Alternatives to Jail 

(Image Source: Los Angeles Times)

A jail sentence means jail, right? Not necessarily. There are alternatives to having to spend time behind bars, which vary from court to court. At 1-800-NoCuffs, we know all the options in your area. 

Electronic Monitoring 

Also known as “house arrest” or “home detention,” electronic monitoring can be done with or without an alcohol monitoring device on your ankle. Sleeping in your own bed is certainly better than a sleepless night in jail.  

Community Service 

Performing community service for a non-profit organization is a great alternative to jail. Because it’s not hard physical labor, it can still be done if you have injuries or other limitations.  

Caltrans or Graffiti Removal 

This is more physically demanding work, like picking up trash by the freeway or painting over graffiti. Tough work? Sure. Going home afterward, taking a hot shower, and sleeping in your own bed with no unwanted roommates? Priceless.  

Work Furlough 

This allows you to go to work during the day but requires that you return to a dormitory each night. Work furlough is offered in only a few counties and can help save your job.  

Rehabilitation/Sober Living Environments 

For some, a DUI is just bad luck. For others, it’s a chance to change their life. Whatever it means for you we are here to support you. If you are struggling with addition, residential treatment is a solution that can also offset days in a jail sentence. 

Private Jail 

These “pay to stay” facilities are sometimes found in local police departments. Some facilities even allow you to bring in books and magazines and permit you to leave to go to work during the day. 

Contact us 

At 1-800-NoCuffs we know all of the options in your court. Our skilled DUI defense attorneys have been successfully defending people facing DUI charges for over 20 years. To learn more, call us now at 1-800-NoCuffs for a free consultation.  

How to Avoid Trial

If you are arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, it does not necessarily mean you will be convicted, but it also doesn’t mean your case will automatically go to trial. Sometimes it’s better to settle your case. Other times trials are the better route, but every case is different.


There are several ways to resolve a DUI case without trial. The following information is generally true for California DUIs, but some courts have local customs that may be different.


A DUI conviction has serious consequences. A first-time conviction carries up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Additionally, if you are convicted of DUI, you could lose your driving privileges for up to 10 months.


However, an attorney may be able to protect you from facing all of these harsh consequences by negotiating a plea deal with the prosecution. A plea deal is when you agree to plead guilty or no contest to the charges against you, in exchange for a lenient sentence, or to plead guilty or no contest to a reduced charge (meaning one that is less severe than the original charge). If you agree to a plea deal, you will not have to risk being convicted at trial.


As part of your plea deal, you may be asked to plead guilty to one of the following crimes:


Wet reckless driving

A wet reckless charge is an alcohol related reckless driving conviction. If you agree to plead guilty to wet reckless, you face up to 90 days in county jail and a $1,000 fine. However, the other penalties and assessments are about half of those of a DUI.


A wet reckless conviction does not require a mandatory suspension of your driver’s license. However, if you are convicted of another DUI within 10 years, a wet reckless conviction will be treated as a DUI conviction, which would result in harsher punishment for you. However, there are significant advantages to a wet reckless wet reckless for employment and professional licenses.


Dry reckless driving:

Reckless driving not involving alcohol is significantly better than a DUI. It generally involves probation, a fine, and possibly an alcohol education class. The probation period and penalties for this crime are similar to a wet reckless conviction, but there is no mandatory jail time for a dry reckless driving conviction. Additionally, a dry reckless does not count as a prior DUI offense in the event that you are charged with a DUI again within 10 years.


Exhibition of speed

An exhibition of speed, which refers to things like chirping your tires when leaving a parking lot, is even better. It’s usually offered when we show the prosecutor that losing the DUI is likely. It will usually result in a fine, and perhaps alcohol education.


Traffic infraction

The best possible outcome for a plea agreement would be a reduction to a traffic infraction, or a combination of traffic infractions. Your DUI charge would be changed to an infraction for an unsafe lane change or speeding, and you may be able to remove the infraction from your driving record by going to traffic school.


Experience Matters

An experienced DUI defense attorney could make a huge difference in your case. A lawyer who knows the prosecutors in the court where your case is pending may be able to negotiate a favorable plea bargain for you so that you do not have to face the harsh penalties of a DUI conviction.


At 1-800-NoCuffs, we know all of the options in your area. Our skilled DUI defense attorneys have been successfully defending clients facing DUI charges for more than 20 years. Call us now at 1-800-NoCuffs for a free consultation.


US Supreme Court Affirms 4th Amendment Protection

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld an individual’s right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures in Lange v. California.


The justices ruled that the 4th Amendment rights of a California motorist were violated when a CHP officer followed him home, entered his garage without a search warrant, then investigated and cited him for DUI.


The key events in Lange’s case were:

  • A retired Sonoma County real estate broker was followed home by a California Highway Patrol officer.
  • The officer turned on the flashing lights of his patrol car just as Lange pulled into his driveway. Lange was listening to music and was not aware the officer was following him.
  • The officer followed Lange into his garage, questioned him and then wrote him a ticket for driving under the influence.
  • Lange filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained after he entered his garage, and the state court judge denied the motion. Appellate courts in California upheld the decision.


