A DUI is a serious offense. It carries harsh consequences that can affect someone’s life significantly. DUIs are taken very seriously because the dangers of drunk driving can also alter the lives of innocent victims. A DUI is a criminal offense, and these charges can be misdemeanors or even felonies in some DUI cases. These charges should be taken seriously, and anyone facing DUI charges should act as soon as possible. It is important that an individual who has been arrested for DUI contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
If you have been charged with a DUI in Van Nuys, you need an experienced Van Nuys DUI attorney. They know the state legal system and can navigate the courts on your behalf. Having a strong DUI defense is imperative. Hiring a seasoned defense attorney is the ideal option for optimizing your chance at a favorable outcome.
The Law Offices of James E. Silverstein is a qualified and reputable Van Nuys criminal defense law firm. We have over 40 years of experience in trial litigation, appeals, post-conviction, preliminary hearings, and other legal proceedings in both federal and state courts. As a well-established, trustworthy, and passionate Van Nuys criminal defense law firm, the Law Offices of James E. Silverstein is well-prepared to handle cases involving DUI charges in the Los Angeles and Van Nuys areas. Our team is very knowledgeable about state and federal laws. We have secured a positive outcome for many of our clients who are involved in DUI cases.
The first three DUI convictions an individual receives in California are typically misdemeanor charges. However, just because they are not felonies does not mean they will not be detrimental. Even a first-offense DUI can result in
Some judges require ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for all convictions, even for first-time offenders. An IID is a breathalyzer-like device that is installed in a vehicle. It prevents the engine from starting if the driver does not first blow into it without alcohol in their system. Agreeing to use an IID can shorten the time of license suspension.
A second DUI offense can be punished by:
A third DUI will incur:
A fourth DUI conviction in California is a felony charge. Penalties for a felony DUI conviction include:
If a drunk driver causes an accident in which someone is injured, they could serve up to 16 years in state prison. These charges could even end up as a vehicular manslaughter conviction.
After a DUI arrest, the defendant’s vehicle could be subject to impoundment for up to 30 days, which can get expensive. This is in addition to all the other costs of a DUI. An inconclusive list of some of the potential underlying costs associated with a Van Nuys DUI charge includes:
Court-ordered consequences are not the only repercussions that individuals with DUI convictions may face. After one or multiple DUI arrests and convictions, people start to feel estranged from relationships with family members and friends. They also find that they have trouble securing stable housing. DUI offenders may lose their job and find it difficult to obtain gainful employment. Some may ultimately end up suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and further alcohol and substance use disorders.
A DUI in California will stay on your criminal record indefinitely, but it will fall off your driving record after 10 years. DUI convictions also show up on background checks. This could limit your eligibility for employment or volunteer positions, especially if they require driving.
California offers an opportunity for the expungement of a DUI. This must follow the completion of all penalties, including fines, probation, classes, jail time, prison time, and anything else included in your sentence. Following the completion of these terms, you can file a petition to get your DUI expunged. A judge will then determine whether to expunge your record. Having an attorney help with this process can vastly increase your chances of success.
When you are pulled over, or an accident has occurred, a police officer may suspect that you have been drinking. If so, they will likely offer you a choice of sobriety tests. These will usually be either a breathalyzer or a blood test. If you fail the test, your driver’s license will probably be confiscated. You will be given a pink, temporary driver’s license in the meantime. Your driver’s license will automatically be suspended after 30 days if you do nothing to address the situation.
You will then need to request a hearing with the DMV, the first of two government entities you will face as a result of your DUI. By state law, the DMV will automatically place an administrative suspension on your driver’s license when you are arrested. You can fight this within the first 10 days by requesting a DMV hearing. This hearing is your only chance to reverse the administrative suspension. After 10 days, it will be too late to contest it.
The next step is a pre-trial hearing. The prosecution is required to disclose all evidence to the defendant’s attorney. This process of sharing evidence is known as discovery. A good DUI lawyer can scrutinize this evidence, including chemical test results. They will also examine the details of the test administration, such as the timing of the test relative to the time the driving took place. A dedicated criminal defense attorney can look for a violation of the defendant’s rights or some other error. If they find one, it can end the case before it goes to trial.
Based on these consequences, one can see how getting one or more DUI convictions can change every aspect of an individual’s life. Without a knowledgeable and experienced attorney, it is difficult to challenge a DUI accusation. When a legitimate DUI attorney represents clients properly, they can make a valid argument based on the facts of the case. They can know what to say and what not to say in a DUI defense. An attorney who is familiar with the local courts can find more opportunities to navigate a case than the defendant alone.
Furthermore, once someone gets one DUI, their chances of getting a second one increase significantly. Avoiding a first-time DUI conviction at all costs can greatly diminish the chances of subsequent DUI convictions. Thus, having a DUI lawyer can optimize your potential for a more favorable outcome in your case.
