Learn the Potential Punishments For a DUI in Los Angeles

Having practiced DUI law in LA for the last twenty-five years, I’ve seen all kinds of different punishments either dolled out to criminal defendants in a DUI case or at least offered to criminal defendants in a DUI case and I tell you, it starts as early as the arraignment now.  The prosecutor and the judge – even on a first-time DUI – they don’t just want to let the person go on their won recognizance if their blood alcohol level is high or they’re involved in any kind of an accident which shows kind of a dangerousness level, then they’re going to try to make them do AA meetings – like three AA meetings a week while the case is pending if they want to be released on their own recognizance.  For me, that’s punishment started right off the top.  Even if the person does not have an alcohol problem, these guys are trying to make them do certain things right from the beginning or they make them post a bail in the case.

Other things I see them doing even at the arraignment level is if a person is dangerous enough because they have multiple DUI’s or because their blood alcohol level was high or because they hurt somebody, they’ll make them actually put a scram device on their , so they can determine whether or not they had any alcohol and then they’ll order them not to consume any alcohol.  Again, they’re really zeroed in and aimed at protecting the public, so that’s why they have all these different things.

Another big thing that I’m seeing now in the Los Angeles courts as it relates to DUI’s is they have this program called the H20 program.  What they’re doing is they’re waiting in the main DUI courts across Los Angeles county and they will wait for the person – they have a whole list of all the people with DUI’s who have to appear that day – especially people who have suspended licenses – and they will wait for them outside the court.  They’ll have identifying information and as soon as they get in their car and drive, they pull them over and charge them with violating their probation, driving on a suspended license – and when you get that and it relates to a DUI case, you’re looking at going to jail, so there are all sorts of punishments related to DUI cases that you might not even think about in Los Angeles, California, unless you are a DUI attorney who did this all the time, and like me, who has done thousands of these DUI cases.

What are Some of the Main Punishments that are Being Doled Out in the Criminal Courts Across LA County Related to DUI’s?

Probably one of the most common punishments is that they put you on three years’ probation.  Sometimes you can get it down to two years of probation if the blood alcohol level is l-ow enough and you’re not as much of a threat to anybody.  Another thing is they will try to make the person pay a fine.  Usually, the basic fine in Los Angeles county is $390 plus penalty assessment.  That ends up being – especially when they tack on all their fees – anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000.  Sometimes I’ve been able to get clients community service in order to wipe out most of the fines, but still you’re going to have to pay $400 or $500 in fees that the courts use to keep themselves going.

So, in addition to that, another thing is they’re going to make the person do an alcohol program.  In Los Angeles, for a first offense, they’re usually talking about a 36-month alcohol program, however, there’s also a 6-month alcohol program, a 9-month alcohol program, an 18-month alcohol program and a 30-month alcohol program.  So, you can start to see all DUI’s are not created equal.  These guys are not messing around.  Basically, it’s a sliding scale depending on how high your blood alcohol level was and how dangerous you were, how your criminal record looks.  They can make you do 9-month alcohol program.  Then you have to pay for it.  You have to go once a week to the program. Having a good attorney who knows the ins-and-outs of the court system is crucial when it comes to these DUI cases and trying to get the best possible result.

Jail Time and Community Service

Of course, the biggest weapon these guys have is jail time.  On a first offense, they can give you up to six months in the county jail.  If you’re on probation, it usually can be a year to a year and a half in the county jail.  On a second offense, they can give you up to a year just for that offense and if you’re on probation they can give you an additional year.  So, they do have some teeth when it comes to these DUI’s.  If they’re angry enough – based on the person, what they did and how dangerous they were out in public.  Other things that I’ve seen them do when it comes to DUI’s, they can make you do AA meetings because they feel you need an education in addition to the alcohol program.  They can also make you do community service, community labor, Caltrans, graffiti removal, and then they can put other restrictions on you where you’re not allowed to drink alcohol and you’re not allowed to drive your vehicle.  There’s a whole host of things that they do and sometimes they will tailor punishments based on what the person did.  Based on the person’s prior criminal record, and again, they’re trying to do things to really protect the public and make sure this person doesn’t get out on the road and kill somebody.

Felony DUI’s and Punishment

A lot of times for a first-time felony DUI, you can be looking up to three years in prison.  If you actually hurt somebody and cause them great bodily injury, you’re looking at a strike on your record, an additional 3-year enhancement, so you’d be looking at up to six years in prison and you can get your license revoked for three years.  There’s all sorts of things that can be done.  Again, these things are being done in the name of protecting the public.

