Frequently Asked Questions Regarding DUI Arrests
Our San Diego DUI defense attorney carries out highly effective defense strategies after a DUI arrest to protect the rights of his clients. If you have been arrested for a DUI offense, Superior Law Center will protect your rights
Is there a difference between a DMV case and a court case?
A DUI actually involves two types of cases, a DMV hearing and a court case. DMV hearings only address possible license suspensions as a result of a DUI charge. This is an administrative hearing, not a criminal case. The court case is the venue in which criminal penalties, if any, will be determined.
These penalties can include such things as jail time, fines, and DUI classes, among others, depending on the facts of the case.
Why are there two violations on my ticket or notice to appear in court?
If you are charged with a DUI, you will generally be cited for two different crimes, driving under the influence (Vehicle Code Section 23152(a)) and driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher (Vehicle Code Section 23152(b)). Regardless of the charges you are facing, our experienced San Diego attorney can help you after a DUI arrest to effectively defend your rights.
What happens if I injure somebody?
If you have been arrested for a DUI involving injury of another person, you can be charged with Vehicle Code Section 23153(a) or (b). This charge can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the extent of the injuries involved. The punishment for injuring somebody while driving under the influence is more severe than the punishment for driving under the influence without injury.
What if I have a commercial driver’s license?
Additional penalties may be added to a DUI charge if you were driving a commercial vehicle. If you were driving a commercial vehicle at the time of your arrest, you may be facing Vehicle Code Section 23152(d), which could result in a suspension of your commercial driver’s license for a period of one year to life. For many, the revocation of a commercial driver’s license can be financially devastating. If you have been charged with a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle, our San Diego DWI defense attorney will fight for your rights after your DUI arrest.
What if I was under the age of 21 at the time of my DUI?
If you are under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .05 percent or higher. This differs from the .01 percent required for a person under the age of 21 to potentially have their license suspended through a DMV hearing, and is significantly lower than the .08 percent BAC level established for those over the age of 21. Individuals under 21 years of age are charged with being in violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140, which can carry a year-long driver’s license suspension if unsuccessful at the DMV hearing. If you are under the age of 21, our experienced San Diego attorney can help if a DUI arrest has put you in the position of potentially losing your driving privileges. Superior Law Center will provide solid legal representation in DMV hearings and will defend your rights in court.
What if I had a passenger under the age of 14 in my car?
If you are accused of a DUI while driving with a passenger under the age of 14, you may be facing additional penalties. Violation of Vehicle Code Section 23572 can be added to other DUI charges. In addition, those who are accused of driving under the influence with a passenger under the age of 14 may face either misdemeanor or felony child endangerment charges under Penal Code Section 273(a), the consequences of which can be quite severe.
What if I refused a chemical test?
In San Diego and across California, a DUI arrest means you must, by law, submit to a blood, breath or, less commonly, urine test. This law does not apply to field sobriety testing prior to your arrest — which may lawfully be refused — but instead to testing at a police station, jail or hospital after your arrest. If you have refused a chemical test, this unfortunately can result in a “refusal enhancement,” which increases DUI penalties. Our San Diego DWI defense attorney, however, can many times fight a refusal enhancement on the grounds that you were either not lawfully arrested for DUI, you were not under the influence at the time of your arrest, or the arresting officer failed to properly inform you of the consequences of refusing a chemical test.
My blood alcohol content tested over 0.08 percent. Should I bother fighting the charges?
Yes, fighting your DUI charge is a worthwhile endeavor, if ever there was one. With the help of an experienced defense attorney, DUI convictions can potentially be prevented altogether. There are many factors that play into a DUI arrest. The circumstances of the arrest are sometimes unclear and, even if a test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, the rights of the accused may have been violated. Blood alcohol tests can be prone to error, the traffic stop may not have been legal, and biological factors or medical conditions can cause “breathalyzer” machines to produce a distorted reading, and a host of other issues. Regardless of your test result or circumstances, an attorney is an invaluable resource.
What if I have a really high blood content alcohol level?
A blood alcohol content (BAC) level that is considered excessive can potentially result in enhanced penalties. A BAC equal to or greater than .15 percent gives the court discretion to enhance the punishment of a DUI conviction. A BAC equal to or greater than .20 percent requires the court to enhance the penalties of a DUI conviction. If you had a high BAC at the time of your arrest, it is very important to have representation to minimize the consequences. Our San Diego DWI defense attorney has the experienced necessary to fight for your rights, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case.
What if I have prior DUI or alcohol-related reckless driving convictions within a 10-year period of my recent arrest?