The U.S. Supreme Court considered the question whether the pursuit of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect always qualifies as an “exigent circumstance,” or exception to the requirement that police obtain a warrant before conducting a search of someone’s home.


“The need to pursue a misdemeanant does not trigger a categorical rule allowing home entry, even absent a law enforcement emergency,” Justice Elena Kagan wrote. “When the nature of the crime, the nature of the flight, and surrounding facts present no such exigency, officers must respect the sanctity of the home — which means that they must get a warrant.”


If you have been charged with a DUI, or another criminal offense, we can help. For more information, call us at 1-800-NoCuffs.

What Happens After I am Arrested for a DUI?

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) laws are getting stricter with each passing year and the consequences of conviction are increasingly severe. In most states, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will automatically suspend the license of anyone who’s arrested for a DUI and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or refuses a blood or breath test.


This automatic DMV action is often called an “administrative per se” suspension. Administrative suspensions are triggered by the DUI arrest—rather than a conviction in criminal court—and usually go into effect 30 days or so after the arrest.


A driver who wishes to contest an administrative per se suspension must promptly request a hearing. The driver typically has ten days (or less) to contact the DMV and do this. If you fail to request a hearing at this time, your driving privileges will be automatically suspended.


Instead of focusing on what you should have done, you need to focus on what to do next, in order to minimize the impact of a DUI arrest.


Drivers who represent themselves have almost no chance of winning since the DMV hearing officer is acting as the prosecutor and the judge. The hearing officer is going to suspend your license just based on the arrest UNLESS you or your attorney show why the officer doesn’t have the authority to do that.


Some issues at the hearing could be:

  • Was there a lawful arrest?
  • Was the BAC at or above .08 at the time of driving?
  • Did the driver refuse chemical testing?
  • Is the government’s evidence admissible?


In many cases, the police may have made a mistake in procedure or documentation. This is why having an attorney present at your hearing can help your case. Just because you were arrested for a DUI does not mean you have to lose your driver’s license.


We can help you defend against a DUI charge or other criminal charges. We’re experts at navigating the system. Learn more at, or call us at 1-800-NoCuffs.

Did you know these could lead to a DUI arrest?

You go out with friends, share some laughs and have a few drinks. You’re well aware of your limits and have always been able to determine if you can drive home safely. However, what happens when the odds catch up with you? In some DUI cases, police will pull you over because of signs of impairment, such as swerving or driving well below the speed limit. But did you know an expired registration sticker can also lead to a DUI arrest?


Here are some other common reasons you might be pulled over: 


Broken tail light

You might wonder how a routine stop for a broken tail light leads to a DUI arrest. A police officer can stop your car if they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred, which includes minor traffic violations. Broken tail lights seem like a harmless offense, but any sort of driving infraction that can be seen as a possible danger, such as having a broken or burned-out taillight, can lead to a traffic stop.


A third brake light out

A third brake light is the light or lights mounted high and at the center of your vehicle’s rear window. If it is out, you can be pulled over. Should you seem intoxicated or an officer sees something in your vehicle that is illegal, like an open bottle of alcohol, you may be charged with a DUI.


Not having a front license plate

In California, the DMV always issues two license plates for each vehicle, which means each vehicle is required to have one license plate on the front and one on the back. Most often, police will not pull you over for a missing front license plate. However, police may do this for the purpose of discovering drivers under the influence or committing other crimes. And yes, legally they can stop you for this type of technical violation, even though their true intent is to investigate other possible wrongdoings.


The next move is up to you

Seeing those flashing lights come up behind you is extremely nerve wracking, but you need to react intelligently. First, pull over to a safe spot on the right side of the road. Turn on your dome light and place your hands on the steering wheel so the officer can see them. You should be able to locate your registration and insurance card easily when asked to present them. Be courteous, but not overly friendly or talkative. Do not volunteer information; the officer does not need to know the details about the party you attended or how much you had to drink. Remember that any admission you make about drinking could be used against you.


We can help you defend against a DUI charge or other criminal charges. We’re experts at navigating the system. Learn more at, or call us at 1-800-NoCuffs.

Are you a wobbler? You are if you drive without a valid license in California

driving car on the mountain roadWhile it may seem like a minor offense to some, in California driving with a suspended or revoked license can lead to some hefty fines and even jail time. This particular part of the state’s vehicle code even has a classification of its own: wobbler.

What does this mean? Basically, a wobbler offense means the end result of being convicted wobbles between an infraction or a misdemeanor, and the latter comes with a criminal record.

Having a skilled attorney by your side if you’re ever in this situation can be a game changer, as there are many circumstances in which jail time or fines can be avoided. It’s a matter of knowing how this particular offense is handled.

Understanding the legal definition

First, it’s helpful to have a handle on what this part of the vehicle code even means. There are basically four different ways you can be found driving without a license:

  • Never obtaining one
  • Not being old enough to drive
  • Not renewing your license
  • Living in California, while driving with an out-of-state but not getting a state license

One important note: You aren’t considered in violation of this code if you’re simply not carrying your license. You can be charged with a different offense, though, and you may face a fine of up to $250 if found guilty of driving without a license in your possession. So, it’s always a good idea to carry it around at all times.

