Should You Take a Plea Deal in a Los Angeles DUI Case?

THE DECISION WHETHER TO TAKE A PLEA DEAL IN A LOS ANGELES DUI CASE

One of the most important decisions that can be made in a dui case is whether to fight the case in a jury trial or instruct your attorney to seek a plea deal on your behalf.  This decision can not be taken lightly and must be considered with the benefit of all of the facts related to the case and a full run down from your attorney regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your cases and the tendencies of the judge and prosecutor in the court where your case is pending.

When you meet with you attorney, making the decision as to whether to work out a deal or not should be one of the crucial questions that is discussed and hopefully decided.  This will give your attorney direction as to the moves that will be made next to best represent your interests.  There is no reason to waste time doing certain investigative things if those things are not done towards your ultimate goal.

If you have not decided what the goal will be in a dui case, then the attorney will be left in a position of not knowing what the best path to take will be for you and your situation.  When I meet with clients in dui cases, I make certain that when we leave the meeting, everyone is on the same page as to exactly what our strategy will be moving forward.  This way we can all work in concert to achieve the goal that is right for you.

FACTORS THAT HELP DECIDE WHETHER TO TAKE A PLEA DEAL IN DUI CASE

There are a number of factors that must be considered in deciding whether to take a plea deal versus filing a motion to dismiss or setting the dui case for jury trial.  The first consideration is whether or not you can win the case or not.  If you can not win the case or win the motion to dismiss, then you have the answer you need.  There is no reason to waste time and energy on things that are not going to help you.

Further, if your attorney files worthless motions and tries to fight a case that should not be fought, then this will make the prosecutor and judge angry and they will likely take it out on you.  This is why I am always shocked when clients tell me that they met with an attorney who quoted them a fee to do the trial in their case before seeing any of the evidence.  This makes no sense and is a situation ripe for problems.  Defending a dui cases and deciding whether a plea bargain is the right thing to do is a step by step process that must be approached with common sense and experience in what it take to win a dui case.

HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT THE TARGET CRIME WILL BE IN A PLEA DEAL SITUATION RELATED TO A DUI CASE?

If the decision is made to take a deal, then the next consideration is what the target crime will be to try and convince the prosecutor and / or judge to give you.  The target crime will be based on what you did and the seriousness level of your case as related to other dui cases that are dealt with in the courthouse your case is pending.  Having defended thousands of dui cases over the course of the last 25 years, I can tell you that the biggest concern for judges and prosecutors is how dangerous you were out on the road and what they need to do to you to prevent you from hurting anyone in the future.

Whether an attorney tries to get the prosecutors to drop the case to a “wet reckless”, a speed contest or even a moving violation depends on a number of factors and is something that will be largely dictated by the facts of your case and your attorney’s abilities in the courthouse where you cases is pending.  The less dangerous your actions were to society, the better chance your attorney will have to negotiate a plea deal for you that you can live with.

Another consideration is where your dui falls on the sliding scale related to dui cases in the particular courthouse where your case is pending.  On the high end of the spectrum are those cases that the defendant blew a very high blood alcohol level and engaged in seriously dangerous behavior to society.  On the other end of the sliding scale are those defendants that did not blow a very high level and did not engage in particularly dangerous behavior.  Then, of course, there are those that fall in the middle of these two extremes.  This is where the best dui defense attorneys earn their money and are able to achieve the best possible resolution for their clients in the plea bargaining situation.

It is my goal in these dui plea bargaining situations to flush out all of the positive arguments for my client in the beginning and then use the arguments in the most effective way with the prosecutor and the judge to convince them to give you the lowest common denominator on your dui case and get you out of the system as quick as humanly possible.

 

California Implied Consent DUI Law

LEARN HOW THE IMPLIED CONSENT LAW EFFECTS YOUR DUI IN LOS ANGELES

When evaluating the issues surrounding the implied consent law, the first thing that you must know is that in California, the legislature sees driving as a privilege, not a right.  Therefore in order to enjoy the privilege of driving on the roads in our state, each driver must agree to certain things related to their rights to drive.  One important thing is that if the police pull you over and ask you to consent to an alcohol test, because they believe that you are under the influence of alcohol, then you must comply.  This gives the police a lot of power because many times it is very subjective as to whether or not someone is under the influence of alcohol.

If you do not comply then it will be automatically assumed that you are driving under the influence of alcohol and the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspended your drivers license for one year with no restricted privileges during the suspension period.  The reason for this is because if this rule where not in place, then authorities would not have the ability to catch anyone for a dui because everyone would just refuse to cooperate and the police would have no way to prove their case in court.

