Each DUI case moves through a very specific process. Understanding the DUI process and how the system works can help you determine how you want to handle your DUI charges. DUI cases are complicated because they involve scientific evidence and expert testimony, in addition to the arresting officer's testimony.
It is strongly recommended that you have a Fresno DUI defense lawyer from the Law Office of Michael J. Aed assist you in defending yourself against the charges, and guide you through every step of the criminal process to ensure that your rights are safeguarded and the damage to your life and reputation are minimized to the fullest extent possible. The DUI process is summarized below:
Traffic stop: Most DUI cases begin with a routine traffic stop for a traffic violation, such as speeding, running a stop sign, failing to use your turn signal, making an illegal turn, or failing to wear your seatbelt. A problem with your vehicle such as a cracked windshield, a broken tail light, or not having a front license plate may also result in a traffic stop. Further, police officers are trained to look for driving patterns that, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, indicate a driver may be impaired. Some of these suspicious driving patterns include weaving, straddling a lane, turning with a wide radius, drifting, stopping too far from or too close to the limit line, and driving too slowly, and can result in a traffic stop.
Some DUI cases begin with a stop at a Sobriety Checkpoint. In the landmark case of Ingersoll v. Palmer, the California Supreme Court ruled that sobriety checkpoints are constitutional if law enforcement complies with certain guidelines. These guidelines, often known as the Ingersoll guidelines, include limits on the discretion of the field officers, the time and duration of the checkpoint, and the length and nature of the detention; and require that decisions be made at the supervisory level, safety conditions be maintained, the location be reasonable, the nature of the roadblock be indicated, and there be advanced publicity.
The Testing: The police officer will most likely ask you if you have been drinking, and if so, what you were drinking, when you were drinking, and how much you were drinking. The entire time a police officer is speaking to you, he or she is looking for clues of intoxication, including an odor of alcohol on your breath, red or watery eyes, and slow, slurred speech. If the police officer suspects you are intoxicated, he or she will then ask you to complete a series of Field Sobriety Tests, which include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. Following completion of the field sobriety tests, if the law enforcement officer finds that you "failed" the tests, a determination which can be extremely subjective, you will be arrested and asked to take a chemical test, usually a breathalyzer or blood test.
Booking: You will be taken to a police facility or jail where you will be booked. This means you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and jailed. If you are lucky, you will be released from jail, cited, and given a court date. If not, you will remain in jail at least until you are taken before a judge or you post bail.
The Arraignment: If the District Attorney's Office files a criminal complaint charging you with DUI, you will have to go to court. The first court hearing is the arraignment. This is a formal hearing where you will be advised of the charges filed against you and you will enter your plea. If bail is going to be set, this often takes place at the arraignment. Some people are freed on their own recognizance, while others may have bail set. Whether or not bail is set depends on a variety of factors including your criminal history and the nature of the charges filed against you.
DMV Hearing: Unless you request a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days from the date of your arrest, your license will be suspended. A DMV hearing is an administrative hearing at which the DMV must prove the following three issues by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) the law enforcement officer had reasonable cause to believe you were driving a motor vehicle in violation the DUI laws; (2) you were lawfully arrested; and (3) your blood alcohol content was .08 percent or more. If you contact the firm within 10 days from the date of your arrest, we will make sure a DMV hearing is requested and will personally handle the hearing to defend your right to keep your driver's license.
The Trial: Not all attorney have the trial experience necessary to defend your case.
At the Law Office of Michael J. Aed, we have years of criminal and DUI defense experience. Attorney Michael Aed is a seasoned trial attorney and has defended numerous clients from misdemeanor DUIs to the most serious DUI cases when he served on the Fresno Major Crimes Team.
At trial, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving a motor vehicle and that you were impaired while doing so. Our attorney is knowledgeable on the rules of evidence, and will challenge the prosecution's evidence and present his own defense experts at trial to attack the prosecution's case and expose its weaknesses.
The Sentencing: If you plead guilty or are convicted, a judge will sentence you. At the sentencing, the judge will decide whether or not to grant probation or place you in jail or prison. For first offense misdemeanor DUIs, punishment can include a maximum of 6 months in jail and for first offense felony DUIs, punishment can include up to 3 years in state prison. Some of the factors a judge weighs at the sentencing are whether or not you have a criminal history, what you have done since being arrested, and the seriousness of the offense. Without question, representation by an experienced DUI defense attorney positively impacts your case and increases your chance of obtaining a more favorable sentence.
Contact An Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer In Fresno Today
If you have been arrested and charged with any type of DUI offense, do not settle for an inexperienced attorney or attempt to fight the charges on your own. DUI cases are not minor matters. The consequences can be very serious. In order to protect your rights and fight for the best outcome possible in your case, contact the Law Office of Michael J. Aed for help from a skilled Fresno DUI defense attorney. We answer calls and return messages 24/7. Call us now at 559-495-9320 or send us an email.