April 21, 2014

What Happens If I Am Arrested For A 4th Driving Under The Influence

In California, driving under the influence is considered a serious offense and the consequences to such a crime reflect just how serious it is. The consequences are set up so that it impacts one's life in such a way as to deter the offense from happening again. However, there are those who do end up with multiple DUI's, and with each new charge, the consequences become more severe.

While driving under the influence in general are filed as misdemeanors, there are situations where it may be charged as a felony. Among those situations is if you are arrested and charge with a fourth DUI, within a ten-year period of time. As mentioned above, with each new conviction, the consequences become harsher. Four a fourth DUI, the maximum period of sentence for a felony DUI, without any injury to any person, may extend up to three years.

Other circumstances that may cause a DUI to be filed as a felony are: 1) Bodily injury to another person and 2) If you have at least one prior felony DUI on your record.

Prison time can be imposed, but it is not mandatory. Before we get to the sentencing stage, let's take a look at the present arrest for DUI, as well as the priors. A good DUI defense attorney will look carefully at the priors. For instance, were they all within a ten-year period? This is crucial because if even one of the priors was more than ten years ago, it could make the difference in a misdemeanor filing and a felony filing. Also, taking a look at each individual prior to ensure that they were proper convictions is important. If there is any way to take a prior out of the situation, your attorney should pursue this aggressively.

The new DUI should of course be looked at very carefully. Making sure that all law enforcement procedures were followed correctly, the blood or breath tests administered properly, the initial stop was a legal stop, and that the report is accurate. Taking a look at the calibration of the machines used and the blood draw procedures and tests must also be reviewed, looking for any errors or discrepancies. Any errors, inconsistencies or questionable procedures may be enough to get the case dismissed.

However, if it appears that all procedures have been properly followed, and a conviction imminent, we must then turn our focus on alternative sentencing. The maximum sentence for a felony DUI, as mentioned above, may extend up to three years and while prison can be imposed, it is not mandatory. A lot will depend upon the circumstances surrounding the new conviction.

A fourth conviction for DUI is very serious and the prosecution will pursue jail or prison time. An aggressive DUI defense attorney will try to convince the District Attorney and Judge to allow alternative sentencing. But, it depends upon many factors. For example, what was the blood alcohol, how long has it been since your last conviction, what steps have you taken to remain sober and what is happening in your personal life. IN other words, are you married with children? Do you have a job? Are you the sole support of your family? These are all things that will come into play when trying to convince the judge and district attorney to allow alternative sentencing.

Alternative sentencing includes the following:

1) Electronic Monitoring
2) Work Release or Work Furlough
3) City Jail
4) Alcohol or Drug Rehabilitation
5) Sober Living

All of these options should be explored in an effort to avoid going to jail or prison. These types of alternatives will allow you to work or go to school, and allow you to still have some form of regular contact with your family.

Convincing the District Attorney and the Judge that these options are much better solutions than jail or prison, especially when the problem is more than likely addiction, is the best option for you. These options allow the individual to work on their sobriety without loosing everything important to them.

March 24, 2014

What Should I Do If I Am Arrested For DUI In Orange County, California?

You’ve just been arrested in Orange County, California for driving under the influence. What happens next?

The most time-sensitive matter you need to address is the DMV Administrative Per Se (APS), hearing. You have ten days from the date you are arrested to request this hearing, in writing.

What many people don’t know is that when you are arrested for DUI, if you fail the blood, breath or urine test, meaning that you had a .08 or higher blood alcohol level, your driving privilege in California is automatically suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The length of the suspension depends upon whether it was your first arrest for DUI and, whether you were under the age of 21 years at the time.

Once you request your APS hearing with the DMV, your license suspension is “stayed” meaning that you may continue to drive pending the outcome of the hearing. Requesting a hearing with the DMV is completely different than the Court hearing which you will eventually be required to attend.

