Trial Lawyer DUI Specialist
I was arrested for DUI. What should I do now?
Request a DMV hearing within ten days. This is something you can do on your own, or you can retain a lawyer to do it for you. If you want to do it on your own, you can call (619) 220-5300, which is the number to the San Diego Driver Safety office. If you request the hearing on your own, you will probably want to request i) a stay of the suspension pending the outcome of the hearing – meaning that you will be able to drive until the date of the hearing, even if is set after your temporary license expires, and ii) the discovery – meaning the arrest report, the results of any breath or blood test, and any other materials that the DMV will seek to introduce into evidence at your hearing.
In preparation for your meetings with prospective attorneys, you want to gather the essential paperwork. Specifically, you want to bring the pink, temporary license issued to you by the arresting officer. You also want to bring the sheet of paper that tells you the date, time and location of your arraignment, and you want to bring the print out showing the results of any breath test that you took.
Do I have to notify my insurance company of my DUI arrest?
Generally, the answer to this question is “no.” If you notify your insurance company of your arrest, there is a strong chance that they will raise your rates or drop you altogether. Of course you want to avoid that. Insurance companies have to pay every time they pull a customer’s driving record, so they generally don’t pull the record until a driver is up for renewal. You will likely be able to keep your same insurance without a rate increase until you are up for renewal again, at which point your insurance company will pull your driving record and, if you lose your DUI case, will raise your rates. To be clear, you cannot lie about a DUI arrest or conviction in response to a question on an application to renew your insurance coverage.
Can I keep driving?
Yes. Assuming you had a valid license at the time you were arrested, you can continue to drive for a minimum of 30 days after your arrest. if the officer issued you a pink, temporary license/ notice of suspension you need to request a DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. If you don’t request the hearing within 10 days, you will automatically lose your driving privileges after 30 days. If you request a hearing, and you request a stay of the suspension pending the outcome of the hearing, then you will be able to drive at least until the hearing date, which is typically no less then 6 weeks after your arrest. So requesting a hearing lengthens the time you can continue to drive, even if you are not ultimately successful at the hearing.
If the officer did not issue you a pink sheet, you will probably get one in the mail, and the pink sheet will give you a deadline to request a DMV hearing – usually 14 days from the mailing date of the order. It is uncommon to be arrested without receiving a pink sheet. That generally only happens in unusual circumstances, like if you were involved in a collision and taken to a hospital before the officer got a chance to issue you the pink sheet.
Will my case be dismissed because the officer did not read me my rights?
Unfortunately, it is rare that an officer’s failure to read you your Miranda rights will result in a dismissal.There are two reasons for this: 1) If a defendant makes incriminating statements after he has been arrested and before an officer reads the defendant his Miranda rights, then the defendant can have the statements kept out of evidence. But in the case of DUI stops, the courts have held that the initial questioning of a driver is part of the investigation, not subsequent to an arrest. Because this questioning is “pre-arrest,” the incriminating answers cannot be excluded. 2) Even if the incriminating statements could be excluded, in most cases in wouldn’t really matter. A DUI is not like a murder case, where incriminating statements are the key to the prosecution’s case. DUI prosecutors do not rely on confessions to get a conviction. Instead, they rely on the police officer’s observations of of a defendant’s driving, the defendant’s performance on the field sobriety tests, and the results of the breath or blood test.
How long does the court case take, and what actually happens in court?
The steps in your case are the arraignment, readiness conference is, motion hearings and trial. At your arraignment, which is your first court appearance, the prosecution formally notifies you of the charges against you by giving you a document called a complaint, and you usually enter a plea of not guilty to the charges. The next hearing on your case is usually a readiness conference. There, you set future dates for another readiness conference or trial, unless you enter a plea of guilty. Either before your first readiness conference, or between readiness conferences, your attorney may decide to file motions. A motion is a request for the court to take some action. The most common motion to file in a DUI case is a motion to suppress, at which your attorney will argue to a judge that evidence against you should be excluded from trial, usually because of an illegal arrest. The next step is trial. Under the California in United States constitutions, you have a right to a trial with a judge and a jury of 12 people to decide your case. In order to convict a defendant for DUI the prosecution has to show that the defendant drove a motor vehicle while so impaired by drugs or alcohol that he/she could not exercise caution characteristic of a sober person, or they have to show that the defendant drove a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of greater than .08%.
What happens at the DMV hearing?
At a DMV hearing, a DMV officer plays the role of judge, jury, and prosecutor. The DMV officer determines 1) whether you were driving, 2) whether your arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you and 3) probable cause to arrest you, and 4) whether your blood-alcohol level was .08% or more. If your attorney can argue successfully that one of these four elements is missing, then you win the hearing. If you hire an attorney, your attorney can appear for you, and you can avoid the inconvenience and embarrassment of going the DMV hearing or appearing in court in front of the judge during your criminal case.
Are you looking for a San Diego DUI attorney? If you are reading this, you or someone you care about has been cited for driving under the influence in San Diego County. It is a common misconception that there is not much an attorney can do for you if you are charged with DUI. The truth is that you may have a strong case and not even know it. You will not know the strength of your case unless you contact a San Diego DUI attorney. The Law Offices of Ian Pancer will give you a free case evaluation to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your case and a possible strategy for a winning defense.
