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What Happens At My First DUI Court Appearance?

At your first court appearance, you may go in front of the judge with your attorney. Your attorney will be given all the paperwork related to the case. That would include the arrest report, the breath results, the notes from when the police officer took any information about you, and your criminal history.

Your attorney would typically talk to the prosecutor about the case, see their position, and then several things can happen at the arraignment. If there is some issue with the public's safety, the judge can set bail, and you would be taken into custody.

Most people will be released on their recognizance on a first-time DUI, which is just a promise to appear. A new court date would be set, and then you would come back and decide what you're going to do with your case.

If you had a high blood alcohol level at the time of driving, the judge might make you do a meeting while you wait for your next court appearance in exchange for release on your recognizance. This is the court's way of making people see the dangerousness of drinking and driving. Your attorney has several choices at the first appearance.

They can continue the arraignment, so they don't enter any plea, review everything, and then come back and decide whether to enter a request. They can enter a not guilty plea, and then the case will be set for a pretrial.

Your attorney could try to resolve the case on the day of the first court appearance. Most attorneys will not have their clients come to the first court appearance in a DUI case, as long as it's a misdemeanor. The best method of preparation is to hire a seasoned DUI defense attorney. Give them all the information and let them go to work on your behalf.

When Will I Find Out What The BAC Level is?

Most of the time, the arresting officer will give you your test reading immediately upon testing. However, some officers don't want to give out lessons because they're afraid the person will panic.

If you're already in custody, they will usually give you the results to know what it is. At the very least, you should be able to see your test results when you're given your paperwork on your pink slip. There is a box that says BAC reading and in that box is the breath result. You can provide that to your attorney and let them decide how to move on.

Can My DUI Attorney Get My DUI Charge Dismissed?

It is possible to get a DUI dismissed. The prosecutors have to prove certain things to convict you of DUI. There are jury instructions, and elements must be established for the crime. If they can't prove one of the elements of the crime, then the case will get dismissed.

Another possibility is that the prosecutors get the case and realize that the police acted improperly. It would help if you hadn't been arrested for DUI, so they don't file the claim against you. The prosecutors are the ones who have the power to file DUI cases, not the police. The police can only book someone and then send the paperwork to the prosecutor.

Each prosecuting agency has a filing department that reviews cases, decides whether or not to file criminal charges, and either rejects the claim or sends it for further investigation. You want to get a great DUI defense attorney who knows what they're doing.

Anyone worth their salt as a defense attorney will want to get every case dismissed. However, the police don't usually arrest you unless they've evidence that you committed a DUI offense. If you blew a 0.08 or greater, you're going to get arrested, and you're going to get prosecuted. Don't bet on a dismissal.

The other area where a case could get dismissed is when the police violate your rights somehow. Then, your attorney capitalizes on that violation and uses it to get your case dismissed. For example, if the police pull you over for no reason and they end up getting a bunch of information and arresting you for DUI, it would be an illegal pullover.

Everything that flowed from that pullover, including your breath alcohol level, would be suppressed. The prosecutors would have to dismiss the case. Another area that I see as ripe for the attack is whether or not you were driving the car. Often, the police come upon someone out of the car, smell alcohol on their breath, and start a DUI investigation.

They must ask that person when they were driving the car so that their expert witness can extrapolate backward from the time they got the blood or breath sample to say what the person's blood-alcohol level was.

Can Police Arrest Me For A DUI If I Have Car Keys On Me Near My Vehicle?

If the police watch you drive to a spot, get out of your car, put your keys in your pocket, and then have some lawful reason to approach you and do a DUI investigation, they could arrest get you for a DUI.

If the police come up to you while you're exiting from a bar, your car is there, and you've got your keys in your hand, they cannot arrest you for DUI. The crime requires driving, not being about to drive.

They have to prove that you were driving and that while you were going, you were intoxicated. They can use circumstantial evidence, but being near your car with the keys is not enough. If you're inside the parked car with the keys in the ignition and the police come up upon you, you would not be able to be arrested for a DUI because you're not driving the car.

There are exceptions to that. You may get arrested if you have parked on the road and you're partially blocking the lane. Otherwise, unless some witness can tell the police that you were driving within three hours of the police coming upon you, they cannot prove a DUI.

Can I Get A Reduced Charge?

Typically, you shouldn't be charged with a DUI if you're under the legal limit. Right now, the legal limit is 0.08. If you get 0.7, you cannot be prosecuted under Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) because that says if you are 0.08 or greater, it's presumed you are DUI.

However, another DUI code section is typically charged in every DUI case. It says you were driving a motor vehicle, had alcohol in your system, and couldn't safely operate the motor vehicle.

Basically, in the police's opinion, you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle. What are police basing this on? They will base it on how you performed on the field sobriety tests. Another thing the police start doing to build the case against you right from the beginning is checking off boxes as they come upon you.

They're going to observe how you were driving. They need to show that you have got alcohol in your system and that you were weaving or driving erratically because of the drink.

When they come up to you, they will smell your breath. If you have a smell of alcohol, that's another indicator that you are driving with alcohol in your system. If people are slurring their speech, staggering, or have an unsteady gait, the officer will put that in the police report to help the prosecutor get the person for DUI.

They will ask how many drinks you had, where you're coming from, and when the last time you had a drink was. Now, they're trying to help the expert in the case to figure out if your blood alcohol level at 10 p.m. was 0.9, and you were arrested at 8:30 p.m., what your blood alcohol level was at the time you were driving.

Is A Reduction In Charges More Likely?

The fact that it's your first DUI offense would only be one factor in whether they lessen your charges. The central inquiry is going to be what your blood alcohol level was. If you're close to the 0.08 or at the 0.08, you've got an excellent chance to reduce it to something less than a DUI.

If you're double the legal limit or more, you probably have no chance of getting it reduced unless there's some glaring problem with the case. There are other factors, though. If you do something crazy while driving, it would undoubtedly be an aggravating factor that would probably result in you being unable to get the case reduced.

If you're insulting and belligerent to the police, the prosecutors will be reading that police report. You have a very slim chance of getting the case reduced because the prosecutors don't like you.

This is why it's so important to have an attorney give your version of events and breathe some life into your side of the case. Another thing that I've used, as a defense attorney, is whether you could pass some of the sobriety tests that the police gave you.

That is a sign that you're not that intoxicated. They aren't allowed to arrest you unless they say that you failed at least one test, but you may have passed another one. You've got to rely on your defense attorney to flush those things out. You can give them all the information without putting a spin on it and let them figure it out for you.

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Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about DUI law issues in California and throughout the United States.

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