Commonly Asked Questions About DUIs
Proven Approach with results forged by Experience.
Q: What should I do once I am charged with a DUI?
You should begin obtaining free consultations to find a qualified attorney to begin your defense and to contact the DMV to stay the suspension on your driver’s license. It is vital you retain an attorney who is proactive. There is so much you can do between now and the time of your first court hearing. This is one primary reason I tell people that if they can help it not to use the services of the public defender. This also means finding an attorney who will begin working on your case as soon as possible. I would also check the San Diego DUI process section in this website.
Q: What happens right after I’ve been arrested on a DUI charge?
A: The police officer will immediately forward a copy of the completed notice of driver’s license suspension or revocation form, and any driver’s license taken into possession along with a sworn report to the DMV. The DMV conducts an administrative review, which includes an examination of the officer’s report, the license suspension or revocation order, and any blood, breath or urine test results.
If the license suspension or revocation is upheld, you may request a DMV/APS hearing to contest the suspension or revocation. You must request a hearing within 10 days of receipt of the order.
If the review shows there is no basis for the suspension or revocation, the action will be set aside, at which point the DMV will notify you in writing.
Q: If my driver’s license gets suspended by the DMV, will I be able to drive?
If the DMV suspends your driver’s license, you will have a 30-day “hard” suspension during which you are unable to drive. After the 30-day period, you will likely be able to obtain a restricted license if you have completed the necessary terms.
Q: Will I lose my driver’s license because of a DUI?
A: Not necessarily. It is critical to take action immediately. The time allowed to respond to the California Department of Motor Vehicles to request a hearing is limited to 10 days. In most cases, I will be able to help you retain your driving privileges. The DMV will ultimately decide whether your driver’s license is suspended or not.
Q: What do I do with an order of suspension and temporary license?
A: This is the pink paper that the officer handed you when he or she took your driver’s license. You may drive for 30 days from the date the order of suspension or revocation was issued as long as you have a driver’s license that is not expired, and it has not been previously suspended or revoked.
Q: It’s been longer than 10 days since my drunk driving arrest. Can I still file for a DMV hearing?
A: Yes. Depending on the circumstances in your case, even if it is past 10 days since you were arrested, I can usually arrange a DMV hearing for you. Please contact me regarding a late hearing request as soon as possible.
Q: How are the DMV driver’s license suspension or revocation and the post-conviction license suspension or revocation different from each other?
A: A suspension or revocation of your driver’s license from the DMV is simply an administrative action. If you are convicted in criminal court, the suspension or revocation is a mandatory action. The DMV and the court are two separate entities.
Q: My BAC and chemical test results were over .08 percent. Can I win at my DMV hearing?
A: Yes. The facts of your case may still give rise to a credible defense. I will exploit the weaknesses of the case against you and find opportunities in your favor. There is more at issue at the APS hearing than the blood alcohol level alone.
Q: What will happen in my first court appearance for my DUI charge?
A: Called an “arraignment,” at your first court appearance, you will be asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty or no contest). The police report taken at the time of your arrest and a complaint are presented to the court. If you retain The Law Offices of Mark Deniz APLC, I will already be working on your case.
Q: I was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. How can they charge me with DUI?
A: Probable cause allows a police officer to stop you if you are observed speeding, committing any other type of traffic violation or committing a crime. If, under the totality of all the circumstances, he or she suspects you of driving under the influence, can smell alcohol or drugs, you admit to have been drinking, etc., you may be asked to complete field sobriety tests and blow into a Breathalyzer. If the police officer determines that you are impaired for the purpose of driving, you can be arrested for DUI.
Q: Will I have to attend the first hearing if I have retained an attorney?
A: In most cases, you will not need to be present for the arraignment if you have retained an attorney and have been charged with a misdemeanor San Diego DUI in San Diego County. However, if you have been charged with felony San Diego DUI, your attendance at the arraignment is mandatory. I will be present at your arraignment either way.
Q: I only blew a .07 percent BAC. Why was I arrested and charged with a DUI?
A: If you were driving a motor vehicle, any BAC level can potentially lead to an arrest for DUI. Ultimately, the police officer will have formed his or her opinion on whether you were impaired for the purpose of driving based on your performance on field sobriety tests and your observed driving behavior.
Q: Is it legal to be pulled over, detained and interrogated by police at a San Diego DUI checkpoint?
A: It depends. Checkpoints in San Diego are legal as long as the police officers at the roadblock use a random method of selection and warn approaching motorists of the checkpoint. Pulling your car over must preclude the probable cause law, such as stopping every other car. Additionally, the delay and inconvenience experienced by drivers must be kept to a minimum. I can investigate several issues present in your DUI checkpoint stop and build a case around any failures in a proper, lawful procedure that may have been present.
Q: I was not read my Miranda rights. Will my case be dismissed?
A: Your “Miranda rights” are only read if you are arrested/taken into custody and are interrogated (questioned) about the crime you allegedly committed. Even though your Miranda rights were not read, your case cannot be automatically dismissed. However, a good attorney will make motions to suppress and get any statements that you make without having been read your legal rights to be inadmissible as evidence. This may assist in your defense.
Q: If I smoked a little pot, but didn’t drink, why was I charged with DUI?
A: You can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol OR drugs in California. If a police officer believes you were under the influence of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle, you can be charged with DUI for drugs.
A marijuana DUI is an increasing charge due to the ever-changing laws. The Law Offices of Mark Deniz APLC is very experienced with marijuana DUIs and can defend your case.
