The majority of DUI arrestees in Stanton don’t know what to expect after the arrest, which creates a lot of stress and anxiety. At the Orange County DUI Attorney, we believe that a client who is familiar with the stages of a DUI charge is an asset. Clients who are familiar with the phases of a drunk driving charge will know what to do after the arrest, which enhances the chances of being acquitted of the charges. Our firm believes that an unprepared client is a liability, which has led us to explain the phases or stages of a DUI case in this article. If you or a close friend has been arrested, knowledge about the stages discussed below will reduce the anxiety associated with this process.

CA DUI Investigation

An investigation for a DUI begins when any of the following events happen:

  • While driving, a law enforcement officer stops you for violating traffic rules.
  • You are pulled over because of a defect on your motor vehicle like a broken tail light.
  • While driving, you are involved in a car crash, and the police are called at the scene.

Once the police officer stops you or arrives at the scene of an accident, he or she will observe any signs of intoxication. Some of the signs of intoxication are bloodshot or glassy eyes, slurred speech, the smell of alcohol or drugs coming from you or the vehicle, jerky movements, and lack of balance. An officer can claim they noticed some of these signs of intoxication, and that’s what triggered them to conduct field sobriety tests. There are several FSTs that you might be asked to perform. The outcome of these tests will be recorded in a report. In case the results indicate you have violated VC 23152 (a), the officer has the authority to put you under arrest.

CA DUI Arrest

The next step after an investigation is an arrest. If the police officer has probable cause to detain you, he or she has the power to make an arrest. After an arrest, you will be taken to a local hospital, police station, or jail. You are taken to any of these places so that the officer can conduct chemical tests to assert that you were driving with an alcohol or drug concentration exceeding the legal limit. The officer might choose to perform a breath or blood test to confirm the suspicions. The results of a breath test will be out immediately, but for a blood test, it will take days before the results are out.

If the chemical test results show that you have a blood alcohol content of .08% or more, you will be charged with violating VC 23152 (b) in addition to violating VC 23152 (a). Assume the test result fails to show that you have an excessive BAC level, the arresting officer can conduct another blood or urine test. The tests are done to find proof that you were driving with a BAC level beyond the legal limit of .08%.

Note that the second test is not compulsory. You have the right to refuse to submit the urine test, but you should know that there are consequences for refusal to submit to a chemical test. Even after declining the tests, you will still face a DUI charge under VC 23152 (a). Additionally, you might also be charged with refusal to submit a test. A refusal charge comes with the punishment of forty-eight hours’ incarceration in Orange County jail, or not less than twelve months of driver’s license suspension.

If the officer concludes that you committed an offense and there are facts to prove it, you might be held or release after the second test. You will be released or held based on your criminal history or the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Often, police officers hold suspects of DUI for several hours or even overnight before setting them free.

Orange County police are not allowed to detain you more than two days after the arrest. During this period, you will be notified of your driver’s license suspension for one month. After being notified of the suspension of your driving privileges, you will be issued a temporary license, which is often a pink document. The license suspension takes effect immediately. Your driver's license is then confiscated.

In specific incidences, you will be released but after signing a document promising to appear before the court at a later date. Another way you can secure your release is by setting bail, which is often set by the court. The situation surrounding your case is what will determine if the court will grant you bail or not. If you are granted bail, but you cannot afford to raise the amount, you should contact a bail bond agency to help you out.

After the blood test results are out, and they indicate you committed an offense, the arresting officer is required to file a DUI report with the local prosecution attorney.

Hiring a DUI Attorney for Representation

At this stage, you have been charged with the offense of drunk driving. Although it might not appear so, this is the most overwhelming stage because there are many attorneys out there, but you don’t know how to identify the best. You will need to take time to evaluate several professionals and pick the best. Opt for a legal representative who understands you and the California DUI case process.

You can hire a Stanton DUI  Attorney to be guaranteed that someone is available to walk you through the process and hold your hand until the case is over. You can also opt for a public defender or any other DUI attorney. With a public defender, you might be lucky to be assigned one who is competent. Unfortunately, public defenders don’t have enough time for you since they are handling multiple cases at once. The other problem with public defenders is that you don’t get the opportunity to pick the one you want to work with. The state picks one for you since you cannot afford a private attorney. With other DUI attorneys, you might not be sure if you are dealing with the right professional. The reason being they might not provide the expertise you need to get a favorable outcome. You need people who are vigorous and dedicated to helping you avoid the consequences that come with a conviction for the charges.

Note that a simple mistake of hiring the wrong attorney can get you paying huge fines, spending time in jail, or suffering social stigma. Therefore, always make the right decision when hiring a DUI attorney.

California DMV Hearing

After being arrested and your driver’s license confiscated, it is sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Remember, at the time, your driving privileges are on suspension for 30 days. When this duration elapses, your temporary license expires, and the DMV will automatically suspend your license. You can, however, prevent the suspension by requesting a DMV hearing within ten days after the suspension. Once you request a hearing, the suspension is put on hold until the DMV hearing is concluded. The hearing can be conducted over the phone or in person. Note that even if you win the DMV hearing, if you lose the DUI criminal charge, your license will still be suspended or revoked.  It means that the most important thing is having a competent attorney so that you can get legal guidance throughout the process.

In the DMV hearing, the DMV officer focuses on three main issues:

  • They center on whether the arresting officer had the necessary suspicion to place you under arrest for drunk driving. The reason they focus on this is to confirm whether the arrest was legal or illegal.
  • Also, the DMV officer will want to know whether the chemical tests conducted after suspicion of intoxication by the arresting officer confirmed your BAC level was .08% or higher.
  • The DMV officer will also want to know if the arresting officer had a reasonable belief or that you were intoxicated at the time you were operating the vehicle.

