If you were recently
arrested for a DUI, especially if it was your first offense, you must prepare yourself for
a lengthy, stressful ordeal. There are two major obstacles you must overcome
as a consequence of your DUI arrest in California: a
DMV hearing, which is an opportunity to avoid license suspension, and a court case
due to the criminal charges you face. Understand that these are two separate
events, in different institutions. Here are some steps to take after getting
a DUI to ensure the best outcome from such a mistake.
1) Request a DMV stay and hearing.
As soon as you get arrested for a DUI, the officer will most likely seize
your driver’s license and issue you a 30-day temporary license in
the form of a pink piece of paper.
It’s important that you call the California DMV immediately after
your DUI arrest in order to acquire a stay and a hearing within 10 days
of your arrest, or else you are eligible for a 30 day automatic license
Understand that you must contact a specific DMV office called a Driver
Safety Office, not your local neighborhood DMV office. Be sure to request
the DMV to send your police report when you call for a stay and hearing.
Write down the DMV employee’s name and the date/time you called
to keep record that you called 10 days within your arrest. Prepare your
ticket information because the DMV employee will ask you various questions
regarding your arrest, such as driver’s license number, date of
arrest, name of officer, location of arrest, and the type of field test you took.
2) Obtain a copy of your police report.
If you didn’t request the police report when you called the DMW for
a stay and hearing, it will be available on your first court date. The
court date is cited at the bottom of the ticket you were given upon your arrest.
The police report details the following:
- The reason the officer stopped you
- The officer’s opinion of your driving
- Your objective symptoms (e.g. red/watery eyes, alcohol on breath, slurred
- Your performance on the field sobriety tests
- Your answers to the officer’s questions
- Your test results (breath, blood, or urine)
It’s imperative that you remember and record what the arresting officer
did and said to you. Did he/she tell you the reason you were pulled over?
Were there any witnesses to your arrest and your drinking prior to arrest?
Did the officer read you your rights? Anything that might be evidence
of the officer deviating from proper protocol can benefit your case in court.
3) Decide which legal defense option you will take.
If you are undecided whether to represent yourself, request a court-appointed
public defender, or hire your own DUI attorney. You could always ask the
judge for a two to three week continuance, but that’s only if you
choose to hire a private DUI attorney.
4) Jury trial or plea bargain?
If you choose not to accept the prosecutor’s plea bargain, then your
other option is a jury trial. Under the law you have the right to a speedy
jury trial, meaning you have 45 days after your first court date for a
misdemeanor DUI charge. If you are in jail custody, you have to a right
to speedy trial after 35 days.
Trials are time consuming, taking anywhere from three to seven days so
plan your daily schedule accordingly. For a victorious outcome, an experienced
defense lawyer is your best bet at success. Also, trials often need the
testimony of an expert witness, usually costing you around $1,000.
A plea bargain is a compromise with the prosecutor, in which case you plead
guilty or no contest to an appointed charge and punishment. On a
first time DUI, you do not have to face jail time unless there are aggravating circumstances,
but you are subject to three years of summary probation, around $1,800
in fines, and a three month alcohol program. The more times you are arrested
for DUI, the more severe the punishments will become.
While the advantages of a plea bargain means a more expedient process,
you will have a crime on your permanent record and face increased insurance rates.
For the best possible outcome from a DUI case, it’s recommended that
you seek legal representation from an experienced Ventura County DUI attorney
in order to preserve your good reputation.
Call (805) 919-8662 for a
free initial consultation today!