Every state has different laws pertaining to driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. This behavior is extremely dangerous and demonstrates a lack of concern for the safety of others. In California, drivers arrested for DUI face severe penalties, including fines, jail time, and loss of driving privileges. These penalties escalate with multiple convictions or when DUI drivers cause accidents that injure or kill others.
Prosecutors in the Hidden Hills area and throughout the state seek convictions in DUI cases aggressively, and it is easy for any defendant to feel overwhelmed by their situation. Unfortunately, however, it is also possible for the police or prosecution to make significant errors in their handling of these cases. To secure a conviction for DUI, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and all elements of the criminal justice system must acknowledge and respect the defendant’s civil and constitutional rights at all times through every stage of their proceedings.
The Law Offices of James E. Silverstein offers experienced and compassionate criminal defense counsel to Hidden Hills area clients. We know how life-changing a DUI conviction can be, and we know the stress and uncertainty that follow any arrest. When you or your family member has been arrested for DUI, you need a Hidden Hills DUI defense attorney you can trust to guide you through the difficult proceedings ahead of you. Our firm has the criminal defense experience you need on your side to help you navigate your case with confidence.
In the state, every licensed driver gives their implied consent to DUI testing after being lawfully arrested for DUI. A “lawful arrest” is an essential prerequisite to a chemical test for DUI, but many drivers are unaware of this. As a result, they may conflate a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) during a traffic stop with a legally required DUI test. Police officers sometimes request drivers suspected of DUI to submit to PAS tests, but there is no legal requirement for them to do so. The only drivers who must provide PAS test samples are drivers under 21 suspected of DUI and drivers currently on probation for prior DUI convictions.
Similarly, there is no requirement for a driver stopped by the police to submit to field sobriety tests. If you are sober and a police officer stops you for suspected DUI, do not assume that agreeing to a field sobriety test would be an easy way to prove you are not intoxicated. Many sober people struggle to complete these tests, and by agreeing to such a test, you could inadvertently provide the officer with probable cause to arrest you. A police officer must establish probable cause by observing clear signs of the driver’s intoxication, such as:
The police must follow due process and conduct a lawful DUI arrest before a driver is legally required to submit to chemical testing for DUI. Once a driver has been arrested and booked, the police must properly administer a chemical test, usually taking a breath, blood, or urine sample. The same rule applies whether the police suspect the driver to be drunk or under the influence of drugs. If the driver refuses this legally required test, they face harsh penalties. The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend their driver’s license, and if they are later convicted of DUI in court, they will face harsher penalties for their refusal to abide by the implied consent law.
The state uses the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) measurement system to determine whether a driver is intoxicated by alcohol. DUI is one of the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses, and the penalties for this offense can fluctuate dramatically based on multiple factors. The standard punishments for a first DUI offense prosecuted at the misdemeanor level in Hidden Hills may include:
Judges handling sentencing in Hidden Hills DUI cases have relatively broad discretionary power to adjust a defendant’s penalties as they deem appropriate. Additionally, the defendant is likely to face a host of indirect consequences for their actions. For example, they may be stripped of a professional license they carry or lose membership to certain professional organizations. They could also see their car insurance premium rate increase, and the DUI conviction can be heavily damaging to their reputation in their community.
Penalties increase significantly when a DUI qualifies as a felony. A driver will automatically face felony prosecution for DUI if they have a prior felony DUI conviction or if they caused severe bodily harm or death. A standard felony DUI can lead to 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison, a driver’s license suspension of up to five years, and DUI school for 18 to 30 months, along with the other penalties typically assigned to misdemeanor offenses. If the defendant caused a felony DUI with injury, they could face up to 16 years in state prison, fines up to $5,000, and restitution to the victim. If the defendant caused a fatal accident, they could face life in prison.
Even after a defendant completes their sentence after a DUI conviction, the incident can continue to interfere with their life in various ways. Therefore, it’s vital for a defendant facing DUI charges to have reliable legal counsel, and your Hidden Hills DUI defense attorney can potentially reveal defensive options you did not know were available to you.
