Richard Wynn, Esq.
Wynn Law Group
Shoreline Square Building
301 E. Ocean Blvd. Suite 1700
Long Beach, CA 90802
Tel. (562) 590-3700
DUI - DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE
Dealing with a DUI arrest can be difficult. You may be worried about what will happen to you, your license or your job. Will you be able to drive? Will you go to jail? You may feel that you were not drunk, but you don't know how to prove that.
Whatever the case, don't wait another minute. Let the attorneys at Wynn Law Group who care about the outcome of your case take over. It is very important to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible if you want to avoid losing your privilege to drive without a hearing. There are several steps we take to protect your driving privileges and keep you on the road pending the outcome of your case. At Wynn Law Group, we believe in equipping our client with our knowledge of the criminal justice system and this is the key to a winning defense. Below are facts that our clients need to know about DUI.
BASIC CALIFORNIA DUI LAW
It is a crime to drive a car in California if your blood-alcohol concentration, or BAC, is a .08 or higher. It is also illegal to drive a car while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Why is this important? It gives the prosecutor the chance to charge you with DUI even if your BAC isn't high. This split in the law closed a major loophole and prevented the "good drunk driver" defense employed by defense attorneys throughout the state for many years.
Since the Fourth Amendment requires the police to have reasonable suspicion when detaining someone, a DUI Checkpoint is necessarily a violation of that concept. But the United States Supreme Court decided, in Michigan Dept. of State Police vs. Stitz, that the government's interest in protecting citizens outweighed the violation of the driver's rights. The court decided that if law enforcement set up clear and neutral guidelines, checkpoints wouldn't violate the Constitution. Many civil rights groups continue to disagree and many states, though not California, have barred their use.
What does a police agency have to do to set up a DUI checkpoint in California? Well, each department crafts its own guidelines, but there are some basic principles.
Whether they are or not, if you have been charged in Los Angeles County or Orange County with DUI at a checkpoint, Wynn Law Group can evaluate whether the stop was legally conducted, and may be able to ultimately have the charges dropped.
- The roadblocks must be limited in time.
- The police must provide drivers with an opportunity to "escape", that mean the driver can actually avoid the checkpoint if he or she wants to.
- The detention must be brief and limited to determining sobriety.
- The police must publish a notice that a checkpoint is going to be established in a particular area.
- The area must be one that sees a higher than average rate of DUI arrests.
- The process of pulling the driver over must be random and arbitrary.
FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS ARE VOLUNTARY
The law does not require that you perform any type of test. You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. However, the officer is not required to tell you this. But, you should be aware, however, that if you refuse to attempt these tests, the officer most likely is going to arrest you. Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has admitted not everyone can successfully perform these tests even when sober!
The reality is that the officer most likely has already made up his mind to arrest and charge you with drunk driving. The request for field sobriety tests is simply made to get additional evidence against you. Remember, regardless of how well you actually perform the field sobriety tests, it is the officer’s opinion on how well you performed them that will be held against you.
The first question an experienced DUI lawyer will want to answer on all DUI cases is whether there was a lawful stop. Police officers must have probable cause to justify the traffic stop. Basically, was there a valid moving violation or code violation being committed by the driver? Under California law, intra-lane weaving within the lane isn't necessarily sufficient cause for a police officer to stop and detain someone under suspicion of drunk driving.
The officer's subjective (personal) belief that watery and red eyes indicate drinking, is not supported by scientific research. The driver could have been tired, his eyes could have been irritated from nearby smokers on the bar patio. He could have been wearing contact lenses.
Police always note these symptoms. They typically note that the person had an unsteady gait, needed to hold onto the car for balance and couldn't perform Field Sobriety Tests without missing steps or failed to follow instructions. The police officer has gone as far as penalizing a driver for merely repeating the instruction given to him, as if this proves the driver is drunk. Therefore, if you are nervous or not feeling well then don't consent to the field sobriety test.
THE P.A.S. BREATH TEST
The P.A.S. (as known as Preliminary Alcohol Screening) test measures the concentration of alcohol in the breath. These test results are often incorrect. The machine may be in poor working order, not calibrated, or the officer may not know how to use it properly. In some cases the officer didn't continuously observe the driver for 15 minutes and to monitor that the driver didn't burp. There are many issues that may affect it's proper use.
