If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Los Angeles, you are likely stressed and confused as to what you should do. Many people mistakenly feel that they can handle a DUI case without the help of a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. While, you are able to represent yourself in criminal court for your criminal case, you will be advised that you have the right to an attorney. This means that you can retain a private attorney, or you can be given a public defender. The reason this right is so carefully addressed and supported, is because the criminal justice can be confusing , you may not understand how your case progresses and what rights you have at each stage, and you are giving up significant rights when you enter a plea.

While the option of a public defender is available to you, it is important to remember that public defenders have many cases each day in court, and they meet with you briefly before you appear before the Judge that day in court. While public defenders are knowledgeable attorneys, they do not have the time to address each specific aspect of your case. This is the benefit in hiring a private attorney.

When you hire a private attorney, you basically take the burden and stress off of your shoulders, and pass it onto the attorney. From the moment you retain a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, like those at Hoffman & Associates, they take on all of the stress of your case, so that you can focus on the day to day aspects of your life that really matter.

In order for someone to be found guilty of a Los Angeles DUI, the prosecutors must prove two separate elements: 1) Driving and 2) while intoxicated. Both elements must be proven, if there is only one, the person cannot be charged with a DUI.

So, if you were not driving while you were intoxicated, you could not be charged for a DUI. However, driving is often a gray area and could prove to be difficult to prove..or disprove. This is why a Los Angeles DUI lawyer is so essential and beneficial to a DUI case. They know precisely what arguments to make and what evidence to present, to ensure that the gray area leans in the favor of their client. The best way to understand this idea is to illustrate an example from a case.

The client was intoxicated when she got a call from her boyfriend. Her boyfriend was also intoxicated at a local hotel and was arguing with hotel staff in the lobby. She was called to come and get him before he got arrested. She drove to the hotel to pick him. Once she got him and got into her vehicle, officers arrived at the scene. Officers were presumably called by hotel staff regarding her boyfriend and his behavior in the lobby. Before she could drive off in her vehicle, she was asked to step out of the vehicle and submit to an alcohol screening test. She was then arrested for a DUI. The client’s position is that she was not driving, and if she was not driving she could not be arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in Los Angeles, two cases will simultaneously be initiated. One will be in the criminal courts, and the other will be with the DMV. They are two separate cases, with two separate outcomes, and are concerned with two separate issues. The criminal courts are concerned with DUI charges, and whether you are guilty of driving while intoxicated or not. The Los Angeles DMV hearing is only concerned with whether your driving privileges should be suspended.

You have the right to an attorney to represent you at both appearances. The outcome of one will not affect the other. This may be a good or bad thing depending on the facts of your case. However, having a Los Angeles DUI attorney on your team ensures that you give yourself the best possible chance at both appearances.

Let’s consider an example to better understand how the two hearings work. Donny is driving home from a birthday party where he has had two beers. Donny is about 6’2” and weighs about 190 pounds. He is a bigger guy and two beers generally have no effect on him. However, on that particular day he has not had the chance to eat. Regardless, he does not fully stop at a stop sign, and is stopped by officers. Officers smell the beer on his breath and ask him to submit to a sobriety test, which he does. Donny blows a .09% blood alcohol level. This is right above the legal level of .08%. Donny is arrested and given a court date. Per the citation, Donny immediately calls the DMV and schedules a hearing. He then retains the knowledgeable legal professionals at Hoffman and Associates.

If you have been stopped for a Los Angeles DUI, you should know that there are several different legal obstacles officers must cross before they are able to question you regarding intoxication. What do I mean by that? Let’s take it step by step so that you can better understand your rights.

Before an officer can ever ask you to pull over, they must have a valid reason for doing so. This reason is generally a lawful traffic stop. This can be running a red light, speeding, weaving, illegal U-turn, etc. But the bottom line is that an officer cannot ask you to pull over based on whim or their instinct alone. You must have violated traffic law to be stopped in the first place.

There are two exceptions to this; a welfare check, and a DUI checkpoint. A valid reason is not required when you are pulled over at the side of the road. Officers are required to stop and see if you are ok, and if you need help. This is called a welfare check. Officers also do not need a reason to stop at a DUI checkpoint. You are required to stop. However, if you do not want to drive through the checkpoint, you are allowed to turn around the other way. This cannot be held against you.

California Vehicle Code §23152 and §23153 make it unlawful for a person to be operating a vehicle if they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. With recent changes in recreational marijuana many of our clients receive DUI charges for driving under the influence of marijuana. Because it is a newly passed law, and the legislature still has to work through the different issues, there is a sense of confusion as to what is legal and illegal.

It may be legal to participate in medicinal or recreational marijuana, just like it is legal to consume alcohol if you are of appropriate age. However, it is illegal to operate any type of vehicle, while under the influence of either alcohol, or marijuana.

