Being arrested for a DUI in San Jose, CA, can have severe penalties, potentially resulting in jail time, losing your driver’s license, and other serious consequences.
Here’s what to do if facing a DUI conviction after being accused of driving over the legal limit and how a DUI attorney in San Jose can help you resolve your case with the best outcome possible.
Immediate Steps to Take if You’ve Been Arrested for a DUI in San Jose
San Jose DUI arrests are common, especially on weekends and holidays when there may be DUI checkpoints where drivers are randomly subjected to a mandatory chemical test. According to our criminal defense attorney in San Jose, here are some steps you should take immediately during and after your arrest:
Stay Calm and Cooperate With Law Enforcement
If you’re pulled over and at risk of a DUI arrest, you must stay calm and cooperate with law enforcement officers. If you are asked to take a preliminary alcohol screening, such as a breathalyzer test, it’s usually in your best interests to do so.
However, note that you are not required to cooperate with field sobriety tests. Below, you can read more about the right to decline roadside testing in California.
Avoid Making Self-Incriminating Statements
Avoid talking and answering questions you don’t have to during your DUI arrest. You can and should remain silent to protect your rights. Anything you say will be notated on the police report, which will be used against you in court later when a judge is hearing your case.
Request Legal Representation
You have the right to have a lawyer present at any point after you are arrested. You can call your own attorney, or if you can’t afford one, a lawyer will be appointed to you. Although it may take some time for police officers to contact a public defense attorney, and you’ll likely have to spend this time in jail, having a lawyer on your side can prevent police and prosecutors from trampling on your rights.
Understand the Implied Consent Law for Chemical Testing
In California, getting your driver’s license means you give implied consent for a chemical test at any point you are stopped on suspicion of DUI.
Usually, this is a breath test, but a blood test may be done if you were in an accident causing bodily injury and were taken to the hospital. You have the option to decline the chemical testing. But if you do, you’ll immediately forfeit your driving privileges, and your license will be suspended.
While you essentially have to submit to a breath or blood test if a police officer asks you to, you do have the right to refuse to take field sobriety tests, as mentioned above. Your license won’t be suspended if you do, and the officers can’t use it against you in court to imply that you were guilty.
Note Down Important Details of the Arrest
It’s a good idea to take down notes of everything you remember about the arrest, including the name and badge number of the police officer, what field sobriety tests you were asked to perform, and any questions that were asked during your traffic stop.
Understanding DUI Laws in San Jose California
You may face enhanced penalties if you have prior DUI convictions or aggravating circumstances surrounding your arrest, like being double the legal limit.
For example, suppose you have a prior offense for wet reckless driving causing bodily injury, and you get stopped for drinking and driving again. In that case, you could be facing mandatory incarceration, thousands of dollars in fines, and other serious penalties.
Securing Legal Representation
It’s important to work with an experienced attorney in San Jose with a good track record of resolving DUI cases in favor of the defendant, especially if aggravating factors surround your DUI charge. Most attorneys offer a free consultation for criminal case defendants. They can help you better understand the DUI process and what to expect as you navigate the Santa Clara County legal system.
Dealing With Administrative Proceedings
After being charged with a DUI offense, you’ll not only be facing criminal proceedings with the San Jose court system, but you’ll also need to deal with the post-arrest administrative process and the potential for a driver’s license suspension. Here are the basics:
Overview of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Hearing
In the state of California, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) assumes several responsibilities concerning motor vehicles and driver licensing. These responsibilities encompass tasks such as overseeing and encouraging adherence to traffic laws and regulations within the state.
If the DMV issues a discretionary action against someone’s driving privileges, that individual can request a hearing before the DMV. This allows them to contest the action and examine the evidence upon which it is based. A discretionary action refers to a situation where the law grants DMV the authority to take action but does not mandate it.
Requesting a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Hearing
Within ten days of your arrest, you will need to request a DMV hearing at the San Jose California Department of Motor Vehicles.
