DUI Attorneys in Los Angeles
First time DUI penalties in Los Angeles can include an alcohol class (between 3 and 9 months) and license suspensions totaling more than 6 months. In some cases, additional penalties such as MADD seminars, community service, community labor, and jail are required. Having the right Los Angeles DUI attorney can make a major difference in your case.
After a DUI arrest, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney. The experienced attorneys at Lieber Williams & Labin today protect your rights. Consequences for a DUI can include alcohol classes, fines, fees, community service, community labor, jail, installation of an ignition interlock device, license suspension, and more.
URGENT INFORMATION: You have only 10 days from the date of your arrest to request a DMV Administrative Per Se Hearing. If a hearing is not requested within 10 days, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended, even if a valid and winnable defense exists.
To protect your rights, contact an attorney right away to request a hearing. If a hearing is not properly requested within 10 days from the date of you arrest, your license could be automatically suspended.
The most important thing to do right now is to contact an experienced DUI attorney. The Los Angeles DUI attorneys at Lieber Williams & Labin to fight your case appropriately and give you the time and attention you need during this difficult time.
DUI Penalties in Los Angeles
DUI Fines and Fees – The minimum fine for a DUI is $390. However, this total does not include penalty assessments, which are basically a tax and can increase the fine 260%. There are other fees associated with a DUI.
Alcohol Classes – Attendance at alcohol classes are required for anyone convicted of DUI in Los Angeles County. The length of an alcohol class after a first DUI conviction can range from 3 months to 9 months, depending on the facts of the case. A second or subsequent conviction within 10 years requires an alcohol class of 18 months.
Ignition Interlock Installation – Los Angeles is part of a pilot program requiring everyone convicted of an DUI to install an ignition interlock device in any vehicle accessible to them. First time offenders are required to install an ignition interlock device for 150 days.
License Suspension – A DUI in California involves two cases: court and DMV, and both can result in license suspension. A DMV suspension (first offense within 10 years) requires 30 days of complete suspension, and 150 days of restricted driving (or the licensee can choose 120 days of complete suspension). A conviction for a second offense within 10 years can carry a one year license suspension (ability to receive restricted license after 90 days with installation of an ignition interlock device). A third offense within 10 years can carry a three year suspension with the ability to receive a restricted license after 18 months (upon installation of an ignition interlock device, enrollment in the 18 month alcohol program, showing of proof of insurance [SR-22] and payment of re-issue fees).
In cases where there are injuries after a collision, where children are in the vehicle, excessive speeds are reached, the driver does not have a valid license, the chemical test is refused, or in matters where the driver has had multiple convictions, jail time is sometimes imposed. Driver’s license suspensions can range from four months to three years, depending on prior convictions and the age of the driver. There is no minimum jail requirement for a first DUI offense in California. A second or third DUI within 10 years often requires jail time (second offense, 96 hours statutory minimum; third offense, 120 days statutory minimum). Whether or not custody must be served and how much time must be served depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.
DUI Courthouses in Los Angeles
Metro DUI Court
Metropolitan Courthouse (above) is the largest DUI and traffic courthouse in Los Angeles and is located in downtown Los Angeles (1945 S Hill St). Parking is located in several nearby lots down the street, next to the courthouse, and under the courthouse itself. The cost is between $4-12 per day.
Below is a list of courtrooms (D = Department or Courtroom Number), the type(s) of cases handled at the Metro DUI Courthouse (arraignments, pretrial conferences, misdemeanor trials, traffic trials, etc).
- D61 Trial Arrangements
- D62 Misdemeanor Trial Court
- D63 Trial Arraignment Court
- D64 Overflow and Misdemeanor Trial Court
- D65 Misdemeanor Trial Court
- D66 Custody Arraignments
- D67 Traffic Trials
- D68 Misdemeanor Trial Court
- D69 Preliminary Hearing Court
- D71 Limited Criminal 7
- D72 Limited Criminal
- D73 Limited Criminal
- D75 Misdemeanor Trial Court
- D75 Misdemeanor Trial Court
The Airport Courthouse (above), built in 2000, is a relatively new Los Angeles courthouse. The Airport Courthouse handles DUI matters that occur on the westside of Los Angeles, including cases that originate in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Culver City, West Los Angeles, Palms, Century City, Westwood, and Westchester. The Airport Courthouse is located at 11701 S La Cienega Blvd., in Los Angeles. Parking is available in the front of the courthouse in metered spaces ($2/hour) or in a designated parking lot behind the courthouse ($11 daily maximum).
The Airport Courthouse handles DUI matters prosecuted by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office (misdemeanors) and the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office (misdemeanors).
Santa Clarita Courthouse
The Santa Clarita Courthouse handles cases that originate in the northwest part of Los Angeles County. The courthouse is located at 23747 West Valencia Blvd., in Valencia. The Santa Clarita Courthouse hears matters that originate in Valencia, Saugus, and Santa Clarita.
While the parking lot at this courthouse sometimes becomes full very early in the morning, parking is free. The courthouse itself is small and has only four courtrooms (one courtroom is in an annex and only hears traffic matters). Because the Santa Clarita courthouse hears no cases that originate in the City of Los Angeles, only the Los Angeles County District Attorney prosecutes criminal matters.
The Alhambra Courthouse is located at 150 W. Commonwealth, in Alhambra, 91801. Parking is $4-5 and is adjacent to the courthouse.
The Criminal Clerk’s Office, which includes DUI matters, is located on the second floor in Room 234. Below are valuable phone numbers for services at the Alhambra Courthouse.Administrator (626) 308-5307
- Administrative Court Manager (626) 308-5010
- Operational Court Manager (626) 308-5308
- District Administrator (626) 356-5691
- Judicial Secretary (626) 308-5309
- Volunteer Program Coordinator (626) 308-5010
- Traffic Division (213) 742-1928
- G.C. Services (626) 293-1637
- District Attorney (626) 308-5302
- Health Officer (626) 308-5306
- Interpreter Services (626) 308-5200
- Pre-Trial Services (626) 308-5572
- Sheriff Department (626) 308-5311
- Jury Division (626) 308-5180
The Downey Courthouse is located at 7500 East Imperial Highway in Downey. Parking is available for free in the front of the courthouse and excess parking spaces are usually available. The Downey Courthouse, along with the Norwalk Courthouse and the Bellflower Courthouse, is part of the Southeast Judicial District in Los Angeles County. The Downey Courthouse has eight courtrooms, with only seven currently in use. The courthouse hears all criminal, civil, small claims and traffic matters for the Southeast District.
A first, second or third driving under the influence conviction is not a felony in California except in cases involving injury or death of someone other than the DUI driver. A fourth DUI offense within 10 years makes the a potential conviction a felony, and the consequences even greater.
Potential penalties for a fourth or subsequent DUI include:
- Up to 3 years in county jail
- Up to $3000 in fines
- 4-year license revocation
A DUI involving injury or death to a person other than the driver can be a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the severity of the injuries. A DUI involving injury is regulated by Vehicle Code Section 23153, which can be a misdemeanor or a felony. However, a DUI where a collision results in “great bodily injury” or death is always a felony.
