No one expects to find themselves facing DUI charges when they climb behind the wheel. We use our vehicles every day without incident, so why should this time be any different? Unfortunately, erratic driving may lead a law enforcement officer to pull you over and test your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to determine whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If your BAC level exceeds the legal limit (0.08 percent), the officer will likely place you under arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) or a related offense. For first-time offenders, navigating the aftermath of a DUI arrest can be confusing and overwhelming. Suddenly, you face both criminal and administrative proceedings, and it’s natural to worry about how this incident will impact your future. As you prepare to face the days, weeks, and months ahead, it’s best to work with a seasoned and knowledgeable Palmdale DUI defense attorney who can help you move through every step of the process. As the only Certified Criminal Law Specialist in the Antelope Valley, attorney David M. Wallin will assess the details of your case to determine the best defense strategy that keeps your future as bright as possible. This post will provide a brief overview of the DMV hearing process as well as the criminal justice proceedings accompanying your DUI arrest. Understanding what to expect at every stage of the process will help you move forward with greater certainty and confidence.
Arresting Officers Must Notify the DMV of the DUI Arrest
California law requires that officers making a DUI arrest take the individual’s driver’s license and issue you a temporary license that lasts for 30 days. The officer must then submit your license and a completed report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) detailing the incident leading to your arrest. Once the DMV receives this information, it will automatically conduct an administrative review of all relevant documents and evidence, including the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any BAC test results (i.e., breathalyzer or blood test results). If the test results indicate that your BAC level exceeded the legal limit, the DMV will likely suspend your driving privileges for four months (for first-time offenders). It’s important to understand that drivers in California operate under an “implied consent” law, meaning that driving a vehicle means that they agree to take a chemical test when requested by a police officer. If you refuse to take a test at the time of your arrest, this action will lead to an automatic one-year suspension of your driver’s license. Subsequent offenders can expect to face a longer suspension than first-time offenders.
Navigating the DMV Administrative Hearing
Many first-time DUI offenders are surprised to learn that they must navigate two different systems: The DMV administrative hearing and the criminal court. First, it’s important to recognize that the DMV suspension or revocation is an automatic administrative action (called Administrative Per Se) that impacts only your driving privileges. This process occurs independently from any court-imposed actions or sentences. When the officer gives you a Notice of Suspension at the time of your arrest, this document will inform you that you have ten days during which you may request an administrative hearing. If you make this request, you will have the opportunity to show that the suspension or revocation is unjustified. The DMV hearing is an administrative hearing, meaning that its purpose is not to determine whether you are guilty or innocent of a criminal offense. Instead, it aims to settle whether suspending or revoking your driving privileges is justified. For example, you and your attorney can identify issues with how the officer conducted the investigation or question the validity of the chemical test results. If you succeed in demonstrating that the automatic suspension or revocation was not warranted, the action will be set aside, and your driving privileges will be restored. The approach you take depends on the specific circumstances and details of your case, so reach out to a trusted and skilled DUI defense lawyer to discuss your options.
Why You Need a Former Deputy District Attorney On Your Side
In addition to the administrative penalties for a DUI arrest, you can expect to face criminal penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Most first-time offenders feel overwhelmed and anxious about what to expect during this process, so it’s best to contact an experienced and caring DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your situation. With 36 years of criminal law experinece, attorney David M. Wallin will answer your questions, address your concerns, and empower you to make informed decisions with greater clarity and confidence. Although every DUI case is different, most cases move through the following stages.
When you appear in court at your arraignment, the judge will announce the criminal charges against you. You will be asked to enter a plea (i.e., “guilty” or “not guilty”). The judge will also inform you of your legal rights, including your right to an attorney and your right to avoid incriminating yourself. This event tends to be fairly brief, and your attorney will remain at your side at all times.
As your case moves forward, your attorney will meet with the prosecution to review the evidence and negotiate the reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. Your attorney will assess the details of your case and determine the most strategic path forward. In some cases, accepting a plea bargain may be best; in other cases, moving the case to trial may be more appropriate.
If your case moves to trial, you can trust that your DUI defense lawyer will work tirelessly to protect your freedom and future. Your attorney will prepare you for every step of the trial proceedings, from the opening statements to hearing the verdict. Even if you are not satisfied with the outcome, you have the right to file an appeal. No matter what happens, your attorney will look out for your best interests and work hard to keep your future bright.
If you are facing a DUI charge in Palmdale or Lancaster, the Law Offices of David M. Wallin can help. Former Judge Pro Tem David M. Wallin has the skills and experience to help you secure the best possible outcome. Call our office today at (661) 267-1313 to speak with an experienced and trusted criminal defense attorney.