So, if you’re going to drive a car and you’re going to take other people’s lives into your hands, then you’re going to take other people’s lives into your hands, then you’re going to be looking at a severe punishment.  Of course, the ultimate punishment they have – if you kill somebody related to a DUI they can through you in prison for 15 to life and charge you with murder.  So, a long story short, when it comes to DUI cases, you’ve got to have the best attorney possible who knows how to deal with the issues surrounding DUI cases, who knows how to protect your rights, your freedom, your interest, your reputation and your record.

Contact a DUI Lawyer in Los Angeles

If you have a DUI case and you’re concerned about the punishment, give me a call and we’ll sit down in the privacy of my office and go over everything.  I will give you a feel and an idea for what you’re facing, what you’re looking at and we’ll figure out exactly what can be done to help you related to your DUI matter in Los Angeles county.

Do Miranda Rights Have to be Read to Somebody Who is Arrested for a DUI?

When it comes to DUI’s in Los Angeles and across California, this is one of the biggest fallacies or confusions that people have, is that they must be read their Miranda Right or somehow the DUI is no good.  That’s one of the first things people tell me when they come into my office.  They didn’t read me my Miranda Rights – do you believe that?  Somehow, they think that can now be used to win their DUI case.  The bottom line is they do not have to  read you your Miranda Rights ever and if they don’t, it usually doesn’t make much difference in a DUI case.

The evidence they’re going to use in a DUI case is your breath or blood result to be able to prove whether or not that is a .08 or greater.  They don’t’ need you to say anything to them in order for them to typically prosecute you for a DUI.   You’re either a .08 or greater or you’re not.  Of course, if there’s more to it than that – how you’re driving, how you do on a field sobriety test and a host of other factors are going to control what happens in your DUI case, but the only reason they have to read somebody their Miranda Rights is if they want to use a statement against them.  So, if they don’t want to use someone’s statement against them, then they don’t have to read them the Miranda Rights.

In different criminal cases other than DUI’s, the police do read the Miranda Rights because a lot of times if the person is in custody and they want to take a statement.  So, if you don’t read somebody their Miranda Rights and they’re in custody and you’re asking them direct questions, or you’re saying things that would trigger another person to incriminate themselves or give incriminating information, then you have to read them their Miranda Rights.  If you don’t read the Miranda Rights and you’re in law enforcement, then any statement that the person makes, is not going to be able to be used against them.  You can still prosecute the person, you just can’t use their statements.

That does become applicable sometimes depending on what the circumstances are.  For example, let’s say someone gets into a DUI crash and they leave their car there and they walk away, and they get miles away from the scene of the accident and the police find them.  The police are going to start asking you questions.  When did you crash?  Were you the one who crashed?  Were you driving?  If they can pinpoint the answers to those questions, then they’re going to be able to get him for the DUI, but I’ve won a lot of cases when the person is not there.  They’re not driving.  You have to be driving for it to be a DUI, but of course, if the police can prove that you were driving at some point that wasn’t too far away and you crashed, they can still get you for the DUI.  But if they arrest you in that example that I gave, and they start asking you questions and the don’t give you your Miranda Rights, then your attorney has an argument that they’re not going to be able to use the answers to those questions because they didn’t read the Miranda Rights.  That just doesn’t happen very often in the standard DUI.  The police arrest the person and they’ve got him right there and they’re able to prosecute him for the DUI.

Are There Circumstances Where a Case can be Dismissed if Miranda Rights Were Not Given to a Person?

The answer to this question is yes.  There absolutely are circumstances where if they don’t read the Miranda Rights they’re not going to be able to get the person for a crime.  It just doesn’t happen very often.  If they need the person’s statement in order to convict them for the DUI and the person was in custody and they were being asked direct questions that could incriminate them, or the police were doing certain things to get them to make incriminating statements.  The fact the Miranda Rights were not given, the person made an incriminating statement, then the defense can file a motion and argue that that statement should be allowed in against them and if the prosecutors need that statement to prove the case to tie in the rest of the evidence and that statement is taken away from them, then they’re going to have to dismiss the case.