Having prior DUI or alcohol-related reckless driving convictions with a 10 year period can increase the potential punishments associated with your recent charges. These punishments can increase with each successive conviction. The 10-year period for a prior conviction penalty enhancement is measured from incident date to incident date, and not from the date of your conviction. Previous DUI convictions must be considered constitutionally valid under current California law, however. If your previous DUI conviction may be invalidated under the California constitution, our San Diego DWI defense attorney will work diligently to see that your previous DUI arrest and conviction is stricken from consideration.
What if I was told that DUI convictions only count as priors if they occur within seven years of each other?
If you were advised that your previous DUI conviction would only count as a prior conviction if it occurred within seven years of another DUI offense, you are still subject to the new law. This new law states that prior convictions are considered in DUI cases resulting within 10 years of the previous offense.
Do I have to appear in court?
If your case is misdemeanor, our San Diego DWI defense lawyer can represent you in court without your attendance. In fact, you may not have to set foot in court at all.
Does it make me look bad if I don’t appear in court?
No, it does not hurt you credibility if you do not appear for pretrial court appearances. This is because your credibility is not assessed during pretrial motions. If a jury trial is carried out in your case, your presence will be important.
What happens at my first court appearance?
This initial court appearance is called an arraignment. The date of the arraignment is either listed at the bottom of your citation or on a piece of paper given to you when you were released from jail. The arraignment is an opportunity for you to answer the charges that have been leveled against you by entering your plead of guilty or not guilty. Not only will our San Diego attorney help you determine the best plea after your DUI arrest, he can also many times enter your plea on your behalf, without your presence being required.
What happens if my attorney does not have the arrest reports or blood alcohol level at the first court appearance?
DUI cases are typically not resolved during the first court appearance. There may be several pretrial appearances while our San Diego DWI defense attorney gathers the necessary information to defend you in your case.
Will I have to go through a jury trial?
Most cases do not result in a jury trial. However, in some cases, there will be valid reasons to bring your DUI case before a jury. If you and your attorney are displeased with the outcome of pretrial negotiations, and there is a good case to be made on your behalf, a jury trial may be the most beneficial course of action.
Is it possible for me to win my case outright?
Yes. It is entirely possible to win your DUI case and avoid significant fines, jail time, and a criminal record. More often, however, the charges are reduced to lesser offenses. By achieving a victory in court or obtaining a reduction in the charges against you, Superior Law Center is potentially able to prevent a DUI arrest and conviction from ever appearing on your record. Even with a lesser charge on your record, fines can be reduced, probation periods can be shortened, a license suspension may not be applied, and your DUI arrest will have much less of an impact on your life.
Will I win my case if the officer did not read me my Miranda rights?
In any criminal case, an officer is only required to read the Miranda rights if he is going to take statements from you following your arrest. Many times in DUI cases, the officer asks all the questions he is going to ask prior to your arrest as he or she forms probable cause to arrest you. You are not required to answer these questions, but the officer is not required to Mirandize you unless you are under arrest.
What are field sobriety tests?
Field sobriety tests are designed to determine if you are intoxicated before you are arrested for a DUI, and should be distinguished from chemical tests taken at a police station after arrest. These tests are designed to measure potential physical impairment through balance and coordination abilities. Since physical impairment is considered an indicator of mental impairment, these tests have been designed to determine if your ability to drive a vehicle may be compromised. There are instances when field sobriety tests produce false information, however. Our San Diego attorney will help defend your rights after a DUI arrest by thoroughly analyzing the circumstances surrounding the field sobriety tests performed.
What is a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) test?
A PAS test is typically the last field sobriety test that is performed during a DUI investigation. This test is performed with a device commonly known as a “breathalyzer” and is designed to detect the presence of alcohol, not the amount of alcohol in a person’s body. In some cases, no PAS test will be administered. During the DUI investigation, the officer is required to inform you that a PAS test is not required but, if arrested, you will be required to undergo testing. If the officer does not properly inform you of your right to refuse PAS and other forms of field sobriety testing, our San Diego DWI defense attorney will fight to see that your rights are protected and the test is excluded from consideration as evidence.
Am I required to answer the officer’s questions, take field sobriety tests, or take a PAS test?
If you are not on probation for DUI or another criminal offense, which would require you to submit to blood or breath testing, you have the right to remain silent and refuse to perform field sobriety tests, including preliminary breath tests. However, you are required to submit to a blood or breath test following your arrest. If you refuse testing after your arrest, you may face a forced blood withdrawal and additional penalties, if convicted. If you were not properly informed of your rights during a DUI investigation, Superior Law Center will fight to see that your rights are protected and your test results are not considered in the case against you.