This result of losing your drivers license for a year is a very harsh one and devastating to most people who live in the Los Angeles area.  Because it is so hard to get around in Los Angeles, the loss of your drivers license can cost you in many different ways.  If you are pulled over, then you are best served to cooperate with the police, because even if you are over the legal limit, the DMV will only suspend your drivers license for a real 30 days (for your first offense, with a five month restricted license after that) versus the year suspension for refusing to take the blood or breath test when asked to do so by law enforcement.

LEARN WHICH TEST YOU MUST TAKE AND WHICH ONES YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE PURSUANT TO THE IMPLIED CONSENT LAW

As you might guess, the implied consent law does have it limits.  It does not make it necessary to take the field sobriety tests that the police usually try and administer related to their dui investigation.  Further, you are not required to take the preliminary alcohol screening device (PAS device) test out at the scene of your arrest.  Of course if you have not been drinking any alcohol when the police pull you over, then you may want to take it, just so they will let you go and not take you back to the station and ruin the rest of your night.

If the police do suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol, then you will be required to take either a blood or breath test at the station.  The blood test is typically done at the hospital, however there are some stations (like Van Nuys) that have the capability to take people’s blood for dui purposes.  Most of the time the breath test is usually done at the police station in Los Angeles County.  However, beware that many counties like Ventura and Orange are actually making people take the official breath test out in the field.  Again, when you do not cooperate with the police during a dui investigation, you run the risk that they will try and cheat you and write their report in an unfavorable manner.

Another thing that you do not have to do as part of the implied consent law is to give the police any type of statement.  For example, if they ask how many drinks you had or any other questions designed to illicit an incriminating response, you can simply refuse to answer.  The police usually try and sneak in incriminating questions during the booking process in order to seal up any loose ends related to their dui investigation.  The bottom line to remember when it comes to implied consent is that you must take the blood or breath test, but not completely give them all of the other information they need to bury related to their dui investigation.

DO YOU LOSE ALL OF YOUR RIGHTS IF YOU FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THE IMPLIED CONSENT LAW IN LOS ANGELES?

Just because someone made the bad move of refusing to submit to a chemical test when asked to do so by a law enforcement officer related to a dui investigation does not necessarily mean that they lose all ability to challenged their dui case.  There are certain rules that the police must comply with in order to convict you for a dui.  If they illegally stop you, for example, then everything they find after that would be thrown out, based on the illegal stop.  That would include any argument that you refused to take the blood or breath test.

Another way to fight you dui refusal case centers around the requirements that the police must conform to if they want to utilize the refusal / implied consent law to convict you of a dui.  They must explain to you what will happened to you if you refuse to take a chemical test and then record what your response was after they asked you to comply.  Further, they must explain to you that you have a choice of giving a blood or breath sample in order to meet their requirements.  I see a lot that the police just tell a person that they must take a breath test or they will lose their license.  This is not sufficient for purposes of a refusal, because they also have to offer them the blood test and let them know that they have a choice between the two tests.  Just because the police are too lazy to go to the hospital and perform the blood test, will not let them off the hook for failing to comply with the refusal requirements.

DUI and Child Endangerment

LEARN HOW DUI AND CHILD ENDANGERMENT CASES ARE HANDLED IN LOS ANGELES COURTHOUSES

If a person is pulled over and arrested for a dui in Los Angeles and they have a child in the car, then many times the police will cite them and the prosecutors will charge child endangerment.  When it comes to dui defense, it is bad enough if the person is driving dangerously with alcohol in their system, if you add a child in the car, the prosecutors and judges are extremely difficult to deal with and the defense definitely has their work cut out for them.

One of the ways around a child endangerment charge is to show the prosecutor that the defendant was not driving recklessly and that they should not suffer the consequences of having a child endangerment on their criminal record.  This charge can prevent a person from coaching their child in sports in the future and can cause a number of other issues for them that must be avoid if possible.  Another angle that is used to avoid this type of conviction is to show that the person’s conduct is an aberration that has not happened before and will not happen again.

We encourage our clients to get character letters from friends and family that know the good person you are.  And, to have your family indicate in the letters what a huge blow it would be to them if you were limited by having to admit a child endangerment charge.  Over the course of the past 25 years, I have seen that most of these arguments are common sense, but the criminal defense attorney must know who to talk to and how to convey things to them, based on what happened in the case and how the client is situated in their life.

