Traffic Stop by Police for Suspicion of DUI
I've been defending DUIs now for the past 26 years in all the San Fernando Valley courts. The Van Nuys Court, San Fernando Court, Glendale, Burbank, and Pasadena are included. There were 40 courts in Los Angeles county. It's been narrowed down to about 25 because of budget cuts, so many of these courts have had to handle more work than before. Our criminal defense lawyers provide an overview below on how to defend driving under the influence cases.
When it comes to a DUI in the San Fernando Valley, you need to go in there with a strategy. I think that strategy starts first with hiring a lawyer who understands the courthouse policies, the judge's tendencies, the prosecutor's thought process when they go in there. Hence, they go in with a game plan.
I like to meet with clients and get all the details and facts. Of course, we're trying to get all the mitigating stuff related to their life and the case and see if any defenses can be utilized in the case. When we sit down for that first meeting because I realize, and you're going to learn very quickly, that the police do a full one-sided report all slanted towards trying to convict you. That's what you have to focus on when you think about the other side.
They're not there to help you or necessary to do justice, although they should be. They're there to get you, to prosecute you. California Vehicle Code 23152 defines driving under the influence. As soon as the police pull you over, they're evaluating your driving, how you're walking, talking, behaving, and how you perform on the field sobriety tests. In other words, they're trying to figure out how they can get a conviction for DUI against you in the San Fernando Valley.
So, you have to realize that right from the beginning and know that to combat that, you're going to need an attorney who is also slanted and focused on defending and helping you, and that's the way it should be in a DUI case. You want your advocate to be on your side, looking for all the angles that help you.
Since the initial investigation and prosecution are all going to be focused on convicting you and proving that you're guilty, the defense should have the opposite thought process. But it runs much deeper than that.
The first thing we have to decide if you have a DUI in the San Fernando Valley in one of the courts is, are we going to try to resolve it and work out a resolution with the prosecutors, or are we going to fight the case through a jury trial? So, when we sit down to decide whether to fight a lawsuit or take it to a jury trial, we're looking at whether you can win the case.
If you can win the case and you don't want to take a conviction on your record — which most people don't — then absolutely, we should consider fighting the case. So, we have to look at everything and see what our angle is, and if we can show that you weren't so intoxicated that you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle, we can fight the case.
Blood Alcohol Level
But if, on the other hand, the prosecutors have the evidence, the blood alcohol level is over a .08, and they have further evidence that shows that you're driving under the influence. You don't have to be drunk to get a DUI; you just have to have enough alcohol in your system so you can't safely operate a motor vehicle.
So, if we make that determination, then it's a whole different angle that I take as a DUI defense attorney in the San Fernando Valley with the prosecutors. We don't have to talk much to them if we're going to trial.
We need to get certain things and angle the case up to make the best possible run at the trial to get the not-guilty verdict — straightforward for me to deal with the prosecutors in that regard because I don't have to cow-tow to them at all. I can say we want this, this, and we're ready to go and not give them much information, so they can't prepare for the defense.
But if, on the other hand, I have to go to them and try to resolve the case, obviously I'm going to take a different approach with them because I'm trying to get something from them. I'm trying to get a resolution that's right for you; that's fair for you.
That's one of the first things that I like to decide with the client, and sometimes we can't fix it at the first meeting. Sometimes we can talk about it, get your perspective, talk about my experience in handling these cases, and have an idea of the kind of what we're going to do.
DMV Administrative Hearing
But then the next step is that I have to get the police report when I go on the first arraignment — Los Angeles county, Van Nuys Court, San Fernando court — as far as DUIs go, these courts give you the police report when you go to court. You can't get it before that unless you get it from the Department of Motor Vehicles in preparation for the Administrative Hearing where they're going to try to take your driver's license away.
So, once we get that report, we will bring you a copy. You read it, I read it, and now we have all the pieces of the puzzle to make the final decision on what's the best for you and your case. You don't want to take a DUI case to trial in the San Fernando Valley unless you win.
The game's name here is not to do anything that puts you in a wrong position where you're looking at jail time, for example. Nobody wants to go to jail, especially on a first offense. In Los Angeles County, you're usually not going to jail unless there's something unique going on with your case that makes you more dangerous than the average person, and that's something that we can talk about.