Unfortunately, though there’s just been an erosion of Miranda since it came into being.  The courts have just cut it to pieces.  I do Miranda hearings all the time.  Basically, what you do is you have to get the police officer in there and the defense attorney is entitled to cross-examine him.  What are the circumstances?  Was the person in custody?  You were asking him questions.  It brings up that scenario where the police caught a person who they suspected had used a shotgun to kill somebody and they needed that somebody in order to prove so they could get the ballistics and obviously, if the person admitted whether the shotgun was because they couldn’t find it after searching their house – and they’d be able to convict them of the crime, and they had the person in the back of the car – and again I’m paraphrases here on the case – but they said to the guy, hey it sure would be said if some little kid got ahold of that gun and killed themselves, and the police say a bunch of other stuff and the guy feels bad, so he gives the location of the gun and then he’s prosecuted for it.  In that circumstance, even though they’re not asking direct questions – hey, where did you put the gun – they’re saying things that are designed to get him to incriminate himself.  So, that’s a circumstance where you could say that they improperly got a statement from him.  They didn’t read him the Miranda Rights – and you can get the case overturned.  Again, those situations just don’t come up that often, so usually the Miranda Rights, as they relate to DUI cases is pretty much irrelevant.  There are circumstances where they do apply.

If you think you’ve got a case based on what I just said, or you can either damage the case or get it completely dismissed because they’re relying heavily on your statements and they didn’t give you your Miranda Rights, then obviously give me a call and we can sit down and talk about it.

Another way the police get out of reading people their Miranda Rights associated with a DUI is they say listen, the person wasn’t in custody.  I just pulled him over.  I wanted to talk to them.  They had committed a traffic violation and so I was just asking them simple questions and I could smell the alcohol on their breath.  They admitted that they had five drinks, so a lot of times they can get around the Miranda warnings by saying the person was not in custody yet.  They were just detained.  I was just talking to him. I was just conducting an investigator.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney

So, again, Miranda Rights and DUI’s usually don’t apply, but if you think you have a case, you should sit down with a qualified DUI expert who has been defending DUI cases in the local court where your case is pending and knows how to handle these types of situations.

Is California One of The Toughest DUI States in the Nation?

When it comes to DUI’s, obviously every state in the nation is concerned for the public safety and Mother’s Against Drunk Drivers and a number of other interest groups have really played a role in increasing penalties and increasing the easiness of law enforcement to be able to catch and arrest those individuals who are drinking alcohol and driving on our roads. A lot of people don’t realize that in order to get a DUI, you don’t have to be drunk – you just have to not be able to safely operate a motor vehicle. California is definitely among one of the toughest states in the nation when it comes to DUI law and the enforcement of DUI law.

This is definitely borne out when I see people coming from other states who got DUI’s in their home state and then they come to California and attempt to get a driver’s license, and once California sees that that person had a DUI or multiple DUI’s in another state, they will make them meet the requirements of any driver in California that were to get a DUI before they will allow them to drive. For example, I saw one person that had gotten a second time DUI in another state and really hadn’t done any alcohol program. In California, for a second time DUI, you have to do an 18-month alcohol program which is a huge pain in the neck and costs a lot of money and time. The bottom line is the DMV told that person if you don’t do that program, you cannot drive in California and you will never be able to drive in California. So, there’s no question, as compared to other states in the nation, California DUI’s is definitely one of the most difficult to deal with.

Punishments for California DUI’s

Another aspect of California’s harshness is the fact that for a fourth time DUI, a person will be looking at a felony and up to three years in prison. If it’s a felony DUI and someone is seriously injured, there is a three-year enhancement. That three-year enhancement is typically a great bodily injury allegation which causes the DUI to become a strike and the person has that conviction on their record forever. Really, what it’s boiling down to is the legislature, prosecutors and judges are sick and tired of people putting other people’s lives in danger when it comes to driving on the road in Los Angeles and throughout California. So, they will send people to jail or prison. They will put harsh sanctions on them where they’re not allowed to drink alcohol during the probationary period. They’ll put scram bracelets on them while the case is pending so they can’t injure anybody.

It’s typical in Los Angeles courts that when somebody is charged with a DUI and they have a high blood alcohol level or it’s a second time DUI, that that person will be ordered to do AA meetings while the case is pending every day if they want to be released on their own recognizance. Otherwise, the judge will make them post a bail and order it to stay out of custody. So, DUI’s in California are very tough.

The Toughness of the DUI Laws in California Has Caused Many People to be Charged with Murder

What a lot of people don’t realize is that if you’re drinking and driving and you kill somebody out on the road, the prosecutors in Los Angeles, and even throughout California, can and will charge you with murder. Second degree murder you’ll be looking at 15 to life. You’ll have to serve 85% of 15 years before you’ll be eligible for parole and in reality, you could never get out if the Parole Board didn’t let you out. It used to be that drivers who killed people had to be proven that they knew or reasonably should have known that it’s dangerous and people can die if you drink and drive. So, they would have to prove to the prosecutors that those drivers took an alcohol course that taught them about the dangers of alcohol. All of the courts in Los Angeles and throughout California read first-time DUI people and even second-time DUI people an admonishment that says if you drink and drive and somebody dies, you will be charged with murder. This is called the Watson Warning.

