DUI Process in California
Ventura DUI Attorneys for Your Defense
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.
In order to ensure that you are fully prepared for each of the phases set forth before you as you look toward tackling a DUI case, don't hesitate to contact a Ventura criminal defense lawyer at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP.
After an Investigation and Arrest
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.
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.
Schedule a Hearing at the DMV Hearing: We can help!
As mentioned above, the law enforcement officer will issue a temporary driver's license to a DUI defendant, and the license will be set to expire in 30 days' time. The only way to avoid license suspension under these conditions is by scheduling a DMV hearing within 10 days of the arrest.
Any driver that successfully schedules a hearing within this timeframe will not have his or her license suspended until the DMV hearing has taken place and an outcome has been reached. DMV hearings can be conducted in person or telephonically.
A DUI defense attorney at our firm can accompany you to the DMV hearing. At this time, our efforts will be geared toward proving that your driver's license should not be suspended. Arguments that can be used in your defense at this time include:
- The law enforcement officer did not have reasonable cause to believe you were driving under the influence
- You arrest was made unlawfully
- Your BAC level was not above the legal limit
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 defendant.