DMV Aministrative Per Se Hearings
DMV Administrative Per Se (APS) Hearings must be requested within 10 days of your arrest. If a hearing is not requested, the DMV may automatically suspend your license. When that APS Hearing is requested, a Stay of Suspension of your driver’s license will also be demanded. This Stay of Suspension will allow you to continue to drive pending the results of the DMV APS hearing.
APS Hearings typically do not occur within one month of your arrest and will take place after the expiration of the pink temporary license you were likely given. Because of this delay, you will be sent a new temporary license allowing you to drive beyond the one month that your pink temporary license allows.
You may or may not want to attend your APS Hearing. While your presence is not required, many Clients want to personally be involved with the process. Often, the DMV will seek to bring in documentary evidence only (such as the police report and the DS-367 – the officer’s sworn statement to the DMV), and not subpeona the officer who arrested you. Sometimes, the DMV will have the officer at the hearing to testify and attempt to fix problems with the report submitted.
Because the DMV relies on this documentary evidence and not live testimony from the officer, attacking the sufficiency and admissibility of the DS-367 is usually the most successful tactic in preventing a suspension.
Typical defenses include defects with the officer’s sworn statements to the DMV (contained in an affidavit called a “DS367″ form) and any search and seizure violations (such as an illegal traffic stop).
Hearing results are typically mailed the driver and his or her attorney within one month after a hearing. If the DMV rules in favor of the driver, the DMV will not impose a suspension (the court still may impose a suspension – however, there is an immediate ability to apply for a restricted license). If the DMV rules against the driver, he or she is given 9 days notice before a suspension begins. 30 days after the start of the suspension the driver is eligible to apply for a restricted license, which allows driving to and from an alcohol class (mandatory enrollment to obtain a restricted license, along with an SR22 form).
The length of the restricted license will depend on the overlap between a court suspension and the DMV suspension. Further, only first time offenders who are 21 years old or older are eligible to apply for a restricted license after 30 days. Those who are under 21 can suffer a one year suspension with no restricted license (although he or she can apply for a Critical Need License). People who are alleged to have refused chemical test face a one year suspension with no restricted license. Those with two DUI’s within 10 years must wait 90 days and install an ignition interlock device to obtain a restricted license.Those with three DUI’s within 10 years must wait 180 days and install an ignition interlock device to obtain a restricted license.
The DMV side of a DUI case makes it imperative that someone arrested for DUI in Los Angeles hire an experienced attorney. Public defenders, unlike privately retained DUI defense attorneys, do not represent clients in DMV proceedings. Often, public defenders do not consider DMV consequences when dealing with the superior court case.
DUI Refusal Allegations
People charged with refusing to take a chemical test during a DUI investigation can penalties beyond those normally imposed in a DUI case.
While refusal allegations are often dismissed after settlement negotiations, the California Vehicle Code requires that any who is illegally impaired and also refuses a blood and breath test to be sentenced to two days in county jail.
The DMV will also attempt to suspend the license (driving privileges) of any person it finds to have refused to submit to a chemical test for one year, with no opportunity to apply for a restricted license. Therefore, it is always worse (for DMV purposes) to not have submitted to a chemical test (the maximum suspension that can be imposed by DMV in a non-refusal [first time DUI] matter is 30 days “hard suspension [no driving] and 150 days of driving with limited privileges [restricted license]).
If charged with a refusal, be sure to consult with a skilled Los Angeles DUI defense attorney, well practiced in handling driving under the influence cases with refusal allegations. Our attorneys have over 70 years of experience and have represented Clients in countless DUI refusal matters.
For a defendant to be convicted of a DUI while refusing to submit to a blood test or breath machine test in court, it first must be proven that he or she was actually impaired (because there is no test result, the field sobriety tests will play a larger part). The lack of a chemical test result also makes the prosecutor’s case more difficult to prove because he or she cannot point to verifiable, preserved number (either a blood test result or a breath machine printout), and instead must rely on an officer’s recollection of events.
High BAC, Speeding & Children in Vehicle
California Vehicle Code Section 23578 allows for higher penalties for people convicted of driving with a blood alcohol level of .15% or higher. If a Vehicle Code Section 23578 enhancement is proven, a 6-month alcohol education class is required. Depending on the alcohol level, a 9-month alcohol education class may be needed. A conviction for high blood alcohol enhancement can also lengthen the length of a suspension.
California Vehicle Code Section 23852 allows for higher penalties for people convicted of DUI who were also traveling recklessly and 20 (or more) mph over the speed limit (30+ mph over the speed limit on a highway). If a Vehicle Code Section 23852 enhancement is proven, a minimum of 60 days of custody can be required.
California Vehicle Code Section 23572 allows for higher penalties for people convicted of DUI while driving with a child under the age of 14. If a Vehicle Code Section 23572 enhancement is proven, a minimum of 48 hours of custody can be required (for a second offense within 10 years, a minimum of 10 additional days of custody can be required).
DUI Traffic Stops & 4th Amendment
When an officer conducts a DUI traffic enforcement stop, he or she must comply with the Fourth Amendment requirements concerning search and seizure. Specifically, an officer must be able to provide specific artibulable facts, more than an unparticularized suspicion of hunch, that a crime has been committed. The determination by a judge regarding whether a traffic enforcement stop is lawful does not depend on rules with “hard certainties, but with probabilities” and must be considered from the point of view of law enforcement, not legal scholars. When deciding whether an enforcement stop is lawful, the officer (or judge evaluating an officer’s conduct) must take into account legitimate and lawful explanations for any given behavior.
When a DUI traffic enforcement stop is made illegally, in violation of a driver’s Fourth Amendment rights, all evidence obtained after the illegal detention will not be admissible in court. For example, if a driver is stopped for weaving, but that weaving was not pronounced enough to justify the traffic stop, all evidence, including any DUI field sobriety tests or DUI breath / blood tests, will not be admissible in court and the case will usually be dismissed.
Traffic enforcement stops that are “pretextual” are allowed in Los Angeles, throughout California, and in all other states. A pretextual traffic enforcement detention typically occurs when an officer uses a minor vehicle code violation to justify a traffic stop of a driver he or she suspects is guilty of another crime. Pretextual stops occur often outside of bars at or near closing time. When a driver leaves a bar in a vehicle, he or she can be pulled over by an officer for any number of vehicle code violations, such as exceeding the speed limit, not coming to a complete stop, etc., even though the officer’s true motivation is to conduct a DUI investigation. In 1996, the United States Supreme Court decided that pretextual stops were allowed, finding that an officer’s true motivation for a traffic enforcement stop was not relevant to the legitimacy of the stop. The only condition necessary to justify a traffic detention is that an officer have reasonable cause to believe a violation of any vehicle code section has taken place.
Below are some typical reasons for driving under the influence traffic enforcement stops and the legal standards that an officer’s allegations regarding that stop must meet:
Weaving: Vehicles should be driving within a lane and cannot be moved from a lane unless that movement can be completed in a safe manner. “Weaving all over the roadway” and “crossing over the center line” on a highway “almost causing several head-on collisions” are both examples of situations where weaving constituted probable cause. However, simply weaving where there is no danger to other drivers is not a justification for a traffic stop. Further, drifting once into an adjacent lane and weaving within a lane, with nothing more, did not justify a constitutional enforcement stop.