Your first opportunities for defense involve highlighting failures of due process or procedural mistakes made by the police in the handling of your arrest, booking, and chemical testing for DUI. Some examples include:
It is also possible for the police to commit civil or constitutional rights violations, such as failing to read a suspect their Miranda rights during arrest or engaging in any illegal, discriminatory actions against the suspect on the basis of their race, sex, or other protected personal characteristics.
A defendant may also focus on the chemical test to confirm their DUI status. For example, your Hidden Hills DUI defense attorney could call the police’s handling of your testing sample into question. For example, if the lab responsible for processing your test sample has a record of false positives, inappropriate laboratory standards, or mishandling paperwork, your attorney may use these factors to cast doubt on the validity of the test. In addition, if the police failed to administer your test appropriately, this might also render the test a moot point of evidence.
Ultimately, if you know you broke the law and committed DUI, it is easy for you to feel as though the situation is hopeless. However, you could have the chance to mitigate your penalty for conviction under certain conditions. Many judges that oversee first-time DUI offenders’ cases are willing to consider alternative or diversionary penalties in lieu of jail time.
It is also possible for a prosecutor to offer a plea deal when they have more than enough evidence to secure a conviction. If they choose to preserve court resources, they may be willing to exchange a lighter sentence and/or reduced charges for an immediate guilty plea. Of course, this is never guaranteed in any criminal case, but if a plea bargain is possible and could alleviate your punishment, you will need an experienced Hidden Hills DUI defense attorney to guide you through the proceedings necessary to resolve the matter.
It is natural to worry about the potential cost of legal counsel when you already face a host of financial penalties for a DUI conviction. Many people assume legal representation to be prohibitively expensive, and this, unfortunately, discourages them from reaching out to private defense counsel when they need it most. Every American citizen has the right to legal representation when accused of a crime, regardless of its severity. A public defender can be appointed to your case at no charge if you are unable or unwilling to pay for a private Hidden Hills DUI defense attorney. However, if you have the means to secure private defense representation, this will dramatically improve the quality of the legal counsel you have throughout your case.
While most of the public defenders working in Hidden Hills and surrounding communities are experienced and hardworking attorneys, they are often overburdened by multiple cases and have very little flexibility in terms of their ability to provide clients with individual attention. By comparison, you can expect ongoing responsive communication with the team at the Law Offices of James E. Silverstein.
An experienced private defense attorney will be able to dedicate more time and effort to handle your case. Most defense attorneys bill their clients using hourly rates, so the more time they spend working on your case, the more you will pay in legal fees. However, their counsel could mean a significant difference in the final outcome of your DUI case, and our team takes time to carefully explain all elements of our billing policy to a prospective client before any contracts for representation are signed. As a result, there will be no surprises in terms of the cost of our counsel, and you can rely on our firm to provide ongoing support and reassurance through every stage of your case.
A DUI case begins with an arrest, and it is essential to know and understand your rights. The police must read you your Miranda rights, which include clearly stated reminders of your right to remain silent and your right to defense counsel. Many people mistakenly assume that by remaining silent after a wrongful arrest, you are tacitly admitting guilt and that you should try to explain your side of the situation to avoid arrest. This is a mistake, even if you are entirely certain that you did not break the law in any way. Anything you say to the police during arrest and booking could be misinterpreted in the worst possible way and work against you in unpredictable ways.
After you have been arrested for DUI in Hidden Hills, remain silent and comply with the instructions from the arresting officers until you are allowed to make your phone calls. The Law Offices of James E. Silverstein are prepared to offer the responsive and meticulous defense representation you need in this challenging situation. Our firm has years of experience in criminal defense, and we have helped many past clients overcome very challenging DUI cases. Contact our team today and schedule your consultation with a Hidden Hills DUI defense attorney you can trust.