The DMV is very strict and basically just wants to know whether or not you were driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. They do not negotiate. However, there are situations where the DMV sides with the driver and overturns the suspension. This only happens in very specific instances. For example, if you can prove that you were not driving and had not driven the car you were in. Or, if the police officer’s report is inaccurate or the officer’s testimony conflicts with his report. There is also the rare instance where an officer fails to turn in the paperwork to the DMV or fails to appear at the hearing. There are other situations but each case/report needs to be reviewed carefully to determine whether or not there is a chance at over-tuning the suspension.

Completely different and apart from the DMV hearing is the Court hearing. After you were arrested, you were most likely given a piece of paper with the date, time and location of your court date. You must appear at this hearing or a bench warrant for your arrest will be issued. However, you do not need to attend if you have hired an attorney to represent you. Most DUI’s are misdemeanors, which means you may have an attorney appear for you at each hearing, all the way through to its conclusion. For some, hiring an attorney to handle their matter is worth it just so that that they will never have to appear in court. For some, it is because they can’t or don’t want to miss time from work. For others, they feel embarrassed and would rather have an attorney go to court and take care of it for them. Most DUI’s can be handled without the person every having to step foot inside of the courthouse. This is motivation for many and reduces the amount of stress associated with the arrest and consequences that are associated with a conviction for DUI.

For more information regarding DMV hearings or your arrest for DUI, feel free to contact William Weinberg at 949-474-8008 or visit my DUI website at http://dui.williamweinberg.com.

March 14, 2014

Choosing The Right Attorney To Handle Your DUI In Orange County, California

Being arrested for DUI is embarrassing and can cause extreme anxiety, as well as the effect is has one one's day-to-day life. My job is to help you through this long, complicated process. From the DMV Administrative hearing all the way up to Trial, if necessary. In prior blogs, I have discussed some of the different defenses to driving under the influence. There are many ways to challenge a DUI but each case is unique and must be looked at individually. In some situations, when none of the defenses seem to fit your case, you may decide that you want to go to Trial rather than pleading. It is also my job to advise you of both the pros, as well as the cons to such a decision.

There are many charges that can be associated with a driving under the influence. They include DUI of not only alcohol but also prescription drugs or marijuana. Police Officers can now charge you with DUI even if they didn't see you drive but you were behind the wheel. This is known has having physical control over the vehicle. These types of cases are complex but can be successfully challenged and won. Reckless driving and negligent driving are also charges that can come with a driving under the influence charge. Driving on a suspended license, hit and run, minor in possession of alcohol and furnishing liquor to a minor are other charges that I have defended that were associated with DUI charges.

A conviction for driving under the influence is a serious charge and the consequences can be quite extreme, depending on the circumstances. As discussed in prior blogs, the punishments for DUI vary depending upon whether it is your first, second, third, etc., how high your blood alcohol level was, was there an accident involved, were there children in the car, etc. A conviction results in a loss of your driving privilege for a period of time, along with other consequences. Just the loss of your driver’s license is bad enough. So taking the time to find the right attorney and ask questions is important and can make all the difference in the outcome.

I have practiced law in Orange County California for more than 20 years and have represented clients in all Orange County Courts. I am familiar with the Judges, Prosecutors, and Court staff. I believe that my reputation and good, professional relationship with them all, have afforded me opportunities to get the best possible outcome for my clients. When trying to make a decision as to which attorney to hire, you may feel extremely vulnerable and lost. It is important to meet with potential attorneys and ask as many questions as you need, to help you make your decision.

March 7, 2014

DUI Defenses To An Arrest For Driving Under the Influence

As a DUI defense attorney, practicing law in Orange County California for more than 20 years, I have handled hundreds of driving under the influence cases. My clients come from all walks of life. They include lawyers, doctors, business professionals, college students, as well as the average person who is just living their life comfortably, until one day when they make a mistake and drive after having had a few too many drinks. This is the time when you need an experienced attorney who will look closely at your case and determine whether or not there is a good defense. The following is a list of some defense to DUI that I routinely look for when evaluating a new case.

