DUI is both a criminal offense and traffic violation in Alpine Heights. In a bid to curb the injuries and deaths caused by drunk driving, California has increased the penalties of a DUI conviction. For this reason, if you are being investigated for a DUI, hiring an attorney should be your priority. San Diego DUI Attorney understands that being investigated for a DUI is difficult, hence the reason we have highlighted some of the critical aspects of the case so you understand what is going on.

Typical DUI Investigation

After a DUI arrest in Alpine Heights, there are four critical steps that you must follow. One of them is hiring an Alpine Heights DUI Attorney. The next step is to have your attorney request for an administrative hearing with the DMV to prevent the automatic suspension of your driver’s license. The application should be made before ten days are over. Your Alpine Heights DUI Attorney will then explore possible legal defenses for the charges to have the charges removed or reduced.

On top of the steps above, the drunk driving case will begin with an investigation. A typical DUI investigation happens when you are stopped or pulled over in traffic because of violating equipment or traffic rules. An investigation could also begin when a car crash occurs, and the police are called to the scene.

Whatever the cause of the investigation, the officer at the scene will speak to you and observe for any signs of intoxication. A flushed face or bloodshot eyes are some of the things that will indicate you are drunk or drugged. If the alcohol odor is emanating from your breath, the officer will have a reason to believe you are under the influence. If you give the officer reasonable suspicion that you are drunk, he or she will administer FSTs or Preliminary Alcohol Screening tests.

California DUI Arrest

The tests conducted on the road will determine if the officer will make an arrest or not. In the event of an arrest, the next stop will be a police station, hospital, or jail. Here, a breath or blood sample will be taken for testing and analysis. The reason for analyzing the samples is to determine the alcohol concentration in your blood.

If a breathalyzer is used to take the breath test, the results will be available right away. However, the challenge with the criteria is that no sample is stored for future testing in case your Alpine Heights DUI Attorney suspects the results are not valid. For a blood test, you will need to wait for at least one week before getting the results. However, the advantage is that the registered technician taking the test will store a sample of your blood. The sample comes in handy if your attorney registers a blood split motion.

Where the breath tests indicate your BAC is beyond the designated limit of .08 percent, you will be subject to additional charges as per VC 23152b. If the tests come back showing a BAC lower than the legal limit, the officer will have the suspicion that you were operating a car under the influence of drugs. For this offense, you will be charged according to VC 23152e, but you will be required to undergo further blood or urine testing.

Not submitting a chemical sample for testing will see you charged with driving, but still, you will be subjected to additional charges for refusal to submit to chemical testing. The additional charge carries a punishment of 12 months license suspension and a mandatory 48 hours in jail.

After completion of the tests or failing to submit a sample for testing, the arresting officer will book and later release you. The release might happen on bail or after you have been given a citation, which is usually a written document promising to show up in court at an assigned date. The manner of your release is dependent on the nature of your case and criminal history. But before any release, the law enforcement officer must detain you for several hours before allowing you to leave.

Once the officer releases you, he or she will prepare a police report and submit the report to the local prosecutor. It is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to take up the case or turn it down.

If the prosecutor decides to file formal charges, you will need to hire an Alpine Heights DUI Attorney if you don’t have one. Try to avoid public defenders or representing yourself because the chances of losing the case are high. Unless you are a DUI attorney yourself, you shouldn’t represent yourself. Public defenders, on the other hand, have the experience you need and have an understanding of the court process. However, the problem is that they are handling multiple cases at the same time and might not give you the attention you need for the outcome of the case to be in your favor.

DMV Hearing Process

After the DUI arrest, the officer conducting the investigation will inform you of the suspension of your driver’s license for thirty days. Once you have been notified, the officer will seize the license and issue you with a temporary one, which is usually a pink form. You will be using the temporary license until the suspension takes effect.