Speeding: A traffic enforcement stop for speeding is almost always a legitimate basis for a detention. This is because an officer only needs to have probable cause of a vehicle code violation (such as speeding) versus a less clear “reasonable suspicion” that criminal activity is taking place. However, an officer’s observation of alleged speeding may not be enough. Unless there are more facts that an officer is able to articulate (such as grossly excessive speeds), for a traffic detention stop (where speeding is the reason for the stop) to be considered lawful, an officer must bumper pace a vehicle or record the excessive speed using radar.
Reckless or Hazardous Driving: Driving recklessly fast, driving too slow, and changing lanes too often for normal travel are all things that can cause an officer to conduct a traffic enforcement stop and investigate the driver for symptoms of a DUI. Other minor Vehicle Code violations such as illegal U-turns, not stopping completely at a stop sign, passing the limit line at a stop sign or red light, driving through a red light, and a failure to yield are all legitimate reasons for a traffic stop (and all can lead to a DUI investigation).
Equipment Violations: Many equipment or mechanical problems with a vehicle can lead to a traffic stop and DUI investigation. While the list of possible equipment or mechanical problems with a vehicle is extensive, common reasons for traffic stops for reasons other than the method of driving include:
- Excessive tinting on the front windows (not all window tinting is unlawful);
- Smoke coming from the hood, signaling engine problems;
- Excessive smoke coming from the exhaust;
- Objects hanging in the rear-view mirror area that obstruct the driver’s view;
- Non-functioning headlights, tail lights or brake lights; and
- The lack of a front license plate.
Following Too Closely: Vehicle Code Section 21703 prohibits vehicles from following other vehicles on the road. For a driver to be committed a violation of Vehicle Code Section 21703, he or she must have been:
- Driving a motor vehicle; and
- Following another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and condition of, the roadway.
Impeding Traffic: Vehicle Code Section 22400 prohibits impeding traffic. For a driver to be committed a violation of Vehicle Code Section 22400, he or she must have been:
- Driving a motor vehicle; and
- Driving at such a slow speed as to block the normal flow of traffic unless the reduced speed is necessary for the safe operation of the vehicle; or
- Stopped in a motor vehicle upon a highway except in situations where the driver is comlying with the law (such as at a stop sign or stop light) or is needed for the reasonable safety of the vehicle and others (traffic).
The use of cell phones while driving, whether texting, dialing, or talking, has led to an increase in accidents. Distracted drivers are targets for law enforcement, and a stop for using a cell phone can lead to DUI investigation. In California, talking on a cell phone (unless that phone is equipped with hands-free capabilities, not including speaker phones) while driving is unlawful per California Vehicle Code Section 23123. There are exceptions to the prohibition on cell phone use while driving, such as:
- Use of cell phones by individuals during reasonable emergency situations (such as a call to law enforcement, 911 or an ambulance).
- Emergency services professionals are also exempt from the law outlawing cell phone use while driving. Police officers, firefighters, and paramedics are all permitted to use their phones when working.
- A school bus driver is exempt from Vehicle Code Section 23123.
- Finally, anyone driving on a private road may use his or her cell phone when on that private road. If the vehicle transitions to a public highway, Vehicle Code Section 23123 will apply.
Texting or using electronic digital communications is also not allowed per the California Vehicle Code. Section 23123.5 prohibits texting while driving. Specifically, a driver cannot use an “electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text message.” “‘[W]rite, send, or read a text-based communication’ means using an electronic wireless communications device to manually communicate with any person using a text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.” An exception to texting or emailing while driving does exist for emergency personnel in the course and scope of their duties.
While a violation of section 23123 or section 23123.5 are not “moving violations” (they do not cause a point to be added to drivers’ driving records), they are both sufficient probable cause for an officer to stop a driver. If, during that traffic enforcement stop, the officer notices the “objective symptoms of alcohol impairment,” he or she can and will begin to conduct a DUI investigation.
Police officers generally do not read a driver arrested for DUI his or her Miranda rights. This is because a Miranda admonishment would only allow statements you made into evidence, and verbal statements in a DUI case are usually not as important as other evidence, such as breath or blood test results, field sobriety tests, and driving patter. Even if a driver was not read his or her Miranda rights, the officer would still be able to testify about what he or she observed, such as driving or field sobriety tests. Finally, even without a Miranda admonishment, the breath machine test results and/or blood results would still be admissible in court.
There are exceptions in DUI cases where Miranda rights are important. For example, in a case where someone is parked on the side of the road and the officer is attempting to establish the driver had only consumed alcohol before driving not after. In that situation, statements by the driver are key pieces of evidence and the failure to give a Miranda warning could make a difference. However, someone must only be read his or her Miranda rights after he or she has been arrested, not before when the officer is asking routine investigatory questions.
Symptoms of DUI Impairment
To detain a driver for a DUI investigation, an officer will always investigate to determine whether a driver displays the “objective symptoms of impairment.”
Bloodshot and watery eyes are a common symptom of alcohol impairment. However, there can often be other causes for bloodshot and watery eyes, such as crying, smoking, allergies, a lack of sleep, exposure to a specific food or chemical (i.e., onions), or some other medical condition (i.e., a broken tear duct).
An unsteady gait can be an objective symptom of impairment for DUI drivers. There are alternative explanations, however, for an unsteady gait, such as an injury or permanent condition.
The odor of alcohol is another common symptom of impairment. Some alcohol will not smell (vodka has no odor) and other substances can cause one to smell like alcohol (such as mouthwash or cold medicine). No scientific study has every established a correlation between a specific level of impairment and a level the odor of alcohol.
Slurred speech is another “objective symptom of impairment.” However, some individuals speak slowly or have speech impediments, and understandably, many people who are pulled over and are being questioned by law enforcement are extremely nervous, impacting speech.
Driving With a Suspended License Because of a DUI
Driving with suspended license, a violation of Vehicle Code Section 14601.2, occurs when a driver operates a motor vehicle after his or her license has been suspended because of a DUI conviction.
If accused of driving with a suspended license in Los Angeles, always seek the advice of a skilled lawyer, experienced in handling such matters, to assist with all possible defenses.
If a person is convicted in court of driving under the influence (either with injury or without), an “abstract of judgment” is sent to the DMV. The DMV, once the abstract is received from the court, will automatically suspend the license of the person convicted for six months. This six month suspension involves no “hard” suspension (driving without the ability to immediately apply for a restricted license) and runs at the same time (concurrently) with the suspension imposed by the DMV side of the case (that suspension has minimum of 30 days no driving, or “hard” suspension before the licensee is permitted to apply for a restricted license).
A conviction for a violation of Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 requires a minimum of 10 days in county jail unless the alleged charge is dismissed or reduced (maximum sentence is 180 days in county jail). A conviction for violation Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 also requires a mandatory minimum fine of $300 plus penalty assessments of up to 260% of the base fine). The maximum fine for a violation of Vehicle Code Section 14601.2 is $1,000 plus penalty assessments.
Ambien DUI Cases
Driving under the influence cases involving ambien have become more common recently. A recurring theme in ambien driving under the influence (DUI) matters is a lack of memory regarding what occurred. The perception of sleepwalking or driving while sleeping may actually be a chemical reaction to the drug causing memory loss and resulting in the belief that one was asleep because of that lack of memory. Amnesia is a common side-effect of ambien, along with multiple other side effects, some of which are:
- Relaxation of social inhibitions;
- Delusions; and
Marijuana DUI Cases
Marijuana affects the body differently than alcohol and therefore, marijuana DUI cases must be treated differently.