It used to be that you had to have knowledge that you could kill somebody and then that would be used to supply the malice that is necessary for a murder case. In other words, you could apply that the person was malice because they just drove anyways with alcohol in their system. Really, what they’re trying to get you to do is think before you even start drinking, and if you’re going to have to drive, set things up before you’re in an intoxicated state so that you’re not going to put yourself in a position to drink and drive and potentially injure or kill somebody.

Now, the shift that I’m seeing is that if somebody is drinking and driving and they kill somebody, the prosecutor’s first move is to charge them with second degree murder. The theory they are using to do it is that everybody in society knows by now because of all the news media and just commonsense, that if you drink alcohol and drive you stand a good chance of getting in an accident, hurting somebody or killing somebody, So, good people with no record who just went out to have a good time are being charged with murder. The sad thing about it is that a lot of times it’s questionable whose fault the accident it is, but in DUI cases there’s a further harshness of the California DUI laws, is that there is a presumption in the law that if you were drinking and driving and an accident occurs, it’s presumed that you’re the one who is at fault or caused the accident. Now that presumption can be rebutted, but obviously your criminal defense attorney is going to have to use their skills to show that the accident was somebody else’s fault. Therefore, the death or the injury was caused by another person or another event or another circumstance. That’s how you get rid of these murder charges or felony DUI charges.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI lawyer

So, if you have a DUI in California, and specifically, Los Angeles, you’re going to want to get an attorney who has been down this road before and had success. Contact our Los Angeles DUI lawyers to review your case.

Boating Under the Influence in Los Angeles

Understanding Boating Under the Influence – California Navigation Code 655

It is obviously illegal to drive any motorized vehicle on a body of water under the influence of alcohol.  This means people who are driving boats and different other motorized vehicles have to take the same care and caution pursuant to the Navigation Code 655, that people do that drive vehicles on the roadway in California.  If you are caught driving a boat for example in a body of water and your blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater, or you have drugs or alcohol in your system and it is determined through a field sobriety test and other means that you cannot safely operate the boat, you can be charged with a DUI just like if you were driving a vehicle.

Where I see these boat-related driving under the influence cases filed is usually on holidays believe-it-or-not, because people will be in a crowded lake and the sheriffs will put their boat in there because they realize people are drinking.  There’s a lot of people there.  You see that yellow sheriff boat you had better look out because if you are driving any type of a motorized vehicle inside the water and they catch you being a .08 or greater or being under the influence – even if you’re smoking marijuana or using any type of drugs – in Los Angeles County they’re definitely going to prosecute that case as a BUI – boating under the influence.  If you are driving some other boat that is not motorized like a canoe, or some sort of a boat that has oars, they can’t get you for a boating under the influence for that.  But, if you have a motorized vehicle and they catch you, then they can charge you with a misdemeanor DUI.

When Can Boating Under the Influence be Charged as a Felony Offense?

I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years, where I see cases being filed as felonies when it comes to boating-relating incidents.  It’s just like DUI’s.  If there’s an accident on the water – you run over somebody who is skiing and injury them severely – you’re going to be charged with a felony boating under the influence.  You might even be charged with assault with a deadly weapon depending on the circumstances.  Under that circumstance where you are charged with a felony, you could be looking at prison time and a lot of your rights being taken away.  So, if you’ve got a boating under the influence case and they’re using that Navigation Code 655 against you, it’s time to find an attorney who’s been down this road before, had success, knows what they’re doing and can get you a good result.

Legal Penalties

The penalties for boating under the influence are very similar to penalties related to driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol.  You will usually have to do an alcohol program.  There will be a fine involved.  There will be a probationary period between three and five years.  There’s a number of other different punishment that can be meted out depending on the circumstances of the boating incident.  If you were just driving around recklessly, typically that’s going to be a misdemeanor if you’re under the influence.  If on the other hand, you get in an accident and you hurt somebody – serious injury occurs – then you can expect to be charged with a felony.  They take these cases very seriously and the prosecutors prosecute them just like regular DUI’s where people are on the roadway.  For example, if you get convicted of a misdemeanor driving under the influence related to a boat or other motorized vehicle, and then within ten years you pick up another DUI case, they’re going to treat that as a second offense – just like if you already have a DUI case and you pick up a new boating under the influence case and get convicted of it – they’re going to treat it as a second offense.  So, these situations where you’re boating on the water – and I think a lot of times people do drink and drive boats, it’s common, and believe it or not, the sheriffs realize that so, they’ll put their boat in the water and be on the lookout for people who are driving around erratically or dangerously, and they will be checking boats to make sure that everybody is safe – obviously in the interest of nobody getting hurt.