This administrative hearing is separate from your DUI charges and the court hearings you will have with the state. At the DMV hearing, you will be given the opportunity to present a case as to why your license shouldn’t be suspended.
You may be able to apply for a restricted license at your administrative hearing, which allows you to continue driving to places like work or school. Under a restricted license, drivers cannot operate their vehicles outside of the designated time frames or to other places that aren’t on the list of allowed destinations.
Possible Outcomes and Consequences of the Hearing
The DMV hearing will determine the fate of your driving privileges. Possible outcomes include the suspension of your driver’s license, the granting of restricted driving privileges, or the dismissal of administrative action. Your attorney will present arguments and evidence to contest the suspension and advocate for the best possible outcome.
Understanding the potential consequences and having skilled legal representation during the DMV hearing is crucial to protect your driving privileges and minimize the impact on your daily life.
Criminal Court Process
Traversing the criminal justice system can be intimidating. These basics can help you understand what to expect:
A. Your Arraignment and Plea Options: After you’ve been arrested for a DUI in San Jose, CA, you will likely have multiple court appearances that you have to attend. The preliminary hearing, or your arraignment, is where you will meet the judge presiding over your case and have the opportunity to enter your plea.
You have the option to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to your DUI charges, and your attorney can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, pleading guilty right away doesn’t give the prosecution any time to offer you a plea deal. Pleading no contest allows the state to administer punishment without you having to accept guilt.
This is also the point at which a judge will set or deny bail for you. If you can make bail, you will be allowed to return home until your first court date. If not, you’ll have to stay in jail until then.
B. Pre-trial Motions and Discovery Phase: Next, your DUI lawyer will go back and forth with the prosecution to share evidence and make necessary motions to dismiss the case or suppress evidence. These pre-trial motions are critical, and working with a skilled attorney will increase the chances that they will be decided in your favor.
C. Possibility of Negotiation for Reduced Charges or Alternative Sentencing: If you were arrested on a first-time DUI charge, you may be eligible for reduced charges or alternative sentencing. For example, a judge may be lenient instead of being sentenced to jail time since you’ve never been in trouble before and give you probation.
Or if you were charged with a felony DUI, you may be able to negotiate its reduction to a misdemeanor in exchange for pleading guilty.
D. Trial Proceedings and Possible Defenses: Creating a strong defense strategy is imperative for successfully resolving your DUI charges. There are several possible defenses for a DUI, like having a medical condition that causes you to perform poorly on field sobriety tests or proving that the police didn’t have probable cause to stop your vehicle. Our qualified and well-versed California DUI lawyers can help you mount a compelling defense with the evidence available in your case.
E. Sentencing Options and Potential Penalties: If you are found guilty or plead guilty to a DUI charge, the court will proceed with sentencing. The penalties for a DUI offense in California can vary. Typical consequences include probation, fines, and driver’s license revocation. In cases involving felony DUI charges, incarceration is also possible in either jail or prison.
The penalties will differ based on factors such as prior DUI convictions, blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level, and any aggravating factors. Your San Jose DUI attorney will work to mitigate the potential punishments and explore alternatives, such as rehabilitation programs or alternative sentencing options, tailored to your situation.
Building a Strong Defense Strategy
A. Analyzing the Facts of the Case: To build a strong defense strategy, your defense counsel will carefully analyze the facts of your case. This includes reviewing police reports, witness statements, and any other evidence collected during the arrest. By scrutinizing the details, he can identify potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and develop an effective defense strategy.
B. Evaluating the Validity of the Arrest and Evidence Collected: One crucial aspect of building a defense strategy is evaluating the validity of your arrest and the evidence collected. Our seasoned DUI attorney will assess whether law enforcement followed proper procedures during your arrest, including conducting reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Additionally, he will examine the accuracy and reliability of tests, such as a breathalyzer or blood test, to determine any errors or potential issues.
