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DUI Attorney

I have been arrested for DUI. What do I do now?

Being arrested for DUI can be extremely confusing. It is important to understand that after an arrest you have two completely separate departments of the government to deal with:

  1. The Criminal Court as to all aspects of the criminal case brought against you
  2. The Department of Motor Vehicles as to the suspension of your driver's license

Having represented thousands of people, we understand how you are feeling and what you need to do. In most cases, a person who has been arrested for a DUI has suffered the indignity of being taken to jail, being 'booked' (including photographs and fingerprints), and has had to stay in jail at least four to six hours before being released.

Although this situation may appear hopeless, it is important for you to gain as much knowledge as you can about your present situation and to contact a lawyer who knows DUI law. This will put you in the position of being able to acquire the most successful resolution of both your criminal and DMV cases. Generally, these cases are very technical and involve a wide variety of legal issues, encompassing not only the legal field, but also toxicology, pharmacology, and more. There are many things that can be done by your attorney to minimize, mitigate or outright eliminate a criminal conviction and/or license suspension.

Get started with your defense! Contact Ronald Dinan & Associates for a free consultation.

Now I have a DUI criminal case—what is happening?

Immediately following arrest, there are many processes that happen without your involvement. The police officer who arrested you will complete the arrest/investigation report and submit it to a supervisor for review and approval. Soon thereafter, the report will be taken to the District Attorney's Office.

The D.A. will review the police officer's report to determine:

  1. Whether the charges should be filed as suggested by the police officer;
  2. Whether certain charges should be added or deleted; and
  3. Whether or not certain charges will be filed as misdemeanors or felonies.

Regardless of what is charged, we may be able to negotiate your case from different points of view, including reducing felonies to misdemeanors, dismissal of various charges, etc.

First Appearance in Criminal Court: Arraignment

Shortly after an arrest, you will either be released on your own behalf ("released on your own recognizance") or bail will be set by the arresting officer. Bail at this level is set according to a predetermined schedule. If you are not able to arrange your release initially, you will probably be brought to court within four days of the arrest date. At that particular court date, either arrangements will be made for your release or a new date will probably be set for bail review. A court date eventually has will be set for your arraignment.

The arraignment is generally the first required appearance in criminal court. The date for the arraignment is usually given to you by either jail personnel or a bondsman upon release from jail. One of the most common mistakes made by those who do not have an attorney is their failure to accomplish a number of tasks prior to the arraignment. It is foolhardy to wait for the date of the arraignment to begin working on your case.

At this hearing, the court is informed by your attorney that you are represented by a lawyer. Other decisions are made such as the issuance of time waivers, setting of future court dates, etc. The attorney will get the arrest/investigation report and the criminal complaint which states all of the charges that have been brought against you. The attorney will then begin the process of comparing factual recollections, acquiring further discovery, formulating strategy, ordering retests of alcohol samples, researching, and more.

Can the DMV or the court really take my license?

If this is your first DUI in Court and DMV (at least in the last 10 years), then regardless of what happens in court, the DMV will usually attempt to suspend your license for 4 months as soon as your pink 30-day temporary license expires. We can convert most of this suspension into a restricted non-commercial license so you can drive to, from, and during your employment. The suspension increases to one year if you refused to take a blood or breath test—or if you were under 21 years old at the time of the arrest. If you were a commercial license holder, then you will lose your commercial privileges for one year.

In addition, a criminal court conviction will result in a separate suspension for six months. This separate suspension increases to ten months if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at or above 0.20% or you refused to take a blood or breath test. The court suspension increases to one year if there were injuries. While the DMV and court suspensions run together, both may be avoidable if you retain the services of a trusted Northern California criminal defense attorney.

If you have one or more prior suspensions for a DUI or alcohol-related 'Wet' reckless driving in the last 10 years, then the DMV will attempt to suspend your license for one year with no possibility of a hardship exception. That suspension increases to two years if you have one prior and refused to take a blood or breath test during this latest arrest, or three years if you have two priors and refused the tests. In addition, a court conviction results in a two-year suspension if you have one prior, a three-year revocation if you have two priors, and a four-year revocation if you have three priors. The period of revocation is even greater if there were injuries caused by the DUI driving. If you have a commercial license then your commercial privileges would be revoked for life after your second DUI.

These suspensions can be vigorously analyzed and litigated at a DMV hearing, if you act quickly. Your DUI defense attorney can show you how to cut most court suspensions in half or obtain a work license to maintain employment.