Contacts a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

So, if you’ve got a boating under the influence case in Los Angeles County and you need an attorney, I usually have you come, sit down, we’ll go over everything.  Obviously, I encourage you to be honest and give me all the details related to the incident and then I’ll let you know what you’re up against, what you’re facing – depending on what circumstances you give me – and obviously, I’m going to let you know what you can do to help me best defend you and what I’m going to do moving forward to try to get you out of the legal system as fast as possible and get your boating under the influence case either reduced down to something other than that, or completely dismissed if the prosecutors are unable to prove that you were driving a motorized vehicle with either a .08 or greater or with drugs or alcohol or both in your system and couldn’t safely operate that boat.

If I Get Arrested For A DUI Will I Have To Go To Rehab?

I have a lot of people come and ask me when we sit down for the first meeting related to their DUI case, whether I think it’s a good idea for them to go to rehab and whether it will help them in their DUI matter.  The reality is this – the prosecutors who see people who have to go to rehab related to a DUI see those people as a threat.  Somebody who drinks way too much, and therefore has to go to rehab is not somebody they typically want out on the roads in Los Angeles.

So, if you have a horrible alcohol problem and you think going to rehab will help you as a person, then obviously rehab might be the answer for you and if you have multiple DUI’s or a felony DUI – where you’re looking at county time or prison time – then a lot of times what I’ve been able to do is get the person into a rehab instead.  The theory behind that is to tell the prosecutor listen – you want the person off the street for a period of time, live-in rehab will do that, also it will get to the route of their problem which is obviously alcohol.  Really, when it comes to using a rehab-type strategy in a DUI case in Los Angeles, you’re trying to avoid jail or prison time.

So, those people who are going to rehab or doing AA meetings when they have a first time DUI, it really doesn’t make any sense and it probably could backfire if the prosecutors find out about it, because then they will think that person has an alcohol problem, they need to put more restrictions on them than the average person.  So, really in determining whether or not you should go to rehab there’s a number of different things you should consult.  First and foremost, you talk to your attorney about it and then you both decide whether or not that’s a strategy that you want to use in relation to your DUI case.  A lot of times when people are facing jail time, they consider going to rehab as it relates to their DUI case.  However, before you do something like that, you need to realize that whatever days you get in rehab, you’re actually going to have to do.  So, if you get 180 days in a live-in rehab, you’re going to have to do the full 180 days where you can’t get out of the rehab.  If, on the other hand, you get 180 days in the county jail, you’ll probably be out within a very short period of time because of the over-crowding in the Los Angeles county jail as I submit this blog post.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney

So, your best strategy is to sit down with your DUI defense attorney, let them have all the details.  Don’t lie about it.  Don’t add things.  Don’t omit things.  Give them all the details that are necessary for them to help you make the right decision, and then once they have that information they will assist you, they will give you what they think is the right way to handle it, they can negotiate for you and resolve your DUI matter.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0963

How Does Getting a DUI Affect my Commercial Driver’s License?

I do a lot of DUI cases where truck drivers are involved.  Obviously, when you drive for a living it’s crucial that your driver’s license not be taken away or affected in any way as it relates to a DUI.  However, long story short – if you’re convicted of a DUI you will lose your commercial driver’s license for one year.  Obviously, this is a very serious ramification that could affect your livelihood for a long time to come.

Therefore, if you have a commercial driver’s license and you got a DUI, it’s obviously a good idea to get in front of an attorney that’s handled these types of cases before and can try to come up with some strategies that could be utilized with the DMV and in the criminal court.  Depending on what your blood alcohol level was, whether the stop by the police was lawful and a host of other different factors, a criminal defense attorney can really give you a good assessment as to whether you could actually beat your DUI or if you’re better served in just trying to negotiate the best resolution possible with the prosecutors.

Another thing that needs to be assessed when it comes to DUI’s and your commercial driver’s license is, what can be done with the DMV?  In other words, are there strategies that can be employed by your DUI defense attorney that can attempt to mitigate, minimize or even stop all together a year-long suspension of your commercial driver’s license.  Obviously, the legislature is very serious when it comes to commercial driver’s licenses because people who drive commercially for a living are out on the road and can cause serious accidents.  Some people are carrying significant products that can cause other damage to individuals, and therefore, it’s crucial the public is protected.

