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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.

Holiday weekends can be fun, as family and friends get together and celebrate over food and drink. However, it is also a peak time for arrests due to driving under the influence. If you are going to be out and about celebrating with friends and family, be sure to plan ahead and have a designated driver. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence, it is important to understand that you have not yet been convicted. An arrest just implies that an officer has reason to suspect that you may be driving under the influence. You cannot be convicted unless you plead guilty to the charges, or if a jury finds you guilty of the charges.

A Los Angeles DUI conviction can result in several consequences. The best way to avoid any consequences is to speak to a Los Angeles DUI Attorney early on and as soon as possible. Certain consequences can be mitigated before a formal case is even filed. This can also help reduce other consequences. Waiting until the last minute may hurt your chances, but having an attorney in your corner can be the best decision you can make.

A DUI specialist has over 30 plus years of experience. We know the court system inside and out, we are familiar with the Judges, the clerks and the officers. This helps make negotiations and discussions efficient, and tailored to each individual Judge. Especially when it comes to lessening the following consequences:

When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, it is important to understand that you have not yet been found guilty. You cannot be found guilty unless you enter a plea of guilty, or a jury finds you guilty. In order for a jury to find you guilty, they must find that you committee the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to do this, they must demonstrate that you are guilty of two elements:

  1. You were operating a vehicle; AND
  2. You were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

California Vehicle Code §23152 makes it unlawful to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or both. In general, a person is said to be impaired if their blood alcohol level is a .08 or over. The blood alcohol level is measured through the use of blood alcohol tests, which were taken through the use of a breathalyzer, blood tests or urine test. The blood alcohol level of .08 is just a standard, and will vary under different circumstances.

The statute states under (a) and (b) that a person may not drive under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol level over .08. But under other sections of the statute, the person need only be higher than a .04 blood alcohol level to be found too impaired to operate a vehicle. These statutes apply when the driver is operating an Uber, or a taxi, (Section (e)) as well as commercial vehicles (Section (d)).

Section (f) makes it unlawful to operate a vehicle while under the influence of drugs and Section (g) makes it unlawful for a person to operate a vehicle under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. Drugs are harder to assess at an arrest or traffic stop than the use of alcohol alone.

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