There are two separate marijuana tests. When determining whether a subject is impaired (high) when being tested, the subject’s blood or urine will be screened for THC (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). The THC test or delta 9 test will only detect very recent marijuana use, just a few hours in most cases. Breath machines, hair follicle tests, and urine tests cannot detect recent marijuana use; only blood tests can be used.
The TCH test is dramatically different from the TCH-COOH test, which determines whether a person has used marijuana in the recent past (some tests can determine use as far back as three months or more). The TCH-COOH test will not determine whether the subject was impaired or high at the time the blood or hair was drawn. Also unlike the TCH or delta 9 test, urine samples can be screened to determine TCH-COOH levels and can therefore determine recent use. Urine tests cannot determine current impairment levels (urine cannot be tested to determine if someone is high).
While no “per se” number is used in California to determine marijuana impairment (in contrast to alcohol where it the .08% BAC level is automatically illegal), other states have set TCH or delta 9 limits. Colorado has made it unlawful to drive with a more than 5 nanograms per millileter of tetrahydrocannabinol in the subject’s whole blood (versus plasma, where the “legal limit” would be 10 nanograms per millileter). Some states have even stricter laws, enacting “zero tolerance” marijuana DUI laws. These states make any presence of marijuana, whether detected in TCH or delta 9 or TCH-COOH unlawful. Therefore, in some places, people who are not even impaired, but have used marijuana recently, can be found guilty of DUI.
When marijuana is smoked by non-heavy users, TCH levels will typically spike to as high as 100 nanograms per millileter but will typically reduce very quickly (within an hour) to 10 nanograms per millileter or less. Regular marijuana users will take longer to reduce TCH levels, sometimes much longer. One study has shown that residual THC levels were detected for as long as 24-48 hours at levels of 0.5 – 3.2 nanograms per millileter in regular users. Studies have also shown that drivers with TCH concentrations above 3 nanograms per millileter were less effective at avoiding accidents and generally drove worse than drivers not under the influence of marijuana.
Commercial Drivers DUI
Driving under the influence penalties can be higher for those with a Class A or Class B license. Drivers with a Class A or Class B license, per California Vehicle Code Section 23152(d), are DUI when their blood alcohol content is .04% or greater. This is in contrast to drivers who are over 21 years old, where the legal limit is .08%.
Further, drivers who have a Class A or Class B license who are found to be driving with a blood alcohol level above .08% face a one year revocation of their license (versus a 30-day suspension for Class C drivers, with the ability to apply for a restricted license at the 30-day point). A revocation is different from a suspension. After a suspension, a driver may automatically receive his or her license back. After a revocation, the driver must begin the application and testing process again, from the beginning. However, upon a suspension of a Class A or Class B license, a driver may immediately downgrade to a Class C license and apply for a restricted Class C license 30 days after the beginning of a suspension (first time offenders only, second and third offenders must wait 90 and 180 days respectively, and install an ignition interlock device) .
Class A and Class B drivers do not have to be driving their commercial vehicle (or bus or fire engine) to be held to the higher, .04% standard (basically, if a commercial driver is driving his or her regular car and is found to be driving with a BAC over .04%, he or she can be guilty of violation Vehicle Code Sectin 23152(d), DUI.
What is a Commercial Vehicle?
- Vehicles with a registered or gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more that tows another vehicle with a GVWR of 10,000 pounds or more
- Passenger vehicles carrying more than ten (10) people, including the driver;
- School buses;
- Tank vehicles;
- Double trailers;
- Vehicles carrying hazardous chemicals/substances that legally require placement on the vehicle of a placard stating so.
The following individuals or organizations are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rules and regulations regarding drugs or alcohol:
- Any individual/company that owns or leases a commercial motor vehicle;
- For-hire motor carriers;
- Civic organizations that transport disabled veterans, Girl Scouts, senior citizens, etc.;
- Federal, state and local governments;
- Any individual/company that assigns employee drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles.
Federal Commercial Driver DUI Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (“FMCSA”) has also enacted regulations and guidelines with respect to matters related to driving of commercial motor vehicles. Although every commercial motor vehicle in every state is required to adhere to the laws and regulations of its state, if the standard of care prescribed by the FMCSA is higher, then the FMCSA will supersede the laws of the state. (FMCSA § 392.2).
The following entities and individuals are required to comply with the FMCSA regulations (FMCSA § 392.1).
- Motor carriers and its officers, agents, representatives.
- Employees of motor carriers responsible for the management. maintenance, operation, or driving of commercial motor vehicles.
- Employees of motor carriers responsible for the hiring, supervising. training, assigning, or dispatching of drivers.
A few examples of the FMCSA regulations that motor carrier-employers and their employees must comply with are as follows:
- Drivers must not operate a commercial motor vehicle, nor shall their employers permit or require them to, while their alertness is so impaired by fatigue or illness such that it would be unsafe for them to do so. (FMCSA § 392.3).
- Drivers are prohibited from possessing or being under the influence of any of the following substances while on duty (FMCSA § 392.4):
- Schedule I substances;
- Amphetamines (or any formulation of amphetamines);
- Narcotic drugs or any derivatives.
- Any other drugs that would render a driver incapable of safely operating the vehicle
- Drivers are prohibited from using, being under the influence of, or being on duty/operating a commercial motor vehicle while possessing alcohol (FMCSA § 392.5).
- Motor carriers are prohibited from scheduling a run or permitting/requiring the operation of a commercial motor vehicle during times that would necessitate it to operate at speeds greater than legally permitted. (FMCSA § 392.6).
In general, the purpose of the FMCSA’s regulations are to prescribe safety standards in the operation of commercial motor vehicles with regard to, among other things, driver conduct, permissive transportation, equipment, emergency situations, and the towing and pushing of cargo.
Commercial Employer Notification / Impact on Job
Not only are commercial license holders subject to California-specific regulations, but commercial drivers must also comply with federal commercial driving regulations for traffic safety. The majority of drivers who hold a CDL or who operate commercial motor vehicles work for employers or organizations that are in the carrier business, or simply use carrier services.
The following employers and organizations are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations regarding drugs and alcohol:
- Any individual/company that owns or leases a commercial motor vehicle.
- For-hire motor carriers.
- Civic organizations that transport disabled veterans, Girl Scouts, senior citizens, etc.
- Federal, state, and local governments.
- Any individual/company that assigns employee-drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles.
It is these types of employers and organizations who are particularly affected when an employee of theirs has been convicted of a DUI and subsequently has his/her CDL suspended for one year. Therefore, anyone who operates a commercial motor vehicle or who holds a CDL that is convicted of a DUI is required to notify his/her employer of the conviction within 30 days of the conviction (FMCSA § 383.31(a)).
DUI Impact on Job for Non-Commercial Drivers
If you do not have a Class A or Class B license your employment can still be impacted because of a DUI. Many Class C drivers (non-commercial drivers) drive as a prerequisite for their job. Salespeople, regional managers and supervisors, ride-sharing drivers, and many other types of people rely on their ability to drive in order to work. In other situations, even if a short suspension can be tolerated, some auto insurers may cancel a policy because of a DUI conviction.