THE BLOOD TEST
Blood tests are far more reliable than other chemical tests. The lab doing the testing takes the vial, adds some chemicals and analyzes the results. If the sample were contaminated, or if the lab only tested blood serum, the results could be in error. This why a DUI Lawyer performs a blood splits. Part of the original sample is sent to an independent lab and is re-analyzed. If there is a different result, you may have a defense. At Wynn Law Group we have several toxicologist that stand ready to re-analyze your blood split. And if they detect a difference, they are available to come to court on your behalf and to testify for a reduction in charges or dismissal depending on the B.A.C. level.
POLICE DIDN'T READ ME MY RIGHTS
In the context of a drunk driving arrest, there are really two sets of rights that should be read by the police; the Miranda rights and the chemical test rights. In legal terms, the Miranda rights only apply to post-custodial statements that the prosecutor wants to use against you. Thus, if you are placed in custody but not advised of your Miranda rights, then Wynn Law Group can make the argument that any statements you made after you were placed in custody (such as how many drinks you had and when your first and last drinks were) cannot be used against you. The failure to read someone their Miranda rights does not often lead to a dismissal of a DUI case, but with the right attorney arguing the right facts, a dismissal might still be possible.
Chemical test rights are quite different. They are statutory in nature, and arise out of California's implied consent law. In California, when you drive an automobile, you have given implied consent to take a chemical test of your breath or blood. Thus, after you are arrested, the police officer must read you your chemical test rights. These rights must be read to you before the officer asks you to take such a chemical test. If you are not properly advised of your chemical rights, then you may be able to keep the police conducted test results out of evidence.
THE DMV HEARING
What most drivers don't understand is that there is a separate, parallel, unrelated action taken by the DMV after your DUI arrest.
The officer will take your license from you the night of your arrest. He will give you a pink piece of paper. That paper says that you have 30 days to drive before your license is suspended for four months. That paper also says that you can request an administrative hearing within 10 days from the date of the arrest. This hearing takes place before a hearing officer who acts as both Judge and Prosecutor.
Even if I have your charges reduced or dismissed, the DMV may take your license. Only an acquittal or finding of factual innocence as to the .08 charge will help you with the DMV. You must make your case and fight the DMV hearing very hard. And if you prevail at the DMV hearing and later plead guilty or are found guilty by a jury, the DMV will suspend your license anyway. Wynn Law Group is an experienced Los Angeles County and Orange County DUI defense attorney that will help you.
There are many ways to successfully challenge the DUI charge. If you don't hire the right lawyer, one who knows what to look for, you may as well plead guilty at the arraignment and save your money for the fines. At Wynn Law Group we will exam every fact to formulate a defense. We have represented all types of DUI charges from First time DUI to Vehicular Manslaughter in surrounding courthouses of Long Beach, Norwalk, Downey, Bellflower, Fullerton, Westminster, Newport Beach, and Santa Ana. In choosing us you will have the confidence that you have the right lawyer to fight your case.
Call Wynn Law Group Now for a free consultation at (562) 590-3700 or you can contact us online.
Richard Wynn is admitted to practice law in all California State Court as well as the Central and Northern Districts of United States District Court.
Wynn Law Group represents clients in Los Angeles County: Alhambra, Bellflower, Lakewood, Downey, El Monte, Beverly Hills, Compton, Culver City, Glendale, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Long Beach, Norwalk, Pasadena, Pomona, South Gate, Hawaiian Park San Pedro, Torrance; Orange County: Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Tustin, Stanton, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Santa Ana, San Clemente, Westminster, Anaheim, Fountain Valley, Orange, Cerritos, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Fullerton, Brea, Placentia, Yorba Linda; and Inland Empire: Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario, Moreno Valley, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Corona, Palm Springs, Upland, Chino, Victorville, Redlands, Temecula, Indio, Colton, Highland, Murrieta, Palm Desert, Perris, Lake Elsinore, Norco, Banning, Beaumont, Woodcrest.
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