Bay Area DUI & DWI Defense Lawyers

Last Modified: June 18, 2024

Accused of a DUI in the San Francisco Bay Area?

Police make mistakes. Get an affordable DUI Defense Lawyer to protect your record and license.

  • Improper choice of sobriety tests
  • Failure to read Miranda rights
  • Invalid tests due to medical conditions such as acid reflux
  • DMV Hearing Expert to contest license suspension
  • Mis-calibrated breathalyzers
  • Improper seizures of blood sample
  • Police misconduct investigated
  • Retest of blood samples by private lab
  • Hardship licenses negotiated

Those accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California realize that the evidence is stacked against them and that a qualified Law Firm is needed to resolve DUI cases. Most likely, you submitted to and allegedly failed a field sobriety test. On top of that, you completed either a breath or blood test and were told that your BAC (blood alcohol content) was over the legal limit of .08%.

Consequently, people are often resigned to giving up with out a fight. Sometimes, they incorrectly believe that a DUI has a fixed penalty like a speeding ticket which falls off of a record after a number of years. Other times, they understand that the repercussions are serious, but reluctantly accept their license suspension, fines, increased insurance rates and criminal charges without contest.

The simple truth is that while not all DUIs are beatable, many are.

– James T. Reilly, Senior Trial Attorney at Summit Defense

Please review this page as well as the various pages dedicated to DUI offenses  and contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION should you have any further questions.

DUIs are always worth fighting because criminal convictions are serious: they remain on one’s record for life and can affect one’s life in areas such as job applications, professional licensing and insurance rates. The reality is those who don’t contest DUI charges receive the standard outcome, while those who do stand the chance of outright dismissal or receiving a less serious offense.

There are many defenses that come into play when our attorneys defend a DUI case in the San Francisco Bay Area. We work closely with our clients to examine the evidence and police report before deciding which approach is most appropriate.  Keep in mind that DUI law is a specialized area of criminal defense and some defense attorneys have developed tried and true techniques used to defend these cases.

DUI Defenses Involving Police Errors

Many defenses are based on errors made by the police during the arrest and the subsequent activities of the police crime lab following the arrest. The police are charged with clearly documenting everything they do during a DUI arrest. Likewise, the crime labs must follow a rigid procedure when handling and testing the blood samples. DUI defense attorneys review these records and make challenges.

In one example of police error, Summit Defense attorneys found that the Police Department did not properly document the time of arrest. Because the time could not be proved, there was no way for the prosecution to show that the blood alcohol reading was relevant to the arrest.

In another DUI case, a Summit Defense attorney got a DUI case dismissed by showing that the police did not have justification to pull over the driver in the first place. The driver was not weaving or driving recklessly and there was no indication that there was any illegal activity taking place. Therefore the arrest was improper and the case was thrown out.

In yet another DUI case, Summit Defense attorneys showed that the police, in allowing the suspect to leave the scene and go to the bathroom in the midst of the arrest, did not maintain the required fifteen-minute continuous watch over the suspect.

DUI Defenses Involving Police Lab Errors – Mishandling of Blood Evidence

Sometimes a DUI defense involves lab errors in the testing of blood samples. Clients may be surprised to learn that mistakes are made in blood testing and DUI cases are dropped when these mistakes are exposed to the court. In a recent case, after reviewing the police report, a Summit Defense attorney discovered that a San Jose police lab result indicated the wrong blood type for a the client. The prosecutor was forced to dismiss the case, when the attorney brought this error to his attention.

If our client was driving well and tested not far above the legal limit, we will order a blood split from the court and submit the sample to our independent lab for re-testing. Likewise, if our client submitted to a breathalyzer test, we may order the calibration records to show whether the equipment was properly serviced as required by the law.

DMV Hearing to Preserve Driver’s License

When we are first contacted, many of our clients are surprised to hear that they are entitled to a DMV hearing in addition to their day in court. Summit Defense attorneys always include the DMV hearing as part of the defense. Our goal in the DMV Administrative Per Se hearing is to preserve our client’s driving privilege and we consider our job to be well done when our client can both keep his license and have his case dismissed.

While we don’t condone drunk driving, we understand our job as defense attorneys is to assert our clients’ rights in court and during the DMV hearing. We strongly believe that those accused of crimes should keep the system honest by challenging accusations and preventing police misconduct. As DUI attorneys, we take our job seriously and are proud that our clients often have their charges dropped or reduced to lesser offenses that don’t carry the consequences of a DUI conviction.

DUI Case Results

CHARGES First time DUI in San Jose facing license suspension, fine and probation.
RESULT After expert discovered police lab errors, Case Dismissed.