Beyond the need to drive for work, a DUI carries the added risk of an employer finding out about a DUI and taking adverse action, such as termination or suspension. California is an “at will” employment state, which means that a private employer can terminate an employee for any reason other than those prohibited by law (such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc.). Local, state and federal employees enjoy a greater level of protection than private employees in an “at will” state. However, some industries or professions have internal policies against hiring or continuing to employ people convicted of a DUI. Other jobs (i.e., a nurse or firefighter, discussed below) require a license or certificate that could be impacted by a criminal conviction or DUI.
When looking for a job after a DUI arrest, it is important to note that most employment applications do not ask if the applicant has ever been arrested for any criminal offense, but instead ask if the applicant has suffered any criminal convictions. If a DUI case is pending, an applicant can truthfully answer “no” when asked if he or she has been convicted of a crime (assuming the applicant has no other criminal convictions). Other applications only inquire about felony convictions, not DUI’s – as discussed above, most DUI cases are misdemeanors (all except cases involving injuries or three or more prior convictions in the past 10 years).
Field Sobriety Tests
Many field sobriety tests have shown evidence of impairment via empirical studies by experts. Some field sobriety tests are approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTS). Other non-approved tests, while still used regularly by Los Angeles (and other California) law enforcement agencies, have a greater likelihood of being attached as non-indicators of impairment.
One type of field sobriety test that is approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is the “walk and turn” test. The walk and turn test is a divided attention test, used to determine how well a driver taking the test can divide his or her attention between two separate tasks, such as steering and concentrating on the direction being driven simultaneously. Divided attention tasks typically have one mental aspect (following road directions) designed to test comprehension, and one physical task (steering), designed to test dexterity and the ability to relay physical instructions from the brain to the body. In the walk and turn DUI field sobriety test, the driver is directed to take nine steps in line while touching heel to toe, to turn around turning one foot, and to walk back nine steps in the same manner as the first nine (NHTSA admits that over 20% of people taking this test are unable to complete it successfully, even when not impaired by alcohol.).
A second field sobriety test that is approved by NHTSA is the “one leg stand” test. Like the walk and turn test, the one leg stand is a divided attention test (mental impairment precedes physical impairment). In the one leg stand DUI field sobriety test, the subject is instructed to choose a leg, lift it about six inches from the ground, and count out loud starting with “one” but using thousands (“one thousand-one, one thousand-two, one thousand-three,” etc.). The officer or other test administrator is taught to stop the test after 30 seconds. During the test, the administrator of the test is looking for clues to indicate alcohol consumption (examples are hopping, putting a foot down, swaying, or using arms to keep balance). According to NHTSA, 83% of people who show two or more “clues” during the one leg stand test will have a blood alcohol content of over .08% in their blood. Therefore, NHTSA necessarily recognizes that 17% of people will fail this test but will have a blood alcohol level below .08%. Other factors such as nervousness, fatigue, injury, or a poor sense of balance can also impact the results of this test.
While regularly used by law enforcement when conducting DUI investigations in Los Angeles, the “finger to nose” sobriety test is not a NHTSA approved test. The finger to nose test is administered by having the subject stand straight with his or her head tilted back (slightly), with his or her eyes closed (this type of test cannot be fully demonstrated by an officer because he or she cannot, for safety reasons, close his or her eyes during a traffic stop). The subject is then instructed to bing the tip of his or her index finger to the tip of his or her nose three times with each finger (the officer instructs the subject on the order the fingers should touch the nose). During the test, the officer is looking for indicators of impairment, such as: body stiffness, delayed or slow movement, eyelid tremors, body tremors, and swaying, and an inability to follow directions.
The “Rhomberg field sobriety test” is a regularly used test by all agencies investigating DUI’s in Los Angeles and throughout California (the Romberg test was first used by the Los Angeles Police Department). The test begins with the test-taker standing with his or her eyes closed, and head back. The administrator is instructed to stand near the subject to prevent the test-taker from falling. The subject then is told to remain still and estimate verbally when 30 seconds have passed. Before the test, the test-taker is instructed not to count out loud, verbally counting silently instead. During the test, the officer is looking for signs of alcohol impairment, which include swaying, a rigid body or rigid arms, eyelid tremors, body tremors, and the ability to follow instructions. The Romberg test is not approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN test) is often the first filed sobriety tests performed by officers in a DUI investigation because an unofficial HGN result can be obtained before the driver exits his or her vehicle. The official administration of the test must be given when the driver is standing upright, facing the administrator of the test. HGN was designed to detect alcohol impairment by causing the eyeballs to flutter when they are looking to their periphery. The proper administration of the test is as follows: the officer is required to hold a pen or similar object between one foot and 15 inches from the test-taker, directly in front of him or her. The officer is then supposed to direct the test taker to hold his or her head perfectly still and only watch the pen or other object as it’s moved to the side of the subject’s head. If the subject’s eyelids “jump” or flutter prior to the pen or object reaching a 45% angle, that subject will be impaired (according to studies) almost 90% of the time. Almost 50% of all people will show eyelid flutters (nystagmus) at a 45% angle (or greater).
Another non-NHTSA approved but commonly used field sobriety test is the “hand pat” test. The hand pat test is also a divided attention test, requiring the subject to focus on physical and at mental tasks at the same time. The hand pat field sobriety test has not been tested in any scientific setting. Despite the lack of scientific testing, the hand pat test is an obvious and simple test of dexterity and attentiveness. The test begins with the officer having the subject place one hand on top of another with both palms touching evenly. The top hand then rotates so the bottom of the top hand touches the top of the bottom hand. The subject is instructed to repeat the task and count each rotation out loud. During the test, the officer is looking for cues of impairment, such as not following directions or not rotating hands evenly. The top hand is then supposed to rotate so that the back of the top hand is touching the palm of the bottom hand. The top hand is then required to rotate again, forcing both palms to once again touch each other evenly. This process repeats itself with the subject being asked to count, out loud, “one” on the first rotation, and “two” on the second rotation. The hand pat field sobriety test continues in this manner for between ten and fifteen seconds.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device (known as an “IID”) are required to be placed in the vehicles of anyone convicted of DUI in Los Angeles (if the DUI defendant no longer owns or has access to a vehicle, a Declaration of Non-Ownership can be filed. However, the requirement of an IID device being installed cannot be avoided by transferring ownership of a vehicle for 150 days because the 150 day period must eventually be served with an IID before a driver can receive his or her license back. People with a second DUI within 10 years in Los Angeles must install the IID for 12 months. People with a third DUI within 10 years in Los Angeles must install the IID for 24 months. People with a fourth DUI within 10 years in Los Angeles must install the IID for 36 months.
The IID is installed on the drivers side of the vehicle and the mouthpiece is only long enough to reach the driver. The IID, during a driving trip, will randomly request a sample from the driver, without enough time to pull over and have another individual provide a sample. In short, the IID cannot be “tricked” and the requirement of installation cannot be avoided if a conviction occurs. The IID device must also be brought to the installer and maintained every 60 days for accuracy. These service providers are also required to inform the DMV of any positive tests or any instances of tampering with the IID itself.