1. Can the prosecution prove that you were the one driving the car? This may sound obvious, but surprisingly, there are those situations where police officers come upon a car and there is more than one occupant in the car. If no one is in the driver seat, how can they determine who was driving.

2. Did the police officers have reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place? As most people know, all an officer has to have in order to pull you over is a reasonable suspicion that you have done something wrong. Challenging the stop is extremely difficult because there are so many reasons an officer can pull you over. Obviously any traffic violation, regardless of how minor, gives an officer reasonable cause. It can be something as small as a taillight out, driving too slow, or forgetting to use your turn signal. So, one of the first things I look at is why you were pulled over in the first place.

3. Once you are pulled over, did the officer have a good reason to keep you there rather than just citing you for the initial violation, which you were stopped for? In other words, if you are pulled over for a tail light out, if he doesn't just cite and release you but instead calls for a DUI officer to assist him, it is unreasonable for the officer to hold you there, for an unreasonable time, waiting for the DUI officer to arrive. This is very important in situations where the officer has pulled you over for a traffic violation, and not because there was any indication of a potential DUI.

4. Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you? When an officer is trying to determine whether or not to arrest someone for DUI, they will look for signs such as slurred speech, watery or bloodshot eyes. They will ask a series of questions, including whether or not you have been drinking or smoking marijuana. They will ask the individual to perform a Field Sobriety Test, including blowing in to the roadside Breathalyzer. As discussed in other blogs, you do not have to answer any questions, you do not have to perform the FTS nor do you have to submit to the roadside Breathalyzer. If none of these tests are performed, the officer must show probable cause to arrest you for DUI. This isn't necessarily difficult for a police officer because, if they smell alcohol, they can say that you exhibited symptoms of intoxication such as slurred speech, watery, bloodshot eyes, and if they observed you driving, they may say you were swerving. Even if none of this is true, some officer will use these reasons to arrest. These things can be challenged if the officer has his microphone on during the investigation and if they have video in their patrol car. It is important to note that, if you are arrested, once you arrive at the police station, you must submit to a breath or blood test or you will automatically lose your license to drive for one year.

5. If you are arrested and submit to a blood test, it is my practice to request the testing procedures from the Orange County Crime Lab, looking to see that they have followed proper, legal procedures. I will often use an expert in toxicology to help determine whether or not the blood draw could influence the outcome of the case. New law does require that, if someone refuses to submit to a blood draw, the officer may seek a warrant, even if it's in the middle of the night, and force the blood draw. In this situation, you end up forcibly giving a blood sample, and losing your license for one year. So, if you are arrested for DUI, submitting to a blood, breath or urine sample, at the station, is recommended.

6. There is something that is called "Implied consent Warnings". Prior to you submitting to a test, the officer must read to you the warnings. If he did not, and it can be proven that he did not, then the case may be dismissed.

Because there are so many potential defenses to a driving under the influence charge, it is important to seek the legal advise of an experienced DUI defense attorney to determine whether or not you have a defensible case.

February 27, 2014

The SCRAM Bracelet As An Alternatives To Jail Time For DUI Multiple Offenders

As anyone who has been convicted of driving under the influence can tell you, the consequences definitely have a negative impact on one’s life. But, the consequences of multiple convictions will result in much more than just having a negative impact; it may, and usually does, result in jail time. How long depends upon several things such as 1) how many priors you have; 2) your blood alcohol level for this arrest, as well as the other; and 3) whether the priors are “priorable” meaning were they within the past ten years.

In a situation where the evidence in your most recent arrest for DUI is so overwhelming that a conviction is imminent, your defense attorney should begin to focus on alternatives to jail time. Because law enforcement and courts are cracking down on driving while intoxicated, they are demanding that multiple offenders be ordered to spend time in jail, or in some cases prison, depending upon the circumstances. One alternative to spending time in jail is “SCRAM” and could be the alternative to jail time if you have a good DUI defense attorney. Below is more information on SCRAM and how it works.

SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. It is a high-tech monitoring tool used to track an individual’s alcohol consumption and is worn like a bracelet on the ankle of the individual being monitored. The individual wearing the bracelet can be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The bracelet is able to read the blood alcohol level and report those readings to law enforcement. The difference between a blood or breath test and SCRAM is that, unlike blood and alcohol tests, the bracelet can obtain a sample of the wearer’s sweat and can detect any alcohol that may be present in the person’s skin. While being worn, the wearer’s sweat is tested every half hour. Any amount of alcohol detected would be a violation in that those who are fortunate enough to wear the SCRAM bracelet in lieu of jail time are not allowed to consume any alcohol at all, regardless of how little they consume.

The SCRAM device is non-invasive in that it gets its readings from the sweat and skin of the wearer. It is worn 24 hours a day and is therefore monitoring the person 24 hours a day. When the device is taking a reading, the wearer may feel a slight vibration but otherwise can be worn quite comfortably.

The SCRAM bracelet is constructed in such a way that any attempt to remove it, temper with or interfere with it’s readings, will be detected and reported to whom ever the supervising agency is.

Even if you have heard of the SCRAM bracelet, what some people might not know is that the bracelet can detect your whereabouts. So, if you have been given house arrest, the bracelet can detect if you leave your home. All of the tests/monitored results are stored electronically and are made available to your supervising agent at any time.

While it may sound like big brother is constantly watching you, in reality, the main purpose of the SCRAM bracelet is to help you refrain from drinking alcohol. Most people who end up using this device are people who have a substance abuse problem and in an effort to avoid jail time, may find it extremely useful in their fight to overcome their addiction.

So if you have been arrested for DUI, and especially if it is not your first, consulting with an experienced DUI defense attorney is your best chance at finding an alternative to spending time in jail. A good defense attorney who has a good reputation and respectful working relationship with the District Attorneys and Judges in the County in which your case is pending, may be able to convince the District Attorney and/or Judge to allow you an alternative to incarceration.

February 18, 2014

What to do if you are pulled over for DUI

Here are some tips you may want to consider if you are ever pulled over for driving under the influence.

You should always know exactly where your driver’s license, car registration and proof of insurance are. As we all know, whenever you are pulled over by a police officer, you are always asked to produce these three items. If you have been drinking, and you are fumbling around looking for your registration or proof of insurance in your glove box, police officers use this, as “evidence” that you were in some way impaired. If you cannot find your wallet or driver’s license, that will also translate negatively in the police report. The police report will be written in such a way that it looks like you were too intoxicated, or impaired to some extent, to produce the requested items without difficulty. So if you know you are going out and plan on having a drink or two, be sure to be prepared so it doesn’t appear that you are intoxicated if you are unable to find your registration or proof of insurance immediately, when in fact it may just be that your glove box had too much clutter and it took a minute or two to find them.

When you are signaled to pull over by a law enforcement officer, be sure to do so immediately and in a safe manner. You should roll down your window and keep your hands on the steering wheel. Once the officer approaches the car, he or she may ask you if you know why you have been pulled over. They obviously know why they pulled you over, and more likely than not, it’s to find out whether or not you have been drinking. However, they may use some minor violation as an excuse to do so. So when you are asked, “Do you know why I stopped you?” remember, you do not have to answer any questions. You may simply respond by saying “Why?” The officer may then tell you why they pulled you over. Or, the next question may be “have you been drinking” or “have you had anything to drink tonight?”

Remembering that you are not required to answer any questions, you may want to politely decline to answer. Most people are afraid to do this for fear that the officer will become angry and arrest right away. People also think that if they tell the truth they may have a chance of not being arrested. The truth is though that if an officer smells alcohol when you are pulled over, they are going to arrest you. The questions, field sobriety tests, and roadside Breathalyzer are just information and tools used to build his case against you. By declining to answer the officer’s questions, you are making it more difficult for him or her to build a case against you.