CHARGES Second offense DUI in Fremont, client facing jail and 1 year license suspension.
RESULT Summit attorney’s Motion to Supress granted based on lack of probable cause to stop client.  Case Dismissed.

CHARGES Client arrested for second DUI in San Francisco with injury accident facing prison time.
RESULT Not Guilty Verdict At trial

CHARGES Underage DUI in Solano County, 19 year old client with .06 BAC (blood alcohol content) facing 1 year suspension and criminal conviction.
RESULT Charge reduced through negotiation with DA’s office.  DMV granted hardship license to allow driving to school and work.

CHARGES Doctor charged with Felony DUI in Napa County with great bodily injury.
RESULT Prison avoided, great bodily injury enhancement dropped. Three years probation.

CHARGES First offense .09 DUI in Santa Clara county.
RESULT Independent lab blood retest showed .07 BAC, charges subsequently dropped.

Call us day or night for a free and confidential case review to discuss your options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a DUI a felony or a misdemeanor in California?

A first time DUI that does not involve injuries will be charged as a misdemeanor.

How long does a DUI stay on your driving record?

All criminal convictions stay on your criminal record for life. You can file a petition to expunge the record under penal code section 1203.4. This will allow you ONLY to tell an employer that the case was dismissed.

What happens when you get a DUI in California?

A DUI arrest triggers two separate actions: a criminal case filed in the superior court as well as an Administrative Per Se Hearing with the California DMV. You must request a hearing with the DMV within 10 days of your arrest.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

There is no difference between driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated.

What is aggravated DUI?

An aggravated DUI can mean several things including:

  • A high BAC reading (Above .15 or .20 BAC)
  • Refusal to submit to a breath or blood test
  • Driving at high speeds while driving under the influence
  • Having a minor in the vehicle while Driving Under the Influence
  • Causing an accident while Driving Under the Influence
  • Causing an injury while Driving Under the Influence
  • Prior DUI convictions within 10 years
  • A fourth DUI conviction within 10 years will be charged as a Felony

How much is bail for a DUI?

A first time DUI usually results in release without need for bail.

How much does a DUI lawyer cost?

Bay area DUI lawyers charge between $2500 and $6500 for a DUI offense.

Do you lose your license immediately after a DUI?

No. If you don’t request a DMV hearing, you will lose your license 30 days after the arrest. If you request a DMV hearing, the suspension will go into effect only if you lose the hearing.

What happens for your first DUI offense in California?

The minimum sentence for a first DUI offense in California is:

  • 3 years of court probation
  • About $2,000 in court fees (depending on jurisdiction)
  • 2 days in county jail (usually served through work alternative)
  • DUI classes ranging from 3 months to 18 months.

What happens for your second DUI offense in California?

The minimum sentence for a second DUI offense in California is:

  • 5 years of court probation
  • About $2,000 in court fees (depending on jurisdiction)
  • 10 days in county jail (usually served through work alternative)
  • DUI classes ranging from 9 months to 18 months.

What happens for your third DUI offense in California?

The minimum sentence for a third DUI offense in California is:

  • 5 years of court probation
  • About $2,000 in court fees (depending on jurisdiction)
  • 120 days in county jail (can be served through work alternative)
  • DUI classes ranging from 18 months to 36 months

Can you be charged with a DUI after the fact?

The Statute of Limitations for DUI is one year. However, it is rare for evidence of DUI to surface after the fact.

Do you go to jail for a DUI?

The minimum sentence for a first time DUI does not involve actual jail time but may involve jail alternatives. Third DUI offenses carry a minimum sentence of 120 days in county jail and may involve actual custody time.

How do I get my license back after getting a DUI?

To get a restricted license after a first time DUI suspension you must: DUI, you must:

  • Enroll in DUI class
  • install an Interlock device (some jurisdictions)
  • Pay a reissue fee.

To get your license back, you must complete the DUI class and pay an additional reissue fee.

Can you get a DWI for marijuana?

Yes. Driving under the influence of Marijuana is a violation of Vehicle code section 23152(a).

DUI Defense Process and Strategies
Meet The Team
With over 120 years of cumulative and exclusive Criminal Defense experience, our reputation for aggressive and results oriented performance, whether in State court or Federal Court, has been documented by several Bay Area news channels and vetted by hundreds of satisfied clients. Our success and industry recognition is the result of our EXCLUSIVE FOCUS on criminal defense; we don’t accept personal injury or family law cases. This single-minded focus allows us to keep pace with the ever-changing landscape of legal doctrine and provide you with the best results possible.
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