A DUI can be dismissed per Penal Code Section 1203.4 once the probationary term has expired. Probation can expire naturally (at the end of a term, typically three years or five years – a first offense DUI in Los Angeles requires three years probation) or can be terminated early by a judge. A dismissal requires the filing of a motion, called a Petition for Dismissal and requires that the prosecuting agency be given 15 days notice. Some prosecutors object to expungement petitions, others do not object and offer input for the court. Assuming all conditions for the expungement are met, whether or not to grant the dismissal is the judge’s decision. The likelihood of a judge granting or denying a dismissal request vary, depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, chances of success increase if a defendant has no prior convictions and if the facts in the present case were not egregious.
In Los Angeles, the court clerk requires a fee of $120 for the filing of a dismissal motion. Additional requirements for a dismissal are that the petitioner (the person seeking the dismissal) not be on probation in any other case or in jail or prison because of any other car. Those seeking expungements also may not be eligible in certain types of non-DUI cases (cases involving domestic violence or sexual misconduct may result in a denial of a petition).
Stages of DUI Case in Los Angeles
Arrest – This is the very beginning of a Los Angeles DUI case, when a law enforcement official concludes his or her investigation and turns the matter over to a district attorney’s office or city attorney’s office.
Arraignment – This is the first court appearance and the first opportunity for a defendant to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The arraignment is usually the time when the prosecutor turns over the police report to the defense. There are other types of pleas, such as no contest pleas or not guilty by reason of insanity pleas. In felony DUI cases, if the matter proceeds to preliminary hearing, the subsequent appearance is also called an arraignment (information arraignment).
Preliminary Hearings – DUI defendants who are charged with a felony (for a fourth or subsequent DUI within 10 years or for a DUI with injury) are entitled to a preliminary hearing. At that hearing the judge determines whether there is enough evidence to order the defendant stand trial. The preliminary hearing does not need to show guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, only that there is reasonable cause to believe a crime was committed and that the defendant committed that crime.
Settlement Conferences – This stage is where many DUI cases are resolved after negotiation. Different cities, counties and judges handle the settlement conference process differently. However, most DUI cases in Los Angeles are relatively similar, with a settlement conference occurring within three to five weeks of an arraignment. Some Los Angeles DUI cases have multiple settlement conferences before the matter is resolved.
Trial – This is the most commonly known stage of the DUI process and typically takes place with a jury if the prosecutor and defense are not able to settle a DUI charge. A unanimous verdict is required to convict or acquit a defendant. If all 12 jurors do not vote unanimously, a mistrial is declared.
Can I Drive After a DUI in Los Angeles?
As long as your license was valid before your DUI arrest, you are still permitted to drive for 30 days after the arrest, and in many cases, longer. After the initial 30 days, your privilege to drive will depend on what actions you take and the facts of your case.
You were likely given a pink temporary license after being arrested for DUI. That pink temporary license (it says “Age 21 and Older” and “Page 3” at the top) is valid for 30 days. The pink temporary license will expire after 30 days unless the correct DMV Drivers Safety Office is contacted within 10 days of your arrest and a Stay of Suspension is requested (a request for an Administrative Per Se Hearing and a request for all discovery [reports] should also be requested at the same time).
If the DMV Drivers Safety Office is not contacted within 10 calendar days of your arrest (and you either refused a chemical test or submitted to a blood or breath test that registered .08% or higher, by weight of alcohol), your license will be automatically suspended after the expiration of the temporary license.
If an Administrative Per Se Hearing is requested along with a Stay of Suspension, you will receive a new, white temporary license in the mail that is valid beyond the initial 30 days that the original pink temporary license is valid for. That new, white, temporary license will be valid until at least nine days after your Administrative Per Se Hearing.
At the Administrative Per Se Hearing, you or your attorney will have an opportunity to contest the evidence, subpoena witnesses, and make any relevant legal arguments. If you win the hearing, there will be no Administrative Per Se suspension – there still may be a court-generated suspension later, but that suspension allows you to immediately apply for a restricted license, which the DMV Administrative Per Se suspension does not.
Should I go to the DMV After My DUI arrest?
The best thing to do after a DUI arrest in California is to hire an attorney. If that is not possible, you can contact DMV on your own. If you want to fight your DMV case, you’ll need to schedule an administrative Per Se Hearing and request all evidence the DMV will seek to introduce at that hearing.
You must also request the Administrative Per Se Hearing, the Stay of Suspension and discovery (police reports and officer’s sworn statements) from the correct DMV office. You cannot make the requests at a local DMV Field Office – the requests must be made at the DMV Drivers Safety Office.
How do I Get My Police Report After a DUI in Los Angeles?
Most law enforcement agencies or police departments will not give you a copy of your DUI police report. Going to the police department that handled your arrest in order to obtain the report will generally be a waste of time.
There are two common ways to obtain your police report after a DUI. First, the DMV, once an Administrative Per Se Hearing is scheduled within the first 10 days of the arrest, will send a copy of most or all of the report to you or your attorney, generally within 3-5 weeks. This can take longer if you submitted to a blood test instead of a breath test, as blood samples need to be analyzed in a laboratory. The second way is in court, at the first court date (the arraignment).
DUI Hit & Run
Any driver who is involved in a traffic collision in Los Angeles (and throughout California) has a legal responsibility to stop, provide identifying information, and render reasonable assistance. A driver is required to immediately inform law enforcement of any death related to a traffic collision, along with providing relevant identifying information.
“Hit and run” after a DUI (or any accident) is prohibited by California Vehicle Code Sections 20001(a) and Vehicle Code Section 2001(b)(1) and Vehicle Code Section 2001(b)(2). To be convicted of hit and run, a prosecutor must prove that:
- An accident took place; and
- The defendant was a driver of one of the vehicle involved in the collision; and
- The defendant knew the accident took place (there are cases, late at night, where drivers may be unaware of a collision); and
- The defendant failed to stop his or her vehicle and provide necessary information.
In cases involving an allegation of hit and run involving injury or death, it must also be proven that a defendant must knew, or reasonably should have known, that another person was injured or killed. Cases involving injury, death or significant property damage can be filed as felonies.
Wet Reckless in Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, and throughout California, a “wet reckless” is a reduced charge (from a driving under the influence charge) and is considered a “lesser included offense.” This means that a wet reckless cannot be charged by itself, a person can only be convicted of that offense if he or she has initially been charged with a DUI.
A wet reckless plea is a plea pursuant to California Vehicle Code § 23103 per § 23103.5. Some counties, such as Los Angeles, do not allow “dry reckless” pleas (a plea pursuant to California Vehicle Code § 23103 not per § 23103.5). Instead, when a prosecutor wishes to reduce a charge lower than a “wet reckless,” the appropriate charge is “exhibition of speed” (California Vehicle Code § 23109).
The likelihood of a charge reduction below a DUI to a wet reckless in Los Angeles can depend on a variety of factors all considered together. Factors such as the blood alcohol content in a given case, the blood alcohol level, whether or not children or young passengers were in the vehicle, whether a collision occurred (and whether injuries were sustained in that collision), the quality of a defendant’s driving record (including prior DUI’s, reckless driving charges, and allegations of driving with a suspended license), the legitimacy of the traffic detention stop, and other factors.
