DUI - Driving Under the Influence
Arrest for DUI in San Joaquin County
A DUI in San Joaquin County usually starts with a traffic stop, a checkpoint, or a car accident. The officer will likely ask a series of questions, ask you to perform field sobriety tests, and ask you to blow two times into a handheld breathalyzer. If the officer decides to arrest you, you will be asked to either do another breath test or a blood test. The law requires you only to complete the second breath or blood test, and imposes a 1 year penalty if you refuse, as well as potentially increasing the penalties if you are found guilty of the DUI. If you refuse, the officer will likely get a search warrant that will allow him or her to forcibly draw your blood.
For most DUI arrests, you will be taken to San Joaquin County Jail and held for at least a few hours while they book you. If you are charged with a felony DUI instead of a misdemeanor, you may be required to post bail to get released. Upon release, you should be given a citation to appear in court, and a pink temporary license. If you have California driver’s license, it will be confiscated.
Penalties for DUI in San Joaquin County
Most people who are arrested for a DUI end up facing two misdemeanor crimes: violation of Vehicle Code 23152(a) – Driving While Impaired and violation of Vehicle Code 23152(b) – Driving with a Blood-Alcohol Content (BAC) above .08%.
In San Joaquin County, there is a range of minimum and maximum punishments for a 1st DUI:
- 3 month - 9 month DUI class
- 2 days – 180 days in San Joaquin County Jail
- $2000 - $5000 in fines
- 6 months – 1 year driver’s license suspension
- 3 years - 5 years on probation
- Up to 3 years of ignition interlock device (breathalyzer to start your car)
- Impoundment of your vehicle for up to 6 months
As you can see, even the minimum punishment is quite hefty. These punishments also ignore that the DUI will go on your driving record for 10 years, greatly increasing your insurance rates. For some people a DUI conviction means losing their job or any license that is issued by the government, such as a medical license or security clearance.
The DMV Hearing
The DMV will automatically suspend your license in 30 days if you are arrested for a DUI. You must contact the DMV within 10 days of a DUI arrest to schedule a hearing, or else you lose your right to fight the suspension. Our office can schedule this appointment for you. The advantage of having us do it is that we can schedule it further out to get more time for preparation, and we may be able to choose which DMV hearing officer will be assigned to your case.
The DMV hearing is like a mini-trial. The difference between the DMV hearing and a court trial is that the DMV hearing has a lower standard of proof, which means it is easier for them to win their case. Also, the hearing officer acts as the “judge” and the “prosecutor”. That means they get to decide whether or not they win. The deck is stacked against the accused, and beating the odds is always difficult, even when the case against you is weak. If you lose this hearing, your license will be suspended.
Court Proceedings in San Joaquin Superior Court
If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, your attorney can likely appear in court on your behalf without you present for any of the court hearings. Most DUI cases take at least a few hearings to resolve, and some can take many hearings over a period of months. During this process, the attorney gathers evidence, files motions, and negotiates with the judge and prosecutor to seek a reduced charge or dismissal. Fortunately, you will not need to attend these hearings and miss work or face the anxiety that being in court can cause for some.
You can be charged with a Felony DUI if you injured or killed someone while driving under the influence, if you have 3 prior DUIs, or if you have even 1 prior Felony DUI. Unfortunately, if you are charged with a felony, you will be required to attend the court hearings. Your attorney can ask the Court to waive your need to appear, but the Court does not always grant such requests.
Most cases eventually result in either a dismissal or a settlement between you and the prosecutor called a plea agreement. The prosecutor agrees to certain terms, such as a reduced charge or reduced punishment, and you, through your attorney, agree to plead guilty to get that guaranteed deal. You are the once to decide whether to accept any offer, not your attorney. If a settlement can’t be reached, then the case will be set for trial. Sometimes the best deals are reached only after a case gets set for trial, once the prosecutor takes a hard look and realizes there are problems with their evidence or they have other trials that need their attention.
The Goal for Your Case
No matter what degree of DUI you are charged with, there is always one goal: to avoid or minimize the penalties you receive. The way to do this is to convince the prosecutor or the Court that there are problems with the case against you. Sometimes those problems are big, such as evidence being illegally gathered against you in violation of your Constitutional rights. Other times, there are smaller problems, such as the investigating officer not asking the right questions when they stopped you. The goal is to leverage those problems and mistakes on your behalf to either convince the prosecutor that they will lose the case, or convince the Court that the case should be dismissed.
The best way to get a positive outcome when charged with a DUI is to have an attorney who the prosecutor will take seriously. Many attorneys are far too eager to settle cases even when the deal is bad for their client, and the prosecutors all know who those attorneys are. When an attorney is known to take cases to trial and win if they don’t get a good deal, they are far more likely to get a better offer from the prosecutor.
At the Law Office of Douglas A. Goss, we pride ourselves on fighting for our clients, and the prosecutors in San Joaquin County know we do. Every attorney in the Office of the District Attorney of San Joaquin County knows who Doug Goss is. We believe that our reputation greatly assists us in getting positive outcomes for our clients. Sometimes that means a deal that keeps our client out of jail, sometimes that means a reduced charge so our client keeps their job, and sometimes that means a complete dismissal of the charges. Every client is different, so we talk with you and find out what type of result will make you happy. Every case is different, so we look closely at every detail to put up the best defense possible to make our clients happy with the result.
Call us today at (209) 373-4680 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a free consultation. Tell us about yourself and tell us what happened. We can answer any questions you have and give you more information about how your case might resolve.
We work on these types of cases for a flat fee; we don't bill hourly. That means you know how much you'll be paying before you hire us, and there are no surprise bills. If you decide to hire us, we can get to work right away to get you the best result possible.