How can I defend against a blood test?
There are many issues to analyze when determining if a blood test is valid. The chain of custody of the sample, the qualifications of the person drawing blood, and many other issues must be considered. If an insufficient amount of preservative is used while storing the sample, the sample can be compromised by bacteria or other microorganisms. A sample also may be too small for your attorney to independently analyze, which is your right.
How can I defend against a breath test?
Breath tests can be unreliable for a number of reasons. There may be maintenance and calibration problems with the machine used. Breath tests must also be conducted according to Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations. These requirements compel the officer to take two samples measuring a blood alcohol content of .02 percent of each other for the test to be valid. The officer also must wait for an uninterrupted 15 minute period just prior to administering the breath test. Radio frequency interference from law enforcement vehicles can also affect the result produced by testing equipment. The investigating officer must also be sufficiently trained in the operation of the equipment being used for testing.
What if the officer did not have probable cause to stop me?
If the officer did not have a valid reason to stop your vehicle, a motion to suppress evidence will be submitted to the court by our San Diego DWI defense attorney. This can lead to a complete dismissal of your case.
What if I was stopped at a DUI checkpoint?
In California, law enforcement officials must meet eight guidelines in order to conduct a lawful DUI checkpoint. If these guidelines where not adhered to, Superior Law Center will fight to see that the evidence collected from such a stop is excluded from consideration.
What if the officer didn’t see me driving?
To conduct a lawful arrest for a DUI, the officer must observe you driving while under the influence of alcohol. There are exceptions to this rule, however, which include the following:
- If you were involved in an accident
- If you were observed in or about a vehicle that is obstructing a roadway
- The officer believes you will not be apprehended unless immediately arrested
- The officer believes you may destroy or conceal evidence unless immediately arrested
An admission or circumstantial evidence, such as the absence of another driver, may also be used in court to show that you were driving.
Will my driver’s license be suspended?
If you have been accused of a DUI, a driver’s license suspension is not inevitable. Our San Diego DWI defense attorney will come to your aid after your DUI arrest to fight to preserve your driving privileges. IT IS IMPORTANT FOR EITHER YOU OR YOUR ATTORNEY TO CONTACT THE DMV AND REQUEST AN ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING WITHIN 10 DAYS OF YOUR ARREST. If a hearing is not requested, your license will automatically be suspended.
Am I allowed to drive after my arrest?
Yes. The pink paper you receive after you are charged states that you have 30 days to drive until a suspension takes place. If you request a DMV hearing, your driving privileges will remain intact until the hearing takes place, even if your hearing is more than 30 days away.
Do I have to appear at the DMV hearing?
Our San Diego DWI defense attorney can attend your DMV hearing after your DUI arrest. In certain cases, however, it may be helpful for you to attend. Attorney Erik A. Friis will advise you on when your presence will be necessary.
How long will my driving privilege be suspended?
>Depending on the facts of your case, your driving privileges may be suspended for a period of four months to three years.
Can I get a restricted license that would allow me to continue driving?
A restricted license that would allow you to continue driving is only available in certain circumstances, If you are a first-time offender, are over the age of 21, and did not refuse to take a chemical test, you may be able to obtain a restricted license. If you are under the age of 21, a restricted license may still be available to you in some circumstances.
Will my driving privileges be affected if my license is from another state or I live out of state?
The same DUI policies and procedures apply to out-of-state drivers as in-state drivers. A DMV action in California may still result in a suspension if you have an out-of-state driver’s license. It is important to fight your California DUI charges, no matter where you live.
Will I have to serve jail time?
Depending on the number of offenses and the particular circumstances surrounding a DUI arrest, jail or prison time may be required. The possibility of jail or prison time is one of many dramatic examples of an accused person’s need to enlist the help of an experienced DUI attorney. Superior Law Center will fight to provide you with the best possible chance of avoiding jail time.
How much can I expect my DUI conviction to cost?
For residents of San Diego and other California locations, a DUI arrest and conviction can be associated with both direct and indirect costs. DUI fines range from $390 to $1000, plus assessments. A mandatory DUI alcohol-awareness class may cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, or more. The indirect financial costs associated with a DUI arrest and conviction can be much more severe. Increased automobile insurance premiums can, over time, double or triple. For these reasons and many others, an experienced defense attorney should be contacted as soon as possible after your arrest.