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July 2015 Newsletter: Avoiding a DUI Conviction as You Celebrate Our Nation’s Birth

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    The July 4th weekend is when we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s birth. During that celebration, many of us also drink. The cops know this, and they will be out in force this weekend to make the state a lot of money. BE CAREFUL!

    5 Tips to Avoid a DUI Conviction

    1. Don’t do it. Avoid any type of vehicle, including a bike. I know it sounds obvious, but that is the easiest way to avoid a DUI conviction. Use a designated driver. AAA of Southern California is also offering its free Tipsy Toe service, which offers anyone a free tow home of up to seven miles. Tipsy Toe is available from 6 p.m. on Friday, July 3 through 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 4. All you have to do is call 1-800-400-4AAA.
    2. Follow the rules of the road. If the police pull you over, but you haven’t broken any traffic laws, you might be able to later argue that police lacked probable cause to make the stop. (Note that DUI checkpoints are lawful. The Supreme Court said in 1990, Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, 496 U.S. 444 (1990), the Supreme Court held that DUI checkpoints DO NOT violate the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures even though the DUI checkpoints do constitute a “seizure.” )
    3. Make sure all lights and turn signals on your vehicle function properly. If they don’t, that gives police probable cause to make the stop.
    4. NEVER admit to drinking. If you are stopped, only provide your name and license.
    5. Don’t consent to any field sobriety tests. You are not required to submit to any field sobriety tests. You are however required to submit to a chemical test (breath or blood) or you will lose your license for one year. Your biggest choice to make is breath or blood. They say that if you are really under the influence, a blood test may be the best way to go based on various ways you can challenge it. Blood can be re-tested, etc.)

    In California, you have 10 days to request a DMV hearing from the date of the arrest. A public defender does not handle that.​

    Possible Penalties

    In California, DUI can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. The vast majority of DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors, but it may be charged as a felony depending on the circumstances of an individual’s case. If a drunk driver’s actions are determined to have resulted in the injury or death of another person, their charges are oftentimes filed as a felony offense. Those who have been arrested for multiple DUI offenses in the past 10 years are oftentimes charged with felonies as well.

    Although it is impossible to properly evaluate what an offender’s consequences will be following a DUI arrest, minimum penalties for a first-time offender in California include fines and penalties of about $1,500, a lengthy alcohol education program, and three years of informal probation. In addition, a misdemeanor criminal conviction will be part of the defendant’s criminal record and the court will attempt to restrict the defendant’s driver’s license for three months.

    Finding an Attorney

    If you are arrested, you should either use a public defender or a private attorney who handles criminal defense matters and does not want to just take your money to plead you guilty. 

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