Q: The police searched my vehicle without my permission. Were my rights violated?
A: Maybe. If the police officer and prosecution can prove reasonable suspicion that your vehicle contained an illegal substance or evidence of a crime, the court will consider that the officer had probable cause to search the entire passenger cabin, and, in some cases, any containers or packages present in the front section of your car or truck. Your attorney should explore probable cause when litigating your case, but the law imposes a lesser expectation of privacy when an arrest involving a vehicle is made.
Q: Is a DUI charge like a traffic ticket?
A: No. A DUI is not like a traffic ticket; it is a misdemeanor crime at a minimum. DUIs are one of the harshest misdemeanor charges in the state. All prosecution agencies in San Diego are very passionate about their cases and will fight to the fullest.
Q: Will my DUI charges be dismissed if the police misspelled my name in the arrest report?
A: No. A minor deviance or error in spelling will not constitute grounds for dismissal of the pending DUI charges. However, a good attorney may recognize such an oversight as the beginning of a bad investigation and create a defense around additional findings. Police make mistakes (like everyone else) and error in the report is a good place to show this.
Q: I have friends/witnesses who will testify that some facts the officer put in the report are false. Will this help my case? Can I bring them to court?
A: If there is evidence or witness testimony that is contrary to that which is presented in the police report, a quality defense attorney will have that evidence ready to present to a jury or fact-finder. Police officers do make mistakes from time to time.
Q: Will the San Diego court count prior DUI convictions in other states against me?
A: In most cases, prior DUI or DWI convictions will be of significant consideration when trying or plea bargaining your case. The court will have access to your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted of DUI in San Diego, the conviction will be considered a multiple (second, third, etc.) offense. You will likely face more severe penalties such as a longer jail sentence, higher fines and a more intensive court-ordered alcohol rehabilitation program. Top-quality defense attorney representation is critical in your case. The issue is whether there is enough evidence for the prosecution to establish you have a valid prior. This is yet another reason to seek a qualified attorney to defend your case.
Q: What is a “wet reckless” in San Diego? Why do people consider this a favorable outcome to DUI?
A: People are sometimes offered plea bargains to reduce their case to a “wet reckless,” which reduces the fines and penalties imposed for DUI. The “wet reckless” conviction will remain on your record for 10 years and be considered a DUI offense in the event you incur another DUI conviction within the 10-year period. A “wet reckless” comes with a lower probation term and fines.
Q: Will an attorney charge me to speak with him or her about my DUI case?
A: No. At The Law Offices of Mark Deniz APLC, your initial case evaluation with my office is free, and there is no obligation for obtaining a professional case evaluation. Additionally, my firm offers very affordable payment plans to all the clients.
Q: What if I cannot afford to pay the retainer fee for a DUI attorney?
A: At The Law Offices of Mark Deniz APLC, I offer several financing options and payment methods, including credit card payments. I understand that this is an unfortunate and unplanned expense. I can assist with payment arrangements that work for you.
Q: If I can get a public defender for free, why should I pay for a DUI lawyer?
A: This is one of the main questions I get asked and it is a very good question. I have known several great public defenders in the course of my career, but they tend to juggle very large caseloads across a broad spectrum of crimes by the very nature of their job. In most cases, they will not be prepared for the scientific aspects and other technicalities complicating your DUI case. Additionally, a public defender will not represent you at a DMV hearing and defend your driver’s license.
When you are facing the harsh, potentially life-altering consequences of DUI charges, you should ensure your lawyer has the experience, confidence and resources to defend your case comprehensively.
You also need to prove that you cannot afford a lawyer to qualify for the services of a public defender. When you are assigned one, if you can prove indigence, you will be assigned the same public defender as all of the other indigent defendants who have cases in court that day. Your case will be one of many, and it will not be given due attention. Your rights and interests will not be protected at the same level that a private attorney will provide. I will ensure that your case gets the attention, care and vigorous defense you deserve if you retain my services.
Q: Will the prosecution and the court treat me differently if I hire an attorney and contest my DUI charges?
A: You have the constitutional right to hire an attorney and be defended against criminal allegations and evidence to be used against you in a criminal case. Judges are more comfortable and prefer presiding over cases involving defendants who are represented by an experienced attorney who is familiar with and accustomed to the formalities and procedures of the court.
Q: Will my case automatically go to trial if I hire an attorney?
A: No. Prosecutors attempt to try only those cases that they are likely to win. Your attorney will likely counter efforts to prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. Whom you hire as an attorney is equally as important as how your attorney works to resolve your DUI case.
Q: How long does it take to settle my DUI case?
A: The length of DUI cases varies. Factors that might influence your case include:
- Were you charged with a misdemeanor or a felony?
- Is this your first DUI charge or do you have prior convictions?
- Does your case involve enhancements?
- Was your case negotiated or taken to trial?
It is not uncommon for DUI cases to span several months before resolution.
Q: What will happen with my auto insurance if I’m charged with DUI?
A: You are presumed innocent until proven guilty, so your insurance company is prevented by law from taking adverse action against you based on pending DUI charges.
Q: Will an expungement clear a DUI conviction from my criminal record?
A: An adult misdemeanor conviction, such as DUI, can be expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4 at the discretion of the court. Your record will not be completely cleared, but a guilty verdict or no contest plea on a DUI conviction can be “set aside.” Not all misdemeanors can be expunged. You will still be required to disclose the conviction in response to a direct questionnaire or application for public office or governmental licensure. However, obtaining an expungement potentially excludes you from disclosing a DUI conviction to private employers.