From the second you start interacting with an Officer, s/he is noting everything you say and do to use as evidence in the case against you.
Stay in your car and leave your seatbelt on unless the officer asks you to step out.
Note: How easily you find your driver’s license, registration and insurance will be noted on the Officer’s report.
You are allowed to politely refuse to take field sobriety tests (FSTS). There is no law requiring you to do these tests.
When you do field tests, you are giving evidence that can be used against you.
Some officers will tell you they will take you to jail if you don’t do the tests, but the officer is going to take you to jail anyway.
You are also allowed to refuse any pre-arrest roadside preliminary alcohol test (PAS).
If you are over the age of 21 and are not on probation, you can refuse this type of on-scene breath test.
If asked to take a post-arrest Chemical Test (breath, blood or urine test) you should do so, but should request a private consult with an attorney before doing so.
When your driver’s license was issued, you agreed to take such a test if ever pulled over as stated under the Implied Consent Law. Refusal to submit to the Chemical Testing is an automatic license suspension or revocation with no option for a restricted license. You will also be charged with a fine, mandatory prison time and may receive other enhanced penalties.
You do not have to give consent for the police to search your car. Police can only do so if one of the following applies: you agree to a search, have been placed under arrest, evidence is in plain view, they have probable cause, someone has been detained in the car under the “stop and frisk” rule, a search warrant has been obtained, or if your car is impounded. If none of these rules apply, politely refuse and do not explain why.
Remember, your words can be used against you in the case.
Usually, the search question is veiled and phrased like:
You don’t have a problem with me looking in your car?
You don’t mind if I look in your car, do you?
I’m just going to take a quick look inside, okay?
You can politely refuse to answer questions.
Usually, the officer will ask you a few questions about what you’ve had to drink.
A simple response of “I can only answer your questions on the advice of my attorney” can go a long way in the outcome of your case.
You don’t have to call an attorney right then. That simple statement effectively stops any questioning by invoking your constitutional rights.
Even when the officer reads Miranda rights to you, the answer should be the same.
After the Officer is done with the street investigation, you will most likely be taken to a hospital, police station, or jail to take a chemical test to check what your blood alcohol level is. Afterward, you will most likely be taken to jail.
Cooperation means being polite and maintaining a good attitude. It does not mean answering questions or doing unnecessary tests.
Your attitude, mannerisms and words all become part of the Officer’s report/case.
This is not the time to cry, apologize, confess or crack jokes.
Request for a copy of your police report at the headquarters of the department that was involved in your arrest. You will be able to have more fruitful consultations with attorneys in developing your defense strategy.
Take an inventory of all paperwork received from the police and read it thoroughly
There is no cost to do this and will provide a lot of insight to your options
A public defender may be able to help, but their efforts will be limited to the criminal side of the case and will be unable to assist you with the MVD actions that occur concurrent with the DUI.
After your arrest, the officer will confiscate your license and may give you an Order of Suspension along with a temporary license that will notify you that your license will be suspended in 30 days. Once your temporary license expires, the DMV will automatically suspend your license unless a hearing at the DMV is requested within 10 days of receiving your ticket.
The California DMV is very strict with this timeline; once it’s past there is nothing that can be done.
Arraignment: – At this hearing, the State doesn’t have to prove guilt.
This is your first court date where you and/or your lawyer will appear before a judge and enter a plea.
The plea entered will be:
You are not required to have an attorney, but you should at a minimum, consult with a few.
If after consulting with a few private attorneys you find you cannot afford one, you should apply to see if you are eligible for a court-appointed lawyer.
The judge will set, modify, reinstate, or exonerate your bail.
A Not Guilty Plea will go to a Preliminary Hearing with a Prosecuting Attorney representing the State.
Pre-Trial Hearing – At this hearing, the Prosecution has certain burdens of proof it must provide.
The prosecutor will have to present sufficient evidence to convince the judge they have “probable cause” to believe you committed the DUI. If there is not sufficient evidence, the case is dismissed. The prosecutor can call witnesses. You or your attorney may then cross-examine the witnesses.
Jury Trial Hearing – This hearing carries the highest burden of proof for the prosecution because they must now prove you are “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Most DUI cases get resolved before a jury trial is needed, but it can be necessary for some.
First the state and the defendant will select the jury.
Next are the opening statements, present any witnesses, and then the closing arguments.
Afterward, the jury is retired to a private room to deliberate.
Everyone in the jury must agree you are guilty before a conviction can take place.