One of the first questions that a lot of people ask when we talk about their DUI arrest is, do I have a defense? What can I do to defend my case? This is an important question because you really need to start from the beginning in deciding what your strategy is going to be related to your DUI case.
Defense or Plea Bargain?
Is it going to be a case where you're going to put on a defense? Does it make sense to do that? Or, is it going to be a case where you want your attorney to work out a plea bargain for you? So, that's one of the biggest things I talk about in the first meeting with a client — what facts and circumstances do we have that could mount to a defense. I hate it when people are calling other attorneys or the staff that works for other attorneys and they're just blurting out a bunch of different defenses, but they don't apply to their case. They have nothing to do with their case. It's just a waste of time talking about it.
You have to start with the facts of your own case and see if it makes sense to mount some sort of a defense. People are getting arrested, charged and convicted for DUI's every day. I mean, I'm sure, especially in California with so many people on the road, the numbers are staggering what's going on. So, the bottom line is this. There's not some magic pill to get out of your DUI. Either they've got the evidence or they don't.
Potential DUI Penalties
What is important though is there is a whole range of different things if you do have a DUI, they can do to you. You could end up with a serious conviction on your record. You could end up losing your license for a long period of time. You could end up with jail time. They could make you put a scram bracelet on where you're not allowed to drink alcohol anymore during the probationary period.
So, there's a whole host of different things. If you got in an accident, you could be facing prison time. So, yes, it's important to assess whether you have a defense in your case, but it's also important to bear in mind that that's not the end of the story. You also have to assess what's going to happen to me? If I get convicted of a DUI, is it going to ruin my life and that's part of what a good Los Angeles DUI defense attorney is going to do for you.
Potential DUI Defenses
As far as defenses go, one defense that is utilized successfully and getting cases either dismissed or mitigated down to something less than a first-time DUI and that is if your blood alcohol level is low and they can't prove that you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle. So, for those people who, for example, blew a .08 on the breath machine, even though technically that's a DUI, there's an error rate with the machine they use of .02, so that means you could have been a .06.
So, that's a case that could potentially be fought and won, or it's a situation where the matter could be mitigated down to something less than a DUI like a speed contest for example or a dry reckless, again, depending on the circumstances of your case.
So, low blood alcohol level is one area that's ripe for defense in a DUI case and we're going to be looking at how you did on the field sobriety tests, how your driving was, how you were walking and how you were talking — all of the things that the police are assessing when they're trying to determine whether you could safely operate a motor vehicle on the streets of Los Angeles.
In addition to whether your breath is low or high, is we're going to look at whether you were actually driving the car when the police came. Because sometimes people get in accidents, they get out of the car, they go, they leave. A lot of times there are scenarios where the police do not come into contact while the person is driving the car, so, that's another area in my opinion that is ripe for a defense.
Part of the reason for that is when they get a breath or a blood result — let's say at 10 PM your breath result was a .11, which over the legal limit — that would be a DUI. The question becomes, how does their expert figure out what your breath result was at the time of driving, because you being in the police station or out in the field wherever they take your breath and being a .11 is fairly meaningless.
The question is, what was your blood alcohol level at the time of driving? So, if they can't pinpoint when you were driving that vehicle or if a bunch of time has passed, then their expert is not going to be able to say what your blood alcohol level was at the time of driving, and therefore, they don't have a DUI case against you. So, that's another potential defense that I've seen utilized in DUI cases.
Consult with a DUI Lawyer
There's all sorts of different circumstances that can arise related to a DUI arrest. We could go on-and-on what potential defenses are. I think the bottom line is you need to down with an attorney and explain what happened in your DUI arrest and then your attorney is going to have to get their hands on the police report so they can see that piece of the puzzle so-to-speak and then they will really be in a position to assess (1) whether you have a defense; (2) whether it's a defense that's going to be successful in either getting the case dismissed or getting lesser charges related to your DUI arrest in Los Angeles. (3) Do you have a prior DUI arrest?