Driving under the influence (DUI) laws are taken very seriously in California. The sequence of events and consequences that follow the mistake of drinking and driving is complex. In this article, we seek to give you a good roadmap on how to come out of the woods as unscathed as possible and put this event behind you. There are many pitfalls in the road ahead, but having a great attorney with years of experience will get you through this dark and stressful time.
To be found guilty of a DUI, which covers both alcohol and drugs, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was:
a driver 21 years old or over operating a normal vehicle with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.08% or higher
a driver of or a motor vehicle who is impaired by drugs and/or alcohol
a driver operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or higher
a driver under 21 years old with a BAC of 0.01% or higher
*It is worth noting that prescription or over the counter medications that contain alcohol will also affect your BAC (like cough syrup).
Penalties if you are convicted of a DUI vary widely depending on many factors. To better understand the penalties you face, please see these articles:DUI Sentencing Enhancements and DUI Penalties in California. If you are charged with driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, there are two major events coming your way. The 1st is a DMV hearing, which you must request within ten days of your arrest. The 2nd is a trial in court where you will face the charges against you. It is in your best interest to immediately call the California DMV or a reputable attorney to request the hearing because you maybe able to obtain a stay on the suspension of your license pending the Admin Per Se hearing.
Once you have contacted the DMV Driver Safety Office or a reputable attorney to request your stay (allows you to keep driving until your hearing) and hearing (allows you to keep the DMV from suspending your license), you will need to obtain a copy of the police report. You can do this by requesting it be sent to you from the DMV ten days before your hearing, or your attorney can make this request on your behalf. This report is important as it should contain every detail of your arrest, from the reason the law enforcement officer stopped you to the blood test results.
Before you go to the hearing or the case proceeds to court, you will need to decide whether you are going to represent yourself or hire an attorney to represent you. If you are going to fight the charge, a defense attorney is recommended because he will not only defend you, but he can help you navigate the complex legal process and life process that come after being charged with a DUI.
There are numerous legal defenses strategies that your attorney can argue to reduce or dismiss a DUI charge. Some include:
Mouth alcohol – The instruments used to test for alcohol are designed to capture a sample of your breath from deep lung tissue: however, several factors can affect this reading. For example, your dental work trapped a small amount of alcohol-soaked food in your teeth, you used a mouthwash that contained alcohol, or even you simply burped. The result of any of the aforementioned could be a falsely high BAC reading.
Rising blood alcohol – Alcohol takes between fifty minutes to three hours to absorb fully into your system. This means that your reading at the time of arrest could be far lower than your reading at the police station. Legally this second reading is irrelevant and an attorney who has a good understanding of rising blood alcohol will be able to use this as a defense.
Blood test errors – The potential for errors is a well-used Californian DUI defense. These can occur from incorrect blood storage, contamination, and fermentation. If your attorney can prove an error has been made or has likely been made, then they could have the blood evidence suppressed.
Lack of probable cause for a stop – In order for the police to stop you on a suspected DUI, they need to have what is known as probable cause. This means they need a good reason to think you are drunk driving, such as swerving out of the lanes.
Simply bad driving – Unfortunately the police often assume that someone who is driving badly is drunk. This is quite often not the case though, erratic driving can be caused by simple actions such as eating, changing the radio station, and etc. Attorneys often build a good defense around this as it is something most drivers can relate to doing.
No mental impairment, no DUI – According to Californian DUI law there are two types of impairment – mental and physical. Reports of drunk drivers often contain physical impairments such as slurred speech, poor coordination, and an unsteady gait. Very few reports contain indications of mental impairment, which experts agree on being a primary indicator or intoxication- no mental impairment, no DUI.
You weren’t driving – In order for the police to prove a DUI, they need to prove you were driving at the time. For example, if the police found you while you were parked, or you were involved in an accident where no one saw you driving, they would struggle to convict.
Police misconduct – An attorney could help you dismiss your DUI charges if he can prove that the police reports were not accurate, or the courtroom testimony is not truthful. Purposeful manipulation, fabricated evidence, and illegally obtained evidence are also grounds for dismissal. Don Hammond reads the police training manuals forwards and backwards and knows exactly where police typically make errors that help your case.
Getting a DUI charge is intimidating, especially if you don’t even know the 1st steps to take, but the situation is not hopeless. If you need assistance, please contact Don Hammond or a reputable DUI attorney who can help you lower or eliminate your sentence in court. You can request to meet with the attorney before committing to using their services. Most attorneys offer a free consultation. Make sure to select a competent attorney who has positive reviews and a good idea on how to handle your case to lower or eliminate your sentence.
Even after the settlement of the case, there are numerous other process you will have to face like enrolling in a CA DUI Program, applying for a restricted license, reinstating your CA driver’s license, and securing reliable transportation to your job if you’re unable to drive. This is where Don Hammond stands apart from most other DUI attorneys – once the case is settled and they received payment, it’s hard to get a hold of them. Don Hammond will not only help you navigate the legal process, but also the personal and professional process of getting your life back on track.