SEE WHY A CHILD ENDANGERMENT CHARGE RELATED TO A DUI MAKES THINGS MUCH MORE SERIOUS

One of the big jobs the judge and prosecutors believe that they have is to protect victims of crime.  If the victim is a child, then they will go out of their way to help and protect them.  Therefore if they see that you are drinking alcohol and risking your child’s life, they will come down particularly hard on you and make sure that you get the help and punishment they feel you need in order to not engage in this type of behavior again.  In other words, when the court system feels you are not responsible enough to protect your own child, you will see that you then lose control over how the problem will be fixed.

In the situation where a parent puts their child in harms way, in addition to the criminal court punishing the parent and putting roadblocks in their way so they can never engage in this behavior again, they will also get child services involved and use everything at their disposal to protect your child.  In order to have the best chance of success and avoid some of the harsh penalties that come along with a child endangerment / dui charge, you must find an attorney who is familiar with these type of cases and has had success in the courthouse where your case is pending.

THE GOAL IN A CHILD ENDANGERMENT / DUI CASE IN LOS ANGELES

My goal in child endangerment / dui related cases is to do everything I can to make sure that the client does not suffer a conviction for child endangerment, because I know how costly this can be to a parent’s future.  Of course if you are innocent of a dui then you will usually have a strong argument that child endangerment does not apply, unless you where driving in a reckless manner.

However, if the prosecutors will be able to show that you were driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and could not safely operate a motor vehicle, then having a child in the car at the same time is a huge problem that will take some hard work and strategy to deal with.  The solution to the problem will depend on a number of different factors that should be handled by an attorney who knows and has negotiated with the prosecutors in the court and the judge on the case.  This attorney will know what can and can not be accomplished.  And, most important, they will know the different avenues that work in terms of getting the job done.

Whenever you are assessing how a child endangerment, in conjunction with a dui case, should be handled you should do so from a frame of reference that takes into account the fact that the judge and prosecutor are looking at what they can do to protect your children and society from your behavior.  Taking it a step further, they are looking at making sure that you never come back to haunt them.  In other words they do not want to be in the position of giving you a break and then months or even years later you come back with a serious situation where you have hurt someone on the road.

If you look at things from the above framework, then you will understand why the judges and prosecutors seem to be so harsh on child endangerment cases.  It is a situation where they do not want to be perceived by anyone as being weak in a case that all of society would say you should punish a parent who puts their own child in danger.  Hence, we have to really do some hard work to convince the judge and prosecutor that you are a good parent who made a mistake that will not happen again.

This requires us to go to sources of information that know you and can vouch for you as a good person and good parent.  Then the prosecutor and judge can be more confident that you will not let them down and your children down.  Also, they will have something to point to if anyone where to ever question why they gave you a break and did not throw the book at you.

What to Do If You Get Pulled Over for DUI

LEARN HOW TO HANDLE A DUI STOP IN LOS ANGELES

It is a scary thing being pulled over by the police and most people are so terrified that they just cooperate and are honest with the authorities about everything.  I think cooperating with the police is a good idea because driving is a privilege and not a right, therefore the police have a lot of power out on the road and if you do not cooperate with them, they can cause you many problems.  You could be arrested and taken into custody, you could lose your drivers license for one year (if you refuse to take a blood or breath test), and you could end up with a criminal record.

Hence the number one thing you should do is cooperate with the police once they have you pulled over.  By the way, people who are intoxicated have a hard time following the instructions of the police and this is one of the factors they are evaluating in deciding whether or not to arrest you and whether or not you are safe on the road.  With all of the above on the line and your reputation, time, money and embarrassment, it makes sense to cooperate with them and hopefully avoid some or all of the worst consequences that can come along with a dui arrest and conviction.

All that being said, lets not go too far in our cooperation!  One thing I do not recommend is admitting that you were drinking alcohol.  Most people tell the police that they had two drinks, regardless of how many they actually had.  So when the police hear this, they do not say, “Oh, if you only had two drinks then head on down the road and apologize.”  When they hear you have been drinking it is a green light for them to fully investigate you and try and obtain probable cause to arrest you and convict you of a dui.  So you should cooperate, but not completely give them everything they need to take you to jail.

Also, be aware that the police will be trying to smell your breath and your person when you roll down your window.  They are smelling for alcohol and if they smell it then you are likely going to be ordered out of your car and have to take all of their dui tests.  If this happens then your best bet is to cooperate and hope that you are sober enough to pass the tests or they take pity on you and do not arrest you.  If they do decide to arrest you and they ask you to take one of the tests, then my advice is to cooperate and pick one of the tests.

