Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Peter Sebastian

Handling a DUI

Things you should know about Driving Under the Influence:
Do I have to show up in court for my DUI?
  • The Defendant usually does not have to appear in court for this or most other misdemeanor charges. A lawyer may appear on the Defendant’s behalf.  The Defendant may be required to appear, however, if there are aggravated facts such as priors or an extremely high BAC (blood alcohol content).
Will there be a trial?
  • Most DUI cases do not go to trial. This is because once all the facts are known, there’s no point in risking a harsh sentence, including potential jail time, if the offer can be negotiated to a reasonable alternative.  But you will need an experienced DUI Lawyer who understands the scientific evidence, as well as how to undermine this evidence at trial, to achieve the best result.
What is the punishment for a DUI?
  • A 1st time DUI is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. A typical 1st time DUI negotiated plea, however, will result in any or all of the following: serving some jail time, doing some community labor or service, having to take a DUI “class” which is 2 hours per week for 3 months, pay a fine of over $2000, be put on “summary” probation for 3 years, which is simply to agree not to drink and drive (or break any other laws).  Different courts treat DUIs differently.  Some require AA meeting attendance as a requirement of O.R. (“Own Recognizance”: being free without bail prior to a disposition of the case).  Some require attending an additional MADD class (2 hours).
What if I’ve had a DUI before?
  • DUI offenses are “priorable,” meaning each successive offense committed within 10 years carries a stiffer penalty. A 2nd DUI, for example, carries a mandatory jail term of at least 96 hours, a larger fine, and a 9 month alcohol class.  So too will “aggravated facts” such as an injury accident, a hit and run, or a BAC (blood alcohol content) of greater than .15%.  A third DUI has even harsher penalties, and a 4th DUI may result in a felony prosecution and state prison sentence.  It will be imperative to have the assistance of a skillful Los Angeles DUI Attorney like Mr. Sebastian if you are facing a DUI with priors.
Will this DUI cause me to lose my license?
  • The DMV handles a DUI independently of the court system in an administrative hearing to determine whether to suspend your license or not.  This hearing is run by a DMV Hearing Officer who has no legal training whatsoever, and who is prosecutor, judge, and jury.  The hearing officer will review the evidence, assume everything the law enforcement officer says is true, and you will be found guilty and lose your license.  After 30 days you may apply for a “restricted license.”  Proof of enrollment in an alcohol class, an IID (ignition interlock device), and the filing of an SR-22 (special liability insurance) are required to get a restricted license which allows you to drive to work, and also to get your license back after the mandatory 4 month suspension.
Will this DUI cause my insurance to go up?
  • Car insurance premiums can go up dramatically after a DUI conviction. Therefore, SR-22 filing should be handled by an expert, prior to an abstract being filed with the DMV which results from a DUI conviction.  This could save thousands of dollars, so check with your lawyer.
How do you fight a DUI?
  • The good news is that there are several ways to undermine the case against you. The case is only as strong as the evidence, and in some cases that evidence is vulnerable to attack.
  • The entire case may be dismissed if the traffic stop was not handled correctly by the arresting officer. This is because you have a right to be free from unreasonable searches under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.  Under a doctrine called “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree,” evidence obtained after an unreasonable traffic stop cannot be used against you in court, and that includes the results of the blood alcohol test.  This test is the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case, and suppression of the results will typically lead to a dismissal of the case.
  • The blood alcohol test may have been incorrectly performed, or have produced unreliable results. If the gas chromatogram shows an anomaly, the breathalyzer wasn’t calibrated, or the blood split is contaminated, the test results may not be worth much at trial even though they were legally obtained.
Do I have to take the breath test?
  • You are not legally required to submit to the field (or PASS) breath test that law enforcement requests when you are pulled over. If you did take such a test, however, certain discrepancies between that test and the station test may considerably weaken the case.  You must take the station test or have you license taken for at least a year, and face worse penalties in court.  So take it.  You have a choice of blood or breath.  Take the blood test because law enforcement must save a portion of the blood for later testing.  This “saved” sample may then be tested by the defense and contradict the state’s results, or may be contaminated, indicating a bad test to begin with.
  • Law enforcement performs many thousands of DUI arrests so errors are not uncommon. According to the Los Angeles Times, DUI arrests doubled over the holidays. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-chp-dui-arrests-20150104-story.html
  • With law enforcement cracking down, caseloads on prosecutors are going up, a good DUI defense attorney can get the upper hand over an overworked District or City Attorney if armed with inconsistencies in the evidence.
If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI…
Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Peter Sebastian was specially trained at the Academy of Justice in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office on prosecuting DUIs.  He is a law school Evidence professor, as well as a former prosecutor.  With this wealth of knowledge and experience, he is uniquely able to obtain the most favorable result, whether or not you decide to take the case to trial.  Mr. Sebastian has successfully tried DUI cases before a jury, and he knows exactly how to defend your DUI case.
For more information about DUI, visit the DMV website: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/dmv_content_en/dmv/dl/driversafety/dsalcohol