If a law enforcement officer stops a driver and establishes that the driver is operating a motor vehicle while drunk, the State of California will charge the driver with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol). If a blood or breath test indicates a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, the State of California will charge the driver with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher).
Once a motorist in California has been accused of a DUI, he or she has procedural options to resolve the matter. Going forward, the State of California must prove the allegations, i.e., the driver’s guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a substantial burden of proof for the prosecuting attorney. There are several options after a motorist has been charged with the crime of DUI.
The procedure for trying a California DUI defendant begins with the arraignment and ends with an acquittal or criminal sentence for the charges. A DUI arraignment is the first stage of a California DUI criminal court proceeding. Here, a defendant will plead guilty, not guilty, or “no contest” to the charges. During the arraignment, the prosecutor will typically make an “offer” or sentence recommendation to which the State will agree in exchange for a guilty plea to the DUI charges.
Although plea bargaining sometimes occurs during the arraignment, negotiations are more likely during the pretrial phase of the case after a “not guilty” plea has been entered and trial before a judge or jury is requested. Nonetheless, lesser charges may prevent the mandatory suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.
At this time, if a defendant pleads guilty, he or she will be sentenced, and, except for the completion of probation, the DUI case will be closed. However, if a defendant pleads not guilty, an experienced California DUI lawyer may review and challenge the State of California’s evidence of guilt. This includes a copy of the police report and access to the maintenance records of the chemical testing instrument(s) that were used.
There are many blood test inaccuracies and police error defenses that can be used to fight a DUI charge, get evidence suppressed, and ultimately dismiss the DUI. As a California Criminal Trial Lawyer with over 40 years of courtroom experience, John Patrick Dolan has handled everything from traffic tickets to death penalty murder cases. Mr. Dolan is a recognized California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law and a true courtroom veteran of DUI cases. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.