If you do not take one of the tests then you are looking at losing your drivers license for a year on your first offense.  If you take the test and you are at or over the .08 then you are will lose your license for thirty days and have a restricted license for 5 months after that, to drive to and from work and to and from your alcohol program.  This is a huge difference in punishment and not worth the risk on a first time dui.  Also by refusing to take a blood or breath test, you make it very easy for the prosecutors to prove a dui case against you.  If everyone refused to take a blood or breath test, they no one would be caught for a dui.  Therefore, the law is clear that if you refuse to take one of the tests, they it will be presumed that you where dui unless you can bring evidence to rebut the presumption.

HOW TO AVOID THE BIG PROBLEM THAT PEOPLE RUN INTO IN THE HEAT OF A DUI PULL OVER

The biggest problem that people run into regarding a dui stop is that they have not planned ahead.  In other words, if you know you are going out and may have some alcoholic drinks, have an exit strategy in place so you avoid a potential contact with the police when you are not at your best. Those people who do not plan ahead are the same people that swerve around on the road right in front of the police, are belligerent to them when they are pulled over and can not successfully complete all of the field sobriety tests that come along with being suspected of drinking and driving.  The moral of the story is the more that you can prepare before you start drinking, the better off you will be and the better chance you will have to avoid a conviction for a dui in Los Angeles.

As I have read thousands of police reports over past 25 years of defending dui cases, I see all of the things people do when they think they are going to out smart the police once they are being pulled over.  The problem is that the police are trained to spot duis and they are coming into the situation stone cold sober.  On the other hand, most people who are pulled over for a dui are intoxicated, scared, unprepared and do not have all of their wits about them because of the situation.  Therefore my best advice to you is to prepare your exit strategy before you start drinking and if you find yourself being pulled over under bad circumstances, try and be calm, cooperate with the police, do not panic and do not admit you were drinking.

LEARN THE SIGNS THAT THE POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR RELATED TO A DUI IN LA

There are a number of frequent patterns that I see related to dui cases. First and foremost, most people are pulled over for duis on the weekends between 12 am and 3 am.  So if you are on the road at this time, expect that the police will pull you over.  Unfortunately, even though it is illegal to pull someone over just because you think they may have been drinking because of the time of night, the police do it anyways.  And, they just make up an excuse to justify their actions which is difficult to refute. Also, many times I see people just doing stupid stuff in front of the cops. Driving too fact, swerving, being involved in road rage or driving too slow are just making it easy for the police to catch you.

Most of the stuff related to dui case is common sense.  If you are unfortunate enough to have been arrested, seek the advice of a professional and let them guide you through the process.

 

 

Legalization of Marijuana and What It Means for DUI Cases

MARIJUANA DUI CASES IS LOS ANGELES

The reality is that the legalization of marijuana in California really did not do much to change the dui laws.  In fact, I have seen law enforcement officers ramping up their efforts to help the prosecutors prove that a particular person they arrest for a dui is in fact not safe to operate a motor vehicle.  The powers that be have come up with more and more sophisticated methods for testing the level of marijuana intoxication and even special prosecutors to deal with marijuana dui prosecutions.  Duis are still a political target on the radar of the police, prosecutors and judges.

The bottom line, for purposes of the dui law, is that if someone ingests anything that impacts their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, then they can and will be charged and convicted of a dui.  This includes marijuana, alcohol and even legal prescription drugs.  I can not tell you how many clients I have defended over the years who have ingested the medication their doctor prescribed them and then where pulled over by the police, could not pass the field sobriety tests and where arrested and charged with a dui.  The key policy concerns related to duis, has to do with protecting the public and making sure that people do not jeopardize other people’s lives on the road.

THE BIG DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MARIJUANA AND ALCOHOL RELATED DUIS IN LOS ANGELES

When it comes to alcohol related dui cases, it is fairly straight forward whether a person is over the legal limit at first glance.  If their blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater, then they will be considered over the legal limit for purposes of a dui.  Marijuana is much more difficult to measure and it can stay in your system for a much longer period of time than alcohol.  This makes marijuana dui cases harder to prove and more subject to people being treated unfairly in the name of protecting the public.

Further, there is not set limit for purposes of marijuana as to what the cut off is for the prosecutors to be able to prove that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle.  Someone could be pulled over and arrested for a marijuana dui, even though they did not smoke any marijuana the day of the arrest.  This problem is one that is still being argued an fought all over Los Angeles County in the various courthouse that deal with dui related arrests.  Prosecutors, judges and even juries will ultimately take into the surrounding circumstances of your arrest in determining whether or not you deserve to have a dui conviction on your criminal record.

The best way for the prosecutors to prove that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle is to show that you did not pass the various tests that the police will give you before and after they arrest you for a dui case.  They will observe how you were driving (where you swerving or driving erratic), they will see how you were walking when you exited your car (where you staggering or unable to gain your balance), they will check your breath to see if it smelled like marijuana or alcohol, your speech when you talk to them will be evaluated (where you slurring your words) and a whole host of other factors will be assessed in determining if someone is under the influence of marijuana to the point that they could not safely operate a motor vehicle.

