DUI Defense Process

Each case has its own unique set of facts and legal issues. Because I handle each of my client's cases personally - and never hand them off to a less experienced attorney - I'm able to craft a DUI defense that serves their needs and long-term interests. The following elements are part of my strategy as a Sacramento area DUI defense attorney.

Misdemeanor v. Felony DUI ChargesDUI cases can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Different factors come into play, but in general felony charges are filed for a fourth DUI within a 10 year period, a DUI with injury to another party, or a prior felony DUI. Felony cases come with the possibility of extensive prison time, large fines, and the life-long negative consequences associated with a felony conviction. If you're facing felony DUI charges, you need to retain an experienced Sacramento DUI lawyer who understands California's drunk driving laws.

Most driving under the influence arrests will be charged as misdemeanors. Misdemeanor DUI cases, though they have less severe consequences than do felonies, still have serious ramifications. A misdemeanor DUI conviction can mean thousands of dollars in penalties, jail time, probation, community service, and counseling.

Number of DUI Offenses Within a Ten Year PeriodPeople who receive multiple DUI convictions within a 10 year period face substantially stiffer penalties, including the possibility of loss of driving privileges for up to 10 years. Click here for details on multiple DUI penalties.

Non-Injury v. InjuryDUI with injury is - in legal jargon - a "wobbler" because it can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The specific charges are determined by the facts of each case. Click here for details on DUI with injury.

Police ReportsAn important distinction to be aware of is that the D.A.’s office and and the police (and sheriff and CHP) have two distinct and different roles to play in the criminal justice system. The job of the police is to ensure that laws are enforced. If they do make an arrest, they bring together evidence into a report that is handed over to the District Attorney. The D.A.’s office, after they have reviewed and considered the relevant information in light of applicable laws, will then decide if it is appropriate to file criminal charges. If you retain me as your defense lawyer, I will get a copy of the police report, as well as what is called “discovery,” which is the evidence that the police have gathered in the course of their investigation. Together you and I will go over this information to identify weak elements and inaccuracies so that we can build the most effective defense.

WitnessesI work with the best investigators in the Sacramento region who will visit the crime scene, go over facts and descriptions with witnesses, and identify evidence that will strengthen our defense. We talk with witnesses to see if they can provide what is termed “exculpatory” information that might be able to help get charges dropped or lead to an acquittal if the case goes to trial.

Lab TestsIf you are arrested for DUI you might be required to provide law enforcement a blood sample which will be analyzed for alcohol or drugs. The blood sample that is taken when you are booked into the county jail is used to check the blood alcohol level of the breathalyzer test given as part of the arrest. If your DUI case involves illegal or prescription drugs it can be beneficial to have an independent expert do an analysis of the blood sample. I use drug test experts that provide reports that we can use in negotiations to lower or dismiss charges. These experts can also testify on your behalf if your case goes to trial.

NegotiationThe reality is that most DUI cases are settled before they get to the trial stage. My previous experience in the District Attorney’s office and many years as a DUI defense attorney help me negotiate effectively to serve the interests of my clients. My goal in all cases is to get the D.A. to see that it is right and appropriate to drop the charges. If the circumstances do not allow dismissal of charges then a reduction of the charges to something called a “wet reckless” might be possible.

TrialMy extensive trial experience and my previous experience as a deputy district attorney allow me to build strong defense strategies, cross examine witnesses effectively, and make compelling arguments to a jury.

DMV HearingsIn California, people arrested for DUI face two distinct challenges to their driving privileges. The first is through the courts and the misdemeanor or felony charges described above. The second is through the Department of Motor Vehicles, which conducts its own review of the case through an Admin Per Se hearing. This hearing takes place not in a courtroom but in the offices of DMV in front of a "hearing officer," an administrator who reviews the facts of each case and determines if the driver license should be suspended. I represent my clients through both the DMV and court proceedings, protecting their interests and rights.