go through this alone. Have a DUI Lawyer review the documents and advise you of your rights and options. You may have an opportunity to challenge the validity of the testing, the accuracy of the testing and the observations of the police officer(s). Most people do not know the ins and outs of this process. Therefore, a lawyer is of vital importance to ensure your rights.
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There may be various reasons why you could not complete the FST’s in a satisfactory manner. Perhaps you had an adverse reaction to medication you were taking, had a condition which affects your balance and/or speech, you were excessively nervous or a host of other issues that could turn the adverse test results around.
The DMV is the first battlefront that a defendant has to fight when cited with a DUI. The DMV will conduct your license suspension hearing. They assume that the officers’ report is accurate and take it as gospel. The burden is then placed on you to convince them that you were not under the influence. This is a difficult and at times an impossible burden for a defendant to overcome.
The court is the second battlefront that a defendant has to fight. If a resolution of the criminal charge cannot be reached, a trial may ensue. At trial, the officer will come to testify. The defendant will have the right to question the officer and challenge the accuracy of the test results. To go to trial will become expensive for the typical defendant. The defendant will have to call expert witnesses to testify on his behalf. This may include doctors, engineers or a host of other technical people to challenge the validity of the prosecution case.
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DUI is an offense that increases its penalties the more often a defendant violates it. A typical first time offense is punished by a fine, 36 months of summary probation, the license restriction noted above and possibility of jail time. Subsequent offense increase jail time, license suspension and could lead to license revocation. There have been cases where professionals have lost their license to practice (doctors, lawyers) for repeated DUI’s. If a defendant kills someone while DUI after a first offense, the prosecution may have the option of filing murder charges against the defendant. The stakes ramp up quickly and not in a good way against the defendant.
The government besides having valid reasons for protect the public has a second reason, money. There are various industries that are tied into DUI prosecution. These include alcohol schools that try to teach behavior modification, ignition interlock device companies (that place a device in the defendants car that prevent it from starting if alcohol is detected). By the way, the defendant gets to pay for these services as well as being required to use them.
DUI’s in California are called “wobblers”. This means that depending upon the case, the prosecution may charge DUI as a felony or a misdemeanor. If death or damage to property results, a felony charge may be brought against the defendant. If a felony is charged, the stakes of the prosecution go up and not in favor of the defendant.
If you choose to drink, just do not drive. Get a designated driver, call a cab / Uber / limo, stay at home, stay in a hotel. Small choices may have a lifetime of consequence. Take steps to protect yourself and the public from these adverse situations.
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