Probably the biggest weapon that the police have in their never ending crusade against duis, is the field sobriety tests that they administer at the scene of just about every arrest for a dui they make.  They have a whole arsenal of tests they use when it comes to marijuana dui cases.  Further, I have seen them using the alcohol related tests in marijuana cases and just being destroyed on cross examination by a seasoned dui defense attorney.

The bottom line, when it comes to duis in Los Angeles, is that California and particularly LA and surrounding counties, have some of the harshest dui law in the country and if you are not safe on the road and they catch you, they will do everything they can to convict you and get you in the system.  This is where it is obviously imperative for you to have a seasoned dui defense attorney with you at all critical stages of a dui case.

Common Legal Defenses in a Los Angeles DUI Case

Those people who have been arrested for a dui matter in Los Angeles County are typically looking for some way to get out of the case.  It is obvious that no one wants to be charged and convicted of a dui because of the various consequences that can manifest from such a conviction.  The loss of your driver’s license, time in jail and the stigma that comes along with a criminal conviction are simply not desirable to anyone.

There are defenses in dui cases that are utilized across Los Angeles County by savvy dui defense attorneys to either get cases dismissed or at least negotiate the best possible deal for the client.  Not every defense applies in every case, so be wary when a dui defense attorney starts spouting off defenses that do not apply to your factual scenario, in order to get you to sign on the dotted line and pay them your hard earned money.

YOU WHERE NOT DRIVING WHEN THE POLICE CAME UPON THE SCENE

It is not uncommon that by the time the police get to the scene of an accident or some other occurrence on the freeway or road, the person they ultimately arrest for a dui is not driving when they arrive.  It is definitely a defense to a dui if the prosecutors can not prove if and when you where driving.  However, as you might guess, there is more than one way to prove someone was driving.

Many times the police simply ask the person if and when they were driving and then note their answer in the police report.  If the person admits to driving, then this would be good enough to meet this requirement.  Another way I see the police and prosecutors proving who was driving is by way of the witnesses at the scene identifying who the driver was.  This is a good way to prove who was driving if the witnesses are credible and their story makes sense.

The last way I see the prosecutors proving that a dui defendant was the driver of the subject car is through the circumstances surrounding the person’s arrest.  In other words, if they are the only person at the scene of an accident and their car is in the middle of the freeway with not passengers, then they were likely the person who drove the car there. Then the next question will be, when did they drive the car there?  In order for the expert to figure out what the person’s blood alcohol level was at the time of driving, they need all of the times locked in.

ATTACK THE METHOD USED TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL WAS AT THE TIME OF DRIVING

If the police took your breath (which is the most common form of identifying what your blood alcohol level was) then the defense attorney should check to make sure that the machine that was used to read your blood alcohol level was properly calibrated and functioning properly. There is an error rate of .02 percent in dui cases, as they related to the breath machines used in police stations across California and if the defense can find a problem with the machine or the way the test was performed, then there is a solid angle at attack the prosecution’s entire case.

If blood was drawn then there is an argument the sample was not taken properly or contaminated.  The defense is entitled to do a blood split to have their own expert verify that the blood alcohol reading is really what is being represented and in order to check for contamination or any other issues that may be present to defend the case.

Urine is no longer one of the common tests that is used in dui cases that occur in LA County.  The only time I typically see the police using a urine test is to test a person they suspect of being under the influence of drugs.

YOU WHERE ACTUALLY SAFE TO DRIVE YOUR CAR

If you really want to fight your dui case, you are going to have to deal with the issue of whether you were actually safe to drive when you where pulled over by the police.  Juries are not likely to find someone not guilty of a dui unless they were safe to drive.  Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a) makes it a misdemeanor crime to drive with alcohol in your system and not be able to safely drive a motor vehicle.

The type of things that the jury will evaluate are how you were driving at the time of the pull over.  If you were weaving or driving in an unsafe manner, this is evidence that you were not safe.  If, on the other hand, the police pulled you over for some stupid reason that has nothing to do with bad driving, then you will have the foundation of showing you were safe and therefore should not be convicted of a dui.

Other things that the police will look at related to how you where talking (where you slurring your speech), how you were walking (did you stumble or stagger), whether your pupils bouncing when they shined their light in them and whether your breath smelled like alcohol.  Of course the most important tests for evaluating safety are the field sobriety tests, which are designed to specifically indicate if you were safe to drive a car.

