There are so many moving parts to a DUI in Los Angeles. Sometimes, it's nice to understand how things work from the beginning to the end of a DUI case. Then you see where you fit in and what you can do to get the best result.
First, you're arrested by the police. Typically, they're going to pull you over, or there will be an accident, or somehow the police come in contact with you out on the road. The next thing they have to determine is whether you were driving a car.
If they can't prove you were driving, they can't get you for a DUI. Once they confirm that you are going, they have to determine your blood alcohol level at the driving time. But typically, they're going to test you before they do that.
They're going to do field sobriety tests designed to determine whether you can safely operate a motor vehicle in Los Angeles. If they can prove there's alcohol in your system and you fail those field sobriety tests, they can get you for a Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), which says you have alcohol in your system and can't safely operate a motor vehicle. That doesn't have anything to do with what your blood alcohol level ultimately ends up being.
Another thing they like to do in conjunction with the field sobriety test is when they pull you over; they ask you if you've been drinking. If somebody is foolish enough to admit they've been drinking, they have step one. They have alcohol in their system.
Now, all they have to do is prove you can't safely operate a motor vehicle, and they're in business as far as a DUI goes. Then they're going to start asking you other questions to test your ability to follow instructions and get a feel for whether or not you're under the influence of alcohol or some other drug or prescription drug.
Once they make that determination and do the field sobriety tests, they get their box checked as far as asking you questions; then, they have to decide whether or not they're going to arrest you.
DUI Blood or Breath Tests
Once they arrest you, they'll put you in the back of the police car, and then they're going to ask you whether you want to take a blood test where they draw blood from you at a hospital or one of the local jails or whether you want to take the breath test.
Most times, the police will try to push you towards the breath test because it's easier for them to administer. The blood test is slightly more of a pain in the neck. So, unless you demand a blood test, they will try to steer you towards a breath test.
Don't get the breath test you choose and complete at the station confused with the one out in the field. In Los Angeles County, unlike Ventura County, where they have everything out in the area, they've got a PAS device, a Preliminary Alcohol Screening device. That's just used to test to see your alcohol level to determine whether they want to arrest you or not.
But the real test is the machine back at the station – the Intoxilyzer 3000. They're going to have you blow into that. Sometimes people don't blow enough, d they're going to have you keep blowing, blowing, blowing until they can get two good results.
A tiny strip prints out of the breath machine, and if you're a .08 or greater, you will be cited for a DUI. They'll hold you in there for as long as they deem appropriate, so when they let you go, you'll be safe out on the road. Once they let you go, they'll give you a citation to appear in court approximately thirty to forty-five days away, depending on how busy the court system is.
Retain a DUI Attorney and Arraignment
You'll then be able to retain an attorney. He'll show up for the arraignment. They'll give you the attorney all of the paperwork in the case. They will review it and decide where the case goes from there.
The case will probably be continued, and then after the arraignment, you'll get a chance to meet with your attorney to get your strategy together — whether you're going to fight the case or whether it's in your best interest to let your attorney try to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutors in the case.
Your attorney should also give you a copy of the paperwork so you can review it and help the attorney decide on where the case goes from there.
So, this pretty much gives you a pretty good feel for how a DUI is dealt with in Los Angeles. If you decide to make a deal, you're going to go into court. Your attorney will go over the Waiver form with you. It has all of your constitutional rights. You'll enter a plea of either guilty or no contest, and then you will resolve your matter and be able to start the process of getting this horrible situation behind you.
If on the other, you and your attorney review everything and decide the best thing to do is to fight the case, then you can go through a jury trial and a jury trial, and a jury will determine if you're innocent or guilty. So, if you have a DUI in California, specifically Los Angeles, you'll want to get an attorney who has been down this road before and had success.