Can You Beat a DUI in the Southern California?
The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald often receive calls from prospective clients asking whether it makes sense to defend a drunk driving case also known as a DUI.
Those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs realize that the evidence is stacked against them. Most likely, they submitted to and failed a field sobriety test. On top of that, they completed either a breath or blood test and were told that their BAC (blood alcohol content) was over the legal limit of .08%.
Consequently, people are often resigned to giving up without a fight. Sometimes, they incorrectly believe that a DUI has a fixed penalty like a speeding ticket which falls off of a record after a number of years. Other times, they understand that the repercussions are serious, but reluctantly accept their license suspension, fines, increased insurance rates and criminal charges without contest.
The simple answer is that while not all DUIs are beatable, many are.
DUIs are always worth fighting because criminal convictions are serious: they remain on one’s record for life and can affect one’s life in areas such as job applications, professional licensing and insurance rates. The reality is those who don’t contest DUI charges receive the standard outcome, while those who do stand the chance of outright dismissal or receiving a less serious offense.
There are many defenses that come into play when our attorneys defend a DUI case in the Southern California area. We work closely with our clients to examine the evidence and police report before deciding which approach is most appropriate. Keep in mind that DUI law is a specialized area of criminal defense and some defense attorneys have developed tried and true techniques used to defend these cases.
DUI Defenses Involving Police Errors
Many defenses are based on errors made by the police during the arrest and the subsequent activities of the police crime lab following the arrest. The police are charged with clearly documenting everything they do during a DUI arrest. Likewise, the crime labs must follow a rigid procedure when handling and testing the blood samples. DUI defense attorneys review these records and make challenges.
- One example of police error is where the Police Department does not properly document the time of arrest. Because the time cannot be proved, there is no way for the prosecution to show that the blood alcohol reading is relevant to the arrest.
- Another example is where the police do not have justification to pull over the driver in the first place.
- A further example is where the police, in allowing the suspect to leave the scene and go to the bathroom in the midst of the arrest, did not maintain the required fifteen minute continuous watch over the suspect.
DUI Defenses Involving Police Lab Errors – Mishandling of Blood Evidence
Sometimes a DUI defense involves lab errors in the testing of blood samples. Clients may be surprised to learn that mistakes are made in blood testing and DUI cases are dropped when these mistakes are exposed to the court.
If our client was driving well and tested not far above the legal limit, we may order a blood split from the court and submit the sample to our independent lab for re-testing. Likewise, if our client submitted to a breathalyzer test, we may order the calibration records to show whether the equipment was properly serviced as required by the law.
DMV Hearing to Preserve Driver’s License
When we are first contacted, many of our clients are surprised to hear that they are entitled to a DMV hearing in addition to their day in court. The Law Offices of Nicola Fitzgerald always include the DMV hearing as part of the defense. Our goal in the DMV Administrative Per Se hearing is to preserve our client’s driving privilege and we consider our job to be well done when our client can both keep his license and have his case dismissed.
While we don’t condone drunk driving, we understand our job as defense attorneys is to assert our clients’ rights in court and during the DMV hearing. We strongly believe that those accused of crimes should keep the system honest by challenging accusations and preventing police misconduct. As DUI attorneys, we take our job seriously and are proud that our clients often have their charges dropped or reduced to lesser offenses that don’t carry the consequences of a DUI conviction.
- Alcohol and/or Drug DUI
- Juvenile DUI
- Aggravated DUI
- Driving on a Suspended License