After A DUI Arrest In California
A DUI arrest can be a tremendous shock. After you have been released from jail or received a citation to appear in court—and after the initial shock has worn off—you will almost certainly ask yourself “what happens next?” One of the most important steps you can take after your arrest is seeking out a qualified criminal defense lawyer who can advise you of any potential defenses you may have and the likely penalties that you may face based on the specific facts of your case. This article provides a general overview of both the DMV license suspension proceedings and the criminal prosecution that may take place in the weeks and months after your arrest for DUI in California.
DMV Administrative Hearing
There are two separate consequences of a DUI arrest that you should likely keep in mind: a DMV administrative hearing and your potential criminal prosecution for DUI. An officer who arrests you for DUI will confiscate your license and provide you with a notice of suspension that substitutes as a temporary driver’s license for thirty days. That notice of suspension will state that you have the right to request a DMV hearing within ten days to address whether your license will be suspended as a result of your DUI arrest.
If you request a hearing within ten days, you will have the opportunity to hire a lawyer who will be able to contest whether your license should be suspended at a hearing held at a DMV office before a DMV hearing officer. An attorney can examine witnesses and present evidence on your behalf at this hearing. Given the short, ten-day deadline for requesting this hearing, it may be in your best interest to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following your arrest.
Criminal DUI Prosecution
The criminal proceedings related to your DUI are likely much more serious than the administrative proceedings discussed above. A DUI conviction can subject you to jail time, steep fines, the loss of your driver’s license, the requirement that you install an ignition interlock device, an expensive and time-consuming substance abuse treatment class, and other serious penalties. The following is a brief timeline of a general DUI criminal prosecution, although this timeline can vary based on the specific facts of your case:
- Following your arrest, you may be taken to a police station to be booked for the crime, requested to provide a chemical breath or blood test sample, or even placed in a sobering cell.
- Your driver’s license will be confiscated at the time of your arrest or shortly thereafter, and you will be provided with a notice of suspension that will serve as a temporary driver’s license for 30 days. After that time, your license will be automatically suspended unless you request a DMV administrative hearing within ten days of the date of your arrest.
- You may be held in custody and required to post bail depending on the circumstances of your arrest and your criminal history, or you may be released on your own recognizance without posting bail but after having promised to appear in court at a later date.
- If a prosecutor reviews your arrest report and determines that you were driving under the influence of alcohol, the prosecutor will formally charge you with DUI. You may also be charged with certain special allegations, such as refusing to submit to a chemical test or driving with a BAC higher than a certain level (.15, .20, etc.).
- If you appear in court on the date that you promised to return after you were released on your own recognizance, or if you remain in custody and are bought before the court, you will then be advised of the charges filed against you in a proceeding known as arraignment.
- You will then be required to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. You may also be able to waive time for arraignment and plea for a few weeks if you or your defense counsel wishes additional time to prepare before entering a plea.
- At the time of your arraignment and entry of a plea, the prosecutor will likely provide you or your attorney with some basic discovery, including the police report, any chemical test results that the prosecutor has in his possession at the time, and other relevant documents. The prosecution may supplement this discovery periodically.
- You or your lawyer will then likely return for pretrial hearings that will be held within the period of time provided to the prosecution to bring you to trial, usually thirty to forty-five days, depending on the facts of your particular case.
- You or your attorney may agree to agree to waive these time requirements and push the trial back further than thirty or forty-five days from the date that you entered your plea if you or your attorney wish to obtain additional evidence, retest blood, or further investigate your case.
- If you decide not to accept a plea deal prior to trial, and if your lawyer is unable to move to suppress the evidence marshaled against you, the prosecution will endeavor to convince a judge or twelve jurors that you drove a motor vehicle while you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol or at a blood alcohol level above .08. The prosecutor must establish these facts beyond a reasonable doubt.
- If the judge or jury determines that the prosecutor has not proven these facts beyond a reasonable doubt, you should be acquitted.
- If the prosecutor does prove those facts beyond a reasonable doubt, you will face sentencing that can include jail time, fines, and a number of other serious consequences.
The sooner you contact a criminal defense attorney following your arrest, the sooner you can receive specific advice on any likely defenses to your DUI. When you choose to work with the Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann, you are gaining the experience and knowledge of a skilled DUI defense attorney. To schedule a free consultation today, contact us at 888-360-4256.