Author: John Padwick

What to remember if you are pulled over for a DUI

41318904 - portrait of a young scared man pulled over by policeWe know what your mind is likely going through when you see those flashing red-and-blue lights in your rearview mirror. It’s the same thing that likely goes through many people’s minds in that situation: what did I do to get pulled over?

Whether or not you feel as if you are genuinely driving impaired or if you have had zero to drink – and are being pulled over anyway – the nervousness and anxiety that may happen at any traffic stop is as understandable as it is nerve-racking.

There’s some practical advice to remember when you are being pulled over for a DUI, and knowing what was said to you as well as the circumstances of the traffic stop can go a long way to help you if you are arrested.

Document it all

It’s important to remember that while it may feel like slow-motion in your head, the actual process of a DUI arrest can happen very quickly. The entire flow of it – the stop itself, the field sobriety test, the arrest, the release from custody – can be mere hours. This is why it’s vital that you document as much as you can during the process.

Putting down your memories of the arrest in some way as soon as you can – maybe even via notes on your phone – will be helpful as you navigate the court system with your attorney.

There are seven key elements of the DUI to document, and most involve the interactions with the police officer who is involved. Here are those seven elements to remember:

  • What happened when you were pulled over,
  • What the police officer said to you,
  • What the police officer said about field sobriety tests, and how they were conducted,
  • What the police officer said about a preliminary alcohol screening test (breathalyzer),
  • What happened during the arrest, and transportation to the police station,
  • What the police officer said about providing a chemical breath test
  • How the officer conducted the chemical breath test.

Why this is important to you

Writing down your recollections around parts of the arrest process, can provide your attorney with facts to support defenses in either the criminal DUI case in court or at your hearing with the DMV for your license.

If the police officer who conducted the DUI stop made a mistake in some way during those seven points of that traffic stop, or if he or she took some shortcuts, it’s possible that your rights have been violated in some way. If that is the case, the evidence collected would not be admissible and your case could be dismissed.

There are many ways that we can help you defend not only against a DUI charge, but other criminal charges, and we can also help you navigate the system if you already have a DUI conviction if that takes place. Learn more at NoCuffs.com, or call us at 1-800-NoCuffs.

Sealed juvenile records vs. expungement

Pencil with eraser erasing parts of the word PAST, which is written in all capital letters in dark fontImagine this scenario—as a teenager, you were in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up in trouble with the law related to possession of alcohol as a minor. You took the steps to have your records sealed and moved on with your life, assuming that no one would ever be privy to that information.

Your assumption is correct in one sense but not the other. While it is true that a standard background check for employment or college application won’t yield convictions that have been sealed, there are other situations where they can be “unsealed.”

Do not confuse records being sealed with being expunged—a whole other process. It’s important to understand the differences so you can pursue the course that helps you achieve your goals.

Sealing of juvenile records

In general, you can begin the process of having your records sealed once you are:

  • 18 years old
  • It has been five years since the case was closed, or
  • It has been five years since your last contact with probation and you are deemed rehabilitated by a judge.

You’ll need to contact your county to request the necessary forms. You must list each instance you want sealed. If all of your records are in the same county, it typically takes about 90 days to complete. If you have records in more than one county, it can take up to 180 days. In some instances, the request itself is sufficient for approval. In other cases, you may need to participate in a hearing. The courts will notify you if this is the case.

There are three instances that typically lead to denial of a request to seal juvenile records:

  • You are convicted of a serious offense (listed in Welfare and Institutions Code 707b) above the age of 14,
  • The record is for an adult conviction in a criminal case,
  • You are convicted as an adult for an offense of moral turpitude (these crimes involve sex or drugs, if they are violent, or in some way run afoul moral standards).

Earlier we mentioned that there are some times when a sealed record can be “unsealed” and the information is available to the requestor for a specific purpose. These include:

  • Insurance companies: Car insurance companies can view any records you had with the DMV
  • Federal institutions: The federal government can access your sealed records for military enlistment or security clearance positions
  • The court system: The courts may view your sealed records in the event that you are a witness in a defamation case, or to decide if you are qualified for extended foster care after age 18
  • Prosecution: Prosecutors can look into your records to see if you can be entered into a deferred entry of judgment program.

You can always request your own records to be unsealed at any time.

Expungement

In California, expunged records are not removed in the sense that they just disappear. Instead, your records are updated to indicate that the charges were dismissed. This is an important differentiation—if your records have been expunged it is truthful to indicate “NO” on applications that ask if you have been CONVICTED of a crime.

According to California Penal Code 1203.4, you are eligible to apply for record expungement if you meet the following qualifications:

  • You were granted probation, completed all of its terms, and are no longer on probation
  • You have had no new arrests
  • Or, you have completed the terms of your probation and served at least half of the probationary term, and have had no new arrests

As with having records sealed, the decision is in the hands of the courts. Only with expungement, you’ll file a “Petition for Relief” form with the Superior Court of the county where you were convicted. There is a fee (which can be waived, if approved). It typically takes 8 -10 weeks after the court has received your application to come to a decision. If your conviction is a felony, a court hearing will be required as part of this process.