Driving Under the Influence Penalties
As far as punishment goes, you have to look at how many DUIs you have in the past how dangerous your driving was. Did you get in an accident? Were you going real fast — a high-speed case? How high was your blood alcohol level? Was anyone else involved? Are there any victims claiming that they're hurt? There's a whole list of things to be considered—some for good, some for the bad.
The bottom line is, get to your attorney. Give your attorney all the information so they can start the process of assessing your case, doing damage control, and putting you in the best possible position. That's what I'm doing. Just like when the police pull you over, they're already trying to build a case against you. When you come in and sit down with me, I'm already trying to figure out the best way to resolve your DUI case in the San Fernando Valley.
So, the punishment you're looking at is usually acceptable. The minimum fine on a DUI is $390. That's a bit deceptive because there's a 200% penalty assessment on all penalties in Los Angeles county.
This includes the San Fernando Valley, which is part of Los Angeles County, so that means if you get that minimum $390 plus penalty assessment, you're looking at somewhere close to $2,000 when you stack up all the fines and fees related to a DUI.
Community Service Options
There are community service options that can chip that down to about $400 or $500 if you choose to do that. But of course, now you have to work a 10 hour day doing community service to erase some of that debt related to fees and fines in a DUI.
There's also an alcohol program that everybody has to do through the DMV and the court. So, if you end up getting, for example, AB541, the 3-month alcohol program in one of the Valley courts, that will cover your responsibilities with the DMV, so that kind of kills two birds with one stone by doing that one first-offender program.
Other programs depend on how high your blood alcohol level was, whether it was a refusal, or your first, second, third, or fourth time DUI. There's a six-month program, a nine-month program, an 18-month program, and 30 monthly programs.
So, these are all things that have to be negotiated by your DUI defense attorney and will center around your prior criminal record and a host of other factors that we discuss at the meeting when we meet.
You're looking at up to 6 months in jail on a first offense. If it's a misdemeanor, you're looking at up to a year in prison on a second offense. On a third offense, if you're on probation, you could be looking up to as far as a year and a half to two years in jail. If you end up getting convicted of a felony, you're usually looking at a possibility of three years in custody. If you cause great bodily injury, that's three years doubled for ten years as a potential top.
Negotiation with DUI Prosecutor
So, you can see here in California, specifically in the San Fernando Valley and across Los Angeles, they take these DUI cases very, very seriously. So, you need an as severe advocate who can go to bat for you and try to do everything they possibly can.
We use what we need to use depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. For example, if they took blood in your case and you got a .08 as your blood result, then we're going to do a blood split on that. We can hire our expert and test the blood to see if the expert who tried it made a mistake. You're really under that .08 because being under a .08 in a DUI puts you in a pretty strong position that you're either not guilty or get something less than a DU if you don't want to take the risk of going to trial.
So, that's just one example. I have all kinds of cases. I've done thousands of DUIs in the San Fernando Valley courthouses over a 26-year career. Sometimes people aren't driving the car when the police come. There are all sorts of issues associated with that.
For example, use your common sense. Can the police prove that you were driving the car at some point, and of course, the next question becomes when? They've got to know the time to determine your blood alcohol level when you were driving the vehicle.
Because they're experts — whether it be a blood expert or a breath expert, is going to have to extrapolate backward from whatever time the police take your blood or take your breath and say okay, here's what it was at this time.
This is what it was at the time of driving. So you start to say, how do they figure out when I was going if I wasn't driving the car when they came upon me. So, that's a big issue that you need to consider, and that's another issue related to DUIs in the San Fernando Valley.
DUI Attorney in the San Fernando Valley
I can go on and on about the various issues related to DUIs in the San Fernando Valley, but I think the bottom line is to look at my credentials. Look at my reviews. Look at my videos. See if I'm the type of person you would want advocating your case in front of the judge and the prosecutor and if you're considering hiring anybody else to defend your DUI, look at their credentials as well.
Look to see if they have any videos to see how they talk and how they interact, and if they don't have videos, that should tell you something. They're lawyers, but they can't speak. They can't represent themselves, and you don't want somebody like that who's afraid to put themselves out there because that will be your advocate talking on your behalf to the judge and the prosecutor.
If you want help, take the first step. Pick up the phone. Set up a face-to-face consultation with me, and we will get to the bottom of what the best-case scenario is for you and what we can do moving forward on your DUI case. Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in San Fernando at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436.