So, when it comes to these DUI’s, commercial drivers losing their license for a year and the other potential ramifications that can come along – what it’s really going to hinge on is whether or not the prosecutors can prove that you were actually a DUI – whether you were treated the right way and whether any of your rights were violated.  And the only way you’re really going to assess this is by way of a criminal defense attorney who has done DUI’s and can figure out what all the angles are in order to best represent you and present your defense and your rights.

Call a Los Angeles DUI Attorney

So, you should get your list of questions together, find a DUI defense attorney that’s been down this road before and can properly advise you as it relates to DUI’s and commercial driver’s licenses, that way you’ll be in the best possible position and get the best possible result.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0963

If The Police Did Not Read Me My Rights Can I Still Be Charged With DUI?

I get asked this question all the time.  People say the police never read me my Miranda Rights and therefore, I want to get the charges dismissed against me.  Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than this.  Usually when it comes to a DUI, some technicality is not going to get a person off unless the technicality relates to a very important or integral part of the prosecutor’s and police’s case in a DUI.

The reality is that the police do not need to read you your Miranda Rights even when it comes to a DUI.  Where the issue comes in is if they don’t read you your Miranda Rights and then they later attempt to get a statement against you in order to prove that you’re guilty of the DUI.  That’s where the defense attorney can argue – wait a minute, you didn’t read the person their Miranda Rights, you had him in custody, you were asking him direct questions which could incriminate him – therefore, you’re not going to be able to get that statement in and then the judge would make the final ruling.  If that statement was a crucial or necessary part of the prosecution’s case, then obviously that could be significant for getting your DUI dismissed.

However, the reality is usually the evidence that the police and prosecutors are using in a DUI in Los Angeles, centers around your breath reading, how you did on the field sobriety test, how you did on the PAZ exam, which is the preliminary alcohol screening device out in the field, and they’re really looking at what your driving was like, how you were talking or how you were walking to determine whether or not you were impaired to the point where you can not safely operate a motor vehicle.  So, your statements aren’t usually as significant as these other factors that I’m mentioning.  However, what the police will try to do is, they’ll ask you when you drank, how much you drank, what type of alcohol you drank, and they’ll try to really help their expert out with an eye towards a future trial.  A lot of the questions that they’re asking during the booking process and when they pull you over are targeted on trying to incriminate you and trying to block a later defense that you might try to raise at the potential trial.

The police are specifically trained to check off a lot of these boxes and talk to prosecutors and other authorities in order to make sure that they can prevent you from asserting certain defenses in a future trial related to your case.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

So, if you have a DUI matter and you were not read your Miranda Rights and you believe that you gave some statements that are now being used against you to incriminate you, obviously your best strategy is to sit down with a seasoned criminal defense attorney and let them assist you in developing a strategy and seeing if the fact that your Miranda Rights weren’t read to you really is important in your case.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0963

Can I Be Charged as a Passenger for a DUI?

As far as DUI’s go in passengers of vehicles, obviously you’re not going to be able to be charged with a DUI if it can be shown that you’re simply a passenger in the vehicle.  Even if a passenger is very drunk and couldn’t operate a vehicle, then that person still can’t be charged with a DUI. It’s possible that the person could be charged with being drunk in public, but that seems highly unlikely if they’re simply a passenger in a vehicle attempting to get home.  Where a problem could develop is if they got outside the vehicle and were too drunk to care for themselves, then instead of being charged with a DUI, they could be charged with being drunk in public and have to be sent into court.

Having done these DUI cases for the past twenty-five years though, I have seen situations where people are claiming to be passengers in a vehicle, and they were really the driver of the vehicle, and the issue becomes – is somebody going to be able to identify them as a driver – or from the circumstances of the case, are they going to be determined to be a driver.  I’ve seen cases where people who have got in accidents have been DUI and they’ve switched places with the passenger and then there are witnesses claiming that the passenger was actually the driver of the vehicle, and now the police are left to sort things out.

I’ve also seen situations where the police come upon a vehicle and there’s only one person in the car – they may be in the passenger seat and the police attempt to claim that they were the driver of the vehicle.  Of course, you’re going to have to look at the surrounding circumstances of the case to determine whether this person is the actual driver for purposes of a DUI or simply a passenger.  If someone’s out in the middle of a freeway and there’s a bunch of traffic and they’re the only ones in a car, then there’s a pretty good argument that they’re the ones that drove that car back, and therefore, instead of being a passenger they are actually the driver of the vehicle.

