DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
District Attorneys take DUIs very serious. Let the Law Office of Kevin L. Ballard help to defend your rights and freedom today!
A DUI is one of the most hated crimes that comes before a jury. In our experience, a jury is more likely to find a person guilty with a blood alcohol level of a .05 than finding a person guilty of a theft, weapons crimes, or domestic violence.
Law enforcement is very proactive when it comes to DUI enforcement. Many agencies have dedicated DUI patrols and frequently have DUI checkpoints. District Attorney offices compete for special grants from the state and federal government to have dedicated DUI prosecutors on staff.
It is critical that if you or anyone you know is arrested for a DUI you speak with a knowledgeable and experienced DUI attorney right away.
Below you will find information on the basics of a DUI case. For more information regarding DUI topics, please visit our dedicated pages
Most DUI arrest begin with a minor traffic violation. An officer may observe a vehicle speeding, failing to maintain a lane, or with a taillight out. The officer will then conduct a traffic stop and contact the driver. While speaking to the driver the officer will notice what are called objective signs of intoxication. These are clues the officer is trained to observe that may indicate a person is under the influence, such as red and watery eyes, slurred speech, and the smell of alcohol.
Afterwards, the officer will ask the driver to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These are tests that are designed to measure motor skills, balance and the ability to follow simple instructions. During each test, an officer is looking for specified set of "clues" that may indicate impairment. The officer may also ask the driver to blow into a preliminary alcohol screening device, often thought of as a roadside breathalyzer.
If the officer believes the driver is under the influence, they will then place the driver under arrest. The officer will then inform the driver that they need to submit to a chemical test, either a blood test or breath test. A person who refuses to submit to a chemical test may still be charged with a DUI and will likely be charged a refusal allegation, which adds mandatory custody time. There are also consequences related to your license for refusing to take a chemical test.
If the driver elects to take a blood test, they will be transported to either the station or hospital where a licensed phlebotomist will draw a couple vials of blood. If the driver elects a breath test, they will be transported to the station or county jail and be required to blow into a machine. These machines will produce a print out of breath results instantly while blood results may be delayed weeks or months. If you are arrested for a Drug DUI, you will be required to submit to a blood test.
If you've been arrested for DUI, you'll likely be released within a few hours after being booked. Upon release you will be given a citation to appear in court and a temporary license.
It's important to contact us right away after your release to set up your DMV hearing.
YOU MUST SCHEDULE A DMV HEARING WITHIN 10 DAYS OF YOUR ARREST
If you do not schedule a DMV hearing within 10 days, your license will automatically be suspended 30 days after your arrest. On a first DUI, this suspension can last up to one year, regardless of whether or not you are prosecuted. The ability to drive with a valid license has a great impact on our daily lives, from going to and from work, school, caring for family and children, to basic functions such as going to the grocery store. It's important to have a competent attorney handle this hearing and fight to keep your driving privileges.
At the hearing, your case will be heard by a DMV hearing officer, who will act both as the judge and prosecutor. The hearing must establish three things in order for your license to be suspended.
1. The police had probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence or with a .08% or higher, in violation of the DUI laws.
2. You were lawfully arrested, and
3. You driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or higher.
If you refused a breath or blood test, the issue then becomes whether the officer told you that if you refused your license would be suspended and whether or not you actually refused to submit to the chemical test.
A DMV hearing also gives you a chance to test the prosecutions evidence early on in the criminal proceeding. We can subpoena the blood or breathalyzer results, the maintenance logs for the machines used for the chemical test, and cross-examine the officer regarding their observations, training, and identify any flaws in the investigation.
After the hearing, the DMV hearing officer will issue a written finding, usually within 30 days. If DMV finds in your favor, you will keep your license. If DMV finds against you, your license will be suspended within a few days.
If your license becomes suspended you will likely be able to obtain a restricted license. This will allow you to drive to and from work, school, and any programs assigned by the court.
Winning a DMV hearing can be a great tool to persuade the district attorney to reduce or dismiss a case.
District Attorney Review and Filing of Charges
After the arrest, the police will write a report and forward it to the county district attorney. There, dedicated prosecutors who are seasoned veterans assigned to a special unit will review the police report, lab report (if blood test), and any body camera or police video footage to determine whether the case can be filed. The ethical standard for filing of a case requires the district attorney that they believe the person alleged is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Once the district attorney files the charges, in most cases a Complaint will be issued. This is a document setting out the charges, allegations, and any enhancements the district attorney believes can be proven. At your first court appearance, known as arraignment, the Complaint will be read and you will enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. Even if you believe that you are guilty of the crime, you should still talk to and have an experienced DUI attorney handle the matter to guide you through the court system and negotiate a reduced charge on your behalf.
The most common DUI charges are for a violation of California Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) and 23152(b). These are two separate crimes and allow the the district attorney to pursue the case under two different theories.
How to Defend a DUI
Defending a DUI can be done. A skilled and experienced attorney in DUI law can attack the case from every angle. For instance, if the officer did not have reasonable or probable cause to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle stop and everything after may be thrown out by filing a motion to suppress.
The field sobriety tests can be challenged based upon the type of test performed and the clues associated with each specific test. The field sobriety test used by many agencies have some flaws and if an officer does not administer or watch the clues carefully, they can obtain a false or misleading reading. There are also officers who rely to heavily on the interpretation of the field sobriety tests to support their conclusion that a person was driving under the influence.
DUIs are also full of unique challenge areas.
For example: Imagine an officer who performed a DUI investigation. During the investigation, the officer administers the field sobriety tests and believes they have met all the clues required to arrest for a DUI. That officer writes in his report specifically "I know that people who exhibit 4 out of 6 clues are driving with a .08 BAC or higher." The officer arrest the driver and the driver takes a blood test. The officer forwards his report to the district attorney thinking everything is good to go. An overburdened district attorney reads the report and files the case before the blood results come back. Now...imagine everyone's surprise when the blood results come back as .05! Then, imagine with all this in mind, the case still doesn't go away.
In this hypothetical, the officers credibility is shot. Their testimony, which the district attorney will have to rely heavily on, has been discredited from the start.
There are other common defenses to DUI, such as a rising BAC defense. In many cases, due to these complications, the district attorney may be willing to plead a case to a reduced charge.
Let the Law Office of Kevin L. Ballard help you today to determine what options are available and to help protect your liberty.
Dedicated DUI Attorney
Kevin Ballard is a dedicated DUI attorney based in Fairfield who understands how to effectively defend those charged with DUIs. Kevin is one of the few attorneys who is both a former prosecutor and trained as a police officer. As such, Kevin knows first hand how DUIs are handled from the initial traffic stop through prosecution and appeal. Let the Law Office of Kevin L. Ballard help you today defend your rights and protect your liberty.