Typically, the punishment for a wet reckless is less significant than the penalties for a DUI. First, in Los Angeles, a charge reduction to a wet reckless allows a defendant to avoid installing an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle. Next, while custody is rarely a term of probation when a DUI is reduced to a wet reckless in Los Angeles, the maximum exposure (maximum time) one convicted of wet reckless may serve is 90 days in county jail (versus 180 days in county jail for those convicted of DUI).
Wet reckless plea agreements can sometimes include some conditions that are more stringent than the conditions of probation for a DUI. For example if a defendant values avoiding an ignition interlock device above all other conditions, he or she may propose a settlement agreement with the prosecutor of a wet reckless (avoiding the ignition interlock device) with a fine payment slightly higher than a DUI (i.e., $500 plus penalty assessments versus $390 plus penalty assessments). In the absence of a plea agreement discussed above, conditions of probation for a wet reckless in Los Angeles typically involve two years of summary (informal) probation (versus three years in most DUI cases), and a 12-hour alcohol class (versus a three, six or nine month class required in DUI cases).
DUI’s & Court Appearances
In all misdemeanor cases, with some exceptions, a defendant is not required to attend court proceedings if he or she is represented by an attorney. In DUI cases, however, a judge may require a DUI defendant to attend the arrangement (where a plea of guilty or not guilty is entered), the plea (a change of plea from not guilty to no contest or guilty), and sentencing. Therefore, a DUI defendant can only be required to attend certain hearings in a misdemeanor case. However, in most Los Angeles courts, individuals charged with a DUI are usually not ordered to attend any court proceedings if his or her attorney is present.
Most Los Angeles County judges will also allow a defendant’s attorney to submit signed and notarized plea documents, allowing those defendants to avoid all in-person contact with the court. In DUI cases involving injury, death, or where a DUI defendant has prior offenses within the previous 10 years, many judges in Los Angeles (and throughout California) may require the defendant to be present at some court proceedings.
In felony DUI cases (cases involving injury or death or three previous priors within the last 10 years), a defendant must be personally present at every stage of the judicial proceedings, regardless of whether he or she is represented by an attorney. While exceptions to the rule requiring felony DUI defendants to be personally present at every court appearance exist, the rules outlining those exceptions are specific and strict.
First, a judge must approve a defendant’s application to have his or her DUI attorney appear in court without their presence (these types of requests are typically made and granted in cases where a defendant is in the armed services and is scheduled to be deployed, or other unusual circumstances). Next, the defendant making the request is often required to sign a “Waiver of Personal Presence” in open court, with the judge witnessing the signing. Finally, a judge may make a detailed order in a felony DUI case, establishing conditions on which a DUI defendant’s presence may be waived. For example, a judge may require a defendant to attend a specific evidentiary hearing, such as a preliminary hearing, and allow a defendant to fail to attend a settlement conference.
DUI defendants who are released on their own recognizance in misdemeanor matters may leave the county and the state unless ordered otherwise. Misdemeanor defendants who have posted bail and all felony defendants must obtain permission to leave California. In misdemeanor cases, a DUI defendant who has posted bail may request permission to leave California from the bail bond agent, and this request is typically allowed. A felony defendant must request permission from the court to leave California and must also obtain permission from the bail bond corporation that posted the bond.
Traveling Out of Los Angeles During a DUI Case
After being arrested for a DUI, you are usually permitted to leave the state. While there are exceptions, California does not impose travel restrictions on leaving the state after a DUI.
Most people arrested for DUI have been arrested for the first time. Most of these people were arrested and released on their own recognizance (this is a written promise to appear in court and does not require you to post bail). As a result of being released on your own recognizance, there are generally no conditions on travel.
A judge in any misdemeanor case may decide to require the defendant to post bail and impose conditions on travel outside California, or the judge may allow your release on your own recognizance and still impose travel restrictions along with other conditions. (such as attending weekly AA meetings). The likelihood of travel restrictions being imposed will depend on a variety of factors, such as the policy of a given county, courthouse or judge, the severity of the case (a first offense DUI versus a thirds offense DUI would be treated differently), or the circumstances surrounding the case (a DUI with a collision would be versus a DUI with no collision would be treated differently).
Finally, if the case is filed as a felony, either because there is an allegation that you have three or more prior DUI’s within the last 10 years or whether there is an allegation that the DUI involved injury to another person, your travel will be limited. Release conditions in a felony DUI can be altered by a judge in the same way he or she can alter conditions of release in a misdemeanor DUI case. In certain circumstances, a judge may request that a defendant hand over his or her passport as a condition of not being remanded into custody, preventing travel out of the United States.
In a felony case, however, two additional problems with respect to travel outside California and the United States arise. First, you must not violate the terms of your agreement with a bail agent. When you sign a contract with a bail agent, the bail agent may insist that you agree not to leave California or the United States (or may insist you get his or her permission before leaving).
Second, in all felony cases, with very rare exceptions, defendants are required to personally be in court at every court appearance (in many misdemeanor cases, you are not required to attend court if your attorney appears on your behalf). This requirement of personal appearances combined with the regular court dates during a felony case (typically, every month) makes interstate travel difficult (and makes international travel very difficult).
If you are placed on felony DUI probation (not misdemeanor probation), you may be required to obtain the permission of your probation officer before leaving California or the United Sates.
Traveling to Canada After a DUI
Traveling within the United States or abroad after a misdemeanor DUI offense is usually not a problem, unless you wish to travel to Canada. Canada has notoriously strict rules with respect to entry after a DUI, as it considers all DUI’s felonies and restricts access (even temporary access) to those convicted of DUI anywhere in the world. Canada’s immigration laws allows the country to restrict access to anyone convicted of a crime where the exposure in Canadian jails or prisons is at least ten years (this includes DUI’s).
Entering Canada after a DUI, however, is not impossible. People convicted of DUI have several options open to them, the first and most common being the “deemed rehabilitation” option. A person convicted of DUI may be deemed rehabilitated 10 years after a DUI arrest.
If you do not qualify for deemed rehabilitation, you may petition the Canadian immigration authorities for an “individual criminal rehabilitation.” To apply for this exemption, at least five years must have passed since the DUI arrest, all conditions of probation must be completed (alcohol classes, fines, ignition interlock device), the probationary period must have expired, and you must not have been convicted of any other type of qualifying offense (such as another DUI).
To apply for an individual criminal rehabilitation exemption, you must submit an application form, passport photo, passport history (data), local (California) criminal history information, federal (FBI) criminal history information, the case history (documents indicating the charge, the conviction, and sentencing), proof of completion of all conditions of probation (fines, classes, etc.), the text of the statute violated, a description of events surrounding the arrest, three reference letters, and a $180 filing fee.
The final option for entering Canada after a DUI is a “temporary resident permit.” Temporary permits are available to those who do not qualify for deemed rehabilitation or individual criminal rehabilitation after a DUI. However, temporary permits are difficult to obtain and are within the discretion of the individual passport control officer. If granted, the temporary permit is valid for three years. These types of permits are usually allowed in cases where there is a humanitarian crisis or if the Canadian government subjectively determines your entry serves its national interests.
Who Can Find Out About My DUI?
