Understanding the California DUI Process


The California DUI process begins when a law enforcement officer decides to pull you over. Many DUI arrests occur when law enforcement decides to pull over a driver for something other than drunk driving, such as a traffic infraction or fix-it ticket. If the officer suspects that the motorist is under the influence of alcohol, he/she will begin a roadside DU investigation. For instance, an officer might smell alcohol on your breath or see an empty container of alcohol in your vehicle.

If law enforcement notices any objective signs of impairment, he/she may conduct field sobriety testing or a breathalyzer test to determine if the driver is impaired. If the officer has "reasonable cause" to suspect that you are drunk, he/she will arrest you on suspicion of DUI. At this point, you driver's license will be suspended for 30 days – unless you re-obtain your driving privilege through an Administrative License Hearing.

You might think that most DUI cases immediately go to trial. In reality, many DUI cases never make it to the trial stage of the DUI process. Instead, you first DUI court appearance takes place during an arraignment. Simply put, an arraignment is a like a trial before the trial. During the arrangement, a judge will decide whether or not prosecutors have enough evidence to take your case to trial. If not, court will dismiss your case.

If your case progresses past the arraignment, it will enter the pre-trial motion and plea bargain phase. During this stage of the DUI process, the prosecution may offer you a plea bargain. In short, a plea bargain allows you to plead guilty in exchange for specific terms, such as a reduced sentence. A defense attorney can help you obtain a fair plea bargain, while attempting to bargain with prosecutors alone can result in an unfair deal.

Will my case result in a DUI jury trial?

Most DUI cases are resolved long before they reach the trial stage. In fact, many cases are resolved during arraignment. If your case reaches the jury trial stage, you will need a skilled and aggressive legal advocate fighting for your rights. At Lessem & Newstat, we are dedicated to helping our clients avoid the harsh penalties of an unnecessary DUI conviction.

At the firm, we believe that the outcome of your case is directly related to the quality of your legal representation. When you work with our team, you will have the advantage of more than 50 years of collective legal experience on your side. To see what our team can do for your DUI case, contact the Ventura DUI lawyers at Lessem & Newstat today.

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