Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney
If you are facing a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), you are not alone, According to the California Department Motor Vehicles, there are over 20,000 DUI arrests annually in Los Angeles County alone.
The consequences of being convicted of DUI have increased dramatically over the years. No longer is the penalty a slap on the wrist. A DUI conviction can have disastrous effects on your life, including loss of license, significant fines, insurance surcharges, and the possibility of jail time. In the event of injuries, multiple DUI’s or other factors, the potential penalties can increase significantly.
Successful defense of a DUI charge requires the assistance of an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer. This means you need an attorney who knows how to utilize expert testimony in your case, how to raise all applicable defenses, and how to negotiate and communicate effectively with the prosecutor. If you have been charged with DUI, contact Los Angeles DUI attorney Chris Bou Saeed at CBS Law today.
“With the state’s evidence being extremely strong, Chris was still able to get all charges dismissed!” – Mario T.
What is Driving Under the Influence?
Driving under the influence, or DUI, is defined in VC 23152. That section of the California Vehicle Code, and the ones that follow it, provide numerous offenses that fall under the DUI heading. They include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or greater.
- Driving while addicted to the use of a drug, with certain exceptions.
- Driving a commercial vehicle, or a vehicle for hire carrying a passenger, with a BAC of 0.04 or greater.
- Driving under the influence of any drug.
- Driving while under the influence of a combination of drug(s) and alcohol.
What the statute means, in part, is that you can potentially be charged and convicted of DUI without a BAC of 0.08 or higher (0.04 in the case of commercial drivers, and 0.01 in the case of drivers under 21 years of age). Another important factor to remember is that the law does not exempt validly prescribed drugs. As a result, you can be taking a prescription drug as directed, and still be convicted of DUI.
“Right away, Chris had a plan to prove I was innocent. He not only said it, he did it!” – Jennifer P.
Classification and Penalties for DUI
The classification and potential penalty in your DUI case will depend upon several factors, including your driving history. Here are some of the variations:
- Misdemeanor DUI. If you are convicted of your first DUI (or have not been convicted of DUI within the previous 10 years), and there are no other factors that increase the potential penalty, it is often referred to as a “simple” or “misdemeanor” DUI. In this case you can expect, if you are convicted, to lose your license for at least 4 months, and to pay fines of perhaps $2,000. Other potential consequences include, in some cases, mandatory “DUI school,” and even jail time.
- Multiple DUI’s. In California, if you have one or more prior DUI convictions within the prior 10 years (the “lookback period”), it increases the penalties if you are once again convicted. The fines will be higher, you can expect mandatory DUI school for as much as 18 months, a license suspension of at least one year (depending upon the number of prior DUI’s), and at least 96 hours in jail. Jail time will increase with the number of prior DUI’s within the lookback period.
- Wet Reckless. VC 23103.5 provides a method for a plea bargain in DUI cases. It says that the parties may agree that you plead guilty to reckless driving, known as “wet reckless.” The is usually available only where there are no injuries, you have no prior DUI convictions, your BAC was not very high, and in some cases, there are proof issues that make a DUI conviction less likely at trial. Note, however, that a wet reckless conviction will be considered a prior conviction if you are charged with DUI in the future.
- DUI Drugs. When you are accused of driving under the influence of drugs, there is no specific calculation that constitutes a measure of the amount of drugs in your system that substantiates impairment. As a result, the proofs in a DUI drug case consist primarily of observations by the police. This may include field sobriety tests and other observations by the officer. If you are convicted of DUI drugs, the same penalties generally apply as with DUI alcohol.
- Felony DUI. There are a number of factors that can lead to a charge of felony DUI. They include 3 or more prior DUI/wet reckless convictions within 10 years; a prior felony DUI conviction; and DUI causing injury or death. Along with the change in classification, the potential penalties also increase if you are convicted.
- Minor Passenger. DUI while a passenger under the age of 14 is in your vehicle can lead to enhanced penalties, including increased jail time.
After a DUI arrest, depending upon the results of a chemical test (or a refusal to take the test), your license can be suspended by the DMV. You have 10 days after receipt of the notice of administrative suspension of your license to request a hearing. If the hearing results in a finding that there was no basis for the suspension, your driving privileges will be restored; however, the criminal case will generally move forward.
What is a Field Sobriety Test?
When you see on TV an officer on the side of the road asking a driver to walk a straight line, or take other action, this is part of what are known as Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s). Note that there are only three Standard Field Sobriety Tests, and police officers may attempt to improvise and design their own tests for DUI suspects. But remember that the results of FST’s are always based upon the subjective view of the officer administering them. Most officers are not certified as experts in these matters, and the results can be challenged in court.