A reliable DUI attorney can assist their client in determining what defense strategies exist in a DUI case. This can mean the difference in the amount of time served, fines paid, and time spent without driving privileges. A strong defense can even establish enough proof to get the case dismissed altogether. There are a few common strategies that can be used to build a solid DUI defense.
Sometimes, police may improperly handle the testing equipment. Other times, they do not follow protocol when administering blood alcohol content screening tests. In that case, a seasoned DUI defense lawyer may contest the validity of the test results. To do so, there must be solid evidence that the test was not administered properly. If the evidence is rendered inconclusive due to a handling error, the charges can be dropped for lack of evidence to back up the arrest.
Sometimes, it can be proven that an arresting officer did not have probable cause prior to a DUI arrest. This can cause a DUI case to be thrown out. Some ways to prove this include analyzing road conditions and viewing the video footage from the arresting officer or their car, among other means.
Proving the defendant’s civil or constitutional rights were violated is a strong DUI defense. This usually results in a DUI case being dropped.
In some instances, a lawyer can prove the defendant was fleeing from a threatening situation. If the defendant did not hurt anyone, and did not have any prior DUI convictions, sometimes DUI charges will be dropped.
These are only a few of the possible defense strategies lawyers use to defend their clients who are facing DUI charges. When a clear strategy is not present, some defendants are advised to take a plea deal from the prosecutor. In this case, the defendant accepts a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea to a lesser charge. This option is better than facing a full sentence for a DUI conviction. However, it still results in a negative mark on the individual’s criminal record. Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney can help you decide what defense works for your case.
During a routine traffic stop, a police officer may have reason to believe a driver is drunk or under the influence of a drug. If so, they can administer a PAS, breathalyzer, or FST. These can determine whether a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If a breathalyzer test is used, a driver aged 21 years or older who is caught driving a vehicle in Van Nuys with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.08% (over 0.04% for commercial vehicle drivers) will be arrested and charged with a DUI. If a person’s BAC is as high as 0.15 when they are caught driving, they will incur enhanced penalties.
There is a zero-tolerance state policy for underage drinking and driving. This means that drivers under the age of 21 should have a BAC of zero. Drivers under 21 caught drinking and driving are subject to:
There will be even worse consequences for multiple convictions.
If a field sobriety test is used to gauge alcohol use, the driver will be asked to perform tasks such as walking in a straight line or standing on one leg. These types of sobriety measures are subjective and allow more room for error. Furthermore, they do not account for things like balance issues and other health-related conditions. These could cause someone who is sober to fail the sobriety test.
Most people do not realize that these tests are not obligatory. State law does not require drivers to take such tests until they are arrested for probable cause. However, drivers under 21, or those with prior DUI convictions, are required by implied consent to take PAS tests.
If you are asked to take a breathalyzer test before being arrested, you do not have to comply with the request. State law does not require it, so if you take one, you do so voluntarily. Consequently, if you fail the test, it can ruin your DUI defense. However, if you are arrested, the breathalyzer test that is administered at the police station is mandatory. By this time, some individuals who were not extremely intoxicated to begin with will have had time to sober up, to some extent. They may possibly test below the legal limit, thus optimizing their chances of avoiding a DUI conviction.
A police officer must have a valid reason to pull a driver over. This valid reason is referred to as probable cause. This means a driver must seem to be breaking a law for a police officer to stop them. This includes:
Many DUI charges get dropped when a good defense attorney can prove that the officer conducted a traffic stop without a valid reason.
A Van Nuys DUI charge can also include operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs. This includes:
The charges and sentences for any DUI, whether for alcohol or drugs, are the same.
It is not easy to detect marijuana use by a driver. However, there are telling signs that a police officer can look for when they pull a driver over. The use of an FST is a common measure of impairment, but they may also have a breathalyzer that can detect THC levels in a person’s system. For marijuana use, they can typically judge by simply observing signs such as impaired speech and red eyes. Marijuana also has a very strong odor that can last on a person’s clothes, breath, or car if it was smoked in the recent past. If a joint was put out and kept away in a pocket or ashtray, police officers can usually notice the smell. They can then connect it to driving under the influence.
Some other signs that may alert officers to a driver who has been consuming marijuana include:
While it is illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana in California, there is no set legal limit like there is with BAC. Other states have set a legal limit of 5 nanograms in blood samples. However, this does not apply to an arrest in California.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, it is advantageous to enlist the help of a qualified legal firm. The Law Offices of James E. Silverstein provide high-quality DUI defense for Van Nuys and surrounding areas. We have a proven record of successful DUI cases due to our hard-working legal team and solid defense. Contact the Law Offices of James E. Silverstein to discuss your DUI case and the options you have for a strong defense strategy.