1st Dui? Now What

With temperatures hitting 118 last week many of our neighbors drank too much beer and foolishly got behind the wheel of a car OR GOLF CART? The driver probably did not know that the breath test at the scene is Optional as are the Field Sobriety Tests and that they should have asked for a blood test at the station or hospital.

If you are one of the many “locals” that encountered this challenge you have a multitude of decisions to make that you are not aware of yet. Your first decision is, do I hire an attorney, try to handle it myself or do I qualify for a public defender? My recommendation is to hire an attorney as these cases can be complicated and sometimes more complex than a murder case. A murder involves who done it and did the police get the right person? With a DUI we know that information. A DUI involves opinion testimony , cross examination of the officer, scientific and forensic issues regarding the breath testing, blood testing and inferences drawn from a chemical sample or refusing to provide a sample. A lawyer who handles your business matters is normally not the right person to understand all this and to protect your civil liberties.

If you hire a lawyer the attorney can have you sign a 977 Waiver form that allows the attorney to appear for you without your ever having to go to court yourself. There is a substantial cost no matter what you do. Lawyer will cost you $2500-$10,000 with the better ones around $7500. Insurance rates will also go up and cost you at least that amount.

If you decide to handle it yourself or use a public defender remember that a DMV hearing must be requested within 10 days of the arrest. A public defender cannot be appointed until you appear in court for the arraignment which is probably 2 months after your arrest. Unfortunately a public defender is not allowed to represent you at the DMV hearing because it is not considered criminal and is termed an administrative hearing called an Administrative Per Se hearing.

This administrative hearing presumes the driver is per se GUILTY/Under the Influence if the DUI CHEMICAL RESULTS (PAS Test aka Preliminary Alcohol Screening or Blood test), show the driver to be .08 or higher. If you are stopped for a possible DUI, in order to save your California Driver’s License or driving privileges, remember you must request a DMV hearing within TEN (10) DAYS. You should also go to DMV and pay $6 to get a copy of your DMV record and at the same time REQUEST A DMV IDENTIFICATION CARD. You will need some ID with a picture during this process and for travel etc.!

In California it is referred to as a DUI whereas it is also called an Operating Under the Influence or Driving While Intoxicated in other states. It is similar to a Hurricane being called a Typhoon or Cyclone in other parts of the world. A .08 is the guideline in most states, no matter what it is called, and it is not just how many drinks you had but how much alcohol was in each drink.

There are about 1.5 Million DUI arrests in the USA each year and here in the Coachella Valley we have more DUI deaths per capita, than any other place in California. Thus the Indio Court is tougher on these cases than most other places in California. In addition checkpoints and penalties are on the rise. The DA in Indio asks for jail time on ALL DUI’S and thus it is important you handle the matter correctly from the beginning. There are also recent Federal incentives for law enforcement to make more DUI arrests in the form of GRANT money. In addition there is lucrative overtime pay for officers going to court and DMV hearings during their off days.

The bottom is line is DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE, CALL A TAXI. IT IS A LOT CHEAPER THAN CALLING ME.