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30 Years of Daily Courtroom Experience
Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Blog
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Before a person can be stopped and asked to submit to an alcohol screening test, there are many procedures an officer must follow. These procedures are crucial and put into place so that a person’s constitutional rights are not violated. An officer cannot arbitrarily stop a driver and ask him or her to take an alcohol drug test.

Before an officer can even stop someone and question them regarding alcohol or drug use, they must have probable cause. Probable cause may be achieved in several different way.

  1. Traffic violation

If a driver has violated traffic codes then the officer has grounds to ask the driver to pull over. This includes speeding, swerving, or even running a red light. If the driver has not violated any kind of traffic code, or other code, the officer has no grounds to pull them over and even begin an alcohol or drug test.

  1. Good Samaritan check

The part of an officer’s job is to make sure the general public is safe. If a person is pulled over by the side of the road, it is an officer’s job to check and make sure the driver is ok. If there is car trouble, or if there is something wrong, the officer has to check on the person. If an officer stops to find out if someone who is pulled over is ok, and they come to find that there may be reasonable suspicion to check for alcohol or drug use.

  1. DUI Stop

Oftentimes, officer will set up a DUI checkpoint. At a checkpoint, a driver must follow the cones, forcing them to be stopped and     questioned by an officer. If an officer finds reasonable suspicion to ask a driver to submit to a drug or alcohol screening test, then they have the grounds to do so. It is also important to note that a driver may approach a DUI checkpoint and opt to turn around and go a different way. Doing so can in many different situations prevent it from being used against you.

When an officer gains probable cause for a DUI stop, his or her obligations to follow procedure are not over. Before an officer can ask a person to submit to alcohol or drug testing, the officer must have reasonable suspicion. The reasonable suspicion can arise from the officer’s observations. This can be slurring, red and watery eyes, or alcohol on the breath. Or reasonable suspicion can also, more often than not, come from admissions from the driver themselves. If a driver admits to having been drinking prior to driving, the officer has all they need to proceed with an alcohol and drug screening test.

There are many procedures that an officer must follow, and they must be very careful otherwise all evidence they have gathered may be thrown out. Therefore, the actual arrest must be gone over with a fine toothed comb. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer has the knowledge and expertise to carefully review how all evidence has been gathered, so be sure to consult with a professional as soon as possible.

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Like any legal case, there is certain evidence that must be presented in support of an argument. Which pieces of evidence are offered shall differ depending on which side of the case is being presented.

Prosecutor’s Case

A prosecutor will be looking to prove two different elements. 1) the person being charged was driving and 2) they were under the influence. In order for Prosecution to establish their case, they must present evidence that supports these two elements. Most often, the evidence presented will be pretty standard in DUI cases.

  1. Police report

The police report is important because it will note observations of the driver, but also, the reason for the stop in the first place. When a person is stopped for a DUI, they must have a probable cause for the stop. This means that they must have violated some sort of traffic law, or fall under one of the exceptions. For example, officers can pull someone over for running a red light, or speeding. Officers cannot stop a person without a reason, and the police report will indicate their reason. If this reason is not acceptable, and does not fall under reasonable suspicion, then all evidence may be thrown out, creating strong grounds for the DUI to be dismissed in its entirety.

A police report is also extremely crucial when there is no blood alcohol reading. When a person refuses, or does not submit to a blood alcohol test, then officers must prove intoxication in another way. Oftentimes, this is through the use of the officer’s observations, which will be stated in the police report.

  1. Breathalyzer Readings

The blood alcohol reading is extremely crucial because it will demonstrate if there was alcohol in the driver’s bloodstream and how much. The quantity and presence will make a strong argument as to intoxication. If there is no blood alcohol reading then the Prosecutor will rely on the police officer;s observations to establish intoxication.

  1. Surveillance

Many patrol vehicles are required to have surveillance in the patrol car, and when they do a stop for suspicion of DUI, it is recorded. This tape proves to be quite significant when demonstrating that the officer followed all routine procedures and all evidence that is gathered is per code. This helps assure that the evidence gathered in support of the Prosecutor’s case is procured through correct procedures and will not be thrown out.

It is important to assess and analyze all of the evidence that Prosecution may present because it will help determine how strong or weak their case is. It will also help prepare any motions that are necessary to throw out any evidence that may be procured illegally or outside of procedure. If any evidence is gathered without proper procedures, then that evidence may be thrown out. If it is thrown out, it could lead to a dismissal of the DUI case altogether. Consult with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer to learn about all of the options you may have available.