C. Challenging Breathalyzer and Field Sobriety Test Results: Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests are commonly used by law enforcement to determine a driver’s impairment level. However, these tests are not infallible, and errors can occur during the conduct of the test or the interpretation of the results. Your attorney will investigate the administration of these tests and look for factors that may have influenced inaccurate results.
D. Gathering Witness Testimonies and Expert Opinions: Another good defense strategy for your DUI case is getting witnesses to testify on your behalf. For example, suppose it’s your first time DUI. In that case, you may be able to bring character witnesses forward to talk about how this behavior is abnormal for you or possibly due to a medical or mental health condition.
Or, if the chemical test wasn’t performed properly, you may be able to bring in a laboratory testing expert to testify that the lab that was given your sample did not follow the industry-appropriate testing protocol.
E. Exploring Possible Legal Defenses and Strategies: Building a strong defense strategy involves exploring possible legal defenses tailored to your situation. Your San Jose DUI attorney will consider factors such as the legality of the traffic stop, the accuracy of chemical tests, or whether any constitutional rights were violated.
Common defenses include challenging the reliability of evidence, proving a lack of probable cause, establishing an alternative explanation for the observed behavior, or disputing the accuracy of field sobriety tests. Your attorney will evaluate your DUI arrest’s circumstances to determine the most effective defense strategy.
Potential Consequences and Collateral Effects
The criminal penalties for a DUI offense in California are as follows:
- First-time DUI arrest: 2 days to 6 months in jail; up to a $1,000 fine.
- Second DUI arrest: 4 days to 1 year in jail; up to a $1,000 fine.
- Third DUI arrest: 20 days to 1 year in jail; up to a $1,000 fine.
- Fourth DUI arrest: 6 months to 3 years in prison; up to a $1,000 fine.
License Suspension or Revocation
A driver’s license suspension is almost always the result of a DUI offense. First-time charges usually result in a one-year license suspension and DUI school, while second offenses (within ten years of the first) incur a two-year revocation. Third and subsequent offenses result in a three-year license revocation.
DUI Education Programs and Treatment Requirements
Another potential consequence of getting caught drinking and driving is being required to attend DUI school. DUI school is an educational program designed to teach defendants about the dangers of drunk driving and ways to drink responsibly or avoid alcohol altogether.
In many California DUI cases, defendants are also compelled to install an ignition interlock device into their vehicle. This works by preventing them from starting their car until they pass a breathalyzer test. Most devices also perform random checks while the vehicle is in operation, and if they don’t pass, their car will be disabled.
Impact on Auto Insurance Premiums
DUI charges can also have a negative impact on your motor vehicle insurance and your driving record. Your insurance premiums will go up substantially, and some insurance companies may even be unwilling to insure you. This is even more likely if it’s your second, third, or subsequent DUI.
Professional and Personal Consequences
There are many more consequences to being arrested for DUI charges in California than just jail time and fines. Other DUI penalties and personal consequences of a DUI conviction include:
- Losing your job or your professional reputation;
- Losing friendships or romantic relationships; and
- Having a permanent criminal record that makes it hard to get a new job or rent an apartment.
What Your San Jose DUI Attorney Can Do for You
If you were arrested for a DUI in San Jose, CA, you need qualified legal help now. An experienced criminal defense attorney can zealously advocate for your best interests and ensure that your rights are protected under California law. They will go over the charges against you, the penalties you stand to incur, and what your best defenses are likely to be given the circumstances of your case and the evidence that the state has against you.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With Our San Jose DUI Lawyer at Summit Defense Today
You must immediately take action after being arrested for a DUI in California. At Summit Defense, our team is poised to start working on your behalf and will pursue the best outcome possible, given the circumstances of your case. Contact our San Jose DUI attorneys today for more information or to schedule your free consultation by calling (866) 348-8026 or filling out our short online form.
Our aggressive DUI lawyer will review your rights and what legal options are available to you so you can make informed decisions about critical matters affecting your future. Don’t wait — call now.