The Los Angeles Criminal Courts and the Los Angeles Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are two completely separate entities. Each has their own restrictions on issuing consequences of a DUI arrest, and each follows their own standards and procedures. Reducing or dismissing your DUI charges in a criminal court will not lead to a dismissal of consequences from the DMV. The entities do not have an influence on each other.

The Courts can issue only certain types of sentences. They can issue jail time, fines, probation, community service and rehabilitation education, however they have no authority over the suspending or revocation of your driving privileges. Similarly, the DMV cannot issue jail time, probation, or other sentences issued by the Courts, they can only suspend or revoke your driving privileges.

The DMV has the authority to suspend or revoke driving privileges if two elements are met:

  1. You were driving a vehicle
  2. You had a blood alcohol content of .08 or over

If these elements are present, the DMV has the authority to suspend your driving privileges, regardless of what the determination of the criminal case was. Let’s consider an example to better demonstrate this concept.

David has been arrested for a DUI. His BAC level was .09, and he was pulled over at the side of the road sleeping in his car. David’s case is not a clear cut case for a DUI, because it could be argued that he was not impaired while driving his vehicle, since his BAC is right on the cusp, and it could also be argued that he was not technically driving a vehicle. Let’s assume that his attorney argues these two points in the criminal courts, and the courts find that there is not enough evidence to find David guilty of a DUI because it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was intoxicated, and that he was driving a vehicle. Accordingly, the criminal courts reduce his charges.

The DMV does not have to do the same, nor will the DMV consider arguments made in the criminal court in making their own determination of whether David was driving a vehicle, and whether his blood alcohol content was over .08. However, in David’s case, there is a question as to whether he was driving a vehicle, even if there is no question as to whether his BAC was over .08. The DMV must make a finding of both elements to suspend his license. This is where a careful argument could also help reduce the DMV’s possible suspension of your license.

The length of time of suspension depends on the situation and circumstances under which your DUI arrest occurred. The following chart breaks down the potential amount of time a license may be suspended.

Offense Number Circumstances Length of Suspension
1st Offense No Aggravating Circumstances 4 Months
2nd Offense No Aggravating Circumstances 1 year
3rd Offense No Aggravating Circumstances 3 years
1st Offense With refusal to take chemical test at the time of arrest 1 year
2nd Offense With refusal to take chemical test at the time of arrest 2 years
Any Offense Under 21

Any amount of alcohol, even under .01

1 year


All of the above stated period of suspension are the potential length of suspension. This does not mean that it will automatically be imposed. A Los Angeles DUI Attorney has the ability to negotiation and argue for a lesser period of suspension, especially in situations where the facts do not support the DMV’s criteria for suspension.

If you are facing DUI charges, do not make the mistake of assuming the DMV hearing will not be that crucial to your case. Be sure to have an experienced Los Angeles DUI Lawyer in your corner, representing you. This will help ensure that if your license is suspended, it will be suspended for the least amount of time possible.

If you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, you have not yet been charged or convicted. This is a very important distinction. When you are arrested, it is only because officers believe there may be enough evidence to find you guilty of what they are charging you with. The case is then forwarded to prosecutors who will review the evidence and make a determination as to whether there really is enough to bring a formal case against you. The first priority of a Los Angeles DUI lawyer is to demonstrate that there is not enough evidence to formally bring a case against you. That is why the earlier you hire a Criminal Lawyer to defend you, the quicker they can get to work and fight to drop the charges before they are even made.

With an attorney on your side, they can act swiftly to contact the arresting police department and speak to the officer about the evidence they have against you. They can gather information efficiently and quickly because they know the officers and are familiar with the police department. But more importantly, the police department has a good working relationship with the attorney and so they are more willing to cooperate and work with the attorney in getting them the information they need.

With the evidence in hand, the attorney can then do a thorough review of what happened the night of the arrest and why the officer believes there is enough to charge you with a formal DUI. The attorney will find holes in the legal process and weaknesses in the arguments that prosecutors can potentially make.

If you have been stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there are certain things you need to be aware of. In order for an officer to arrest you for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or to even stop and question you regarding possible intoxication, an officer has to have probable cause. Probable cause means that the officer must have a valid, legal reason to stop you before questioning you or checking for observation.

There are only two exceptions in which an officer does not need probable cause to question you regarding intoxication; when they are conducting a DUI checkpoint, and when they are doing a welfare stop.

This probable cause requirement is an important element to a DUI case, because if officers have not met their burden of probable cause, then the case may be reduced or even dismissed. A Los Angeles DUI Lawyer has extensive experience with DUI cases, and can review the facts of the case in detail. A thorough analysis gives the lawyer an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the case and allows them to prepare the best possible argument for their client.