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Several things will happen when you are charged with a Los Angeles DUI and have to make your first appearance in court. This first appearance will be stated on the citation you receive, and will state the date and time of your appearance, as well as the Courthouse. This appearance is referred to as an Arraignment. Several things will happen on this first hearing.

  1. Reading of rights

At this first hearing, the Judge will read you your rights. You will earn exactly what you are being charged with, and what the highest potential sentence may be. You have a right to know the charges against you, the code section under which they fall and the extent of the possible sentence that can be imposed. In addition, you have a right to be aware of any and all rights that you possess, including the right to an attorney, a right to a jury trial and other important constitutional rights.

  1. Enter a Plea

You have the opportunity to enter a plea in the court of law. This plea can be of guilty, not guilty or no contest. Many people mistakenly believe that the proper plea is not guilty, however, in certain situations it might be appropriate. In order to make a determination, you must consider all possible arguments, defenses, the facts, and what the outcome of trial may be. It is not always apparent which way to plea, it is often the advice of a legal professional that can properly guide a person to make a determination as to what the best route may be.

  1. Plea Bargain

The prosecutor will also offer the person being charged a plea bargain. A plea bargain is an offer for a lesser charge or sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Sometimes a plea bargain is recommended and is a good idea for the person to agree to. In certain situations, it is not a good idea and it makes more sense for the person to hold off and plead not guilty. This, like entering a plea in general, is something that needs to be analyzed carefully. Possible facts, defenses and arguments needs to be considered. This is best done through the guidance of a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer. A legal professional has the experience and knowledge to be able to distinguish what a good plea bargain is, and when it should be refused. In addition, when you are familiar with the prosecutors, Judges and clerks, it helps make the right decision.

  1. Continuance

As stated earlier, you have the right to an attorney. If you do not have one at the Arraignment, the court will allow for a brief thirty day continuance for you to find one. If you wish to find an attorney, then it is highly recommended that you take a continuance and retain counsel.

  1. Discovery

At the arraignment, you will also be handed discovery. Discovery is any evidence the prosecutor wishes to use in Court. This discovery can be useful in determining is a plea bargain should be accepted, or if a plea should be entered.

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Many of our clients come into our office and are upset because they have been arrested for a DUI, but have had no alcohol. There is a common misconception that being arrested for a DUI requires alcohol consumption, when in fact it does not.

You can still be arrested if you are operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs alone. This not only includes drugs like marijuana, heroin and cocaine, but it also includes prescription drugs. Many prescription drugs inhibit your ability to operate a vehicle, and if you are on any such drugs, the court may find you guily of a DUI.

The beginning part of California Vehicle Code §23152 reads as follows:

(a) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.

(b) It is unlawful for a person who has 0.08 percent or more, by weight, of alcohol in his or her blood to drive a vehicle.

However, there is additional language that has been added to the section that reads as follows:

(c) It is unlawful for a person who is addicted to the use of any drug to drive a vehicle. This subdivision shall not apply to a person who is participating in a narcotic treatment program approved pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 11875) of Chapter 1 of Part 3 of Division 10.5 of the Health and Safety Code.

As well as:

(e) It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.

(f) It is unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle.

What many people miss is that it the second section of the statutes makes it unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle with any kind of drug in their system. What is also very important to consider is that some prescription drugs that prohibit operation of a vehicle, may also lead to a DUI.

DUIs that involve drug use are harder to prove because a breathalyzer is not issued for drug cases. There is no test that can accurately reflect the drugs in a system other than consenting to a blood test, or the officer’s observations. This makes the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney’s case stronger, and the prosecutor’s case weak. This will give a lot of leeway for your attorney to argue and get a better deal for you, if you choose to take a plea bargain.

It is important that you hire a lawyer early on in the case, prior to any statements being made or pleas being entered. If the case is strategically planned and the proper defenses and arguments are presented in a DUI with solely drugs, there is a strong chance that the case can be dismissed or reduced. Be sure to contact a Criminal Defense lawyer as soon as possible!

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A Los Angeles Criminal Defense lawyer can start working on your criminal case well before the first hearing. There is often a lot to do to prepare for a hearing, and this work can start immediately upon having been retained.

Many people will wait until the hearing to hire an attorney. The problem with this is that it gives the attorney very little time to prepare for hearing. An attorney will most certainly want to review the discovery that is being presented in the case. Discovery is any type of exhibits, documents, tapes, visuals that the prosecutor has in their possession that relates to the case. This most often is video surveillance of the arrest, and the police report. Oftentimes it can include information on the breathalyzer.

