People arrested for DUIs come from all walks of life, ages, races and income levels. It is a crime that can happen to anybody and it is enforced against everybody.
How Many DUI Cases Do You Typically See Per Year?
I probably handle about 20 or 25 a year, but I would like to do more. When I was with the public defender’s office, I handled a couple of hundred a year.
Have People’s Habits Or Behaviors Changed As The DUIs Laws Have Changed?
The younger generation, the millennials, are actually a lot more careful about driving under the influence and are more likely to designate a driver, call a cab, call Uber or stay the night. There seems to be a heightened awareness in that age group not to drink and drive, which is actually a great thing. People who have been drinking longer and who might have habits that are more entrenched tend to get caught up in it a little more.
What Percentage Of Clients Receive Another DUI After The First One?
The vast majority of people who get DUI’s are adversely affected by it – they know they’ve made a mistake and tend not to drink and drive again because they did not enjoy the experience of going to jail or going through the court process. Also, the DUI school the court ordered them to attend would have covereda lot of information aboutthe dangers of drinking and driving, so most people do not come back again for a subsequent DUI.
How Do People Usually Get Caught For A DUI?
Typically some sort of traffic violation: speeding, weaving within a lane, weaving over a fog line or double yellow line, rolling through a stop sign are the most common reasons for a DUI investigation to start.
A common misconception is that you will automatically go to jail. After the initial booking, it is highly unlikely for anyone to actually spend time in a jail or in a custodial setting for a first time DUI offense when there are no injuries. People also think their license will be suspended for much longer than it actually will be. Anybody facing a DUI will face possible suspension of their license, although it might not be for as long as people fear.
Some people also think there is no hope if they are arrested or accused of a DUI because they think there is no defense and no way out. DUIs are highly nuanced and complicated. A skilled, experienced attorney can comb through the police reports, test results and other facts surrounding the case that may not be in the police report. The attorney can try to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case and find defenses.
Are DUI Records Public?
In all likelihood, a person’s work will not find out unless they have the type of job that requires them to disclose a DUI charge to their employer, e.g., a professional or commercial driver. The person’s family would typically not find out unless the person charged told them. But, the facts of the arrest are public record, and family members might receive letters from attorneys offering their services, so they could find out accidentally.
In Sonoma County, there is very little on line information about arrests. The clerk’s office only posts cases that will be heard the next day, so someone would have to know exactly where to look. The local newspaper, The Press Democrat, occasionally publishes arrest logs,although most of those tend to be for drug possession or domestic violence and not for DUIs. It is public record, but someone has to dig to find that information.
Consequences of DUI
Most people know there will be a big fine, a negative effect on their insurance, possible jail time, volunteer time or community service. They may not know about the different possible DUI sentences. For example, depending on the facts of the case for a first DUI, the length of time required to be spent in DUI school could be six weeks, three months or nine months, and the cost for each would be different. The less time spent in school, the less expensive it is. If an attorney can get someone three months instead of nine months, the client will have saved six months out of their lives and six months’ worth of payments. People may not be fully aware of the differences between DUI cases.
Easy Way Out
No, most people expect there will be some sort of punishment. Everybody knows somebody who has gotten a DUI and very few people know anybody who has been able to get out of a DUI.
Important Items to Remember
People who have been charged with a DUI should definitely remember to request, or have their attorney request, their admin per se hearing within 10 days in order to save their driver’s license. The person should also write down everything they remember about the traffic stop and their encounter with the police officer while it is fresh in their minds. That information can be relevant for a defense.
Another important thing is not to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their system while their case ispending. And, of course, they should never drive if they are not properly licensed and insured.
Blow Below .08
The DA would still be able to file a DUI if the person blew below a 0.08 because in California there is a per se 0.08. It doesn’t matter how perfect someone’s driving is, if they blow above 0.08, they’re driving illegally. If they blew below a 0.08, but their driving was impaired and they could not safely operate a motor vehicle, it is still a crime in California – even if their blood alcohol level was 0.05, they can still be charged with a DUI. It would be the same as driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or higher.
How Does Bail Work
A person arrested for a crime by a law enforcement officer is taken to jail, and while they are at the jail, a bail is set. The amount of bail is taken from the schedule the court publishes and is based on the charge that the person had been booked in for.
Once bail is set, the person has the opportunity to either contact a bail bond agent to post bail for them, or they can post the full amount in cash if they have it. A bail bondsman typically charges a premium of 10%, which is their fee. The person does not get that amount back at the end of the case.
In Lieu of Jail For DUI
There is no diversion or first-time offender program offered in California that will get someone out of a DUI, even if on a first offense with no injuries and even if the defendant has never been in trouble before.
It is not the same as with someone who has committed a petty theft and has never been in trouble before. In that case, the person would be able to get a diversion program to avoid a criminal conviction, but that does not happen in DUI cases.
All DUI cases are prosecuted regardless of the person’s record and regardless of their driving history. At least two days of jail is mandatory in DUI cases. But, in almost all first offense DUI cases, the judge or the DA will allow the person to participate in a jail alternative program. Typically these are work release programs in Sonoma County where the person works an eight-hour day for the county in exchange for each day they were sentenced to in jail.
Miranda rights are hardly ever read in a DUI case. They are only required to be read if somebody is in custody and the officer is asking questions designed to elicit an incriminating response that can be used against the person in court. Almost all of the questions asked in a DUI investigation are asked while the person is not in custody. Pre-arrest questions are asked during the field sobriety tests, so the officer would not be required to read the person their Miranda rights.
A person is only read their rights when they are placed in custody, meaning in handcuffs or in jail. Any questions designed to elicit an incriminating response that are asked and answered after that time are a violation of the person’s Miranda rights if the statements they made are used against them in court. This hardly ever comes up in DUIs.
Can My Case be Dismissed?
People often tell me the officer did not read them their Miranda rights. I have to explain that in a DUI case, Miranda rights are not typically read. In the movies and on TV you always hear “You have a right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Usually when I ask people what incriminating statements they made, they say that they didn’t say anything. The officer does not need to read the person their Miranda rights if he did not ask any questions when the person was in custody, so there would be nothing to get thrown out or dismissed.
Even if an officer does ask incriminating questions afterthe person is in custody,but does not read the Miranda rights, it doesn’t mean the whole case will be thrown out. It just meansthat the person may have grounds to file a motion to suppress those particular statements from being used against them.
Contact an Experienced Sonoma County DUI Attorney