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How To Find The Right DUI Lawyer In California

Updated: Oct 7, 2022

Hiring The Right DUI Lawyer Can Make A Difference In The Outcome Of Your Case

Most DUI arrests in California start with a traffic stop or a checkpoint. The officer asks you to do a series of sobriety tests in the field and to blow into a portable breathalyzer twice. The police officer will usually ask you to take a blood or breath test at the police station, prison, or hospital after the arrest (you are forced by law to take this test; refusing the chemical test may result in harsher California DUI penalties and a suspension of a one-year driver's license).

With most misdemeanor DUI arrests, the police can release you within a few hours of arrest and booking (but you will have to post bail for a felony DUI or injury case). Upon release, two documents should be given to you: a summons to appear in court and a pink temporary license. Generally, the police will take your driver's license from California and mail it to the DMV. If you're traveling outside California and you have a DUI, your physical license can't be taken away by the police here.

DUI arrestees may apply for an IID restricted license immediately beginning in 2019: IID is short for the ignition interlock system. This breathalyzer prevents cars from the beginning if alcohol is detected. As long as they maintain an IID in their vehicles, an IID restricted license enables DUI arrestees to continue driving without restrictions. The amount of time that an IID restricted license lasts depends on the DUI background of the defendant. (Senate Bill 1046 (2018) for California).

Requesting a DMV Hearing

To request a DMV hearing, you need to contact the DMV within ten days of your detention. Otherwise, you lose your right to request a hearing, and after 30 days, your license automatically goes into suspension. He/she can submit a request for the hearing for you if you hire a California DUI lawyer. This is generally best because the counsel will also plan the hearing further ahead (thus getting more time to prepare), and he/she will also impact what is assigned to the case by the DMV hearing officer.

Your California DUI lawyer usually holds the hearing on your behalf. The primary goal of your DUI lawyer is to persuade the DMV not to revoke your driver's license. But the DMV hearing can also be used by your DUI lawyer as an opportunity to obtain information that may prove valuable in court.

For instance, we may subpoena the breathalyzer's maintenance and calibration logs, often exposing a history of malfunctions and incorrect readings. We may also summon the arresting officer at the DMV hearing to testify ... and seek evidence regarding inadequate DUI preparation and investigation errors.

The DMV's hearing representative takes the matter into account at the end of the hearing and later issues written conclusions. Usually, the verdict is mailed out in one to 30 days. No license suspension is enforced if the DMV finds in your favor (although a DUI conviction in court could cause a separate suspension).

If the DMV finds that you are not, your license will be revoked within a few days of receipt of the notice.

Note: DMV hearings only take place for alcohol arrest DUIs (to decide whether you were driving with a .08 or above BAC or any positive BAC level for a minor DUI). If you have been arrested for a drug / DUID charge in California, like marijuana DUI, Vicodin DUI or Ambien DUI, there is no DMV hearing. But if you are convicted of any of these crimes in court, a driver's license suspension will be caused by the court conviction.

If Your California Driver's License Is Suspended

If a driver's license revocation is maintained, you will typically receive a restricted license within 30 days. This allows you to commute to and from job-related events and any alcohol program enforced by the court or DMV. We will often make arrangements to get you a limited license right away. But while it's in place, you must heed the suspension. Driving in California with a revoked license is a misdemeanor that can lead to prison time, a breach of probation, and a longer suspension of the license.

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Proceedings in a California DUI Court

Many persons whose BAC reaches .08 are charged with two misdemeanor crimes: DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Vehicle Code 23152(b) for Driving with Excessive BAC. For any of these offenses, the aim is to escape prosecution.

Your California DUI lawyer will most certainly be able to attend all the DUI court hearings on your behalf ... unless you have to appear at a hearing or the case goes to trial. The majority of DUI cases may require several court dates and may last for several months. Your DUI counsel gathers evidence during this time, conducts appeals, and negotiates with the judge and prosecutor demanding dismissal or reducing the charges.

If a settlement involving you pleading for a DUI or a reduced charge is reached, either of two approaches will be achieved.

  • You will come to court and plead before the judge in person. Or, in many situations, outside of court, your California DUI lawyer will make you sign notarized documents (called a Thal waiver). Your DUI lawyer will then carry the papers to court and, on your behalf, enforce the plea.

  • If no agreement can be found, the DUI case will eventually be scheduled for a jury trial. After a case is scheduled for trial, attorneys and judges frequently offer better deals ... because there could be more cases on the docket than courtrooms available to handle them. Often, when a trial D.A., problems with the state's facts become more clear.

Any DUI conviction brings a revocation of a driver's license. But if they consent to have an ignition interlock system (IID) mounted in their cars, it is normally possible for DUI defendants to continue driving without restrictions.

Choosing The Best California DUI Lawyer

In a drunk driving case, locating and selecting a California DUI lawyer can be challenging; there are many inept, inexperienced, and/or dishonest lawyers who will readily welcome DUI customers. In maintaining a successful DUI defense attorney, however, asking the following questions may be helpful:

  • Does the lawyer work only with DUI cases, or does he also consider other forms of criminal or civil cases? (This will be like brain surgery, cancer research, and heart transplants attempted by a family doctor.)

  • What proportion of the caseload of the lawyer consists of DUI cases?

  • In police procedures and blood/breath analysis, does the prosecutor have access to technical expert witnesses?

  • Can a lab reanalyze blood samples?

  • Will reports of breathalyzers and maintenance be obtained?

  • What's the overall cost for a DUI defense?

  • Do the payments cover such "extras" as hearing the DMV license, expert evidence, blood reanalysis, prosecution, subpoena cost, etc.?

  • Are there any allegations from the State Bar against the attorney?

How Do I Request An Unbiased Referral To A Pre-Screened, Ethical California DUI Lawyer?

  1. You can submit a request online 24 hours a day. Free case review within 15 minutes.

  2. By chat, you'll be connected with a California DUI lawyer within 5 minutes.

  3. By calling the 24-hour lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999

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