Frequently Asked Questions About DUIs
The DUI officer never read me my rights. What does that mean?
Many people are under the belief, that the cops must always read people their rights any time they make a DUI arrest. There is no automatic requirement that the DUI officer read you your rights as part of the DUI arrest. The Miranda rights are only required when both (1) you’ve been placed under arrest for DUI (handcuffs you and takes you into custody) and (2) the DUI officer continues to interrogate you (ask you questions)
The DUI officer took my driver’s license. What do I do now, with no picture I. D.?
If you get arrested for a California DUI charge, the officer takes away your California drivers license and mails it to the DMV for suspension consideration. In place of your physical driver’s license, the DUI officer gives you a pink paper that functions as a temporary license.
If I hire a California DUI attorney, do I still have to go to court?
Generally not. If your DUI charge is a misdemeanor (rather than a felony), then usually your attorney can go to court on your behalf. This is allowed under California Penal Code Section 977. Penal Code 977 allows DUI attorneys to appear without their clients in California misdemeanor cases.
How can I get a copy of the DUI officer’s police report?
There is a widespread belief that criminal police reports are public records that you can simply go down to the police station and demand a copy. But this really isn’t the case.
Sometimes you can obtain the DUI police report simply by going to the police department and requesting a copy. Sometimes the police agency will provide it to you. Most often, however, the police will only provide the DUI police report to the district attorney and to the DMV. They refuse to release it directly to the person who got arrested or even to the person’s California DUI attorney.
In this case, there are two avenues for getting a copy of the DUI police report. First is from the DMV. When you request a DMV hearing to contest the drivers’ license suspension, tell the DMV you want a copy of the discovery. The DMV will then send you and your attorney a packet of materials. Included in these materials will be the police report and blood alcohol content (BAC) lab reports.
Do I need to notify my auto insurance company that I got arrested for DUI?
There is no need immediately to notify your car insurance company of the DUI arrest. Wait to see what happens with the case. If you can get the DUI charges dismissed (or reduced) and win the DMV hearing, which many of our clients do, you most likely will avoid hikes in your auto insurance premiums or cancellation of the policy.
If I don’t tell them, will my insurance company still find out?
How? In general, nobody automatically notifies your auto insurance company of the DUI arrest. But if you are convicted, the insurer will almost certainly find out, and will do so one of two ways. The first is periodic review. Most car insurance companies check DMV records every few years, or when you apply for (or seek renewal of) a policy. When they do a periodic check, they will see a DUI conviction or DMV license suspension (if they don’t know already), and take action. The second way the car insurance company will discover a DUI conviction is if you have to ask them for an SR-22.
If your California drivers license is suspended (either because of a DUI conviction in court, or because of losing your DMV hearing), the DMV will require you to provide an SR-22 before reinstatement of your license. Moreover, you will have to keep a valid SR-22 on file with the DMV for three years as a condition of maintaining your California driver’s license. Where do you get an SR-22? From your car insurance company. When you go to the insurance company asking for an SR-22, they will demand to know why you need it. Moreover, this will trigger them to do a DMV records check. They will discover that you suffered a license suspension because of a DUI, and take whatever action they deem appropriate.
What exactly is an SR-22?
An SR-22 is essentially a document, provided by your auto insurance company, verifying that you carry car insurance with at least the California state minimum liability coverage. The SR-22 indicates the expiration date of the policy, and a pledge by the insurance company to notify the DMV immediately if the policy gets canceled before the expiration date. Because he is required to file an SR- 22 for three years, and because the policy expires in 10 months. Our office works closely with companies that can help clients obtain SR22.
If I get arrested for DUI, is it better to choose the breath or the blood test?
Different attorneys feel differently about this issue. The breath test is less accurate than the blood, and more things can go wrong. The breath can generate more falsely high readings. The blood test is more accurate. With the blood test the officer does not know the results prior to writing his report, because the blood test takes days to come back. The officer cannot “tailor” the facts to fit the predictable symptoms of the particular BAC level.
Can I get my DUI case dismissed altogether?
It is possible to the entire DUI case dismissed, more often however the two DUI charges are reduced to lesser offenses. These lesser offenses may be a wet reckless, a dry reckless, an exhibition of speed, or a traffic infraction.
Here are the five most common police mistakes that can dismiss a DUI case:
- They fail to properly explain and demonstrate the field sobriety test.
- They fail to properly document the persons performance and results on the field sobriety test.
- They fail to properly collect evidentiary blood and breath samples pursuant to California code of Regulations Title 17.
- They write inaccurate and inconsistent reports.
- They wait too long to prepare the reports, their memories fade and because of that, there are gaps in critical information.
What are the three most important qualities your DUI attorney should possess?
- A LOT of experience handling DUI cases specifically; you do not want a general practitioner!
- Familiarity with the local courts – they know the politics of the district attorney’s office and their likes and dislikes. You want your attorney to know their playing field!
- A lot of experience with administrative per se hearings. Certain lawyers do not understand the importance of these APS hearings, not only for saving your license but also for the upcoming criminal case.
What are the first steps to take after a DUI arrest?
- You or your attorney must call the DMV to preserve your right to an administrative per se hearing. You only have ten days after your date of arrest to complete this!
- Write everything down that happened leading up to your arrest as well as the circumstances of the actual arrest.
- Establish a timeline of your drinking pattern
- Document witness statements. If you had friends with you, make sure they also record the information.
How can a DUI become a felony?
- If it is your 4th DUI within 10 years
- If someone is injured as a result of your drunk driving
- If you have a prior felony DUI
What are the three most common reasons for DUI stops?
- Mechanical violations
- Regulation violations (ex. tinted windows)