These are important pieces of information for the attorney to know when they analyze possible defenses or arguments to bring up pertaining to your case. For example, if there is blatant misconduct on the officers behalf, and they have not followed proper protocol, then there are strong chances of getting the evidence dismissed. Proper motions must be filed in a timely manner and must be addressed immediately.

Furthermore, the prosecutor will offer a plea bargain when you are in court. This is generally an offer to accept a lower charge or sentence, if the person being charged is willing to plead guilty right away. If the attorney does not know what happened at the arrest, or what the facts are of the case, they are not able to skillfully negotiate the plea, or to know whether it is a good idea to accept it or not.

Lets consider an example. Danny has been arrested for a DUI. When he was arrested, he was not driving but was parked in a parking lot sleeping in his back seat. When Danny hires a legal professional he tells them his version of the facts. The attorney immediately makes some calls and obtains the police report which does, in fact, state that Danny was parked in a parking lot, sleeping in the back seat. The attorney automatically knows now that Prosecutors have a weak case because they will have to prove that at some point Danny was actually driving WHILE intoxicated. The officer’s observations, nor the report indicate that Danny was driving at any point.

Knowing the facts the attorney goes into the first court appearance confident in his case knowing Danny’s argument is strong and the Prosecutor’s are weak. Prosecution will likely offer a much lower charge, or possible dismissal.

The attorney cannot go into a hearing not knowing the facts, or the strength of the case. This is important leverage. If you have been arrested for suspicion of a DUI, do not hesitate to contact a DUI lawyer. Be sure to work quickly and immediately hire an attorney so that they can start working on your case as soon as possible.

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In the previous blog, there was discussion on possible defenses for DUI. While an arrest is stressful and often traumatic, it does not necessarily have to lead to a conviction if the right defenses are available. The strength of each available defense will depend on the specific facts of your case. A thorough discussion of the each available defense with an experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer will help you determine what your options are and if any of the defenses will work in your favor.
In Part 1, two defenses were discussed; No driving, and Inaccuracy of test results. There are additional defenses available, with one of the strongest being a good lawyer who is aggressive and familiar with not only the law and procedure, but also the Judges and Prosecutors themselves.
Fourth Amendment Rights
Under the Constitution, we are afforded certain rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. When you have been stopped for suspicion of any criminal violation, not just DUI, officers do not have the right to search your property or your person without reasonable cause. For example, officers may not draw blood from you for sobriety tests, without your consent and permission. You must give explicit consent. Officers may not pull you over, unless they have a reason to do so, and they may not ask you to submit to an alcohol test or sobriety test unless they have reason to do so. There may be a reason if you admit to having been drinking, or if officers observe that you have visible signs of being intoxicated. This can include, the smell of alcohol, watery eyes, and slurred speech.
If it is found that officers have not  followed procedure and have gathered evidence against your Fourth Amendment rights, then  with the right motions and argument, the Judge may throw out each of those pieces of evidence, and Prosecutors may not use it to present their case. This will definitely weaken their  case, giving you stronger changes or prevailing.
Rising Alcohol Defense
Your blood alcohol must be high enough to indicate intoxication at the time you are operating a vehicle. To fully understand this defense, it is important to consider an example. Don has volunteered to drive to the neighborhood bar. His plan is that he can leave his car there after and everyone can take a cab back to his apartment. Right before Don leaves his apartment, he takes two shots of Rum, gets in the car and drives his friends to the bar, about 5 minutes away. At the time Don got into the car, his blood alcohol level was low because the shots had not yet taken effect, and had not entered his bloodstream. So, in argument, Don was not intoxicated at the time he was driving his vehicle.
This is a difficult defense, but one that can prove to be extremely successful. To determine if your case has the right facts to support such a defense would be the job of a legal professional who deals with DUIs everyday.

