I used to be a police officer, and I did a lot of DUI enforcement. In fact, I won several awards. I also became a DUI instructor for the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the California Highway Patrol, so I taught police officers how to conduct DUI investigations.
I became a private investigator and did a lot of follow-up investigations for other attorneys, and then as an attorney, I’ve handled countless DUI cases—from simple misdemeanor vehicle stops that become DUI arrests to manslaughter charges related to drunk driving. Every case is different, but we start them out the same: we look at what’s in the police report and talk to the client to learn what actually happened. Then, we go through the police video and listen to the audio, if there’s audio. We compare notes with the client to determine if there are inaccuracies or stuff missing from the report that might affect the outcome of the case.
Is Your Law Enforcement Background Always Attractive for Clients to Hire You as Defense Counsel?
I find that my police background is a double-edged sword in that some clients are concerned about the fact that I used to be a police officer and others like it. I’ve been out of law enforcement for 11 or 12 years now, and my mindset is completely on the defense at this point.
The nice thing about having conducted investigations and having taught officers is that I know how these things are supposed to be done properly. In addition to that, because I’ve written so many of these reports and have been on the ground when they take place, I generally have a pretty good idea of some of the things that are missing when I read another officer’s report. Some officers write reports in such a way as to gloss over certain aspects of the stop or the investigation, and having been in that position myself, I see how these things actually unfold. That gives me a bit of an advantage in terms of knowing to look for what actually happened, what’s missing, and what they’re trying to gloss over that might be important.
What Information Should I Share With My DUI Defense Attorney About the DUI Stop and Initial Investigation?
You should share everything with your attorney. Every stop is different, so we will ask follow-up questions about where you were going, what you were doing, what caused the stop, when the last time you had something to drink was, what you normally drink, and whether the officer said anything unusual. Things that seem mundane or unimportant to a client might be important for us, while things that might seem very important to a client might not be a significant issue in the case.
What Happens to My Driver’s License After an Arrest for a DUI Charge in California?
On a first DUI arrest, your license will be suspended for six months. You have to file a request with the DMV within ten days in order to schedule a hearing, or your license will be automatically suspended. If you request the hearing, it gives us a chance to look at the police report and challenge the administrative suspension, though if you are convicted, obviously you have that six-month suspension. It could be longer if you have a high blood alcohol level. You would also be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle and take a DUI first offender’s class in order to get your license back after the suspension.
What Are the Consequences of Refusing a Breath or a Blood Test in California During a DUI Investigation?
If you refuse a chemical test, you will lose your license for one year. That chemical test is not necessarily the preliminary alcohol screening or the field sobriety test, which is where they have you walk a line, touch your nose, count to 30, etc.
When Is an Ignition Interlock Device Required in California?
Anybody convicted of driving under the influence is required to have an ignition interlock device during their six-month suspension period. The nice thing about the ignition interlock is that if you have the SR22 on file and you’ve begun your DUI classes, you can get your license back right away, with the only requirement being that you have an ignition interlock device in the vehicle that you are driving.
What Are the Penalties Associated With a DUI Conviction in California?
On a first DUI offense, you are sentenced to jail for up to 180 days. On a second offense, it can be up to one year in jail, and the same with a third. Plus, for a second offense, there’s a mandatory ten days, four of which must be served in jail. On a third, it is a minimum of 120 days, and six of those days must be spent in jail.
Are Any DUI Diversion Programs Available in California?
While DUI diversion is available, it is very difficult to get accepted into those programs. In Sacramento County, it’s been my experience that it is not an option for most people. It’s definitely not the right program for everybody. Some of the DUI diversion programs can actually be more costly and result in a much longer commitment of time in order to be successfully completed. Even upon completion, it’s still a prior-able offense.
Should I Still Hire a DUI Defense Attorney If I Intend to Plead Guilty to DUI Charges?
It’s advisable to hire an attorney anytime you have a case in court, but with DUI specifically, there are things that can be done to mitigate the sentence even if you are guilty. There may be issues with the traffic stop; you may have been drinking and driving, but if the stop was illegal, then the case can be thrown out. It’s always in your benefit to have an attorney review the reports, talk with you about the case, and see if there’s a potential defense.
For more information on DUI Charges in the State of California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (866) 982-3230 today.
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