Defending Your Rights
If you have had the misfortune of being arrested for “DUI” (Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs) or “DWI” (Driving While Intoxicated) and are now in search of an excellent Los Angeles DUI Lawyer, you have come to the right place!
Our criminal defense lawyers have successfully handled thousands of DUI cases! Better yet, some are former Prosecutors themselves! As such, and to our clients’ benefits, our DUI attorneys are not only well-versed in DUI laws, but they know the tactics the prosecution is going to try using against you! Our attorneys are the ones the Prosecutors don’t want you to hire!
Whether you know it or not, DUI is by far the most commonly encountered offense in the courts today. Yet, it has always been one of the most difficult charges to defend. The fact is, it simply, or rather, not so simply involves more esoteric areas of science and law than do most felonies, while affording increasingly fewer constitutional safeguards. Moreover, the substantive, evidentiary, and procedural aspects of DUI litigation have continued to grow immeasurably more complex, while the stakes for the person facing DUI charges have risen and the associated consequences have become very strict.
These radical changes are attributable to a heightened national awareness of the DUI problem. Spurred on by constant media attention and such lobbying groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), legislators across the country have stumbled over each other to provide prosecutors with tougher weapons. Consequently, it falls upon the DUI defense attorney to understand and counter these new weapons with weapons of their own.
The Law Offices of Spotora & Associates do not condone driving under the influence of any substance. Moreover, we recognize the efforts and good intentions of such organizations as MADD. However, the legislative response to the pleas from such organizations, and the “DUI Exceptions” to certain Constitutional Rights, can often result in a series of punishments that do not always fit the crime.
It is an unfortunate but true fact that while people generally support laws against drunk driving, it is only when they are arrested themselves that they see just how far we’ve gone with those laws. The crime is unique in that it is primarily committed by individuals who are respectable citizens and who often turn to their business or family lawyer for help. Sadly, the client is consequently defended by counsel who normally does not handle DUI cases or even criminal matters, for that matter. As a result, these highly complex cases are handled routinely by attorneys with insufficient knowledge of the extensive scientific, evidentiary, procedural, and tactical considerations involved. Subsequently, the result is too often predictable. We hope you do not become one such statistic!
Your DUI experience probably began with an officer stopping you because of some questionable driving pattern, because you encountered a DUI “checkpoint” or because you were involved in an accident. The officer likely approached your vehicle and began asking you some questions. . . some potentially incriminating questions. You were then most likely asked to get out of the car and perform 3-5 field sobriety tests (i.e., finger-to-nose). . . tests which are difficult for even the soberest of persons to perform much less someone that is now under physically and emotionally difficult conditions! Did you know that field sobriety tests are VOLUNTARY and that you can politely REFUSE to perform them?!
You may have also been asked to breath into a handheld “breathalyzer,” technically called a “preliminary alcohol screening” device or, PAS machine. This notoriously inaccurate tool gives a preliminary indication of your blood alcohol level. Don’t be fooled to think that you have to show the legal limit (.08%) or higher to be arrested, however. The truth is, you may show a .00% and still be arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs. Nevertheless, you might like to know that this test is also VOLUNTARY and that you can, or could have REFUSED it (so long as you are 21 or over)!
During your arrest, you should have been read your Miranda rights. If you were not read your Miranda rights, any incriminating conversations between you and the officer are INADMISSIBLE! Keep in mind, whether you were or were not read your Miranda rights, you were never under any legal obligation to respond to questioning!
In the police car or at the station, you should have been advised that you were REQUIRED to take a breath or blood test. This admonition is legally required although some officers do not advise arrestees of the choice. If you refuse to take a test, you will automatically face INCREASED PENALTIES known as Sentence Enhancements.
Worthy of notation is the fact that these tests are often unreliable and inaccurate, partly because of the variability of human physiology and metabolism, and partly because of possible defects in the equipment and/or procedures.
If you had a California driver’s license, it was most likely confiscated by the officer if (1) your breath test was .08% or higher; (2) only a blood sample was taken (which will be tested at the crime lab a few days later) or; (3) you refused to submit to a chemical test.
10 DAY RULE: Pay special attention to this one! ‘ California DUI Law is incredibly convoluted. However, it is critically important to realize that you, or, preferably, your attorney, MUST call the DMV within 10 CALENDAR DAYS of your arrest to demand a hearing. Otherwise, you will waive your right to a hearing and your license will be suspended! If you have not retained a DUI lawyer within 10 days of your arrest and you choose to call the DMV yourself, do not discuss the reasons why you are contesting the suspension!
The administrative hearing for the DUI suspension is conducted somewhat like a miniature trial, but without a jury, with somewhat different rules of evidence and with a “hearing officer” rather than a judge. Because there is no Fifth Amendment right at the hearing, your DUI attorney may not choose to have you present since the “hearing officer” can call upon you as a witness and force you to testify against yourself.
Remember, your Administrative License Suspension hearing (ALS hearing) is only the first step in your battle. Next, you must deal with the criminal prosecution where you will be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol (or, possibly, driving under the combined influence of alcohol and drugs). If your breath or blood test was .08% or higher, you will also be charged with the so-called “per se” offense. Believe it or not, you can be convicted of both offenses, although you can be punished for only one (the punishments are, however, identical). Properly defended, the criminal charges will involve several court hearings. If represented by counsel, however, you should not have to appear at most of these hearings and may stand to have your charges and accompanying punishments reduced or dismissed.
Quality, experienced, and aggressive representation is not expensive. . . it’s priceless!