If you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you have not yet been found guilty by the Court of law. This means that it has not yet gone on your record, and it will not unless Prosecutors can show that all of the elements of a DUI have been met beyond a reasonable doubt. There are two elements in a DUI; 1) the driver must be intoxicated and 2) the driver must be operating a vehicle. If both elements are not met, beyond a reasonable doubt, then the person cannot be found guilty.
There are a few ways a DUI case can play out. You can either enter a plea or be found either guilty or not guilty through trial. Lets consider the following factual hypothetical background, and then discuss the two different options a case can have.
Dina is driving home from a friend’s birthday party. She has had two beers and has smoked marijuana with her friends. On her way home, she runs a red light and is immediately stopped by officers. Officers ask if she has been drinking, to which Dina replies that she has, but has only had two beers. She also submits to a breathalyzer test, and blows a .10 BAC. She is arrested, and taken into custody.
- Entering a plea
Dina consults with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer. The lawyer immediately gets to work on her case and orders the police reports and any videos there may be. Upon looking at the video he notices that Dina is visibly intoxicated. He notices that she clearly ran a red light, giving officers probable cause to pull her over. And he also hers that she clearly confesses to having drank two beers. At the Arraignment, the attorney appears on Dina’s behalf and prosecutors tell the attorney that they want Dina to serve 30 days in Jail, 3 years informal probation, one year of alcohol rehabilitation classes, and a fine of $300.00, which after penalties and assessment will be closer to $1,500.00.
The Los Angeles Criminal Attorney knows that this offer is not a good one. He disagrees and recommends to Dina that they will be taking the case forward towards trial. Dina agrees. At the pre trial hearing (the next hearing after the arraignment) the attorney talks to the prosecutors. He uses his knowledge and experience to negotiate with the attorney and presents a case as to why jail time and an extensive alcohol rehabilitation program are unnecessary. Eventually the prosecutor agrees, and the attorney advises Dina to accept the new deal without jail time, and with only a three month alcohol rehabilitation program, as well as a reduced fine. Dina takes the advise, enters a plea of guilty, and the case is concluded.
- A Finding of guilty or not guilty
Let’s say for arguments sake, Dina did not run a red light, and officers stopped her randomly. They do not have probable cause to stop her, and without probable cause, they cannot submit evidence obtained during the stop. This means there can be no evidence admitted of Dina’s intoxication confessions or BAC readings. Dina agrees upon her attorney’s recommendation that the case proceed to trial. At Trial, the attorney skillfully argues that there was no probable cause. The Jury agrees and Dina is found not guilty. This is another way the case can end. The case is then dismissed.
If you find yourself in Dina’s situation, do not hesitate, contact a legal professional as soon as possible!