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Are You Being Charged with a DUI?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common criminal matters in any courthouse on any given day. As a result, we naturally have decades of cumulative experience handling these types of cases.

When you are cited for DUI, this implicates two independent ways the government can punish you. The first is, of course, in the criminal courts. What many people do not realize, however, is that the DMV can punish you separately, even if the criminal case resolves in your favor!

After an arrest for DUI, you will likely be forced by police to surrender your driver’s license (and if you don’t have one, the charges you face will likely include a charge of violating Vehicle Code § 12500, triggering additional exposure to punishment). You will then be given a temporary driver’s license (a pink form). On this form, you are told that if you do not contact the DMV within ten days of arrest and request an administrative hearing, you will face an automatic license suspension in 30 days.

The issues that the DMV administrative hearing address are:

  • Did the peace officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of Vehicle Code §§ 23140 , 23152 , or 23153 ?

  • Were you placed under lawful arrest?

  • Were you driving a motor vehicle when you had 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in

    your blood?

Unfortunately, the DMV hearing officer serves as both the prosecutor AND JUDGE for the case. This person is not an attorney and the laws are tilted strongly in the DMV’s favor. As a result, it is very important that an experienced attorney be on your side to argue any defenses you may have. In any event, an attorney can help you delay any DMV license suspensions, if not altogether avoid them.

On the criminal side, a DUI can be proved in court either by showing you drove with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more, refused a chemical test, or merely drove while under the effects of alcohol, regardless of your BAC.

Attorneys are trained to spot issues with poor police work such that, if the officer deviated from proper law enforcement practices, the entire case can be dismissed. Alternatively, an attorney may be able to negotiated a preferred result, either what is known as a “wet reckless” or, perhaps, even a “dry reckless.” Other counts, such as the aforementioned Vehicle Code violation for driving without a license (VC §12500) are subject to negotiation between the prosecutor and your defense attorney and might be dismissed should accepting a plea be your best option.

The rules are somewhat different for those accused of DUI who are under 21 years of age. In these cases, the license suspension may be longer though it is often the case that the criminal penalties are not as severe. Furthermore, a DUI with a prior DUI in the previous ten years spikes

the potential consequences dramatically; and the penalties get worse and worse the more DUIs one has during that ten-year window.

In sum, DUI defense is wrought with intricacies. Knowing the ins and outs of the criminal system—as well as the DMV administrative system—is key to giving you the best shot at minimizing the consequences or winning your case outright. If you have been cited for driving under the influence, or any vehicle code violation, contact us immediately.

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