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DUI Defense FAQs

Is Hiring A DUI Attorney Worth It?

Yes, it would be a very big mistake for someone with a DUI not to hire an attorney. A lot of people think their case is hopeless and nothing could be done just because they were arrested or cited for a DUI. They might go into court and plead guilty at the first court date and accept whatever sentence they are handed, without realizing that they have missed so many possible defenses and so many different ranges of what could possibly happen on a DUI because they have just thrown away any of those chances.

Although hiring a qualified DUI attorney can be expensive, they can often end up saving their client money in the end if they were able to save them from a fine, an increase in their insurance, or from the loss of their license which could result in the loss of employment. A DUI attorney would be able to make all of the court appearances for their client, thus saving them the hassle and embarrassment of going to court, and they would also be able to schedule, prepare for and attend the DMV hearing to try to save their client’s license.

Why Do Judges Think That Defending Yourself Is Ill-Advised?

Judges know that it is almost always a bad idea for someone to represent themselves. Even judges hire attorneys to represent them when they get into trouble and they would not attempt to represent themselves. Judges know that someone who represents themselves might be missing a lot of issues and they might not be able to fully exercise their rights.

Additionally, judges are usually annoyed by people who attempt to represent themselves in court because they tend to slow down the process and judges have no patience for explaining the laws or the procedures to people who represent themselves. Although people are legally allowed to represent themselves, judges usually frown upon it.

Why Can Public Defenders Not Spend A Lot Of Time On A DUI Case?

Public defenders who have been assigned to the misdemeanor courtrooms where the vast majority of DUIs are prosecuted tend to have extremely high caseloads, and they may have to represent a few dozen people per day, many of which are DUIs and a whole variety of other misdemeanors. They might have several hundred clients on their plate at any given time so it would be extremely hard to get a public defender to spend a lot of time with the person’s particular case because their time is so limited.

The client might get a very short office appointment to meet with them, or they might get a brief period of time to talk with them in court but that would probably be all the time they would get. Public defenders are simply too overwhelmed with the number of cases to be able to spend any amount of quality time with one client, so the client might be left in the dark if they had a lot of questions or were confused.

Should Someone Blow Or Not Blow When They Are Being Charged With A DUI?

California has an implied consent law, meaning that anybody who has a driver’s license has already agreed that in the situation where they were stopped because an officer suspected they were driving under the influence, they would have to submit to a chemical test, which could be a breath test or a blood test.

The DMV will automatically suspend the person’s license for one year for a first offence, two for a second, and three for a third if they did not submit to that test. There would be no opportunity for the person to get a restricted license if their license was suspended due to a refusal, so they would have to be suspended that entire period of time.

The prosecution would not have that particular piece of evidence to hold against the person if they did not give a breath test or a blood test, so they would not be able to say that the person was a 0.08 or a 0.15. The only evidence of impairment would be what the officer observed and the person’s performance on the field sobriety tests, if any. There would be a huge downside for the person if they lost their license, but there also might be occasions when it could be an advantage for the person if the DA did not have that evidence.

What If Someone Failed The Roadside Sobriety Tests?

People generally fail roadside sobriety tests because the tests are designed to be extremely difficult to pass. After the officer determines you’ve failed these very challenging tests, they are able to place the person under arrest for driving under the influence. They might ask the person to submit to a preliminary breath test. The person does not have to submit to this test because it would be one more tool they would use to be able to say that the person “failed” the field sobriety test, before placing them under arrest. They would be given the option of taking a breath or blood test after they had been placed under arrest.

When Do Police ask you to recite the Alphabet backwards?

You are able to politely decline if the police ask you to say the alphabet backwards. Anyone would definitely fail this test in any condition because none of us have learned the alphabet backwards, and very few people can say the alphabet without singing it. Almost everyone would have problems. There is no requirement for anyone to submit to any of the pre-arrest tests, so if an officer asked someone to recite that alphabet, then my advice would be to politely decline.

How Can You Fight A DUI If You Said You Only Had Two Beers?

First of all, the officer would not believe the person, and this would probably be a case where it was recorded where even the person admitted that they had alcohol. Most people who truly only had two beers would probably not be above a 0.08 over the course of some time and if they had food in their system.

People often forget about other drinks they might have had or they might not have realized that the beer they had was much larger than a standard size or it was much higher in alcohol than a standard beer, because those factors can significantly increase a person’s blood alcohol level. The person’s blood alcohol level could be higher than expected if they weighed less, and it could be higher than expected if it was a female. The blood alcohol level would also be higher than expected if the person had been drinking on an empty stomach.

Someone who really only had two beers would probably not be above a 0.08 anyway.

How Common Is It For People To Tell The Police They Only Had Two Beers If They Get Pulled Over?

All officers have heard this argument. People who get stopped for any traffic violation who then realize they had been drinking instinctively know that the officer would be able to smell the alcohol on their breath, so they try to not completely deny drinking but then they also do not want to admit how much they had drank, so almost everyone ends up saying that they only had two beers. Officers have heard this hundreds of times so they tend to not believe someone who says this, and they will put the person though the tests anyway.