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If you have been arrested for a DUI, this does not mean that you are automatically found guilty and will be sentenced. This means that officers believed there was a reasonable suspicion that you were under the influence while operating a vehicle. Prosecutors must first review your case, and determine if there is enough evidence or argument for you to be charged. If they feel that there is, then they will bring charges against you. This, again, does not mean you are guilty. It simply means that Prosecutors believe that there is reason for you to be guilty.
If prosecutors bring charges, then they must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt, in Court, that you are guilty of being intoxicated, and driving while you were intoxicated. Each case is different, and each case has its own unique set of facts. However, there are certain defenses available to each person that has been charged. The strength and the weakness of each defense will depend upon the specific facts of your case and can be discussed in detail with a knowledgeable Los Angeles DUI Lawyer.
No Driving
For Prosecutors to get a successful conviction, they must show that beyond a reasonable doubt you were intoxicated by the influence alcohol and/or drugs, and that beyond a reasonable doubt you were driving. They must have both elements to be successful in getting a conviction. If you were not driving at the time officers stopped you, they have not automatically met their burden, and must use facts and circumstance to prove their case. This means that officers will testify to things like, you were pulled over at the side of the freeway, which indicates that you must have driven there. You may counter and say that you were sober, and then pulled over and had something to drink, so at no point were you actually driving while intoxicated. Most cases are simple to prove driving because people are pulled over. However, if you were not driving at the time, there is a weakness in the prosecutors case and you will have room for strong argument.
Inaccuracy of test results
When you are stopped for suspicion of a DUI, officers will ask you to participate in certain field sobriety tests. These tests are taken at the scene and include certain walking tests, and also include taking a breathalyzer. What many people do not know is that the breathalyzer test at the scene is not mandatory, and there are no negative consequences for refusing to take it. When and if, you are taken to the station, and submit to a sobriety test, whether breath or blood, that is mandatory. Failure to take the test at the scene, can result in additional sentencing or consequences. However, the tests that are used for breath must be maintained properly so that they are consistently taking accurate tests. If you feel that the test results are completely inaccurate, there are ways to gather evidence as to the routine calibration and maintenance of the machines used. If the machines, are in fact, not being kept up to code, then there may be grounds to throw out the test results and the Prosecutor must build his or her case without that piece of evidence.

Inaccuracy of test results
When you are stopped for suspicion of a DUI, officers will ask you to participate in certain field sobriety tests. These tests are taken at the scene and include certain walking tests, and also include taking a breathalyzer. What many people do not know is that the breathalyzer test at the scene is not mandatory, and there are no negative consequences for refusing to take it. When and if, you are taken to the station, and submit to a sobriety test, whether breath or blood, that is mandatory. Failure to take the test at the scene, can result in additional sentencing or consequences. However, the tests that are used for breath must be maintained properly so that they are consistently taking accurate tests. If you feel that the test results are completely inaccurate, there are ways to gather evidence as to the routine calibration and maintenance of the machines used. If the machines, are in fact, not being kept up to code, then there may be grounds to throw out the test results and the Prosecutor must build his or her case without that piece of evidence.

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If you have been arrested for a DUI, you have not yet been charged or convicted. Officers will sent their report over to the Prosecutor’s office, and then prosecutors will determine if the State will take action and bring criminal charges against you. IF charges have been brought against you, the criminal courts must make a finding that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before you can be convicted. Simply being arrested is, in no way, a guarantee that you will be found guilty of driving under the influence.
Due to the fact that an arrest does not necessarily lead to a conviction, you can take steps to ensure the best possible chance of never reaching a conviction. One of the first and best decisions you can make after a DUI arrest, is to hire an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. I do not mean a lawyer who has just passed the bar exam, or a lawyer who just set up shop in Los Angeles, or the lawyer who is willing to offer you the best deal. Choosing a lawyer is important, and you must make sure all the requisite details are met.
A knowledgeable lawyer can be one that has been practicing for over thirty years IN Los Angeles. If an attorney has been practicing for over thirty years they will not only be well versed in the law and the procedure, but also in the Judges they are appearing before, and the Prosecutors they are appearing against. It will ensure that they know which defenses and arguments will work with which Judge.
Hiring a lawyer will also give you the legal professional advice that you need. A legal professional can tell you what you don’t know and when it is a good idea to accept a deal from the Prosecutor, or when to push the case. It will also help explain how the legal criminal process works. You, on your own, would not know what an Arraignment is, or what Pre-Trial means. You will not understand if it is a good idea to proceed to trial, or if you are risking a harsher sentence by doing so.
In many cases, you do not need to appear in Court. If you have an attorney representing you, the attorney will appear on your behalf. When choosing an attorney it is important to choose an attorney you trust, and one you believe will fight for you. Court can be a scary and intimidating place, and a place most people do not wish to visit. That is why, having an attorney you trust can be a huge asset, and will eliminate the additional stress and hassle in your life.
One of the best things you can do for your own well being and peace of mind, as well as your Los Angeles DUI case, is hire an experienced, knowledgeable Los Angeles DUI lawyer. This will give your case the best possible odds of being beat!

