Lights, sirens, a voice over a loudspeaker : these are all the first things that you may have seen/heard when you were being pulled over or contacted by a police officer/sheriff’s deputy before you were arrested for a suspected DUI. You were probably thinking to yourself “What did I do? What, if anything, have I had to drink? Are there any drugs in my system? What will I say?” Then, it all goes so quickly : the officer’s questions, the field sobriety tests, the breath or blood test, spending time locked up, paperwork, court dates, etc.
Going through a DUI investigation can be very scary, especially if it is your first offense.
Skilled DUI lawyers, made up of former prosecutors and experienced DUI attorneys are here to share their knowledge, explain the process that lies ahead, and answer all of your questions. The following is some basic information to help get you started on understanding what the DMV’s interests are with regard to your license, what will happen in the court system and any effect this may have on your criminal record, and how to choose the right DUI attorney to represent your interests.
Your Driver’s License
After you were stopped and/or contacted by a law enforcement official, went through an investigation, and were arrested for suspected DUI, your driver’s license has generally been taken away (except in a few specific cases, such as out-of-state licenses) and a pink slip entitled “Suspension Order and Temporary License” allowing you to drive for 30 days was given to you. The pink temporary license is riddled with information and fine print. Something many people fail to notice on this piece of paper is the fact that, in addition to being your temporary driver’s license, it also serves as a notice that unless an APS (Administrative Per Se) hearing is reserved through your local diver’s safety office within ten (10) days of the date of arrest, your license will automatically be suspended.
DMV APS Hearing
The purpose of scheduling an APS hearing through the local driver’s safety office branch of the DMV is to put them on notice that your lawyer will present an argument that you were not driving while under the influence, and attempt to have your license fully reinstated.
As previously mentioned, there is a limited time within which the APS hearing must be scheduled. You (or your lawyer) has ten (10) days from the date of the arrest to contact the DMV’s local driver’s safety office to request an APS hearing and a continued stay on your license (thereby extending your temporary driver’s status until the outcome of the hearing is decided). Once this is done, the license suspension is automatically postponed pending the outcome of the APS hearing. You will receive a notice in the mail telling you what date your temporary driving privileges have been extended to. Generally, however, the APS hearing will take place, and a decision will be rendered prior to the expiration date provided to you. You also have a right to elect either an in-person or telephonic hearing.
DUI attorneys feel it is important to demonstrate the seriousness of maintaining driving privileges to our clients and to try and individualize each and every one of our clients to the hearing officer that will ultimately decide the fate of their license status. Thus, our DUI attorneys schedule live hearings for our clients.
At the DMV APS hearing, the following are the three main issues discussed:
- Did you violate a section of the California Vehicle Code or was there some other probable cause for an officer to stop/contact you?;
- Did the officer observe enough objective symptoms of being under the influence of an alcoholic beverage to effectuate a lawful arrest?; and
- Was your BAC at the time of driving .08 or greater?
The DUI attorneys at scrutinize everything the arresting officer puts in his/her report. DUI lawyers will find as many defenses as possible to present on your behalf. We are looking for arguments to prove that at least one, if not all three, of the above issues at debate do not apply in your case. In order for the DMV hearing officer to uphold a suspension of your license, he/she must find that each and every one of the above three issues applies to your case. If the skilled DUI attorneys at are successful in disputing any of the three issues, your license will be fully reinstated.
The Court Process and its Effect on Your Criminal Record
Once you are released from custody, you are provided with a date to appear in court. You will find this date either at or near the bottom of the citation that was given to you, or, if you signed a promise to appear form, it will be noted on that document. This is your arraignment date. Even though the paper you are given generally says “on or before,” the date written is usually the date your arraignment will take place. The only time this is not true is if the D.A. has not filed your case by the date given. If that happens, your DUI lawyers at will check the status of the filing on a daily basis until a new date is assigned.
At the arraignment, your DWI defense attorney from (1) is given a copy of the complaint against you; (2) obtains the initial discovery packet which normally consists of a police report, any breath/blood test results report, and a copy of your driving record; (3) enters a plea of “not guilty” on your behalf; and (4) will set a pre-trial date to begin negotiating your case with the District Attorney’s office (this normally occurs 2-4 weeks later).