DUI Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
The law in DUI cases can be confusing and complex. The evidence, including expert testimony, can be difficult to understand. At CBS Law, we are experienced defending DUI cases. We know how to challenge blood test results, officer observations, FST results, expert testimony, and DUI drug charges. We also understand which defenses will be effective in your case.
If you are facing a DUI charge, contact Chris Bou Saeed for a free consultation at (213) 800-8005.
“When you’re accused of something you didn’t do, the thought of losing everything can be overwhelming. My job isn’t to walk you through the process, my job is to get your life back.”
Christopher J. Bou Saeed Founding Attorney of CBS Law
Common questions about DUI cases
The Police Officer Took My Driver's License, How Do I Get It Back?
When a police officer takes your driver’s license during a DUI arrest, you can request a DMV hearing to get your license back. But you must schedule the hearing within 10 days of your arrest or else your driving privilege will be suspended thirty days from your arrest. While the hearing will be conducted at a DMV office and conducted by a DMV hearing officer, it is best to have a criminal defense lawyer represent you for a few reasons.
First, your attorney can use the DMV hearing to shape your criminal case by subpoenaing the arresting officer and reviewing documents directly relevant to your criminal case. Second, because the DMV officer acts as prosecutor and judge, a criminal defense attorney is best suited to present the evidence and argue the merits of your case. Third, the issues that are decided at the DMV hearing are the same issues that a judge or jury will decide in your criminal case. Last, a criminal defense attorney has experience conducting these kinds of hearings so they can be as effective as possible.
If your attorney prevails at the DMV hearing, then you will have your license returned to you. However, if the DMV hearing officer rules against you, then the DMV will keep your license for 30 days. Following that 30 day period, you can get a temporary restricted license by enrolling in a court-ordered alcohol program, paying a $125 DMV fee, and showing proof of auto insurance.
The Officer Had No Reason To Pull Me Over, What Should I Do?
You should immediately hire an attorney to review your case because the case might very well get thrown out. A common problem in DUI cases is that the officer who pulled someone over didn’t have enough evidence to do so. In legal terms, we call that a lack of reasonable suspicion. When officers lack reasonable suspicion to pull someone over, then any evidence they collect from the stop must be excluded from the case. Once that happens, the prosecution no longer has any evidence against you and the case must be dismissed.
The scenario described above is known as a “search and seizure” issue which is based on the 4th and 14th Amendments to the US Constitution. In California, attorneys can file a motion under Penal Code section 1538.5 to challenge the constitutionality of a police officer’s action in regard to a client. Regardless of the strength of the evidence against someone, if a police officer collected that evidence after performing an unconstitutional act, then the evidence must be excluded from the case. This is an example of why it is so important to have an experienced attorney review your case and represent you in any criminal proceeding.
Can The Police Determine If I've Used Marijuana Before Driving?
Yes, the police commonly utilize three methods to determine whether someone is driving under the influence of marijuana. The first and most simple method is to look for evidence of marijuana use. For example, officers may see a joint or blunt in plain view inside the car or smell marijuana smoke coming from the car.
Second, a Drug Recognition Expert (“DRE”) will evaluate the driver. A DRE is an officer whose received additional training on how to detect whether someone is under the influence of drugs. This training does not grant them super powers but rather teaches them to look for common indications of marijuana use like blood shot eyes, droopy eye lids, or slowed speech.
Third, officers may seek to have the person driving undergo a blood test. Depending on the results of the blood test, the prosecution will then use the test to prove someone was high at the time of driving. Blood tests for marijuana look for byproducts of marijuana use called metabolites. Using blood test results, however, can be tricky because the two kinds of metabolites that may be present, active and inactive, don’t necessarily mean that someone was impaired at the time of driving. For example, regular users of marijuana can have metabolites in their blood even when not impaired. Also, different users have different levels of tolerance so while one level of metabolites can mean impairment for one particular person, it doesn’t necessarily mean impairment for another.
All that said, the prosecution will seek to use any means at its disposal to prove its case. For example, if there was a car accident or the suspect gave incriminating statements, the prosecution will use that evidence at trial. The prosecution will also attempt to persuade the jury by pointing out that while the law does not forbid using marijuana, it does forbid using marijuana and driving. If you’ve been arrested for DUI involving marijuana, the best thing you can do is to hire an attorney to review your case and use expert witnesses to evaluate the evidence against you.