If you think you may be eligible for sealing of your juvenile records or expungement, you’ll want guidance from a seasoned attorney’s office. It may sound like simply filling out paperwork, but it’s in your best interest to talk through the options and processes to make sure your actions align with your end goals and that the process is done the right way.

We are here to help, day and night. Give us a call: 1-800-NoCuffs or visit our website for more information: https://www.NoCuffs.com.

The pillars of a DUI prosecutor’s case

Drinking and driving concept. Car key on a wooden table, pub

You’ve been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. Now what?

First off, don’t panic. This is definitely easier said than done, but it’s important to keep your wits about you and not make a bad situation potentially worse by talking or acting out. Keeping a cool head will help on the legal side.

Focus on the following:
Document what happened. As soon as you have an opportunity, write down as many details as possible about what happened immediately before, during and after the event. Any details about what was said and done throughout are important, as they may help your attorney with defenses.

Don’t plead guilty. Just because you’ve been detained does not mean there is overwhelming evidence against you. You may feel pressured or even convinced that pleading guilty is the obvious solution, but do not make any decisions until you’ve consulted with an attorney who specializes in DUI cases. We’ve seen it all, from misdemeanors to felonies to multiple DUI arrests. This is no time to try and handle things on your own. Experts exist to help you navigate your situation, regardless of severity.

In DUI cases, the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. That means according to the law, a defendant should only be found guilty if the prosecution presents a 100% fact-driven case that has absolutely zero reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors tend to latch on to these four areas in DUI cases:
1- Physical signs and symptoms of being under the influence. You may have red eyes. You may have an odor. You are observed walking in an abnormal pattern. These are all subjective, based on the observations of the arresting officer(s).

2- Field sobriety test performance. Your balance may be off. You may be unsteady changing direction while walking. This doesn’t mean you are under the influence!

3- Driving pattern. Law enforcement authorities rely on 24 driving patterns identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that may indicate the driver is intoxicated. These include swerving, weaving and driving without headlights at night. All 24 may have zero correlation to levels of intoxication and with reasonable explanations for their occurrence.

4- Chemical test results or refusal to take the test. Test results may be impacted by improper administration, medications, medical conditions and more. And refusal to take a test does not equate to guilt.
If any of these four pillars of a prosecutor’s case is knocked down or even loosened, the whole case either falls apart or is shaky, which means reasonable doubt.

The most common sense rule of all is to avoid driving under the influence at all. Drink responsibly. Always have a designated driver. But, if you find yourself in need of legal assistance related to DUI, give us a call at 1-800-NoCuffs.

Three reasons to fight a DUI charge

Car keys are in a glass

Have you ever been pulled over or arrested for a DUI? Driving under the is a serious charge which can affect your ability to get a job. Because a DUI will show up on a criminal background check, you may want to consider fighting your DUI charge. Even if the police haven’t made a mistake or you are technically in violation of the law, you may still be able to have your charges reduced, which looks better on your record and means lower fines and fewer penalties.

But, let’s take a look at three common reasons for fighting a DUI charge.

1. Police misconduct or mistake
Even if you were driving under the influence, your charges can be dismissed if law enforcement officers did not follow proper DUI protocol. For example, the DUI arrest report and court testimony must be accurate and truthful. There are also protocols that the police officer must follow in regards to field sobriety tests and how they are conducted. After your release, write down everything you can remember about your arrest. Even the little details can be important.

2. If no probable cause was stated If there was no valid reason to pull you over
In California, the arresting officer must have probable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence and To pull you over, they also must demonstrate reasonable suspicion to pull you over. You might be pulled over for failing to use a turn signal, not stopping at a light or driving with a malfunctioning tail light, as well as swerving in your lane or going the wrong way. They must be able to articulate specific facts as to why they stopped you. If a cop pulls you over for any of these reasons and you are not under the influence, you may receive a warning and be sent on your way. But if the officer sees you committing one of these acts, he or she will also be looking for probable cause for a DUI charge. Common causes include open containers in the car, red eyes, slurred words, fumbling for your license and insurance card, and the smell of alcohol or drugs in the car.

3.If your blood alcohol test doesn’t accurately reflect the amount of alcohol in your body
There are a number of reasons a BAC (blood alcohol content) test may be inaccurate. People with diets high in protein and low in carbs — like the Atkins diet — or people who have medical conditions like diabetes and hypoglycemia, can easily fail a sobriety breath test because their bodies naturally produce more isopropyl alcohol when the body turns to stored fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates. The time of the test matters, too. Alcohol can take between 15 minutes and two hours to fully absorb into your system. Therefore, if you take a test at the police station two hours after your last drink, it is possible your BAC level will be much higher than it was when you were actually driving.

We understand a DUI arrest can feel hopeless, but it’s not. While you can’t erase the past, that doesn’t mean you don’t have control of your future. Be sure to act fast and contact your DUI lawyer in less than 10 days from your arrest. Whether you’ve been arrested for a DUI or just have questions, we’re here to help. https://www.NoCuffs.com/