Following a DUI arrest, a person may find the police’s evidence against them as an obstacle incapable of being beaten. That feeling may be more overwhelming when it’s a person’s first time going through the DUI process. A breathalyser or blood test may have returned a result above the legal limit. You may have also failed a field sobriety test. If this is the case, the law ensures protections to make sure that the police have not violated any of your rights in the DUI investigation and in collecting evidence. Any violation of your rights in these processes can result in evidence against you being suppressed, thrown out, and your case being dismissed.
You may not be familiar with the California DUI laws if this is your first DUI arrest. Consulting with an attorney may be very beneficial. A DUI attorney can explain the DUI process to you and can work with you to build a solid defense. This article will introduce the California DUI laws to you, as well as what can be expected after your first DUI arrest. If after reading this article you have any unanswered questions, our office will be happy to provide a free DUI consultation. Our highly experienced defense attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm know how to best attack DUI cases to provide the best possible result at trial.
Was There Probable Cause to Warrant your DUI Traffic Stop?
The first element the prosecution must prove is that your initial traffic stop was lawful. To do so, the prosecution will ask the police to show that they had a valid reason to pull you over.1 At this point, any form of traffic violation can constitute a valid traffic stop. This traffic violation does not need to indicate that the operator of the motor vehicle was under the influence to be lawful. The traffic violation could be an expired registration tag, failing to signal prior to changing lanes, or not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. These violations could give rise to a proper traffic stop. Although many violations that can give rise to a proper traffic stop, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove that the traffic violation actually existed. If the police report says that the driver did not signal before switching lanes but there is evidence that the driver did in fact signal before switching lanes, the stop can be determined invalid. If the stop can be determined invalid, any evidence collected as a result of the stop can be suppressed. This process deters the police from pulling cars over without the prerequisite of probable cause, and can be enforced even if the traffic stop resulted in a finding that the operator of the motor vehicle’s BAC was above the legal limit.
Moreover, when the DUI case stems from a valid traffic stop, it is still the prosecution’s burden to prove that the police had probable cause to conduct the DUI investigation.2 What this means is that it is the prosecution’s job to present precise facts that reasonably show the driver was under the influence when he was stopped. The police and prosecution cannot rely on the fact that a driver simply failed to signal before switching lanes, because that does not reasonably show that the driver was intoxicated. The police have to provide further facts that suggest the driver was drunk, such as the driver exhibiting slurred speech, or the presence of alcohol in the car before the police can conduct a DUI investigation. If the prosecution fails to provide these facts, incriminating evidence resulting from the DUI investigation can be suppressed.
Therefore, on top of the traffic stop and DUI investigation, probable cause must be present before the police can make an actual DUI arrest.3 Generally; this element is met when the police submit evidence that the driver failed a sobriety or breath test. Nevertheless, it is imperative to understand that the police have to comply with the law throughout the entire process of administering these tests. Thus, when the police should not have administered a test, the evidence that test produces may be inadmissible.
Whether you, or someone you know, have been arrested for a DUI, remember that evidence of intoxication does not always mean that a valid arrest or conviction has occurred. It is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney to make sure that your rights have not been violated during the process of your DUI case.
Requirements for a DUI under California Vehicle Code 23152
There are a few ways that a person can be arrested for DUI in California. In order to be convicted, the prosecution bears the burden of proving the elements of DUI “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
- You were operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher;
- The operator of the motor vehicle was under the influence of alcohol; or
- The operator of the motor vehicle was under the influence of drugs.
It is important to understand the relationship between the first two points. A majority of people assume that to be guilty of DUI their BAC must be .08% or higher. However, that is false. A person can be guilty of DUI even when their BAC is under the legal limit. Someone whose ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired, even when their BAC is under the legal limit is at risk of being convicted of DUI. The prosecution will have to show a “but for” causation to prove your impairment. This means that your prosecutor must show that, “but for” the alcohol or drugs in your system, you were incapable of driving the same way a driver who was not intoxicated would have. The law presumes that your driving ability is impaired when your BAC is over .08%.
Ultimately, it is still the prosecution’s burden to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you fall under one of the three categories stated above. The prosecution bearing this burden gives rise to many opportunities as a defense to disprove the prosecution’s case against you. If the prosecution fails to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you broke the law, the DUI charge against you must be dismissed.
What to Expect after a DUI arrest
The officer probably placed you under arrest after feeling that enough probable cause existed to warrant the arrest. The officer probably took your driver’s license and gave you a pink paper in return. The pink paper is your temporary driver’s license that is known as an “Admin Per Se.”
The instant you are arrested, you have 10 calendar days to request for a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Failing to request this hearing within the 10 days waives your right to the hearing. The DMV hearing does not affect your guilt or innocence. Nonetheless, the DMV hearing is critical because it determines your driving rights while your DUI case is pending. Another consequence of failing to request the DMV hearing is that your license will be suspended after the expiration of your Admin Per Se. Requesting the DMV hearing can delay that suspension until the completion of your DMV hearing.