After being charged with DUI and requested a DMV hearing, although the hearing is not a criminal trial, it is good to hire a Stanton DUI Attorney. Having a competent attorney in the hearing improves your chances of preventing a license suspension.

In case you decide to forego the services of a DUI attorney, you will have waived your right to a public defender. It means you will represent yourself in the DMV hearing, which is likely to reduce the chances of winning the trial. You will also have to represent yourself in the DUI charges, which might adversely affect your outcome.

In the event you lose the DMV hearing, your license will be suspended for between four to thirty-six months. The period of suspension, however, depends on your prior DUI convictions and the situation surrounding the arrest, especially on the issue of cooperating with the arresting officer.  

Note that it is essential to have an attorney even in the DMV hearing because some of the evidence presented during the hearing can be used as your defense in a criminal court. Having an attorney also means you are likely to regain your driving privileges. An attorney will expose the possible misconduct by the police, which will help prove that the arrest was unlawful.

CA DUI Court Process

Once the DMV hearing is concluded, the DUI court process will begin. The court process is composed of you, your DUI attorney or public defender, the prosecution attorney, the judge, and the jury. It starts with the arraignment and ends after you have been acquitted or sentenced.

DUI Arraignment

The court process commences with the arraignment. In an appearance, you as the defendant appears before the court for the first time. In misdemeanor DUI cases, the defendant doesn't need to appear in an arraignment. When you appear in court for the first time, the judge will read you the charges, and then you will be allowed to take a plea. There are three options when making a plea. You might decide to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Keep in mind that no negotiation takes place at this stage.

If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney are allowed to view the evidence the prosecution has against you so that you can build your defense. Once you have pleaded not guilty, the judge is going to request all the proof against you. The evidence includes the police report, the devices used to conduct the chemical tests, and the maintenance report of the test devices.

In case you plead guilty, the case comes to an end. You will, however, be required to satisfy the terms of the probation. If you are having issues of bail, the judge will address them during the arraignment and also set the next court date.

Fighting Your California DUI Charges

Several strategies are available that you can use to defend the charges against you. Some of the legal defenses include:

  • Faulty blood and breath testing equipment
  • Police misconduct

If you have an Attorney by your side, you are assured that the experience you need to prove that the devices used to conduct the BAC tests were defective or not properly calibrated will be provided. With proper defense, your chances of walking free or facing reduced charges are high.

Pretrial Motions and Plea Bargains in DUI Charges

At this stage, your attorney uses his or her experience of the DUI court process to plan on how to fight the charges against you. An excellent Stanton DUI Attorney will investigate every detail of your case and evaluate the prosecution’s evidence. The time taken to conduct the investigations of the case counts a lot. It is the reason you need a private DUI attorney who will dedicate most of his or her time investigating the facts of your case. With knowledge of facts of the case and the discovery against you, it will be easy for a Stanton DUI Attorney to have the DUI charges against you dropped or reduced.

If your attorney feels that the evidence the prosecution has against you is weak, he or she can request for a plea deal. The prosecution is going to claim that the deal they offered in the arraignment was the best. However, an excellent attorney can push them through negotiation to get a better plea deal.

Another essential thing to note about this stage is that you can file for a pretrial motion. The motions or petitions are made before the trial to affect the various aspects of the testimony, the defendant, and the court atmosphere in general. The motions in a pretrial include:

Motion to Suppress

The motion is filed by your attorney requesting the court to dismiss evidence that was acquired through police misconduct. Also, the petition can be to prevent the introduction of new discovery that might affect you negatively.

Pitchess Hearing

In this hearing, your attorney is allowed to investigate and learn more about the arresting officer’s complaint history in a bid to discredit the officer’s testimony.

Probable Cause Hearing

At this hearing, a Stanton DUI Attorney challenges the validity of the initial traffic stop or arrest by the arresting officer.

After the pretrial motion and evaluation of the evidence, your attorney can reach out to the prosecution attorney to try and get a favorable plea deal.

California DUI Jury Trial

If you are offered a plea deal and you accept it, the case will not go to trial. But if you are not happy with the offer in a plea bargain, you will proceed to the trial. The steps of the jury process include:

  • A jury selection is made
  • The prosecutor and your Stanton DUI Attorney makes opening statements
  • The prosecuting party presents its evidence
  • The defense attorney presents its evidence
  • The prosecutor and defense attorney makes closing statements
  • The jury gives a verdict
  • A sentence is imposed

In DUI cases, for you as a defendant to be convicted, the twelve jury bench must be convinced beyond doubt by the prosecution that you committed the offense of driving under the influence.

California DUI Sentencing

DUI is a priorable offense in California. Your previous convictions of DUI charges will affect your subsequent DUI sentencing. If you plead guilty to the charges or are convicted for a DUI, the potential penalties include:

  • Monetary fines
  • Driver’s license suspension or revocation
  • Probation
  • Incarceration in jail or prison
  • Mandatory drug or alcohol treatment program in case it’s approved by the court

The best way to avoid sentencing for a DUI charge is by retaining the services of a competent Stanton DUI Attorney.

Find a DUI Defense Attorney Near Me

If you or a close relative has been arrested and charged for driving under the influence, we invite you to contact the Orange County DUI Attorney at 949-377-2280. Our focus is on educating potential clients on the various phases of a DUI case to prevent the confusion and anxiety that surrounds an arrest. If you want to familiarize yourself with the whole DUI process, reach us today for an over the phone or schedule an in-person office consultation.