The same holds true for the field sobriety tests. When the officer asks if you are willing to participate in some tests, field sobriety tests, you are within your right to decline to take these tests. Again, these tests are strictly for the officer to determine whether or not he/she is going to arrest you. The big problem with field sobriety tests is that they are subjective. Some people perform well and some people do not. There are too many other reasons a person may perform poorly on a field sobriety test, other than being intoxicated. So it is recommended that you not submit to this test.

This also applies to the hand-held breath test. The officer will then ask that you take a breath test. You do not have to take this test. These roadside, hand-held breathalyzers are extremely unreliable and often result in higher alcohol readings than are accurate. At this point, the officer has no statements from you and no field sobriety test so the breath test is now the only tool the officer has left to determine whether or not to arrest you. So, unless you have had no alcohol at all, it is recommended that you not take this breath test.

At this point, the officer will probably arrest you if he feels that you are intoxicated. Once you have been arrested and are taken to the police station, you must take a breath or blood test. This is required by law. If you refuse to take either a blood or breath test once you have been arrested, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for one year. So depending upon 1) whether or not you were drinking; 2) how much you had to drink and 3) your drinking pattern, this may or may not play out in your favor.

If you would like to know more about rising blood alcohol levels, visit my DUI website.

February 11, 2014

Choosing A DUI Defense Attorney To Defend Your DUI

We all know that drinking and driving is a bad idea and extremely dangerous to anyone else on the road around you. But, once that alcohol kicks in, our common sense or logical thinking kicks out. Most people feel that they are perfectly okay to drive and may very well be but, if you are stopped and your blood alcohol level is over the legal limit, the fact that you can drive straight while under the influence won’t matter. You will be arrested for driving under the influence, and if convicted, will suffer the consequences of that. Depending upon whether it’s your first, second or third, you will lose your license for a period of time, be required to attend an alcohol class, required to attend a MADD panel, pay fees and fines and be placed on informal probation for three years. For multiple offenses, you are potentially looking at jail time. So, yes it would have been a good idea to call a taxi but, for those who don’t and get caught, the next step is finding a good DUI defense attorney to review your case and try to mitigate the severity of the consequences.

What may surprise you is that there are defenses to DUI’s. A good DUI attorney will charge more than an average DUI defense attorney and while you can find a cheap attorney to handle your case, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. When you hire an experienced DUI defense attorney, you are paying more for his experience and reputation for getting good outcomes.

Some DUI’s are defensible and can be won and some are not. So what determines this? Well, several things. The most common are how and why you were stopped, how the police officer conducted the investigation, proper calibration of the machines used and what you told the police officer at the time of the investigation. Equally important is having a competent attorney who will take the time necessary to investigate these things.

As I have explained in previous blogs, a police officer must have reasonable cause to pull you over. This is easy for a police officer because there are so many small excuses they can come up with. Some may go so far as to say you didn’t signal far enough ahead before you made a turn. Or, it may be that you have a decorative front license plate rather than a regular plate. Many people have these types of plates and never get pulled over but an officer can use this as reasonable cause to pull you over. However, there are situations where a police officer gets caught being less than truthful about the reason for the stop and when this happens, and it can be proven that there was no legal reason for the stop, the case will be dismissed.

Proper calibration of the machines is something that an attorney should always look at. Getting copies of the calibration logs and then reviewing them, looking for errors, may reveal a problem with the particular machine used and could result in a dismissal of the case.

What you say to the police officer during their investigation is also very important because they are building their case against you from the time they stop you until they make the arrest.

So keep all of these things in mind when choosing an attorney and don’t’ be afraid to ask questions so that you can get a feel for how competent the attorney you are considering hiring is.

February 4, 2014

Consequences of an arrest for a fourth DUI

When someone is arrested and convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there is no doubt that you will feel the effects of the conviction. The consequences are in place so that you feel and experience the negative effects of a conviction for DUI to deter it from happening again.