The following 4 issues will be the focus of your DMV hearing:
- Did the officer have a valid suspicion to pull you over;
- Did the officer have enough probable cause to arrest you for DUI;
- Did the officer inform you what would happen to you if you refused a breach or blood test; and
- Whether you refused to take a breadth or blood test.
Although, a positive result at the DMV hearing does not mean that you will win in the criminal court, it can show what evidence the prosecution may bring in the criminal court. The DMV hearing can give your attorney the chance to cross-examine the officer that arrested you. Thus, we highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity and request your DMV within the 10 days the option is available.
The attorneys here, at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm, have unparalleled experience in DUI cases. We have produced positive results during our previous clients’ DMV hearings and encourage you to contact us today so that we can provide you with assistance in every step of your DUI case. If you have an upcoming DMV hearing, contact us for a free consultation.
After your DMV hearing is completed, the criminal court process will begin. This process will be where the prosecution will need to meet the burden of proof to prove the elements previously examined above. In your criminal trial, there are many arguments that your attorney can assert in order to convey why your DUI charge should be dismissed. These defenses are:
Incorrect Positive Test Results
Occasionally, the officer’s equipment used to test you BAC is not working correctly. This can result in an incorrect BAC reading. Results stemming from a breath test have been criticized for years. There are also many other factors that can lead to higher alcohol levels in your mouth. These factors can be as simple as having recently burped or a recent dental procedure, and can cause a false positive result. Other factors to be considered are dietary and health conditions can lead to an inaccurate result.
Increasing Blood Alcohol
Sometimes, if you are arrested after recently drinking alcohol, your BAC will be higher when tested than when you were driving.
Absence of Probable Cause
Once again, the police must have a valid reason to stop you, and conduct a sobriety test. The police must provide precise facts that exemplify that you were intoxicated before they can make you take any form of sobriety test.
Your Miranda Rights Were Not Read to You
If you were questioned after your DUI arrest, the police must have read you your Miranda Rights. If you were not read your Miranda Rights, then any evidence collected as a result of that questioning can be suppressed.
Unlawful DUI Checkpoint
The police are required to administer their DUI checkpoint pursuant specific procedural rules. If they fail to do so, any evidence collected against you resulting from an illegal checkpoint can be suppressed.
Failure to act Pursuant to Title 17
The state of California requires adherence to specific procedural rules on how breath and blood tests can be taken, stowed, and examined. Failure to adhere to these standards can lead to the evidence collected being suppressed.
Therefore, you want to make sure that you hire an attorney who knows when and how to properly assert these defenses in order to maximize your chances to receive the best result possible. Contact us today, so we can get started preparing your defense.
First Time DUI: The Punishments
Many first time DUI arrestees have many questions about what penalties they will face. Although California treats all DUI offenses seriously, many first time offenders do not face the same penalties that multiple offenders do.
Many different factors are considered when the court distributes the penalties for a first time DUI offender. Those factors include the circumstances surrounding your arrest, the judge, and the prosecutor. A first DUI conviction where no death or bodily injury occurred is not limited to but usually entails the following punishments:
- Fines (including penalty assessments) ranging from $390 to $2,000.
- Mandatory attendance of an alcohol treatment program. In cases where the driver’s BAC was 0.2% or below, a 9-month attendance period is required.
- 48-hour jail sentence.
- A 30-day driver’s license suspension. Further driving limitations, but you can apply to receive a restricted license that is only valid for use to and from work, as well as the alcohol treatment program.
The punishments of a DUI conviction vary from case to case. The court also takes into account aggravating factors that can increase a person’s punishment. These aggravating factors may consist of:
- If you DUI incident resulted in damage to property and/ or injury;
- High BAC (.15% and higher);
- The presence of a passenger under the age of 14 while driving under the influence;
- The refusal of a breath or blood test;
- Speed at which you were driving;
- Whether or not you are a minor; or
- If you were driving without a license.
What actions will the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm take to defend my First DUI charge?
The repercussions after a first time DUI arrest are serious and can affect both your professional and personal life. When facing your first DUI charge, you must do everything you can in order to prevent a conviction. The criminal defense attorneys at the Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm have the experience and knowledge to help get you the best possible outcome throughout this stressful and complicated process.
The Orange County DUI Attorney Law Firm is experienced in serving clients who need assistance in DUI and criminal defense cases in City of Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, Yorba Linda.
For a FREE DUI consultation, call our office today at 949-377-2280.
1 People v. Ramirez, 59 Cal. App. 4th 1548; People v. Jones, 126 Cal. App. 3d 308
2 Terry v. Ohio, 392 US 1, 20.
3 United States Constitution, Amendment IV.