DMV - Beware of the 10 Day Rule!

During your arrest, the police officer is supposed to take your California picture license and hand you a pink 8-1/2" x 11" temporary license from DMV. Assuming you were licensed at the time of arrest, this license is a 30-day temporary license with full driving privileges.

Once you hire an attorney, the very first thing he/she should do is contact DMV to schedule a hearing in order to preserve your opportunity to challenge the DMV suspensions outlined above. The actual contacting of DMV must occur within the first 10 days following your receipt of the temporary license. In some cases, we will be able to get a hearing by contacting DMV even after the 10-day period.

The DMV may not be able to give you an in-person hearing within the 30-day period following your arrest. By acting promptly, we can extend the 30-day license for as long as it is necessary to acquire and litigate a DMV hearing designed to fight the taking of your license. This explanation is not clearly set forth in your temporary license although it is referred to under 'HEARING INFORMATION' on the front of your temporary license.

9 Important Issues to Look for in Your Case

  1. Did the police officer actually see you driving? Did you consume alcohol after driving, but before the officer contacted you? Did the police officer have a good or valid reason to stop your car?
  1. Did the police officer tell you why he/she was stopping you? Do you agree with his/her reasons?
  1. When the police officer attempted to stop you, did you respond immediately? Did you respond in a manner that is consistent with someone who is driving in a sober condition?
  1. Did the police officer tell you or ask you to do field sobriety tests? Did the police officer tell you that there is absolutely no legal requirement whatsoever for you to do field sobriety tests (with the exception of the PAS for those younger than 21)? Did he tell you that you could refuse to take these tests? Did he/she tell you that if you did not perform these tests satisfactorily, he/she could later testify against you in a court or DMV hearing? Did the police officer tell you that if you refused to take any field sobriety tests that he/she may not have enough information to arrest you and may have to let you go on your way? Did he/she fully explain and demonstrate each test?
  1. Did you pass your field sobriety tests, e.g., recite the alphabet, walk the line, stand on one foot, finger count, finger to nose, hand slap, follow the pen with your eyes?
  1. Did the police officer give you your Miranda Rights, e.g., "You have the right to remain silent. You have a right to speak to an attorney before answering any questions." once you were in custody?
  1. Did you take a portable alcohol test (PAS)? Did the police officer tell you that, unless you were under 21 years of age, you are under no legal requirement whatsoever to take it? Were you told that if the PAS test was 0.08% or more it could be used against you in court and at a DMV hearing?
  1. How much time occurred between (1) when you initially were pulled over by the police officer and (2) when you actually took a breath, blood or urine test at a police station/hospital? Did your alcohol level increase from the time of the driving to the time of the test?
  1. If you took a breath test, did the police officer constantly observe you for 15 minutes immediately preceding the actual test (to ensure that there was no burping, coughing etc.)? After taking the breath test, were you told that you also had a right to take a confirming blood test?

Why should I hire a DUI lawyer?

It is crucial to get a skilled DUI lawyer to handle your DUI case even though you may have been legally "drinking and driving." Whenever you are dealing with a charge which is more than an infraction, there are severe consequences. A DUI is a criminal case—not a traffic case. Only an experienced DUI lawyer is equipped to handle the variety of issues involved in the defense of a DUI case. These include proof problems involving establishing the driver's identity, elimination of drinking subsequent to driving, and more.

We can provide a successful and complete defense on your behalf. Most defenses include some or all of the following work by a knowledgeable DUI attorney:

  • Handling all aspects of your case with the D.A., Judges and DMV Hearing Officers;
  • Appearing in court for you to eliminate interference with your job and daily routine;
  • Using computer software to analyze your BAC during the evening in question;
  • Utilizing private forensic laboratories to retest blood samples to uncover errors;
  • Consulting and/or retain leading experts to assist in your case, if necessary;
  • Reducing the status of the charges i.e. felony reduced to misdemeanor;
  • Acquiring a reduction or dismissal of one or more of the charges against you;
  • Negotiating a sentence that serves your best interests and protects your legal rights.

If you've been arrested, you need to speak to a DUI attorney immediately. Call now!

To get immediate information regarding new DUI laws, contact our 24 Hour DUI Helpline for pre-recorded information about likely consequences of conviction, potential license restrictions/suspensions, and more.

Ronald Dinan & Associates, Attorneys & Lawyers, Santa Rosa, CA