All of the above tests and observations are subjective in nature and also subject to police manipulation.  Hence, having a seasoned savvy dui defense attorney is essential to achieving the best result possible in your dui case.

Did the Police Violate Your Rights During a DUI Stop?

A DUI stop is intimidating, and it can be difficult to know what your rights are. As a driver, is important to understand that the police are subject to certain legal limitations on the way that they collect evidence, and violations of these limits can have a significant impact on the way that your case is resolved. In fact, in some cases, a violation of your constitutional rights can result in the entire DUI case against you being dropped entirely.

If you believe that your rights were violated during a DUI traffic stop, it is important to consult with an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney as soon as possible. The aggressive lawyers at the Hedding Law Firm will ensure that your rights are vindicated and you have access to all possible remedies.

What Remedies Are Available for DUI Stop Violations?

There are many remedies that may be available to you, depending on the facts of your case. Some of the most common are:

  • Suppression of evidence under the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits police officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures. What this means in practice is that the police need to have probable cause or a warrant in order to search your or your vehicle – and a chemical test of your blood, breath, or urine is considered to be a “search.” In addition, in order to even make a traffic stop, they must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. If you can establish that the police lacked sufficient legal justification for a search, it can result in any evidence they gathered being suppressed (meaning the prosecution cannot introduce the statement into evidence). Without the ability to use evidence gathered in a traffic stop, prosecutors are often required to drop their case.
  • Suppression of evidence under the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment protects your right against self incrimination. It is the reason Miranda Warnings must be given after a person is taken into custody. If you involuntarily make an incriminating statement to a law enforcement officer, an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to have the judge suppress it from trial.
  • Suppression of evidence under the Sixth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment protects your right to counsel. This, too, is part of the Miranda Warnings, and violations of this right can also lead to the suppression of evidence at trial. If you request an attorney and law enforcement continues to question you, your lawyer may be able to suppress any statements made after your request for counsel.
  • Civil Rights actions under 42 U.S.C. §1983. Suppression of evidence can be a powerful tool at a criminal trial. But what if you were wrongfully stopped, no charges were filed against you, and there never is a criminal trial? Congress has established another remedy for violations of civil rights. Section 1983 allows you to bring a civil suit against any person (including law enforcement officers) who deprives you of any of the rights, privileges or immunities of U.S. law. For example: if, during a DUI stop, a police officer elicits incriminating statements from you about how much you drank, these would not be admissible at trial. But suppose your breath test came back just under .08 and there never was a criminal trial. You would be able to file a civil law suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the law enforcement agency to recover your losses caused as a result of the violation. This could include attorney’s fees, pain and suffering, etc. 1983 law suits are not common because they are costly to pursue. In addition, law enforcement officers are often given discretion to execute their duties in good faith. Nonetheless, a §1983 action can be an effective option when police conduct was particularly egregious.

Always Have a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Review Your Case

As a DUI defendant, it is important to understand that issues related to constitutional rights and the suppression of evidence are extremely complicated. As a result, it is difficult to determine whether your rights were violated or to suppress evidence without significant legal training and experience. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney review your case as soon as possible after an arrest. Failure to do so may result in an unnecessary conviction for drunk driving on your record.

Call an LA DUI Defense Attorney for a Consultation

If you have been stopped by any law enforcement officer on suspicion of DUI, contact the Hedding Law Firm today. We will ensure that your civil rights are vindicated and your criminal case is resolved fairly. Call (866) 986-2092 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today. Our professional, friendly staff offers the personalized service you deserve.

What a DUI Lawyer Will Do For You

If you have been charged with a DUI, there are many collateral consequences to a conviction that you might not be aware of. By hiring an experienced, aggressive attorney, you can protect your legal rights to ensure a fair criminal case and mitigate the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction.

In some DUI cases, it is possible to convince the prosecutor to drop charges altogether. This is rare. It usually requires exceptional circumstances such as lab errors, evidence tampering, police misconduct, or similar egregious behavior. In the vast majority of cases, a good DUI lawyer is not trying to get the DUI case dismissed altogether. He or she is trying to mitigate the damage of the case upon your life. This can make the difficult experience of DUI much less burdensome for the defendant who hires an experienced, aggressive DUI attorney.

How Can a DUI Lawyer Mitigate the Consequences of a DUI?