The punishments/consequences, fees and fines vary depending upon whether it's your first, second or third DUI. There are also other facts taken into consideration like speeding, high alcohol content, minor children in the car, etc. To learn more about the consequences of a conviction for a 1st, 2nd or 3rd DUI, visit my DUI website.

This writing will discuss the consequences of an arrest/conviction for a fourth DUI. This is a very serious charge and, if caught driving while under the influence for the fourth time in a ten-year period, will cause the case to be filed as a felony. And, although prior convictions for DUI are serious, they are misdemeanors and may not be looked at the same way a felony conviction would be.

For instance, if you are applying for a new job and you have a conviction(s) for misdemeanor DUI, your perspective employer may be willing to over look this as just bad luck; being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You may be able to convince them that this was in your past and you’ve accepted the consequences and have no intention of it happening again. However, if you have a felony conviction for DUI, that sends a pretty loud message that, there is a problem. Further, some employers/companies will not hire someone who has a felony conviction and certain licensing agencies will not license you with a felony conviction.

In addition to the effects it may have on your future employment, the punishment for a fourth DUI will definitely effect your current employment, as well as your life. If convicted, you face a maximum three years in jail or prison. If granted jail time, after doing your time, you would then be on five years formal probation. Or, if released from prison, you would then be on parole. As you can see, a conviction would have very serious consequences for many years to follow. It is therefore so important to consult with a good, experienced DUI defense lawyer to find out if there are any options other than a felony plea and incarceration.

First, your attorney should look at the initial stop. Was there reasonable cause to pull you over in the first place? This is important because police agencies must have reasonable cause to pull you over and if they don’t, anything after that becomes legally irrelevant.

Second, your attorney may want to challenge the breath or blood test administered. The equipment used for measuring alcohol on the breath must be maintained and logs kept for that maintenance. If errors can be found in the maintenance logs, this may be enough to have the results thrown out. Also, the same goes for blood draw results. The blood testing must be done according to guidelines and can be challenged if not administered correctly.

If none of the above is going to help your case, then your attorney will have to get creative in his bargaining. The ultimate goal would be to somehow have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor but, if that is not an option, getting creative with the sentencing will be your best shot. There are many options to look at. Some of the options that may help someone with a conviction for a fourth DUI may include: House arrest, individual monitoring with an ankle bracelet, in-patient alcohol programs or an intensive DUI Court program.

No matter what your situation is, consulting with an experienced attorney is a must when you are facing such a serious charge. There is no way to know if you have a fighting chance unless you consult with an expert.

January 28, 2014

Consequences and Defenses to DUI of Alcohol and Prescription Drugs

You would have to have been living under a rock to not have heard about the most recent celebrity arrest. It has been all over the news and Internet that Justin Bieber was arrested for driving while under the influence of prescription drugs and alcohol, as well as drag racing. Later reports indicated that Justin's blood alcohol level was under the legal limit however, the legal limit being referred to applies to those 21 years and older. Because he is under the age of 21, there is no limit under which he can drive. There is a "Zero Tolerance" policy when it comes to drinking and driving under the age of 21. So, Justin not only faces the typical consequences that come with these types of charges, if convicted he will lose his driver's license for one year.

Typically, a conviction for these types of charges would result in mandatory alcohol classes, attending Mothers Against Drunk Drivers or MADD panel, maybe attending AA meetings and a loss of his driving privilege. There are also fees and fines that would be ordered if convicted. However, in Justin's situation, it has been alleged that he admitted to smoking marijuana prior to driving and therefore may be required to attend some sort of drug rehab.

Depending on what the actual charges end up being, his defense attorney will no doubt look at challenging the stop in the first place. There are reports that he was drag racing and this is why he was pulled over. However, there are conflicting reports that he was not racing and was in fact driving the speed limit. Because we live in a world of camera/video phones, apparently there is video of some of the incident. If Justin's attorney is successful in proving that he was not racing or speeding, this could cause the case to be dismissed altogether. Why? Because police must have reasonable cause to pull him over in the first place. Some might argue that he was pulled over simply because he was driving a yellow Lamborghini in the early morning hours. Without reasonable cause to pull him over, the stop was not legal and therefore, anything after that is legally irrelevant.

