Driving Under The Influence (DUI) / Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
If you have ever been arrested for a DUI, it can be quite frightening and scary. For many individuals, this will be the first crime in which they have ever been charged. DUI charges are made against approximately 1.5 million drivers each year.
The penalties for driving under the influence in California are harsh. Even for a first offense, the penalties are quite severe; including license suspension, fines of almost $ 2,000.00, mandatory attendance at a State or DMV approved alcohol program, and even potential jail time. In addition, a DUI conviction stays on your DMV record for at least 10 years, which may result in higher insurance premiums. If you have a professional license from the State of California, the consequences can include a suspension, revocation or having to be placed on probation. These penalties will also depend on whether or not the individual has prior criminal convictions.
It is important to contact an attorney immediately. Given that so much is at stake in a DUI case and because DUI defense is a technically and highly specialized field involving medical terminology, etc., it is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled many DUI cases, and who can guide you through the criminal justice system and the Admin Per Se Hearing of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The penalties you will receive will often be based upon the skill of your attorney. The prosecution has many years of legal training and you need someone who has the skills to adequately and zealously represent you. An attorney who has the skills, knowledge, and experience regarding DUI’s will have the best chance of receiving alternative or lessened sentencing, lesser charges or avoiding the conviction altogether.
Often times, individuals hear that there is not much to do for a DUI. There are many viable defenses available to an individual who is facing a DUI charge, whether it is their first or fourth DUI. Below is a list of some viable defenses to a DUI charge:
- Unreliable Breath Test
- Inappropriate Breath Test
- Inconsistent Breath Test
- Inconsistencies Shown by Video Tape and/or Independent Witness
- Inadmissible Blood Test Results
- Mistakes by Arresting Officer
- Illegal Arrest by Law Enforcement Officer
- Medical Conditions
- Rising Alcohol Theory
People do not burn alcohol at the same rate! There are many viable defenses to a DUI charge and many factors that can affect the results of a breathalyzer and/or blood test.
DMV AND THE CRIMINAL COURT PROCESS
When a person is arrested for a DUI, the individual must fight the DMV hearing (Administrative Per Se Hearing), and the Criminal Court process.
Unlike the Criminal Court process, the Administrative Per Se Hearing of the Department of Motor Vehicles is a civil matter. It is critical that an individual charged with a DUI call the California Department of Mother Vehicles within 10 DAYS to request a hearing to contest the suspension. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of their license, taking effect 30 days after the arrest.
The issues presented at a DMV hearing are limited to 3 issues:
- Did the arresting officer have reasonable cause to believe that you were driving under the influence?
- Was the arrest lawful, and;
- Was your blood alcohol 0.08% or higher at the time of driving?
The DMV hearing is completely separate from the Criminal Court process, and a “set aside” of the suspension from the DMV has no relation to the outcome in the Criminal Court, and vise versa.
In addition to the DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing, an individual must also deal with the Criminal Courts. In Court, an individual charged with a DUI will often face hefty fines, probation, AA and/or DUI classes, penitential high insurance premiums, and even jail time.
Because you have to win both the DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing and in Criminal Court in order to prevent your license from being suspended, you need an attorney who is qualified to handle DUI cases.
Jimmy Cha has tried numerous DUI cases as a criminal defense attorney and is a member of the California DUI Lawyers Association. He has extensive knowledge about DUI’s and the criminal court process. If you have been arrested for a DUI, The Law Office of Jimmy Cha can help.