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How Are DUIs Prosecuted?

By November 9, 2020 January 12th, 2021 No Comments

A charge of “Driving Under the Influence” means a California motorist was driving with alcohol or other substances in his or her system. Once a motorist is arrested for drunk driving in California, the prosecution has the burden of proving each element of the offense. Every criminal prosecution rests on whether the prosecutor can establish such proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If a fact finder such as a judge or jury has reasonable doubt as to any element of the offense, it must find the defendant not guilty.

Facing a charge of driving under the influence is daunting enough. Then there is the task of trying to thwart the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) attempting to suspend your driver’s license. The arresting officer is required by law to immediately forward a copy of the completed notice of suspension or revocation form, any seized driver license, and a sworn report to the DMV.

An experienced criminal defense attorney may help any motorist charged with DUI or DUID obtain the best possible result in his or her case. It is crucial to consult with a skilled defense lawyer as soon as possible after a DUI arrest so that he or she may provide advice and guidance.

Most people are released from jail within a few hours after a DUI arrest. Posting bail is typically not required, especially for first-time offenders where no injuries are related to the charges. However, quick release from police custody is no reason to delay consulting with a seasoned DUI defense attorney to assert your rights.

A DUI arrest automatically triggers an Administrative Per Se Hearing process within the DMV that may result in a suspension of a driver’s license. To challenge the license suspension, it is necessary to contact the DMV within 10 days and formally request a hearing. The alternative is having a license suspended thirty (30) days from the date of arrest. If the hearing is requested promptly, a motorist may be able to stop the automatic suspension and legally drive while the hearing is pending, which may last from several weeks to a few months.

It is hard to succeed at this Administrative hearing without experienced legal counsel. An attorney may present evidence that the suspension is not justified because of an unlawful arrest or a legal blood alcohol content when the stop occurred.

The suspension period depends on several variables, including whether the defendant has any prior DUI offenses. The suspension may range from four months (first offense, noncommercial driver, 21 or older who consented to a chemical test) to a lifetime (commercial driver, second offense within 10 years of a first offense).

Criminal charges are separate from the DMV process that suspends the driver’s license of a driver arrested for DUI. California drunk driving arrests usually trigger two different charges. Drivers in California who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs may be charged under California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) VC (driving while under the influence of alcohol), violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) VC (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher), and California Vehicle Code § 23152(f) VC (driving under the influence of drugs).

For the former, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused drove a vehicle and while driving was under the influence of alcohol, a drug, or medication or the combined influence of alcohol, drugs, and/or medication.  [California Vehicle Code § 23152(a)]. For the latter, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused violated California’s “Per Se” law [driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent within the meaning of California Vehicle Code 23152(b)].

Specifically, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s blood alcohol (BAC) level was 0.08 percent or more at the time of driving. California law considers a driver under the influence of alcohol if “as a result of drinking or consuming an alcoholic beverage/and/or taking a drug” his or her “physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that he no longer can drive a vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence, under similar circumstances.”

Successfully challenging one or more of these elements in a California DUI arrest is crucial to defending any DUI offense. The prosecution must meet the standard of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt or the defendant cannot be convicted. This is the highest standard and level of proof in our judicial system.

John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan has represented California motorists charged with DUI for over 40 years. He is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call the Dolan Law Offices today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

How Are DUIs Prosecuted?

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