His attorney may want to challenge the field sobriety tests as well as the alcohol results. Police officers must follow strict guidelines when administering a field sobriety test. If at the scene a roadside intoxilyzer was used to check his breath for the presence of alcohol, his attorney will look carefully at the procedure that the officers followed, as well as the maintenance logs on the particular machine used. If there was any police misconduct or if the regulations were not followed properly, the results could potentially be thrown out.

The same applies to any blood that may have been taken. The lab taking the blood must also follow strict guidelines. As evidenced in the most recent Orange County Lab errors, human error in the lab can result in inaccurate tests results. When it was discovered that the Orange County Lab had made errors or not followed procedures, it resulted in convictions for DUI being overturned and open cases dismissed.

If you would like to know more about DUI under the age of 21, please visit my webpage regarding Zero Tolerance.

January 9, 2014

DUI Arrests Over The Holidays in Orange County, CA

Orange County law enforcement was once again out in full force over the holiday season. The Winter Holiday DUI Campaign, also referred to as DUI Saturation Patrols, resulted in 862 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. This is number is down from the reported 971 arrested last year. However, the final numbers for this year are not in yet. The DUI Campaign involved 38 County law enforcement agencies.

The “Avoid the 38” DUI Campaign, which it is also referred to as, began December 13, 2013 through midnight on January 1, 2014. This included sobriety checkpoints, special saturation patrols and routine patrols. Click on the link to learn about the rules and guidelines associated with DUI Check Points.

Although there are standard fees, fines and punishments for a conviction for DUI but law enforcement must also follow strict rules when stopping, detaining and ultimately arresting someone for DUI. This is why consulting with an attorney is so important if you have been arrested for driving under the influence. Because the consequences of such a conviction can have a negative effect on one’s life, anything that can be done to minimize the ultimate conviction and consequences can make a big difference.

The punishments vary depending upon the circumstances. The outcome of a conviction depends upon the following:

1. Whether or not you have priors. The punishments and fines increase with each prior;
2. What your blood alcohol level was. A high blood alcohol level can ad an enhancement when being sentenced.
3. Whether or not you were involved in any type of accident; and
4. Whether or not you had a minor child or children in the car at the time.

All of these things play a role in determining how your case will be filed and what the outcome will be. Having an attorney who is experienced with these types of cases will try to minimize the charges or have one or more dropped in order to facilitate a better outcome.

There are defenses to driving under the influence but, if your case appears to be pretty straight forward, good representation may make a difference. In the unfortunate situation where jail time may be a threat, looking for alternatives to jail time is something that your attorney should explore. In a situation where someone is facing jail time, and is the only source of income in their family, would have devastating consequences. So, alternatives are available and should be aggressively pursued.

Alternatives may include going to work during the day and spending the nights in jail. Other alternatives may include doing your time on the weekends. In some situations, the court may allow what is sometimes referred to as “house arrest”. This would allow an individual to go to work and an alcohol program only. The remainder of the time the individual would be required to stay at home. An ankle monitor can be worn to tract that individual’s movements.

If you have been arrested for DUI, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney to examine your case and find out what your best possible outcome may be.

November 18, 2013

OC Crime Law Error

The OC Crime Lab is a nationally recognized leader in the forensic science community and provides all law enforcement agencies in Orange County with services for the recognition, collection and evaluation of physical evidence from crime scenes. It is credited with being the only “full-service, internationally accredited laboratory” that provides forensic analyses to all law enforcement and fire protection agencies within Orange County.

So, when it was discovered that an error in the lab resulted in inaccurate blood alcohol readings, it was quite shocking to the legal community as lab results are seldom questioned.

Apparently, an audit of the crime lab resulted in hundreds of test results being questioned and has resulted in at least 900 letters to the individuals affected by the error.