You should call a DUI attorney in San Diego right away because if you do not request a DMV hearing within 10 days of the incident then the DMV will suspend your license. The Law Offices of Ian Pancer can schedule your DMV DUI hearing for you and fight to keep your license, as well as fight for you in your criminal case.
One way to fight a DUI criminal case is to use the ‘rising’ defense – the argument that a defendant’s blood alcohol level was below .08% at the time of driving, but had risen to .08% by the time the defendant got to the police station and took the test. Another way to fight the criminal case is to argue that evidence should be kept out of trial because it was gathered after an unlawful arrest. A motion to keep out evidence may cause the prosecution to dismiss a defendant’s case, or at least offer a good plea bargain.
If you don’t discuss the facts of your DUI case with a qualified San Diego DUI lawyer, you will not know whether you have a shot at winning your case or negotiating a good deal. With the possibility of paying thousands of dollars in fines, taking months of classes, losing your driving privileges and spending time in custody, you owe it to yourself to have an attorney review your case. To schedule a free consultation with aSan Diego DUI attorney call 619.955.6653 right away.
If you are not sure whether to hire a San Diego DUI defense attorney, keep in mind that a Public Defender will not represent you at your DMV hearing. Losing the DMV hearing results in a license suspension, and a license suspension is the primary concern of most people who are faced with a DUI charge. So, for most people, the DMV hearing may be nearly as important as the court case. If your license is your greatest concern, then it is imperative that hire a private attorney so that you can have an experienced San Diego drunk driving attorney on your side, fighting to save your license.
It is extremely difficult to be successful at the DMV hearing without the assistance of a DUI defense attorney because the DMV hearing requires knowledge of technical rules of evidence, rather than simply the use of persuasive factual arguments. Also, at the DMV hearing the DMV officer only has to prove its case by a preponderance of the evidence, or 51% probability. The DMV officer is the person who decides whether the case has been proven, and is also the party responsible for proving the case. This is the quintessential case of “judge, jury and executioner.” The DMV officers are evaluated on their success rate at proving their cases, and they are the ones who decide whether they have proved their case. The system is really rigged, and you need an experienced advocate on your side to stand a chance against it.
It is never too early to begin working on your strategy for a successful defense. Try to remember what alcoholic beverages, if any, you had to drink, and at what time, on the night of your San Diego DUI arrest. Write it down. Many people forget their exact drinking pattern, as their memories fade over time. But taking your case to trial may depend on your ability to recall and testify confidently to a pattern of drinking that puts your blood alcohol level below .08% at the time of driving. At trial, the defendant may testify about his drinking pattern, and then the San Diego DUI lawyers may call an expert witness to testify that the drinking pattern puts the defendant below .08%. Maybe your drinking puts you below a .08%. Maybe it doesn’t. But it is important to record your drinking pattern because if you do not remember what you had to drink then you cannot testify about it and there will be no drinking pattern upon which the expert can base his opinion.
There are also things you can begin to do now that may help you earn leniency from the prosecution or the court. For example, you can attend AA meetings. Attending AA meetings, regardless of whether you actually have a problem with alcohol, is a way to show the prosecution or court that you are taking the San Diego DUI arrest seriously and are committed to changing your pattern of behavior. You should have the group leader sign off on a sheet showing the date, time and place of the meeting, and the name of the leader. San Diego drunk driving attorney Ian Pancer can provide you with a form you may use to document your attendance at AA meetings. I am just a phone call away at 619 955 6644.
You can also collect character letters to earn the sympathy of the prosecutor or judge in your San Diego DUI case. A character letter should (but does not need to) be from someone in a respectable position in society and it should be written on the person’s letterhead. A lawyer/doctor/accountant/real estate agent/business owner, etc. It should be someone who knows you well enough to write the letter but is not a family member, as a family member would have a bias in your favor.
The letter should be addressed to Honorable Judge. It should say 1) who the writer is – i.e, their occupation 2) how they know you, 3) how long they have known you, 4) their opinion of your character. For example, the letter might say that, in spite of your San Diego DUI arrest you are a person of integrity/ honesty/ hard working/ devoted to work/ school/ family, generous/ compassionate/ considerate/ thoughtful, etc. These are just examples that the writer might touch on if they know you to have these qualities. Not every letter must discuss all or even any of these specific qualities. The letters should just say why the writer believes you to be a person of good moral character. The letters should not ask the judge to be lenient. They should just describe your character.
The biggest pitfall in collecting character letters is having them all turn out looking the same. It is ideal if a letter can give some personal anectode, like a story about a specific event, or series of events, that exemplifies the reasons why the writer thinks you are a special person. Maybe you have a nephew that has looked up to you for a long time, and who you have supported in times of trouble. Maybe you are active in a charity. These are things that the writers of a character letter can touch on. San Diego DUI lawyer Ian Pancer can provide you with more specific advice on what should go into character letters, and can talk to people who may write them for you.