Really, when it comes to determining whether someone is a passenger for purposes of a DUI versus a driver, it’s going to depend on the surrounding circumstances of the case and whether there are any witnesses and what evidence the police can bring to bear in order to attempt to prove that the person is guilty of a DUI.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

So, if you find yourself, in a situation where you are being charged with a DUI and you were actually a passenger in the car,  obviously you want to get in front of a criminal defense attorney who does DUI’s for a living and can argue the facts for you and can prove that you were not the driver of the car – that you were, in fact, the passenger and you shouldn’t be charged with a DUI.  Sometimes these cases have to be taken to trial and fought in front of a jury and the jury has to be the final arbiter as to whether you were the driver or a passenger for purposes of a DUI.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0963

How do I get my Car Back after Being Arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles County?

It’s not uncommon that when people get arrested for a DUI in LA, that the police take their car away and impound it.  There’s various reasons why the police can impound somebody’s car.  Depending on the reason, that will dictate the solution as far as how you get your car back.  If your car has been taken away from you because you’re driving on a suspended license, then the law says they must keep the car for thirty days.  The only way that I’ve seen people get around this thirty-day impoundment is if the person who actually owns the car had nothing to do with the driver who was driving on a suspended license.  That person can come and show that it’s their car, they need it and they weren’t the one who caused it to be impounded.  Usually, if this is handled in a polite and professional manner, the police will release the hold on the car and the person can get their car back, so they can move on with their life.  If, on the other hand, the person who has a suspended license owns that car and drives that car, then they’re going to have to wait the thirty days while it’s being impounded because they’re impounding it by law and they’re also going to have to pay the fees associated with the suspended license related to the case.

Other reasons that can cause a car to be held is if the police arrest you, they’re entitled to impound your car, search it, and then once you get out of custody, you should be able to get the car back by going to the police station and following their prompts as far as what you have to do.  You’re probably going to have to pay some fees in order to get the vehicle out.  If the vehicle’s being held as property, that’s a different story.  I’ve had a lot of situations where people’s cars are held, and the police will not let the car out because either they were involved in some sort of a hit and run and they need to investigate and take pictures of the case, or sadly, the police will keep it to make sure that the person turns himself in related to a hit and run case.

Another scenario has to do with the car being held for evidence  If you’re involved in some sort of an accident, then the police need to photograph it and see what’s inside of it in order to possibly use information in the car, then they can put a hold on it  And unfortunately, they’re pretty lazy when it comes to this and they take their time as far as releasing the car.  What I usually have to do in this scenario is contact the prosecutor, get the prosecutor to acknowledge that the police have had enough time to look at the car, take pictures, search it, etc., and then the prosecutors will typically call the police up and say hey, let the car go.

So, if your car is in custody, so to speak, and you want to try to get it out, your best solution is to hire an attorney to assist you with whatever criminal case you caused the car to get impounded in the first place and then tangential to that representation, your attorney can speak to the powers that be and figure out how to get your car out.  Without an attorney, sometimes it is very difficult to get your car out and storage fees can mount, and you can be put in a position where the car is held for so long, depending on its value, it’s not even worth it to get it out.

So, if you have a situation where you’re charged with a crime and your car has been impounded and you’re trying to get that vehicle out in Los Angeles county, let your attorney do the work for you.  Let your attorney advise you.  Sometimes I advise people exactly how to get their car out and let them take care of the physical activity of doing it.  They just really needed from me a strategy on how to get the vehicle out.  But for an attorney to just tell you over the phone – not knowing anything about your situation – they’re probably not going to be able to give you as much detail as you need to successfully get the vehicle out.  So, sometimes it takes vigilance to get the vehicle out – you have to put some time in and go to the right places – other times it takes patience because the police need to do whatever they need to do related to your vehicle, and eventually they’re going to let it go.  Sometimes it takes a little bit of both of these.  But if you really want to get the strategy on how to get that vehicle out, in related to a DUI case, then you’re going to need to talk to an attorney and let them properly advise you.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0963

What if you Pick up a Second Time DUI While You’re on Probation for the First DUI in Los Angeles?

As you probably already guessed from having a first time DUI, the legislature, the police, the prosecutors and judges take DUI’s very seriously.  These are political crimes that demand punishment by the public and the powers that be because of the potential ramifications of somebody driving while intoxicated on the road and hurting another person.  If you’re on probation for a DUI and you pick up another one, the first thing the judge and the prosecutors are going to think is that you have a problem with alcohol that needs to be addressed, and if you don’t address it, they’re going to address it by placing you in custody as long as they possibly can to try to impress upon you how dangerous it is to drink and drive and to make it a deterrence so that you will not do it again.  However, technically and procedurally, if you drink and drive while you’re on a first probation then you’ll violate that first time probation and if it’s a first offense, then you’ll be looking at up to six months in custody for the probation violation alone.  That on top of looking at up to a year for the new second time DUI and other potential ramifications that can come along with that.