When a person has been arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence in Los Angeles, officers have only gathered evidence that leads to possible charges. The information is then transferred over to the Prosecutor’s office, and Prosecutors then determine whether there is enough evidence to file charges for a DUI.

Certain factors, such as a prior DUI will greatly affect the Prosecutor’s decision on whether or not to bring charges. A prior DUI will have a significant impact on influencing a Prosecutor’s decision.

With a first time DUI, a driver must be intoxicated while driving a vehicle. Since it is difficult to determine what a level of intoxication is and leaving it arbitrary can make it difficult for law enforcers, the legislature has stated a .08 blood alcohol level as a standard. This helps provide guidance as to the intoxication of a driver. Generally if a person is borderline .08 on a first offense DUI, there is a lot of room for negotiation with Prosecutors. There are defenses and arguments to be made that a person was not intoxicated at the time they were operating the vehicle. With this “wiggle room” many times Prosecutor’s will dismiss or reduce a DUI where the blood alcohol level is close to .08.

Many of our clients mistakenly believe that a person can only be charged with driving under the influence if a person is intoxicated by consuming alcohol. This is not true at all. A person can be charged with a DUI in Los Angeles without ever having consumed a single drop of alcohol.

A person who is charged with a DUI is charged under California Vehicle Code §23152 or California Vehicle Code §23153. California Vehicle Code §23152 is the statute a person is charged under when the charge is a misdemeanor. Section (a) under §23152 refers specifically to driving under the influence of alcohol. However, section (f) refers to driving under the influence of drugs, and (g) states that it is “unlawful for a person who is under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug to drive a vehicle”.

This means that any type of drugs, including prescription drugs, can lead to a DUI conviction. Let’s consider an example.

If you have been charged with a DUI, you were likely arrested after having submitted to some blood alcohol tests. One such test that many people submit themselves to during a arrest, is a field sobriety test. However, a field sobriety test is a poor indicator of intoxication and many people fail it.

In order to understand the role of a field sobriety test in a DUI arrest, let’s take a step back and walk through an arrest.

Donny is driving home from a birthday party and had a beer and nothing more. He has not slept well the night before and is tired and decides to call it an early night. A beer does not cause Donny, who is 6’2” and 170 pounds to be intoxicated. On his way home, he makes a right turn at a red light without stopping. This is grounds for officers to stop Donny, since he is in violation of traffic laws. Donny is stopped and officers smell beer on his breath from the one beer that he had.

If you have been charged with a Los Angeles DUI, it does not mean that you cannot be charged with anything else. Many charges can arise out of one specific incident, resulting in multiple charges against you and multiple cases.

The best way to understand this process is to walk through an example. Dina has been at a friend’s house for a party. At the party she has consumed several alcoholic drinks, and used some methamphetamine with her friends. Dina is also the one that has provided the drugs and the paraphernalia at the party.

When she is driving home, she runs a stop sign. Officers stop her for the traffic violation, and notice a strong odor of alcohol and red watery eyes. In addition, her mannerisms are eradicated and she seems intoxicated. Officers ask Dina to submit to a field sobriety test, which she does and fails. They also ask her to take a blood alcohol test, which she does and is promptly arrested.

If you are facing charges for driving under the suspicion of driving under the influence, there are two different ways you can be convicted. One, you would voluntarily enter a plea of guilty in court, or you would be found guilty by a jury.

At the very first appearance in Court you will be offered a plea bargain. This is an offer for what is believed to be a lower sentence if you plead guilty on that day. The potential consequences for a first time DUI offense include the following:

  • 3 to 5 years probation

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you will be facing court and a possible conviction. If convicted, there is a range of consequences that could be a part of your sentence depending on the facts of your case and your criminal history.

If you have prior convictions, especially a prior DUI conviction, it could affect your sentence. Additionally, if there is injury or significant damage to property, you may be facing a significantly higher range of consequences. Possible consequences include:

  • Probation from three to five years

In order for prosecutors to convict you of Driving under the influence, they must prove two elements beyond a reasonable doubt: that you were driving, and you were intoxicated at the time you were driving. It is crucial that prosecutors prove both elements, not just one. Unless they can prove both elements, they cannot convict you.

For example, Dana was drinking at the bar and then walked home to her apartment which was a few blocks away. Officers cannot arrest her for a Los Angeles DUI. Even though she was intoxicated, she was not driving. Similarly, David was driving home from the bar but had only had water while he was there. He cannot be arrested for a DUI because although he was driving, he was not intoxicated.

This is why it is very crucial whether driving can be proven in a DUI case. Oftentimes it is very clear as to whether there is driving or not, but sometimes it is not so cut and dry. When it is not so clear, it makes prosecutor’s case weaker and the case for the person being charged much stronger.