A High Time For DUI Arrests; Hollywood Award Season

Now that the awards season is over, we’re waiting on final numbers for DUI arrests throughout Southern California for the various shows. From the Grammy’s and People’s Choice to the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, lots of parties have been on everyone’s calendars. Parties means drinking colorful, themed cocktails and in my business, this often leads to unintentional driving under the influence.

If you were the victim of an arrest for driving under the influence, whether for the first time or not; whether involving an accident or not; give us a call right away to set up a free consultation and to allow us to schedule your DMV hearing at no obligation. Be careful – the right to a DMV hearing to possibly avoid a license suspension expires just 10 days after your release from jail.

Driving under the influence arrests are the most common criminal matter in Southern California Courts. From Harbor Justice Center (Newport), and North Justice Center (Fullerton) in Orange County, to Airport Court (LAX), Metro or Pasadena in Los Angeles County DUI arrests due to random traffic stops or checkpoint investigations are rampant. The Torrance Courthouse gets its fair share due to the checkpoints set up on Rosecrans at the 405. Lots of people use this route when leaving the beach communities like Hermosa and Redondo and get stopped just before getting on the freeway.

Most people believe they need to be 100% cooperative with the police when pulled over or flagged down at a checkpoint. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to avoid an arrest you should feel empowered to do the following:

First of all, do not supply the officers with a reason to have stopped you or to proceed with an investigation. If they ask “Do you know why I stopped you?”; your answer is always “NO”

A friend of mine who is a former LAPD officer explained how they are often unsure why

Yes, be polite and if asked to get out of your vehicle you should do so

The 5th amendment says you have the right to not incriminate yourself – why admit to drinking?

Would you admit to having a dead body in the trunk?

While officers will act as if you must participate in their FSTs (Field Sobriety Tests), the Supreme Court has said that you DO NOT need to partake. Simply tell them your lawyer told you not to ever do them.

Officers will then move on to asking you to blow into their PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) device. The Supreme Court has also held this test to be unreliable. This is where you politely explain that your attorney told them never to do a PAS test either.

—At this point they will likely scratch their head. You didn’t admit to drinking. They didn’t observe you take the FSTs and they don’t have a PAS reading. Unless you are stumbling drunk, they are likely to let you go at this point.

Under the law, the only test you are required to take without getting in more trouble and or losing your license for an extended period of time is the more sophisticated breath test or blood sample that is collected after arrest in California, most often at a hospital or the police station. Two notable exceptions to this are if you are currently on probation for a DUI or you are under 21.

Many people think there’s nothing a lawyer can do about a first time DUI. This is as far from the truth as a can be. An arrest report has anywhere from dozens to hundreds of aspects to it that are subject to attorney scrutiny. Any one of them, let alone a handful left incomplete, with errors or applied incorrectly can make a significant difference in reducing your charges or even dismissing the case.

Every year, we get dozens of these arrests (some with blood alcohol over .15), reduced to what we call a wet/reckless. We also get about a case a month reduced to non-alcohol related moving violations, and each year we have a handful of DUI prosecutions that are dismissed.

Hard work, good communication skills and a solid understanding of the law helps us achieve these results for our clients. The alternative is bleaker than you know. The cost of an good attorney is perhaps 10-20% of what it will cost you in increased insurance premiums over the next several years. The chance to avoid these 300% hikes in insurance is reason enough to seek counsel on a first offense.