The open case is obviously going to be treated more harshly than a regular second time DUI because you’re still on probation and you’re continuing to drink and drive despite the fact that you’ve pled guilty to a crime and you’ve been ordered not to drink and drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system and you pretty much ignored the court’s order  So, you’re going to be looking at being treated harshly by the judge who has that probation violation and the judge who has the open case.  Typically, in LA County what they do is they will combine the two cases and your lawyer will have to deal with both of those cases at the same time in trying to resolve the case.  If there’s a jury trial in the case, then they will wait and see whether you’re found guilty or innocent on the new case before they do anything with the probation violation, and for the probation violation, even if you were technically found innocent, you can still be violated on your probation if they can prove that you drank with any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.

Punishments for Second Time DUI’s While On Probation for a First Time DUI in Los Angeles

A lot of times if people are continuing to drink and drive while they’re on probation, the prosecutors and judges perceive that they have a bad alcohol problem.  This could either cause them to think the person needs to go to jail for a long time or be taken out of the community in a residential live-in alcohol program, where not only can the public be protected from them because they’re in custody in a residential live-in program, but also the person can get help for the root problem which is obviously, from their perspective, alcohol abuse.  So, that’s certainly one potential punishment if a person wants to avoid jail time.  Also, they will make you do an 18-month alcohol program – this is mandated by the legislature – and it will also be mandated by the department of motor vehicles in order for you to ever be able to get your driver’s license back.  There’s typically a fine of approximately $390 plus penalty assessment which usually works its way out from somewhere between $2,000 to $3,000 once that fine is tacked on along with all the various fees that the courts collect in order to sustain themselves.  Other potential penalties can include AA meetings, they can also make you do Caltrans, which is roadwork on the side of the freeway, community service.  They can make you visit the hospital and morgue to see what happens when people drink and drive.  They can make you do a one-day seminar put on by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which basically shows you the ramifications of a DUI.  There’s a myriad of other punishments that can be exacted against somebody who’s charged with a DUI depending on exactly what they did and what type of behavior they were engaged in.

In order to get the best possible resolution and avoid some of the harsh penalties that can come along with a DUI case, obviously you’re going to want to find an attorney who has handled probation violations, second time DUI’s in the courthouse where your case is pending.  That attorney will be able to get a better feel for what you’re looking at and exactly what you can do to help the attorney achieve the best possible resolution for your second time DUI case.

Defense Plan if You’re Charged with a Second Time DUI And You’ve Violated your First Time DUI’s Probation

What I have people do is come into the office, sit down with me.   We go over all of the specifics of their case, and really what we’re angled at is why are you back in this position again?  Why have you gotten another DUI while you’re on probation?  Because these are the types of questions the prosecutor and judge are going to ask.  Once we get to the why then we’re going to get to, okay, what can be done to make sure this is never going to happen again?  What can we come up with to assure the court that you’re not going to drink and drive anymore and that you’re not going to put the public at risk, because when you think about this, what the courts and prosecutors are concerned about when they do these DUI cases – second offense, third offense, fourth offense – they’re concerned that you’re going to kill somebody out on the road and then whoever gets that case is going to be looking back and say – hey, how come the judge or prosecutor didn’t do anything about this person?  The writing was on the wall and they didn’t figure out how to stop this person from killing somebody.

So, if you look at things from that perspective, then when we start to build a case and either the defense or we build a strategy to get you the best resolution by way of plea bargaining with the judge and prosecutor, then you can see that we’re going to have to show them that this was an aberration and that it’s not going to happen again and that you’ve got a specific plan to show them how you’re going to deal with this problem.  How they can trust that you will not back in this situation again and they can trust that the public is going to be safe.  This takes time, it takes character letters from people who know you from your job, and it takes showing the judge getting a little personal – giving your version of events about what happened and why you find yourself in this position, and that you really weren’t given that much of a chance on probation and they should give you one more chance because you will show that you can be a productive member of society and not get yourself in this position again.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer

So, sitting down with your attorney, giving them an honest account of why this happened, what you can do so it won’t happen again is a good strategy.  Also, your attorney needs to tell you what you can do to help him or her achieve the best result for you and give you some peace of mind as to what can be done to actually help you.  Because you have two problems.  One, you have to deal with the prosecutors on the new case – they’re typically going to weigh-in heavily on what happens to you, and two, you’re going to have to deal with the judge on the probation violation because judges control probation violations in DUI cases in LA county.  So, there’s two different entities that have to be dealt with so it’s crucial that you get an attorney that can deal with both of these entities effectively in your DUI probation violation case.

Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436
(213) 542-0963