From 2019, DUI arrestees can apply for an IID immediately after their license has been suspended for 30 days. The IID allows you to drive freely with no boundaries as long as you keep it installed. The role of the device is to prevent your car from starting when it senses alcohol in your breath. The IID will only last for four months.

The DMV process will begin after the arresting officer sends the confiscated license to the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you don’t request a hearing within ten days after the arrest, the DMV will suspend your license after 30 days. Note that even if you don’t ask for a DMV hearing within ten days and instead request an IID, you will retain your driving privileges. Seeking for a hearing delays the suspension of your driving privileges until the administrative hearing is determined.

During the hearing, the officer will try to find out if you reasonably believe you were drunk or drugged at the time of driving. The officer also will try and find out if the arrest was within the law and if your BAC was .08% or higher.

Take note that even if the hearing doesn’t happen in court, you can still retain the services of your Alpine Heights DUI Attorney because he or she will increase the odds of the ruling being in your favor. A private attorney will come in handy at this point because with one; you don’t have to appear in court because he or she can appear on your behalf. But if you chose public defenders, they cannot appear in court on your behalf.

An attorney will cross-examine the arresting officer about the events that led to the arrest with the intent to expose the mistake the officer made during the arrest. That way, the legal practitioner will be providing a forum for the court hearing because the testimony by the officer can be used to convince the prosecution to reduce or withdraw the charges.

You will get to retain your driver’s license if you win the hearing, but this will not help with the criminal proceedings in court. But if you lose the hearing, your driving rights will be suspended for between four to thirty-six months. The duration of suspension is, however, dependent on your prior DUIs and whether or not you refused to submit a sample for chemical testing.

Court Process

Regardless of the outcome of the DMV hearing, a DUI arrest will subject you to criminal proceedings. In the court, you will have your attorney, the prosecuting attorney, and a judge or jury. The court process begins with you as the suspect being arraigned and ends with an acquittal or sentence. Keep in mind that if you are sentenced to probation, your case will not be closed until you are done serving the probation. A violation of the probation terms will see the case reopened.

During an arraignment, the judge will give you an offer, which is usually a sentence proposed by the prosecuting attorney in case you plead guilty to the charges. Arraignment also presents the opportunity of pleading guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you take a guilty plea, you will be convicted, and the case closed unless your sentence includes probation.

A not guilty plea, on the other hand, means that you will have an opportunity to contest the charges. The prosecutor will present you with all the evidence against you, including the police report and chemical test results.

Once your Alpine Heights DUI Attorney has obtained all the evidence against you, he or she will evaluate the discovery and even perform an independent investigation to find flaws in the prosecution’s evidence. The defense strategies you come up with will be instrumental in the pre-trial phase of the court proceeding. Some of the legal defenses your attorney can come up with include fault breath or blood testing instruments, inaccurate scientific calculations, and policing errors.

Pre-Trial Motions

Prosecuting attorneys will always make you think that the first offer in the arraignment is the best you can get, but this isn’t true. Taking the first offer denies you the opportunity to negotiate. But if you plead not guilty, your attorney will have a chance to review the discovery the prosecution has against you. In the process, they will find weaknesses that will give them a position to get into a negotiation table. Once an attorney understands the strengths and weaknesses of a case, you are in a place to get a good deal during a plea bargain.

Note that the pre-trial phase lasts for weeks or months, which makes it the most extended phase-in DUI court proceedings. The extensive timeline allows your attorney time to visit the scene of the accident or where the arrest was made to conduct further and independent investigations. The attorney could also request for a sample of the blood or urine through a blood splitting for retesting. He or she can also take time and check the maintenance records of testing devices to find out if these devices are properly maintained as per the law.

The more evidence you gather against the prosecution’s defense, the higher the chances of the prosecutor to lower or dismiss the charges in a plea bargain. Some of the ways the DUI charges will be reduced is through:

  1. Running DUI Pre-Trial Motions

You or your attorney can request a probable cause hearing to challenge the legality of the initial stop by the arresting officer. If the evidence the prosecution has will prejudice you or was acquired illegally, a profound attorney will file a motion to suppress the evidence further weakening the case. In case the arresting officer has many complaints registered against him or her in the past, you could file a Pitchess motion to try and discredit the officer further. That way, the prosecution will question the reliability of the police report and the officer’s testimony, further weakening the case. When this happens, the prosecutor will be forced to sit on the negotiation table by offering you a plea deal.

