California DUI Process
In the state of California there is generally a multi-phased process for
DUI-related matters, beginning with the initial investigation and ending
with punishment / sentencing upon conviction. The following is the process
for DUIs in California:
The initial phases of a DUI are the
investigation and arrest aspects of the process. During these stages, the defendant will be pulled over
or otherwise stopped by a law enforcement officer for the purpose of looking
into whether or not the driver shows any signs of intoxication. A law
enforcement officer's investigation will likely involve a series of
field sobriety tests, as well as a write-up which will report on the type of alcohol identified
on the driver's breath and any objective signs that the driver might
be intoxicated, i.e. slurred speech or bloodshot eyes.
After the investigative process is complete, an
arrest can be made. At this time, the law enforcement officer will take the driver to the
local police station, hospital or jail to have a blood or
breath test conducted. Depending on the results of the test, the driver could be charged
for driving with an excessive BAC (if your BAC was above 0.08%) or driving
under the influence of drugs. Any refusal to submit to one of these chemical
tests will result in a "refusal" allegation which will be added
to your charges.
Driver's License Suspension
Upon your arrest, the officer must notify the driver that his or her
driver's license will be suspended in 30 days, at which time the license will be confiscated and a valid temporary license
will be issued. Booking will take place only after the DUI tests have
been completed. Whether or not the defendant can be released on bail will
depend on specific facts of the case, as well as his or her criminal record.
Before this stage of the process is completely finalized, the law enforcement
officer must submit his or her report to the local agency for review.
DUI Arraignment, Pre-Trial Motions, & Bargains
The first stage of DUI criminal proceedings is the arraignment, at which
time the prosecutor will present an "offer" to the defendant.
This offer is the prosecution's recommended sentencing for the case,
and it is at this time that the defendant will have his or her first chance
to plead "guilty," "not guilty," or "no contest."
Pleading guilty at this time will result in formal sentencing. From here,
the case will be closed. Pleading not guilty, however, will continue the
case. At this time, the defendant and his or her legal counsel will have
the opportunity to review and challenge any or all of the prosecution's evidence.
The pre-trial motion can last for months because it is at this time that
your defense attorney will have the opportunity to thoroughly review all
aspects of the case, including the scene of the arrest, the BAC testing
equipment, as well as legal records that were made.
Pre-trial motions generally include defenses such as probable cause (contesting
the validity of an officer's initial stop), motion to suppress (asking
the court to exclude evidence that was illegally obtained and / or unjustly
prejudiced), and pitchess (requesting to learn more about the officer's
history of making complaints).
After all evidence has been gathered on behalf of the defendant, and pre-trial
motions have been conducted, and defense expert witnesses have been consulted,
a negotiation can be made on behalf of the defendant. If substantial evidence
is obtained on your behalf, the prosecution may be much more likely to
reduce or even dismiss the charges that have been brought against the
Sentencing and Punishment for DUI
Typically, DUI cases are settled prior to the need for jury trial. This
is not to say, however, that no California DUI case will go to trial;
in fact, quite a few will need to be brought before a judge and jury in
order to make a conclusion.
A defendant can only be convicted of DUI if the prosecuting attorney is
successful in convincing all 12 jurors that the defendant is guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt. Avoiding an ultimate conviction at trial will rely
heavily upon your DUI attorney's ability to effectively challenge
any evidence that can be used against you in court.
Defendants who plead guilty or who are convicted by jury will be sentenced
to a certain set of punishments as issued by the judge. Depending on the
facts of the case, as well as the criminal history of the defendant, the
sentence that is prescribed will be different from defendant to defendant.
Common consequences tend to include:
- Driver's license suspension or revocation
- Enrollment in a court-approved alcohol program
- Possible jail or prison time
Protecting Your Rights, Defending Your Future
Aside from protecting your rights throughout the entirety of your DUI case,
our lawyers can work toward defending you against serious penalties. These
penalties can include hefty fines and fees, driver's license suspension,
probation, jail time, and more. A conviction on your criminal record can
also be the brand that creates barriers in your future.
Whatever your case may be, our team is dedicated to helping you secure
the best possible outcome. We work closely with clients and handle each
case on a unique basis.
Our goal is to protect your freedom and future.
Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP has helped many clients charged with
DUI, and we're ready to put our experience and skill to work for you.
If you have questions about your case and how we can help you, call us
today. Remember, time is an important factor in DUI cases.
Contact a Ventura DUI attorney if you were charged with any DUI related offense.Our firm serves clients
throughout Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and the surrounding areas.