Anytime an adult is charged with a crime, the existence of the case is public record. While some documents, such as the police report, are not available to the public absent a granted records request, many documents are public. The case number, the charging document (the complaint), and the court docket (the procedural history of the case) are among the documents made available to the public in every DUI case.
There are two central places your DUI arrest is recorded: California Department of Justice “RAP” sheet (using your Criminal Information and Identification number), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records.
Your FBI and California Department of Justice records (“RAP” sheets or record of arrests prosecutions) are not available to the public but may be accessed by state licensing agencies, local governments, law enforcement, prosecuting agencies, and courts.
The two common ways that private companies and individuals can find your DUI case (again, only certain agencies and individuals are permitted to access your California Department of Justice and FBI RAP sheets) are via public records provided by the county of arrest, and through a record-keeping private corporation.
Many counties keep websites with public access functions that allow anyone to search your name and see the existence of a case. However, in that situation, the person searching must either search multiple counties (or all) in California or must know the county that your case is in.
There are also numerous private companies and websites that collect case information from all California counties and use other public records to sell criminal background summaries.
Becoming a Nurse After a DUI
Not all nursing schools conduct background checks on students before admitting. Other schools do check criminal records but may be willing to overlook a DUI. Schools may consider when the DUI was received as a factor for or against admission. Beyond nursing school, drivers who receive a DUI conviction can also have problems with nursing licensing boards.
Having a DUI can affect your ability to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX Exam). Most states require that applicants provide a notarized summary explaining their offense and a certified copy of the final court documents before they can take the exam. Depending on the state’s Board of Nursing, your application will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.
According to the California Board of Registered Nurses, “[t]he BRN reviews all prior convictions substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a registered nurse. Each application is evaluated on a case by case basis. The BRN considers the nature, severity, and recency of the offense(s), as well as rehabilitation and other factors. The Board cannot make a determination for approval or denial of licensure without evaluating the entire application and supporting documentation.”
Further, according to the California Nursing Board, there is no specific conviction that will disqualify an applicant. “The Board must review, on a case by case basis, all convictions and supporting documentation to determine if an application will be approved or denied.”
Becoming a Firefighter and/or EMT after a DUI
Many state fire departments require applicants to have an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certification. When those departments do not require firefighters to be certified as EMT’s, those departments set their own guidelines concerning applicants with past driving under the influence convictions.
While a conviction for DUI can impact your ability to become an EMT (and thereforea firefighter), a DUI conviction does not automatically mean you cannot qualify to be an Emergency Medical Technician and firefighter.
An individual convicted of a any crime directly related to public health or the provision of emergency medical service, including DUI, will be reviewed for eligibility for certification and recertification under policies outlined in the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT’s) Criminal Policy. According to that organizations internal policy, an applicant for certification must disclose a DUI. Then the NREMT uses its sole discretion to decide whether to deny an applicant eligibility to sit for a certification exam by weighing the following considerations:
- The seriousness of the crime.
- Whether the crime relates to performance of the duties of an EMS professional.
- How much time has elapsed since the crime was committed.
- Whether the crime involved violence to, or abuse of, another person.
- Whether the crime involved a minor or a person of diminished capacity.
- Whether the applicant’s actions and conduct since the crime occurred are consistent with the holding of a position of public trust.
- Whether the applicant is a repeat offender.
- Whether the applicant has complied with all court orders and probationary requirements associated with the conviction.
Links to More DUI Information
- National Highway Traffic & Safety Administration
- California Department of Motor Vehicles
- Los Angeles Superior Court
- Los Angeles DUI News from Google
Whether to Hire a Los Angeles DUI Attorney
DUI convictions are treated as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the severity of the circumstances. Hiring an attorney to assist in your defense will give you the best chances of avoiding a criminal conviction. Convictions can have a negative effect on your ability to obtain employment, as background checks are often required by employers.
A DUI charge is highly fact-specific and technical, and no two cases are the same despite the appearance that they may be. The ability to set a strategy based on small differences between two seemingly similar situations can often have a large impact on the outcome of a case. Significant experience in determining which types of investigative techniques will work in which cases is an invaluable skill, as the best approach to defending a given DUI case is often counter-intuitive.
An experienced DUI lawyer will also know the “value” of a given case, and begin the negotiation process with the prosecutor with a level of credibility that only an attorney who was represented many DUI clients in Los Angeles and throughout California would have. Knowing the correct starting point, however, does not just depend on a proper evaluation of the facts in any DUI case. Another critical tactic that only experienced DUI attorneys will have is the ability to know which courthouses, which prosecutors, and which judges will be receptive to given arguments. Further, the “starting point” in negotiations is different in many courtrooms, and the credibility earned by an attorney who knows the local Los Angeles DUI courts is extremely important.
The benefits of hiring a private DUI defense attorney versus handing the matter yourself or requesting the services of a public defender are significant. First, experienced DUI attorneys (should) have significantly more time to spend on each case than a public defender (with exceptions). The large caseload that many public defenders must maintain sometimes prevents them from paying attention to the level of detail a private attorney would pay. Further, public defenders handle all types of criminal cases, not just DUI’s, whereas many Los Angeles attorneys focus their entire practice on defending clients accused of DUI. Finally, public defenders, unlike most private DUI defense attorneys in Los Angeles, do not handle the DMV side of a DUI case, as a the ability to drive is not a constitutional right to be protected.
DUI attorneys are also able to navigate the investigative process. This includes requesting witness and documentary information via subpoena. DUI attorneys can also, when needed, contract with and employ private investigators to assist and often contradict law enforcement’s version of events. While both of the above-mentioned functions do not require hiring a private attorney, that hiring can often increase the likelihood that the investigative process will bear fruit, as private attorneys often have additional time and resources.
Many Los Angeles DUI attorneys will also offer free free consultations to prospective clients and evaluate the strengths of a fact pattern. After a consultation wherein an attorney has had the opportunity to assess the facts of your case, he/she will be able to tell you what your options in proceeding are (with and without an attorney) as well as what penalties the type of charge you received carries.
About Our Firm
Our office offers Clients the unique advantage of having a former Deputy District Attorney, and experienced, top rated Los Angeles DUI defense attorneys working to get the best results. Our lawyers have argued DUI matters in front of the California Supreme Court, California Appellate Court, all Los Angeles Superior Courts, and all DMV Drivers Safety Offices.
Our attorneys have also obtained excellent settlements for our clients and have won trials in cases ranging DUI murder charges to first time DUI offenses. We give all of our Clients our FULL time and attention. We answer phone calls, respond immediately to emails, and have over 60 years of combined experience.
If you took a breath machine test and even if that breathalyzer result shows that your blood alcohol content was allegedly over .08%, we do not even consider accepting that as possibly accurate unless and until we investigate whether the breath testing machine was maintained and checked for accuracy according to the requirements of California law, which it often is not. Numerous other defenses exist in cases even where the chemical test result is over .08%, by weight of alcohol.
We also do not accept any blood test results as accurate until an independent laboratory has separately analyzed your blood’s alcohol level and has checked the preservative level and checked for bacterial growth (which can produce inaccurately high results). This can be critical to your defense because the prosecution’s lab does not test for the blood’s preservative level or for bacterial growth.