There are many different ways an attorney can mitigate the consequences of DUI for you. The right solution depends on the specific facts of your case, but here are some of the most common ways:

  • Pled to reduced charges. In rare cases, it is possible to plead to a charge that is less severe than DUI (for example, reckless driving). This often depends on the strength of the prosecutor’s evidence of intoxication.
  • Negotiate terms of a plea agreement. Many prosecutors’ offices have guidelines for what plea offers can be made in various cases. However, individual prosecutors have discretion within these guidelines, and this can be used to your advantage. For example: fines, community service requirements, and other terms can be reduced by effective negotiation with your assigned prosecutor.
  • Some DUI defendants are ordered to wear Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors (“SCRAM device”, more commonly known as an ankle bracelet). These devices continually monitor the amount of alcohol in a wearer’s sweat. In DUI cases, a judge can order a defendant to wear a SCRAM for a specified period of time in lieu of jail time. This gives the defendant incentive to abstain from alcohol use and not to tamper with the device. Because a judge has discretion to order or not order SCRAM use, an attorney can advocate for you to not be subject to this invasive device. An attorney can also advocate for less time on the ankle bracelet.

These are just a few of the ways in which an attorney can mitigate the consequences of a DUI charge. There are many other ways in which an attorney can review the specific facts of your case to find the legal strategies that are right for you.

Legal Defenses May Be Available

While the majority of DUI cases are resolved through a plea agreement, it is not necessarily the case that yours will be. There are many ways to defend against allegations of drunk driving, some of which may be appropriate in your case. Our Los Angeles DUI lawyers have successfully defended clients for more than two decades against any type of DUI charges. Here are some of the more common defenses raised in California DUI cases:

  • Arguing that the Breathalyzer was Improperly Calibrated – In order to be accurate, breathalyzer machines must be properly calibrated by a person trained to use the device. If the device used in your case was not properly calibrated, it can result in the result being deemed inadmissible in court. In many cases, not being able to use breathalyzer evidence significantly weakens the prosecution’s case.
  • Challenging the Validity of the Initial Stop – The police are subject to certain rules and are not allowed stop and search anyone one they want. If your rights were violated during a traffic stop, any evidence gathered after the stop could be thrown out.
  • Showing that You Have a Medical Condition that Can Cause High Levels of Mouth Alcohol – Breathalyzer machines operate by taking a breath sample and using a calculation to determine a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Studies have shown that gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause high levels of mouth alcohol that can result in inaccurately high breathalyzer results.

Call a Los Angeles DUI Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you or a loved one has been charged with driving under the influence, contact the experienced, aggressive attorneys at the Hedding Law Firm as soon as possible. Our friendly, professional staff offers the personalized service that will ensure that your rights are protected and your criminal case is resolved fairly. To schedule a consultation, contact our law firm today at 866-986-2092.

Stopped for DUI? Call a Lawyer Immediately

If you have been stopped on suspicion of DUI, your legal rights may be in jeopardy – even if a prosecutor has not yet filed formal charges against you. It is therefore important to contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible after you have been stopped by law enforcement. Contact the Hedding Law Firm immediately after a DUI stop to protect your legal rights and preserve all defenses available to you. The sooner you call, the sooner we can achieve a fair outcome to your DUI case.

What Happens After a DUI Stop?

  • When an officer stops you for suspected DUI, he or she has the option for how to resolve your stop:The officer can ask you to submit to bodily fluid tests (breath, blood, urine) on the scene. Refusal to do so triggers an automatic suspension of your driver’s license under the “administrative per se” DUI statutes. If you have been issued an administrative per se suspension, you have ten days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is, therefore, highly important to consult with an attorney so that you do not miss this window of opportunity to challenge your license suspension.
  • If you submit to a breath test on scene and it comes back over the .08 blood alcohol limit, you will also face suspension of your driver’s license. In addition, the officer will issue you a citation to appear in court. The citation is later filed with the court, as well. This is the formal filing of criminal charges against you.
  • If your blood or urine is taken for testing, there will most likely not be an immediate result. Instead, the officer will send your sample to a law enforcement laboratory for testing. This does not mean that you are off the hook. If the sample comes back at greater than .08, a prosecutor will file formal criminal charges against you. You will be summoned to court by mail or process server.
  • Once formal charges have been filed, your DUI attorney can begin negotiating with the prosecutor or preparing for trial as appropriate. Your attorney will need time to interview witnesses (including the arresting officer), review the prosecutor’s evidence, and prepare your defense. The more time he or she has, the stronger your case will be.

As you can see, there are many steps in the DUI process, and almost all of them can have an improved outcome with the advice of an experienced DUI attorney. By getting legal advice early in the process and preparing your defense early, you will have improved chances of a successful outcome in the criminal case.

What Will an Attorney Do for Me?

Many people who have been arrested for DUI wonder how an attorney can help them. Usually, this either because they concede the fact that they were drunk or they believe that the evidence that the police gathered against them cannot be challenged.

