Driving under the influence is a serious offense. With countless things that can interfere with the testing mechanisms for DUIs, it is a strong possibility that a defendant can win their not-guilty verdict. Do not assume the evidence is overwhelming in a DUI case. A defendant should not plead guilty to a DUI charge right off the bat, especially with a great DUI lawyer at their side.
Typically, a DUI is caught at a checkpoint or a random traffic stop. The police officer will request certain tests labeled sobriety tests to determine whether you are fit to drive. Do not refuse these tests; it is against the law. Once determined to be under the influence, the officer will make the arrest and bring the defendant in for booking, where they’ll have to perform more sobriety tests.
If this is the first offense and is a misdemeanor DUI, the defendant will usually be allowed to leave in a few hours. The officer takes the license, mails it to the DMV, and gives the defendant a citation with a court date and a temporary license. If the defendant holds an out-of-state license, the officer can’t take the physical license.
If the DUI is a felony offense, there is usually a bail that must be posted in order for the defendant to be released. Felony cases usually include accidents where there is damage to property and/or injuries to other people. This is much more serious and may result in a complete revocation of the license until the trial is resolved.
In California, police officers have very strict procedures they must follow in a DUI arrest. Sometimes cases are dismissed because of lack of procedure at the time of the arrest and post-arrest. A good lawyer will know immediately if the case is invalid due to procedural issues, saving time and money for all parties.
The DMV must hear from a defendant within ten days of the arrest to set up a DMV hearing. If a defendant does not set this up within ten days, the DMV will suspend the license, and the right to a hearing is forfeited. A good DUI lawyer will arrange for the hearing automatically, so the defendant doesn’t lose their license. The attorney will then try to schedule the hearing as far out as possible to have significant prep time.
The DMV hearing is separate from the court date. The purpose of the DMW hearing is to argue whether or not to suspend the defendant’s license. It also gives the lawyer a chance to get more information on the court case. A lawyer can do some things at this hearing as subpoena the officer who made the arrest so he shows at the hearing. A lawyer can also subpoena the sobriety test tools used at the time of arrest and all the maintenance logs on breathalyzers as well.
After the hearing, the DMV will either say the evidence is enough to suspend or not enough to suspend the defendant’s license. One thing to note is that the defendant does not need to go to this hearing; a private attorney can go in their place.
To win this hearing, a defendant and lawyer must be prepared to argue these following points:
· Was there a probable cause for the officer to suspect a DUI?
· Did the officer follow the lawful procedure?
· Was the defendant’s BAC (blood alcohol content) at or over .08%? And was it accurate?
· Did the defendant refuse the testing and did the officer warn that it would result in the suspension of license if they did?
If the lawyer can defend their client on any of these points, the DMV must rule in favor of the defendant. This will set up the defendant well for the court trial. The trial is usually set for months out from the DMV hearing, so the defendant and their DUI attorney will have time to build a solid case for court.
It is not over if the DMV rules against the defendant and suspends their license. In this case, a defendant can apply for a restricted license within a 30-day window. The restricted license allows a defendant to drive to and from work, court, and any programs the DMV imposed. In some cases, the attorney can finagle a restricted license immediately from the DMV. Ultimately, the court trial will determine the final outcome.