It has been reported that the error is small, causing the tests to give inaccurate results by .003 percentage points and so, according to the District Attorney, will effect only a small numbers of those convicted of driving under the influence. The timeframe in question is approximately five months, beginning in late May.

The District Attorney has further said that of the 900, there are only about 20 whose blood alcohol reading was a .08 and should have been a .07.

Most of my clients are surprised at their blood alcohol reading once they are given the results, as they typically believe that they were “not that drunk”. An error in the lab of .003 is “small” according to the lab and the District Attorney, but large to someone who was convicted wrongly due to that error.

This type of error is exactly why DUI defense attorneys should always obtain maintenance logs for the machines, which the OC Crime Lab relies on for their results. As evidenced by this situation, human error and mechanical malfunction does occur. Although they regularly “audit” the lab results, things are missed or disregarded as small, but may have huge consequences for someone.

A definite “red flag” for any DUI defense lawyer is when their client is adamant about the amount they had to drink, the timeframe in which they began drinking, and what they had to eat. All of this information is a good indication of whether or not the blood alcohol reading was accurate or, whether a closer look should be given to the lab results.
Anyone who was arrested for DUI in May 2013 through October 2013, and whose blood alcohol was close to .08, should definitely have an attorney take a closer look to see whether or not their results were affected by the lab error. Further, anyone who believes that their results were inaccurate should take a closer look and get an opinion as to whether or not their reading was affected. For example, someone whose blood alcohol was high enough to warrant an enhancement to their DUI charge, .15 or higher, and was arrested during the above time period, should have their attorney question the results. This may result in the District Attorney dropping the added “high blood alcohol” count and thereby making disposition of the case less painful.

November 5, 2013

The Hidden Cost Of DUI

One of the most frequent questions posed to me during a consultation is "what is this going to cost me?” While my fees are based upon the type of case and the underlying facts, there are numerous other associated costs with drinking and driving.

The simple fact is this: Almost all adult drivers have had alcohol at some point during the same day they drove a car. We are notoriously poor at judging our level of intoxication (almost all my clients tell me they did "really well" on the field sobriety tests) and end up behind the wheel when maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

So we maybe feel relaxed, loose, a little "buzzed" and ok to drive. I even had a former colleague tell me he drove better after a drink! While that is embarrassing to hear, it's understandable. One drink usually loosens us up, makes us a bit less inhibited. But it still creates a risk for the driver and all around him. That risk climbs almost exponentially the more the driver drinks. So what about the fines, assuming you don't kill or hurt someone?

First, the court fines have increased. The basic court costs are now over $2000.00. But we have to add towing and storage costs, since your car was impounded after your arrest. That adds up to roughly $300-$400. The alcohol classes that the court orders start at around $500 for a first offense and go up to about $1,000.00 for subsequent offenses.

The police department who arrested you often puts out their palms to exact repayment of your arrest costs. Most times, the judge will order you to repay them. You want your driver's license back? The DMV wants $125.00 to reissue it. The final insult? Your insurance can increase by $10,000 per a study by AAA of California.

So, in the long run, you could rent the most luxurious vehicle, with a driver and dinner for 10 people at a fancy restaurant, and not even put a dent in the overall costs of one bad decision at the end of the evening.

What are the long-term consequences to a conviction for DUI? Well, once you’ve been convicted, every time you fill out a job application, you will have to admit to the conviction. Unfortunately, in the current job market, potential employers can be selective in who they decide to hire. A conviction for DUI may make the difference when perspective employers are making a decision on whom to hire. The military, and government and civil service jobs may also be difficult to secure with a conviction for DUI.

If you’ve already got a DUI, now is the time to take advantage of every option within your reach to turn your life around. By recognizing that you have a problem and taking the initiative to get help. Attending the court mandated alcohol education classes can be educational and very helpful. There is also a chance you might even get your record erased.

Feel free to contact a qualified Orange County DUI defense attorney to discuss the particular details of your case in a confidential consultation.