10 Common DUI Questions
The 10 Most Common Questions Asked After A DUI Arrest And Their Answers
1. My license was taken from me and I have been given a temporary license. What do I need to do?
Most importantly, you need to request a hearing within the first 10 days. If you do not request a hearing within this period you will lose your right to a hearing. Your lawyer can request the hearing for you. Your lawyer will obtain all the necessary documents to review your case and to advise you. Most importantly, your lawyer will represent you at the DMV hearing.
2. What happens at my DMV hearing?
A hearing officer will receive evidence, including reports from the arresting officer, and decide what, if any, action to take. In most cases, the hearing officer will not take live testimony but will instead rely on the written reports of the officer to reach a decision. Generally, before the hearing officer can suspend a license, there must be sufficient evidence that you were driving, that you were lawfully arrested and that your blood alcohol level exceeded .08%. If there was a refusal of a chemical test or prior offenses, these issues will also be addressed at the hearing.
3. What defenses might I have at my DMV hearing?
A careful review of the reports submitted by the police must be completed by your lawyer. If there are omissions, errors or inconsistencies in the report, this might be enough to persuade the hearing officer to not take action. Another common defense at the DMV is contesting the reason for the stop of the car. For example, arguing or presenting evidence that there was no violation of law that lead the police to stop the car. In cases where the police did not see driving such as traffic collisions or where a car is simply parked it can be argued that there is insufficient evidence of driving. Another good area for attack is the breath or blood result. In breath test cases, police must comply with a variety of technical laws including a “15-minute observation period.” The officer conducting the testing must be certified and the device must be properly calibrated. With blood testing, there must be certified documents received from the crime lab that all must be in order. Non-compliance with proper procedure is a ripe area for defense at the DMV hearing. Another very common defense at DMV hearings is the “Rising Blood Alcohol Defense” wherein it is argued that the true blood alcohol level at the time of driving was actually below .08% even if a later test registered above. At our firm, we often employ an expert witness to testify to the lack of sufficient evidence of blood alcohol level above .08% at the time of driving.
4. If I lose the DMV hearing, can I obtain a restricted license so I can keep working?
In most cases, a person will be eligible for a restricted license at some point if the DMV rules against them at the DMV hearing. Generally, in order to obtain the restricted license the person must enroll in an alcohol education class, provide proof of insurance and pay a fee in order to obtain the license. In first offense cases, a person is generally able to get a restriction after 30 days. If a person has prior convictions there is a longer waiting period.
5. I have been given a citation to appear in court. What is going to happen in court?
The date on your citation is your arraignment date. Generally, your attorney can appear on your behalf at the arraignment. Your attorney will retrieve the reports and continue the case and then meet with you quietly in the office to review plan a strategy for your case. In most cases, your attorney can make all the necessary court appearances for you. Your lawyer will meet with you and review all the reports and go over options and develop a strategy to defend your case. Your attorney will meet with the prosecutor at later dates and negotiate a settlement for you. In certain cases, and only if you think it is in your best interest, the case will proceed to a jury trial. The more prepared and experienced your lawyer, the better result.
6. What defenses might be available to me in my court case?
There are a wide variety of defenses available to one charged with DUI. They include the following.
- Insufficient evidence of “driving” or a lack of a good reason for the police to stop your car.
- Age, obesity or physical problems that explain difficulties on the field sobriety tests.
- An attack on the breath test or blood test that may include an argument that there was an insufficient “15-minute observation period,” that the person belched or had gastrointestinal reflux disorder causing the instrument to read high or that the accepted rate of error of +/- 10% on the breath and =/- 5% on the blood testing shows a BAC close to or below .08%. In blood cases, we often recommend an independent testing of the blood. Often our results are less than that found by the crime lab.
7. What happens if I am convicted of DUI?
In most cases, a first offense conviction will NOT result in jail time. Don’t let anyone use scare tactics to tell you differently. A fine, an alcohol program and possibly attendance at a Mothers Against Drunk Driving are common penalties. Importantly, if you are convicted in Los Angeles County it will be mandatory through the DMV that you install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for a minimum of 90 days. If you refused to take a test, were involved in an accident or have prior offenses there are more severe penalties.
8. What are common plea bargains/reduced charges that are reached in DUI cases?
There are four common charges that are reductions from DUI related charges (23152(a) and (b)).
23103 pursuant to 23103.5
This reduction is commonly referred to as a “wet reckless”. The penalty is commonly an alcohol awareness class and a fine. The benefit of this reduction is that the DUI counts are dismissed. Another benefit, in LA County cases is that the DMV will NOT require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). It is important to know, however, that this charge will count as a “prior” if a person is arrested for another DUI within 10 years.
This reduction is commonly referred to as a “dry reckless”. The penalty is commonly an alcohol awareness class and a fine. The benefit of this reduction is that the DUI counts are dismissed. Another benefit, in LA County cases is that the DMV will NOT require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This charge CANNOT be alleged as a “prior offense” should you be arrested again for DUI.
This reduction is commonly referred to as “speed exhibition”. The penalty is commonly a fine only. Another benefit, in LA County cases is that the DMV will NOT require an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). This charge CANNOT be alleged as a “prior” offense should you be arrested again for DUI.
Just like it sounds, this reduction involves a plea to two traffic infractions. The penalty is commonly a fine only. No ID and the convictions cannot be alleged as a prior offense.
9. Should I hire a lawyer?
The decision to retain an attorney is an individual one. If you cannot afford an attorney you can ask the court to appoint a public defender. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Being arrested for DUI is serious. There are potential license consequences and court penalties that should be addressed carefully by a professional.
10. Why should I consider hiring Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, for my DUI Defense?
Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, has been representing people charged with DUI for over 60 years. We have represented thousands of individuals before the DMV and in court since 1987. We pride ourselves as experienced and compassionate attorneys. We fight for our clients to obtain the best possible result. We walk together with our clients throughout every aspect of their case including the DMV and court. A more thorough explanation and a full evaluation of your case is available by calling or visiting the firm for a free consultation.
Remember, your call or your visit to our office for a consultation is always free.