Defending a DUI or Related Charge Before Trial In Northern California

Today we’re going to discuss the important things you should know about the process of defending any DUI charges whether in the North Bay or any part of California.
DMV Hearings
If you have been arrested for DUI in California, you have ONLY 10 days to request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This includes weekends and holiday!
If you fail to do this, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended on the thirtieth day following your DUI citation.
If you contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest or citation and ask for a hearing on whether you were driving with a blood alcohol level of .08 or above you may also request a stay (postponement) of your license suspension, which will normally allow you to drive until the date of the decision of your DMV hearing.  WE STRONGLY suggest having your attorney make the REQUEST in writing as we do via a Fax thus producing a facsimile sheet  which acts as proof that the REQUEST was made timely.
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Did the police officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation of one of the California’s DUI laws?
Were you placed under lawful arrest?
Were you driving a motor vehicle at the same time that you had 0.08% of alcohol in your blood?
California DUI cases require legal representation in two different places: The County Superior Court for the criminal charges and the California Department of Motor Vehicle Administrative proceedings (regarding the DMV driver’s license suspension).
These are separate legal events in separate venues with separate though related consequences. You may be found not guilty in the criminal court and still lose your driver’s license in a California Department of Motor Vehicles Administrative hearing—that is why it is important to consult an experienced attorney.
Misdemeanor versus Felony DUI Charges
DUI cases can be charged as felonies if you have three or more DUI’s (or wet reckless) convictions within the past 10 years. Felony DUI’s may also be charged if someone other than yourself was injured or if you have a prior felony DUI in the last 10 years.
Felony cases come with the possibility of a prison sentence as well as the (potentially) life-long negative consequences associated with a felony conviction.
Most DUI cases are charged as misdemeanors. Though a lesser crime than a felony, misdemeanor DUIs still have serious consequences.
Defending Against the Charges
An aggressive criminal defense is much more than plea agreement negotiation. Your lawyer should defend against the charges, including possible defenses using the vehicle stop, arrest, and blood alcohol testing.
Different counties handle DUI charges differently, and this can also increase your chance of avoiding a conviction. At Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC we handle each of our clients’ cases personally, so we are able to craft a legal defense that serves your individual needs and long-term interests.
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Possible defenses include:
Police Reports
Make sure you understand that the police and the district attorney’s office play two very different roles in our legal system. The police enforce laws. They do this by gathering evidence and making arrests.
After an arrest is made, evidence is summarized in a police report that is forwarded to the DA. After reviewing the information and considering the applicable laws, the DA’s office decides whether to file charges.
As your defense attorney, we obtain a copy of the police report and any other evidence the DA has. We then review these police and witness reports and evidence to find inaccuracies,  inconsistencies  and weak points in the DA’s case.
Witnesses referred to in the police report might be able to provide information that leads to charges being dropped or an acquittal at trial. We use an extremely good investigator, who reviews the facts with witnesses, visits crimes scenes, and finds evidence that helps us build the strongest possible case.
Lab Tests
If you are arrested for DUI, you may be required to give a blood sample that is analyzed for the presence of alcohol or other drugs. The alcohol level indicated by the blood sample—taken at the time of booking in the jail, local hospital and or substation—is used to double-check the Breathalyzer test administered at the time of arrest.
Sometimes the state labs are less than accurate so we systematically re-test blood samples using private labs who adhere to the highest legal and measurement standards to insure accuracy.
In cases that also include drug charges—for both illegal and prescription drugs—it’s often advantageous to obtain a separate analysis of the blood sample. The testing experts we use provide detailed reports and are able to provide expert testimony at trial.
Suppression of Evidence
Without a reasonable suspicion, the stop of the vehicle and all evidence obtained from the stop are subject to a motion to suppress evidence.
In other words, if an officer does not have good cause to pull your vehicle over, all evidence obtained as a result of the stop (odor of alcohol, field sobriety tests, statements, and chemical test results) may be suppressed (thrown out).
Most DUI cases are settled before they reach trial. Our law firm’s first goal is always to get the District Attorney handling your case to not file in the first place or to dismiss the charges after they are filed. In instances when that isn’t possible, a reduction of charges to a Wet Reckless is sometimes possible, depending on the blood alcohol level and other factors.
In all cases, our many years of experience helps us negotiate outcomes that best serve our clients’ interests.
If you would like to discuss your case confidentially, please call Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507.
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To learn more about how Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC can help defend your DUI case, please click here.

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