Generally speaking, if you have been charged with a misdemeanor DUI and have retained the experienced DUI defense lawyers at to represent you, you will not need to appear in court at the arraignment, or at any of the pretrial proceedings(see below). In certain cases, your expert DUI lawyer from can appear on your behalf. This does not negatively affect your case in any way. Nor does it necessarily help you to attend proceedings. The arraignment is considered procedural in nature and at the pre-trials, the deputy district attorneys will deal directly with your experienced DUI attorney, not with you. If, however, you have been charged with a felony DUI, the courts require you to be present at each and every court hearing, including the arraignment. There are also some exceptions to the aforementioned rule in certain misdemeanor cases and your knowledgeable DUI defense attorney from can explain when your appearance is required and/or suggested and why.
Pre-trial conferences are meetings that occur between your DWI defense attorney and a deputy district attorney. These conferences sometimes take place in a private room, not necessarily inside the actual courtroom which will hear your case. The pre-trial conferences are an opportunity for your experienced and knowledgeable DUI defense attorney to negotiate and/or discuss your case with a deputy district attorney. While in some cases, a good deal may be worked out at your first pre-trial, some cases can take 2, 3 or even 4 pre-trials before our DUI defense attorneys either get the deal they were looking for, or know they have hit a dead end.
Once your top notch DUI lawyers at have received a copy of the discovery in your case, we review everything provided to us to determine what the best defense is in each individual case. We do not treat every DUI case that we handle the same. On the contrary, our goal is to separate and personalize each of our clients to the D.A.’s we are negotiating with. If further discovery exists, we will make a formal request for a copy of it from the D.A.’s office. Some examples of additional discovery that may be available in your case are:
- A recording of the incident captured on audio/video by the arresting agency
- Photos, if associated with another crime, such as a hit & run
- Maintenance & calibration records if a breath machine was involved
Furthermore, your knowledgeable and experienced DUI attorney may decide that further investigation needs to be done, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. For example, if you are also being charged with hit & run, along with the DUI, there may have been witnesses to the alleged hit & run who initially reported the incident. We may want to have our experienced DUI investigator re-interview that witness and/or take new/additional photos of the location. We also might want to consider have an accident reconstructionist review the discovery to see if there are any defenses to the accused conduct. Or, if your DUI attorney feels that a blood result might be improper based on your drinking pattern or medications you were taking at the time he/she can request a sample of the blood that was drawn from you in order to provide it to an independent criminologist for re-testing. These are all things we accomplish through pre-trial meetings with the D.A.
Ultimately, depending on the facts in each individual case, there may be several pre-trials before the DUI case against you is resolved or brought to trial. This process can usually take anywhere from two to several months. It is during this period that your DUI attorney will work on putting together the best defense for your case.
At the pre-trial conferences, your DWI lawyer will discuss the mitigating factors of your case that weigh in your favor in an attempt to reach an agreeable result either with the D.A. or with the judge. Furthermore, if more discovery exists that we are not in possession of, we will make a request for any and all outstanding discovery (as mentioned above). Sometimes, motions will be argued in front of the court during a pretrial hearing. For example, your DUI defense lawyer might have felt that the probable cause to stop/contact you was lacking and may bring a motion to suppress all evidence under Penal Code section 1538.5, based on that lack of probable cause to have stopped/contacted you in the first place. If your DUI lawyer reaches a settlement that everyone is happy with, we can enter your plea to the court at the next pretrial, either with you being present, or through a notarized plea that would not require your attendance. In a misdemeanor DUI case, if a plea agreement is reached, we can either (1) bring you to court to enter the plea, or (2) have you sign the relevant documents, get them properly notarized, and have your DUI attorney bring the documents to court to enter a plea on your behalf.
If you were charged with Misdemeanor DUI, your presence is not required at these hearings. Your DUI lawyer will appear on your behalf. Often, when our clients elect to appear, they end up sitting in the courtroom and waiting for us to do our work for anything from ½ an hour to several hours. This can be very frustrating when you do not know the system well. The deputy district attorneys are usually not willing to speak with you but would rather discuss your case directly with your DUI defense attorney. A DUI lawyer will always call you after a pre-trial conference has been had in your case and fully discuss what took place so you are fully informed of what is happening each step of the way. If you have been charged with Felony DUI, your presence is required by the court at all hearing dates, including pre-trials.