The law is clear. If you are intoxicated, and are operating a vehicle, you can be charged with a DUI in Los Angeles. What is unclear, however, is how officers can prove that you are under the influence of marijuana alone. This is why an experienced and knowledgeable Los Angeles DUI lawyer is a significant asset in your case.

If you have been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence, you have not yet been convicted. An arrest simply means that officers believe there is a reasonable doubt that you were driving under the influence. In order to be convicted, prosecutors have to then prove in Court, that you were 1) driving and 2) intoxicated beyond a reasonable doubt. Both of these elements need to be proven, not just one or the other. Both elements include a level of subjectivity. This gray area allows Los Angeles DUI Lawyers, such as our firm, to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case, and leads to cases being dismissed or charges being reduced.

Let’s take a look at the element of driving in detail.

For you to be convicted of you a Los Angeles DUI, you must be driving at the time you were intoxicated. If you were not driving, then you cannot be convicted of a DUI. Oftentimes, driving is the easier element of the two to prove, as a person is driving and is pulled over by officers. However, in many cases, it is not so cut and dry. Let’s consider some examples.

One of the biggest concerns our clients have with their Los Angeles DUI Case, is whether they will have to serve a jail sentence. The answer will depend on several different factors and the argument presented by your Los Angeles DUI Attorney.

Two of the biggest factors the court will consider is the facts of your specific case, and any offenses you may have been convicted of in the past. The best way to understand these is through some examples.

Facts of the case:

One of the most important variables in a Los Angeles DUI case is that of the evidence that can be presented against you. When your case goes to Court, you will present your case, and the prosecutors will present theirs. Each side of the case will hinge upon evidence and the more stronger the evidence, the stronger your case will be.

One of the biggest pieces of evidence is that of the officer’s report. Often called discovery, the officer’ report outlines a crucial part of your case, the arrest. When you are pulled over, there are several procedures and laws officers have to follow. If they do not follow these procedures, the case could get dismissed, so officers must watch their conduct, and properly write it down in their report. The report will then be scrutinized and analyzed by the Los Angeles DUI Lawyer you retain to represent you.

For example, an officer must have reasonable cause to stop you in the first place. If they do not have reasonable cause, it is not a valid stop. There are several ways officers can meet this procedural requirement. One way is if you violate a traffic law. This could be speeding, running a red light, failing to stop at a stop sign, or even not having your headlights on at night. Another way is if you are pulled over at the side of the road with car trouble or perhaps after an accident. This is called a welfare check. Officers have the right to stop and check to see if you are alright and if you need any help.

Many times, people do not see what benefit a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer can provide when you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence. People in this situation often take their time deciding if they want legal representation, and shopping around for an attorney that offers them the best price. Keep in mind that valuable experience and knowledge is not something that can be bargained for. There are many benefits to having an attorney as soon as you have been arrested that will prove to be beneficial to your case as it progresses.

The first benefit is your DMV Hearing. The DMV hearing is a completely separate hearing from your criminal court case. It is handled solely by the DMV and falls under the DMV’s laws and regulations. It needs to be scheduled within ten days of your arrest, if it is not scheduled, you lose your right to have a hearing in regards to your driver’s license. Often you need to determine which DMV, call and schedule a hearing, and make sure you have done it in a timely manner. Having a Los Angeles DUI attorney right off the bat, will assure that this deadline is not missed, the right DMV has been scheduled, and that you will have legal representation at this hearing.

Another benefit to having an attorney representing you is in regards to the process with which discovery is obtained. Discovery is any type of evidence that was gathered by officers during the arrest and information the prosecutors have used to file charges against you. This includes surveillance video or audio and a police report. Generally, these may be obtained at your first court appearance. But when you have an attorney, the attorney is able to contact the prosecutor’s office prior to any court hearing and obtain the discovery right away. This allows the attorney plenty of time to review the evidence, contact any witnesses, or speak to anyone they need to about potential holes in the prosecutor’s case. With that added time, the attorney can walk into the first appearance fully prepared and keep the case moving forward quickly, rather than have to continue the hearing.

On January 1, 2018, recreational marijuana becomes legal. That means that you do not need a prescription to purchase it, nor will it be against the law. However, that does not mean that there are no restrictions on it’s use. Marijuana will be restricted just like any other similar substance, such as cigarettes and alcohol.

One such restriction is use while driving. Like alcohol, you cannot be under the influence of marijuana while operating a vehicle. California Vehicle Codes §20002 and 20003 make it unlawful to operate a vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Marijuana, whether legal or not, falls under this category.

However, unlike alcohol, the influence of marijuana is more difficult to provide when stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence. In cases where there is suspicion of alcohol intoxication, an office may request that a driver submit to a blood alcohol test. The alcohol test may be taken through blood, breath or urine and gives an immediate measurement of the amount of alcohol that is in your blood stream at that moment in time. Alcohol will only remain in your blood stream for a minimal amount of time.