Articles Posted in Constitutional Rights

There have been a series of blogs that have thoroughly gone through the rights a person has during their criminal case. As stated many times, there are important protections afforded to you by the United States Constitution, and these rights should be taken very seriously and waived after much consideration and caution.

The rights you have available to you during your Los Angeles DUI case are the same that are available to any other person going through a criminal case. A DUI is a criminal charge and therefore, the protections and rights that other people given are also extended to a person being charged with a DUI.

For a thorough discussion on each right available, refer to the Los Angeles Criminal blog.

When a person has been stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, they will be asked to submit to a blood alcohol test. Two tests will be administered. One is at the scene of the stop and the other will be at the station.

The test administered at the scene of the stop is voluntary and the driver should be informed of that. It is generally a breath test and is referred to as a preliminary alcohol screening test. If the driver refuses this test, there are no adverse consequences, other than that the driver will most likely be taken into custody.

The second test administered at the police station following an arrest is still voluntarily, but a refusal carries with it some serious consequences. The test may be either a breath or blood test, and if it is refusal and the driver is subsequently found guilty of a DUI, they will face an enhanced sentence.

When you have been pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, the officer must have reasonable suspicion before he requests that you complete any field sobriety tests or blood alcohol tests. This reasonable suspicion can arise from admissions of the driver. For example, if the officer asks the driver if he or she has been drinking, and the driver responds in the positive. If the driver has not made any admissions, the officer may still obtain reasonable cause by observations. For example, if the driver has red watery eyes, is slurring or smells like alcohol.

The officer, after having obtained reasonable suspicion may ask you to complete some field sobriety tests. Upon completing the field sobriety tests, if the officer feels that further tests are warranted, he will ask that you submit to a breathalyzer, or ask that you take a blood test so that an accurate measurement of your blood alcohol can be taken.

The test that is administered at the arrest location is not mandatory. This is referred to as the preliminary alcohol test. However, the one administered at the station is. If you refuse to take this second test, and are found guilty of driving under the influence, you could potentially face an increased sentence due to your refusal.

Each and every person in the United States has constitutional rights that cannot be taken away from them without due process. One of the most important rights is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.

Unreasonable search and seizure means that evidence for any kind of prosecution or case may not be gathered unreasonably, and through a violation of privacy. A person’s car, home, or personal space may not be searched without reasonable cause.

This does not mean that officers may not obtain evidence from a person’s home, vehicle or private space. It means that they must first obtain a warrant. To obtain a warrant they must present their evidence to a judge and demonstrate that there is a strong probability that the evidence they are searching for exists in that person’s personal space and they have a valid reason to violate their privacy, despite the person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If evidence is obtained with a warrant, it is obtained reasonably.

When you have been arrested on the suspicion of DUI, there is an important deadline you must be aware of. You have within 10 days to schedule a DMV hearing. The 10 days start after the day you have been arrested and include weekends. To be on the safe side it is best to schedule a DMV hearing as soon as possible, however, before doing so, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The DMV hearing is as important as your criminal court appearance. The Criminal Court will be the entity that determines whether there is enough evidence for you to be convicted of a DUI. The Prosecutor will present their case and must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that all elements have been met. If convicted, the Criminal court will also determine the appropriate sentence. The sentence will include jail time and/or a fine, probation and alcohol rehabilitation classes. The Court will make the determination as to what will be imposed as a penalty and it’s duration.

What the court will not determine is the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges.sThat is what the DMV will determine. The purpose of the DMV hearing is for a hearing officer to make a finding as to the facts of your case and determine if your license will be suspended or revoked and the length of time.

When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, you will be given a court date to appear before a Criminal Judge. The law presumes that you are innocent until you are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and it will be the Prosecutor’s job to prove that you were intoxicated while driving.

The first appearance made before the Criminal Judge is called an Arraignment. During the arraignment the Judge will read you the charges and will ask if you would like to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be read a DUI Advisement of Rights, Waiver and Plea form. You must read this form carefully and initial each statement.

In the form, there is an explanation as to your Right to an attorney. It explains that you have a right to an attorney to represent you throughout the proceedings. This is a right granted to you by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This right ensures that each person is protected and properly represented before the Judge when they are being tried for criminal charges. It helps avoid any wrongful judgments being entered because the person being tried improperly handled their case or proceedings.

It is each person’s right to be heard by a court of law, and be given a fair trial before they are found guilty of a criminal charge. In interest of these rights, when a person is arrested and charged with a potential DUI, they are ordered to appear before a criminal judge. They will not be found guilty of any criminal charge unless prosecutors can prove that there is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The first appearance is called an Arraignment. During the arraignment the Judge will read the charges and ask if the person being tried would like to enter a plea. You can plead guilty, not guilty or no contest. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be given a DUI Advisement of Rights, Waiver and Plea form. You will be asked to read over each provision carefully and initial by each statement.

The advisement assures that you are aware of the rights you will be relinquishing when you plead guilty or no contest. It also confirms that you have been advised of the potential consequences you may face as someone who has been found guilty or have not contested driving under the influence charges against you.