  1. Plea Bargaining

As mentioned above, once you file pre-trial motions and talk to expert witnesses, you will force the prosecution to negotiate because you will have identified the flaws of their case. They will offer to charge you with a lesser offense like wet or dry reckless. If the prosecutor realizes the evidence is too weak, the charges might be dismissed.

Even if the prosecutor agrees to a plea deal, the deal on the table might not be appealing to you and your attorney. In such a situation, you will be forced to proceed to trial.

California DUI Trial

The majority of drunk driving charges in Alpine Heights end before getting to trial. But for those that make it to a trial, a jury is part of the court process. The trial phase involves picking the jury and opening statements by the defendant and the prosecution. The prosecutor is then allowed to submit his or her case. Your DUI defense attorney will be allowed to present defenses or contest the claims made by the prosecution. After, closing statements are made, and a verdict is given. After the decision, you will then be sentenced, but only after the prosecutor has convinced the 12 jurors beyond moral certainty that you were DUI at the time of the arrest.

Going to a trial has both pros and cons based on the nature and facts of your case. Your attorney will not just agree to go to trial without weighing the facts of the case to decide that a trial is the best strategy for the situation. If the verdict of the case is in your favor, you will be acquitted, and the case closed. But upon conviction, you will be subject to DUI penalties.

Penalties for a DUI

If a jury convicts you or you plead guilty, the judge will sentence you to various consequences. The penalties for sentencing vary based on whether or not you had a prior DUI conviction and the facts of your case, such as a DUI causing injuries.

A first misdemeanor DUI will subject you to the following penalties:

  • A maximum of six months in jail

  • Court fines ranging between 390-1000 dollars

  • Suspension of driving privileges for between six to ten months. Note that during the period of driver’s license suspension, you can continue driving for up to six months, but after you have installed an IID.

  • The judge could also sentence you to three to nine months in a DUI School

A second time DUI arrestee upon sentencing will face the following consequences:

  • Four days to twelve months in jail

  • Fines of between 390-1000 dollars

  • Driving rights suspension for 24 months. During this period, you can apply for an IID for one year so that you can drive with no restrictions.

  • One and a half years to two and a half years in a DUI school

If you are arrested and convicted for a DUI for the third time within ten years, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, and upon sentencing, you will face the following punishment:

  • 120 days to one year in jail

  • Three hundred and ninety to one thousand dollars court fines

  • Suspension of your driver’s license for three years. At the time of suspension, you can apply for an IID so that you can continue driving with no limitations.

  • Two and a half years in a DUI school

For a misdemeanor DUI causing injuries, a sentence will subject you to the following consequences:

  • Five days to a one-year jail sentence

  • Fines ranging between 390 to 1000 dollars

  • Suspension of your driver's license for between 12 to 36 months

If the prosecution prefers felony DUI causing injury charges, a conviction will attract the following penalties:

  • One year and four months to sixteen years incarceration in prison

  • One thousand and fifteen to five thousand dollars in fines

  • Compensation of the victims of the drunk driving accident

  • Suspension of the driver’s license for five years

  • Eighteen to thirty months in a DUI school program

If you have three or more previous DUIs and are charged with felony DUI within a ten-year window, you will serve 16, 24, or 36 months imprisonment, 390-1000 dollars in fines, forty-eight months without a driving license, and one and a half to two and a half years in a DUI program.

Find a Drunk Driving Attorney Near Me

If you need help with a DUI court case in Alpine Heights or are being investigated for a DUI, call the San Diego DUI Attorney at 619-535-7150 for a sit-down or over the phone consult.