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The criminal court system can be complicated and confusing. There is an entire process and hurdles that must be met at each stage before you move to the next step. Furthermore, there is a decision to be made before moving towards trial. These decisions must be made with careful thought and decision before heading towards trail. There are lots of things to consider, and many of these decisions require legal knowledge and background. That is why it is a good idea to consult with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer on whether or not it is a good idea to take your DUI case to trial. There are some very important things to consider.
Costs:
Going to trial is expensive. There are many things an attorney needs to do before trial even starts. They must gather evidence, through interviewing witnesses, looking at potential exhibits, and reviewing countless documents. They must look into surveillance videos, and calibration of different tests that were taken. They must also prepare witnesses, testimony and the presentation of their case. Additionally, they must do research on the law, cases, and file any motions that are necessary. Going to trial is not always necessary,  and based on the evidence and the prosecutor’s arguments, it may not be worthwhile.
Prior to going to trial, you should discuss in detail the strengths and weaknesses of your case with a legal professional. There should be a details discussion of each argument and each defense and the likely outcome of each. Going to trial can cost you a good plea bargain from Prosecutors and you risk getting sentenced the highest possible sentence.
Lets consider an example to understand why trial is not always the best option for everyone. Danny has been charged with a DUI. Danny was driving home from a get together where he had a couple of beers. As he was driving home, Danny ran a red light, giving officers probable cause to pull him over. Once he pulled him over, the officer smelled alcohol on Danny’s breath. The officer asked Danny if he had been drinking and Danny admitted that he had a few beers. The officer than asked Danny to submit to a field sobriety test, which Danny did voluntarily. The blood alcohol level was about .12. This is well over the legal limit.
Danny’s case is not a good one to take to trial ,and if Danny opted to, it might cost him a lot more with a worse outcome. The officers had probable cause to stop Danny in the first place. They then had reasonable suspicion to ask him to submit to an alcohol test. They have Danny’s admission that he had been drinking, and a reading on the blood alcohol test. These are strong arguments against Danny. This does not mean that Danny has no options. An experienced DUI lawyer can still negotiate with Prosecutors for a plea bargain for minimal sentencing or reduced charges. There is always a way, and consulting a legal professional is the first step towards the best case scenario!

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When you have been stopped for suspicion of a DUI, it is a scary and stressful experience. What most people do not know is that officers have to follow a certain protocol before they are allowed to arrest someone for the suspicion of a DUI. If they do not follow the protocol, they do not have grounds to take someone into custody. Saying certain things, even though it may seem like you are cooperating with officers, may give officers the reasonable cause they are looking for. Understanding the process and the legal obstacles officers must jump over, may give some clarification on the issue of what statements you should not make to officers if you find yourself being stopped.

Probable Cause

For an officer to ask you to pull over they need a probable cause. Probable cause will arise from a traffic violation, or for some violation in driving. This will give officers the authority to ask you to pull over. Such violations can be speeding, running a red light, or weaving.

Officers can also assist in a situation where you are pulled over at the side of the road. They can come and see if anything is wrong or if you need assistance. This also gives them probable cause.

Reasonable Suspicion

Once an officer has a valid reason to pull you over, they may ask you to submit to a breath test if they have reasonable suspicion that you are intoxicated. The intoxication may be from alcohol or drugs. One of the ways an officer can obtain reasonable suspicion is if they observe signs that show you are intoxicated. This can be red eyes, the smell of alcohol, slurring, or incoherent. The other, more common way, for officers to get reasonable suspicion is through admissions. When you are stopped, officers will ask if you have been drinking, or if you have had an alcohol that evening. Most people, wanting to be cooperative will admit to having been drinking. This is an admission and all the reasonable suspicion an officer needs to ask you to submit to a breath test or other field sobriety test.

A person cannot be charged and found guilty, if officers do not follow proper protocol in gathering evidence. If they did not follow protocol and you have been charged, there is a good chance your case may be dismissed or reduced. Admitting to having been drinking only solidifies the officer’s case. It is not advisable to lie to officers, however, the fifth amendment protects your right to not have to say anything incriminating about yourself. You do not need to say yes or no, you can simply say that you do not wish to answer.

If you find yourself in this situation, do not hesitate to contact a Los Angeles DUI lawyer as soon as possible. They can walk you through the facts of your case and assess its strengths and weaknesses.