What are the penalties?

If you are charged with an infraction for driving without a license, the fines are usually no larger than $250. It’s when it ventures into misdemeanor territory that the penalties are greater. It may include the following:

  • Probation for up to 3 years
  • Fines of up to $1000
  • A county jail sentence of up to six months
  • Vehicle impoundment for 30 days, if you have a prior driving-related conviction record

Your legal offense is tied to your driving history. If it’s a first offense, it’s usually a fine. Repeated offenders, though, will likely get hit with a misdemeanor.

What to expect in court

The burden of proof once you hit the court system is also different than in many other cases — it’s much heavier for the defendant. In this case, the prosecution only needs to show that the driver was without a license at the time of the offense. This means the defendant has the burden of proof to show they had a valid license.

This one is strange in another way: it’s outdated. With most records in the electronic realm now, you would think it wouldn’t be as large of a concern. The reality is the law hasn’t been changed by the state legislature, so it stands as it is.

This is when having an experienced lawyer comes in handy. Making sure you have someone on your side to interact with police and prosecutors can help with dismissal or a reduction in the sentence.

The case against field sobriety tests in cannabis-related DUI cases

18833634 - cop suspecting a man of drunk drivingOne of the biggest fallacies we hear from clients regarding cannabis-related DUI charges (driving under the influence) is the notion that a failed field sobriety test is a valid indicator of intoxication. The truth is, science can’t prove that such assessments are valid nor that the results are reliable. In fact, studies have shown that there’s such a mixed bag of results related to validity that researchers are at odds with it, meaning the threshold of proof cannot generally be met through these means alone. Can it get you arrested? Yes. Does it mean you will be convicted? No.

SFSTs explained

If an officer suspects that a driver is under the influence, a typical method for determining probable cause for arrest is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)-approved Standardized Field Sobriety Test, or SFST. The three-part test focuses on assessing reflexes and coordination. It consists of 1) standing on one leg, 2) walking and turning, and 3) evaluation of horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), which is the ability to follow an object with the eyes, along with possible abnormal dilation of the pupils. [PRO TIP: If an officer does any type of assessment that deviates from the NHTSA standards, those results and the administration alone can be argued as unreliable if it goes to court.]

While these standards and practices are used on a regular basis related to alcohol, there is dispute as to the validity and reliability when the alleged intoxication is related to cannabis. In fact, there is legal precedent and research indicating SFSTs and FSTs (non standard) cannot and do not accurately or appropriately measure a cannabis-intoxication level, and therefore, have no place in serving as probable cause for arrest.

Legal precedent and lack of validity

In 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, stated it saw no clear scientific, data-driven consensus as to whether or not FSTs are a reliable indicator of cannabis-related impairment. It determined that even if a Massachusetts officer performs FSTs, the officer is limited in how they can discuss the results in their testimony. They can indicate they performed an assessment, but they can’t state an opinion about what they saw.

Proponents of marijuana law reform are working to make the case that cannabis is different in the way it impacts the body’s psychomotor performance from other drugs, both legal and illegal. They point to research that shows “the risk of accident associated with cannabis-exposed drivers is lower than that of those exposed to other licit and illicit substances…” The study concludes that the influence of cannabis is “relatively subtle and short-lived” and that the “impact on psychomotor performance differs significantly from that of alcohol.” (AAA, An Evaluation of Data from Drivers Arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Relation to Per Se Limits for Cannabis, 2016)

Also of importance is the perspective on drug testing for the presence of possible intoxicants — namely THC or its metabolites. In a 2019 presentation at the 4th annual Marijuana Law Conference, the deputy director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML, presented studies supporting the opinion that the effects of inhaled cannabis on psychomotor skills are “typically subtle,” resulting in “modest impairment,” and concluding that “the effects…on higher-level driving are minimal.” He opined that there’s no way to really know through testing using “per se thresholds” the recency of exposure to cannabis nor psychomotor impairment. (Armentano. 2015. Are THC concentrations appropriate for presuming psychomotor impairment? In. Tiftickjian. Medicolegal Aspects of Marijuana: Colorado Edition. Tucson: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company.)

The NHTSA itself notes in its Drugs and Human Performance Facts Sheets that it is “…currently impossible to predict specific effects [of THC] based on metabolite concentrations.” A 2011 study also indicates that unlike drugs of other types, “[p]atients who take cannabinoids at a constant dosage over an extensive period of time often develop tolerance to the impairment of psychomotor performance, so that they can drive vehicles safely (e117).

Don’t go it alone

This is just the tip of the iceberg on the subject of cannabis and impairment. Just because you are given a sobriety test for any type of intoxication doesn’t mean you will be convicted of a crime. But you have to be willing to accept that you don’t know what you don’t know, and when it comes to the law you want the best in your corner. We know what matters in a courtroom, we know what doesn’t, and we know how to build a solid case to support you. You do NOT want to try to navigate a DUI arrest of any type without an experienced attorney in your corner. We are here for you: 1-800-NoCuffs.

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, 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.


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:

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.