Getting pulled over, given a field sobriety test, and getting arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be a very traumatizing and intimidating experience. Many people believe that once they are charged with this crime they have no options, must plead guilty, and must accept the criminal penalties that come along with DUI. The penalties for a first time offender typically includes a suspension of license, alcohol classes, community service, probation, possible jail time, fines, penalties, or any combination thereof. Furthermore, if you plead Guilty or Nolo Contendre, your car insurance rates spike and you are even obligated to obtain costly SR-22 insurance. It also must be known that a DUI conviction is often used by employers as grounds for termination.
It is important to know you DO HAVE OPTIONS. It is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced DUI attorney who will analyze the evidence against you, negotiate with the District Attorney, and advocate your constitutionally protected rights. Just because you were pulled over and registered a blood alcohol content reading of .08 or higher does NOT necessarily mean it is closed case against you and that you must plead guilty.
The prosecution of a DUI takes place on two fronts. The California Criminal Courts prosecute you and so does the California DMV. The DMV proceedings usually unfold much faster, and only give you 10 days from the date arrested to contest the charges. If you miss the deadline to contest the charges with the DMV, you forever lose your opportunity. This is why it is important to seek counsel immediately after being arrested and charged with DUI.
It is your experienced attorney who will make sure that each of your constitutionally protected rights were properly acknowledged and respected during the traffic stop and subsequent arrest. An experienced attorney will make sure that the police officers had the necessary probable cause in order to arrest you otherwise all evidence gathered, including the Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) reading, may be suppressed. Your attorney will obtain the records of the machine used to read your BAC and make sure it was properly maintained and calibrated. If you gave a blood sample to determine your BAC, your attorney will obtain a sample and have it analyzed by a private 3rd party lab to verify the results. Many factors go into the calculation of BAC including gender, height, weight, how many drinks you had, how much time passed as you consumed those drinks, how much food you ate in the past 24 hours, how much you slept in the past 24 hours, if you are taking any medication, in addition to many other factors. These all must be carefully considered by an attorney when deciding whether or not to plea guilty.
The first court date given to an offender who is charged with DUI is an arraignment. This is where you first appear at court on your own behalf or through counsel, and enter a plea of guilty, nolo contedere, or not guilty. It is important to have retained an attorney before this hearing, as once you enter a plea you waive certain rights with the court and may not later go back and reassert them. At this stage in the criminal proceedings, your attorney will usually be given the standard discovery packet and can request additional documents or records from the opposition that can help prove your case. Your attorney will either request a continuance of the arraignment to a later date while the discovery is analyzed and the issues within your case are researched, or will enter a plea of not guilty and set a further court date to contest the charges.
Next, there can be several court dates for hearings on motions and other pretrial hearings. It is during this time your attorney fights to suppress the evidence that can be used against you and negotiate with the District Attorney to see if a plea bargain can be reached. A plea bargain can include a lesser sentence of the DUI punishments, a different arrangement or quantity of each type of punishment, possibly agreeing to a lesser charge, as well as many other variations. If the client then wishes to fight the allegations in total, then the case will proceed to trial.
It is at trial where your attorney will select a jury and argue your case. During this time, your attorney will examine any and all witnesses, present evidence that is favorable to your case, and try to explain or distinguish any unfavorable evidence. It is here where your attorney will zealously represent your position in effort to convince a jury of your peers that charges against you hold no ground and should be dismissed.
The attorneys at Higbee & Associates are well versed in DUI law and experienced in successfully representing clients against DUI charges. You will have a legal team supporting you with the resources and experience to successfully navigate through this difficult and overwhelming time. Unfortunately, being uninformed and failing to act gathers no sympathy from the courts. Call the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates today for a free consultation on your DUI charge, and feel the confident relief knowing that you are not alone and you do have options. DUI representation can start as low as $3000 for all pretrial legal work.