Some standard questions about DUI cases…

Why did they arrest me for DUI?

Often, people are arrested for DUI and are absolutely perplexed why.  They don’t know why they were pulled over, don’t know what their blood alcohol results were, think they did well in the field sobriety tests, were never read their Miranda rights and yet there they are – arrested and charged with DUI.

First – the stop.

In order to validly stop you at all, not just for a DUI case, the police must have “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity.  They must be able to prove that there was some sort of violation that allowed them to turn on the red light and pull you over in the first place.  If the reason for the stop is not valid, then any evidence obtained after the stop (any smell of alcohol, any statements by you about drinking, field sobriety tests and ultimately the blood alcohol results) can potentially be suppressed by filing a motion in court.  It is not our job to prove the stop was invalid – the prosecution must prove that it was valid.

Next – the investigation.

Do they have to read you your Miranda rights during a traffic stop and DUI investigation?  Unfortunately, not usually.  Because you are just “detained”, they are not required to read you your rights before asking questions that can hurt you – “Have you been drinking?”  “Do you feel the effects of the alcohol?” etc.

But that’s not an absolute rule.  If they police do certain things, they may turn your detention into what is the equivalent of an arrest, making Miranda warnings necessary.  Without those warnings, any statement could be suppressed.

What about the field sobriety tests?  Those are subjective and are always fair game to be challenged in court – either through a motion or at trial.

Was the chemical test done properly?  If it was the PAS (preliminary alcohol screening) device – a.k.a. the roadside breathalyzer – those results may not necessarily be admissible against you.  The “official” chemical test is the one to really examine.  Were the machines used working correctly?  Were the recently calibrated?  Were there any deviances from the standardized results that gave a false reading in your case?  If you did a breath test, did the officers follow the requirements in order to validly collect a breath sample?  Did they advise you about your right to have a separate blood test so that you could test it through an independent laboratory?

Can this be reduced or dismissed?

This is definitely not going to be a do-it-yourself project.  You’re going to need a local criminal defense attorney that routinely practices in the court where your case will be heard.

First – do not miss the 10 day window to request a hearing with the DMV or they will automatically suspend your license for 4 months no matter what happens in court.  When you were arrested, the police likely took your driver’s license and issued a temporary license (the pink 8 1/2 x 11 paper).  That is the only notice of the 10 day period you have to request a hearing with the DMV.  The DMV and court are separate and you must fight both.
Regarding your court case and getting it reduced or dismissed – without seeing the reports or knowing your blood alcohol level, it’s  impossible to answer.  There are two DUI charges – 23152(a) and 23152(b).  The (a) section makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.  There is no magic number for that charge.  You could be a 0.07% (under the “legal limit”), but if you’re intoxicated and cannot operate your car adequately, you could potentially be charged with and potentially convicted of that count.
The (b) count is driving with 0.08% or more in your system.  That doesn’t have anything to do with how well you were driving – it is just about whether you were at or above the limit.  You could be driving perfectly and be pulled over for a broken tail light, but if determined to be at/over 0.08%, you could be charge with and potentially convicted of that section.
Both count the same on your record and both carry the same punishment (in fact, you cannot be punished for both since they arise from the same facts).
If your case is reduced, it could mean keeping your license, avoiding all the harsh DUI penalties, etc.
Will it be?  That depends on the facts of the case (including your blood alcohol level), what defenses you may have (challenges to the validity of the initial stop, the investigation, the accuracy of the alcohol results, etc.) and what other mitigating factors you may have in your favor.
The only way to truly assess your case is to sit down face to face with a local criminal defense attorney.
Again – Don’t miss that 10 day window to contact the DMV.
If you want to discuss your Orange County DUI case further, give me a call or send me an email.  It’s always best to sit down face to face so we can discuss the facts in detail.

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