If you are facing a DUI offense for the first time, it can feel overwhelming. A first time DUI carries stiff fines and other penalties, including the potential for jail time. While it is likely to be charged as a misdemeanor, the impact of a conviction will be felt for years to come.
The police and prosecutors in California can aggressively pursue individuals suspected of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In their efforts to make the streets safer, they sometimes make mistakes. These mistakes can allow DUI offenses to be dismissed.
Understanding how the police and prosecutors make mistakes in DUI cases is paramount to a strong DUI defense. That’s why it can be in your best interest to speak with a lawyer about your situation. Every DUI case rests on its own unique fact patterns. When you’re ready to have a strong defense against your DUI charges, call (310) 862-0199 to schedule a free consultation with a leading DUI lawyer.
Fighting a DUI
Fighting and winning a DUI case, whether it’s a first offense or otherwise, is always a possibility. An experienced lawyer will evaluate the prosecution’s case with an eye towards two general concerns: factual errors and procedural mistakes.
Errors about the facts of your case are a strong way to have the DUI case against you dismissed. Other evidence may seem less convincing to a jury if the prosecutor has been wrong about important facts.
Say that the arresting officer testifies that you smelled strongly of alcohol, but the report she wrote at the time of your arrest didn’t mention it. A strong smell of alcohol would be an important piece of evidence towards probable cause to initiate the arrest, so it would be odd for the officer to not record it at the time. More than likely, the officer is mistaking you for another individual, potentially throwing many details of her report into doubt.
Likewise, the evidence of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit may be factually accurate. A chemical test may seem to indicate that you were past the legal limit of 0.08% BAC, but the test may be misleading about when you met that limit. Due to the way the body processes alcohol, your BAC continues to climb for a while, leading to a higher BAC reading over time. A chemical test administered some time after you’ve stopped driving may not be compelling evidence of a DUI.
Under the standard first expounded on in the U.S. Supreme Court case Mapp v. Ohio, evidence collected improperly cannot be used against you. The exclusionary rule means that your lawyer may be able to have critical evidence suppressed if there was an error in how it was collected.
The results of your chemical screening may be challenged on procedural grounds. Breathalyzers that aren’t properly maintained may give false readings, which means that those results can be suppressed. Similarly, if a blood or urine sample is handled improperly, those tests may not be used against you.
An officer arresting you for a DUI without probable cause can be even more damaging to the prosecution’s case. If an officer arrests you without probable cause, particularly if there was a discriminatory element to the decision, much or all the other evidence against you could be suppressed.
First Offense DUIs Don’t Get Dismissed on Their Own
At some point soon after your arrest, you may be approached by the prosecution. They may suggest that they have a solid case against you, and things would be easier and quicker if you simply plead guilty. There might even be a suggestion that you’ll receive a lesser punishment for pleading guilty early on.
When it comes to DUIs, police officers and prosecutors in Los Angeles and throughout California don’t distinguish between habitual drunk drivers and individuals who made a genuine mistake about how much alcohol you drank or how long it had been since you stopped drinking. Even if you have an otherwise clean record, you can end up feeling like a career criminal going through the DUI process alone. You’re not likely to be given leniency for agreeing to a guilty plea upfront.
You likely stand the best chance to have your first DUI offense reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed entirely when you have a DUI lawyer at your side. To learn more about how a DUI lawyer can evaluate your case and start building a strong defense, call (310) 862-0199 today!