First of all, it important to understand that the majority of DUI cases never go to trial. Instead, they are resolved through a plea bargain process in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for the prosecutor recommending that the judge impose a particular sentence – which usually avoids jail time or other serious consequences.

In some cases, there may be legal defenses that could result in an acquittal or the case being dropped. These include the following:

  • Arguing that the initial stop was not legally justified
  • Establishing that you have a medical condition that could inflate breathalyze results or cause symptoms that could be confused with those associated with alcohol intoxication
  • Impeaching the credibility of the officer who arrested you
  • Uncovering problems with the way your blood or urine samples were handled

Determining whether these or other defenses exist in your case is a complicated legal matter that requires significant legal training. For this reason, if you have been arrested for DUI in California, you should speak to an attorney as soon as you can. A lawyer will thoroughly evaluate your case, determine whether any defenses exist, and advise you how to proceed.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney

If you or a loved one has been stopped by an officer on suspicion of DUI, contact the Hedding Law Firm as soon as possible. Our experienced, aggressive attorneys will ensure that your rights are protected and your criminal case is resolved fairly. Call (866) 986-2092 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.

Even a First Time DUI Can Have Serious Consequences in California

DUI convictions carry a wide range of consequences, including those imposed by a court and as well as others. You might not be aware of all of these potential consequences, or just how badly they can impact your life – even if it is only your first DUI. An experienced, aggressive attorney can help you address these consequences and mitigate their impact upon you. Contact the Hedding Law Firm today to learn how we can help you manage the consequences of a first time DUI.

Some Consequences You Might Not Know About

You are probably aware that a DUI conviction will leave you with a criminal record. You are also probably aware that it will result in fines, fees, community service, and other court-ordered sanctions. But did you know about the many administrative consequences of DUI?

  • Driver’s license suspension: Simply refusing to submit to a bodily fluid test (breath, blood or urine) during a DUI stop can result in the suspension of your driver’s license. This is known as an administrative per se suspension. When you refuse to submit to such tests on the scene of a DUI stop, the officer will submit documentation to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your license suspension will automatically take effect in ten days unless you request a hearing with the DMV to challenge the suspension. There are many other types of driver’s license suspension that occur during a DUI case. If you submit to tests on the scene which show a blood alcohol content above .08, you will also be subject to a suspension. And of course, DUI convictions carry a host of consequences with the DMV – including lengthy suspensions. Repeat DUI conviction result in longer suspensions, but even first time DUI convictions carry significant consequences with the DMV.
  • Employment: In general, employers have wide discretion to terminate employment based upon an employee’s criminal record. Court cases and documentation are public records, and there is little that can be done to stop your employer from finding them. More importantly: a DUI case causes you to miss a significant amount of time from work. Court appearances, community service, DMV hearings, court-ordered substance abuse screenings, and other mandatory appointments can put you in a precarious position with your employer.
  • Fingerprint clearance: Many jobs require a fingerprint clearance card. This is the result of through background checks and detailed examinations of your criminal record. A DUI conviction will inevitably make it more difficult to obtain a fingerprint clearance card. Even if it is possible to appeal to the Fingerprint Clearance Board, this will require a significant amount of time and money to complete. It may even require you to hire an attorney and invest significant attorney’s fees to the project.

Defending a DUI

If you are like many people who have been arrested for DUI, you are unclear about how you an attorney could possibly help you. If you were arrested for DUI, chances are that you had been drinking at least at little and that the officer asked you to perform a roadside sobriety test or took a breath sample that indicated that you were over the legal limit. What defenses could possibly be available?

Well, the good news for you is that the answer to this question is “several.” Some of the more common DUI defenses raised in California include the following:

  • Challenging the initial traffic stop. Police are required to have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being or recently has been committed before making a traffic stop, and sobriety checkpoints are subject to certain legal requirements. If a traffic stop is deemed invalid, any evidence gathered during that stop can likely be suppressed.
  • Presenting evidence that you have a medical condition that can cause symptoms similar to intoxication. Bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and poor balance can be caused by much more that drugs or alcohol. If your attorney can introduce evidence that you have a medical condition that could be mistaken for intoxication, it may result in your case being dropped or an acquittal.
  • Challenging the Results of the Breathalyzer – Many DUI arrests involve breathalyzer evidence. Breathalyzer results are not always accurate and arguing that the machine was improperly calibrated or that you have a medical condition that can affect the results may call the results into question or result in them being dismissed entirely.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is facing the consequences of a DUI, contact the experienced, aggressive attorneys at the Heeding Law Firm. We have successfully represented many DUI cases, and we will fight for you to ensure the best possible outcome. Call (866) 986-2092 or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.