How Can Someone Hear “Not Guilty” Or “Case Dismissed” On Their DUI Case?

This is more of a subtlety thing because a person would not just hear that and it would not be really common although it might be possible if someone hired a good attorney and did as their attorney instructed them to do. It can be very challenging to hear “not guilty” or to get the case dismissed for a DUI case. The evidence and the odds would often be stacked against the person, although a skilled attorney would be able to achieve those results in the right situations.

A qualified attorney would be able to find out if the officer did not conduct the investigation properly, so he could attack the results of the field sobriety tests as being not valid. An attorney could say that the results of the chemical tests were not valid if they knew what to look for. Ultimately, if the attorney could establish that their client was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the incident, then they could be found not guilty at trial or they could end up having their case dismissed by the DA.

What Are The Top Mistakes That Will Jeopardize A DUI Case?

Saying too much to an officer could jeopardize a DUI case, because the person would oftentimes be locked into whatever they had told the officer on the scene. They should say as little as possible during the arrest to preserve possible defenses in the future once the case came to court. They would not be required to submit to any field sobriety tests during an investigation for DUI, although they would be required to submit to a breath test or a blood test unless they wanted their license suspended for at least one year.

Many people think they would either pass the field sobriety tests or they think they are required to do the field sobriety tests, so they believe there would be one less piece of evidence that the prosecutor could use against them once the case went to court, if they did not do the field sobriety tests. A chemical test should not be refused unless the person was prepared to lose their license for at least one year.

What Makes A DUI Case Different From A Standard Criminal Case Or A Traffic Case?

A DUI case would be a combination of the administrative side dealing with the DMV and trying to keep the person’s license along with the scientific aspect of the breath test or the blood test and how that alcohol was metabolized in the person’s body and how it showed up on the test, as well as the aspects of any other criminal defense case where the person would be looking at how the evidence was collected, how the investigation was done and then attacking any holes in the prosecution’s case.

What Are Some Things That People Do Not Know That Might Help Their DUI Case?

Many people do not know that more and more arresting agencies now record the stops, the field sobriety tests and the questions. Someone who felt they performed well on the field sobriety tests and acted appropriately during the arrest would often be able to show that to their attorney, because they would be able to order the audio and video recording of the arrest.

The person should also make sure the officer did not make up anything to put in the police report because anything that was said would have been recorded. Many officers are actually not trained to properly conduct the field sobriety tests so if the field sobriety tests were not conducted the way they were designed to be tested, then those tests should not be validated and they should not be used against the person, which is what would be attacked.

Similarly, the results of the chemical tests can also be attacked. The person’s breath test or blood test results would show what they blew or what their blood alcohol level was at that time, although it would not necessarily mean that that was what their blood alcohol level was when they were driving, which is what the critical issue would be, not 30 minutes or 60 minutes after the fact. Just because someone blew over a 0.08 would not mean they were driving while their blood alcohol level was above a 0.08, which is a fact that can be attacked and it could save the person’s case.

What Are Three Of The Biggest Myths In DUI Cases?

A lot of people think that they will automatically be found guilty if they blow above a 0.08, and the case would be over because the law is the law, however, their blood test result at the time of the test might be considerably different than what their blood alcohol level was at the time they were driving. This information would be critical in finding ways to attack the results of the breath or blood test and to show that the person’s blood alcohol level was actually below a 0.08 while they were driving and as a result the person could be found not guilty.

The second myth is that the person’s license would be suspended automatically. The DMV will issue a notice if they are going to suspend the person’s license because there is a process through which the license suspension could be challenged, as long as the hearing was requested within 10 days of the arrest.

An attorney could schedule and attend that hearing and fight the administrative suspension to try to save their client’s license, and even if the DMV did ultimately suspend the person’s license, an attorney would be able to help guide the person through the steps to get a restricted license to allow them to drive to and from work sooner than they expected. Just because someone got a DUI would not mean that their license would be gone for as long as they thought it would be.

The third common myth about getting a first-time DUI is that it would not be a big deal, which could not be further from the case.

Someone who just went in and pleaded guilty to a DUI would not just have to pay a huge fine. They will end up with two points on their DMV record, their insurance rates would be substantially increased for up to 10 years, they would have to pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to attend a DUI school, their license would be suspended for up to nine months, they would have to either go to jail or perform a substantial amount of community service, and they could have limited job opportunities in the future because of the DUI conviction.

Are The Penalties The Same For DUIs And Prescription Medication?

Yes, the penalties would be the same. Just because someone was prescribed a drug and had a valid prescription would not mean it was okay to drive while they were taking it. The person would be penalized in the exact same way as somebody who had too much to drink if the prescription medication impaired their ability to drive a car. The person would be facing the same fines, the same DUI schools, the same license suspensions and the same vast increases in their insurance, simply for driving on their prescription medication if that medication impaired them.

Law Office of Amy Chapman

Santa Rosa Criminal Defense Lawyer

703 2nd Street

Suite 407

Santa Rosa, CA 95404

Phone: (707) 636-3207

Monday - Friday, 8am - 5pm

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