I write and re-write this article every season and every year. But time and time again I see friends and people I know who have read it coming to me because they got arrested in San Diego, Orange County, Imperial County, Riverside, San Bernardino or Los Angeles for a DUI.
Okay, think about it... How smart is it to drive a two-ton killing machine through the streets with, say, a .16 blood alcohol level? Not very. In fact, it is abundantly stupid and inherently dangerous for you and everyone in your vicinity. How about.... How smart is it to take a cab instead of driving? How about, since it's the 4th of July and we all know we are going to imbibe, just plan to take a cab from the start? Yes, now we are getting smarter.
Yes, think about it. A GOOD DUI attorney will charge you about $5,000 pre-trial to work up your case. Yes, people, there are defenses to high blood alcohol DUI's. I just got an offer of a wet reckless on a .17 blood alcohol case. I got another "wet" offer on a .17 blood alcohol level case where the client had an accident. I recently sued San Diego's top DUI cop in federal court and won $10,000 in settlement from the City because the cop falsified the basis for his stop.
That's not to say that your case can be won. Many can, many can't. It depends on how competent your lawyer is, how the cop did the investigation, if the machines used were properly calibrated, and what you said at the time of the investigation, amongst other things.
Remember, anyone with a law license from the State of California can take your money and represent you on a DUI. That doesn't mean that they know what they are doing. Would you request advice from a podiatrist if you had cancer? Of course not.
I am the first attorney in San Diego to be voted into the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard by a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents. I see attorneys take cases, take money, and plead the cases right out without doing any work. One such attorney ranks high on the search engines and never, never, never goes to court. Instead, he sends some appearance attorney to go to court and plead out 20 cases per day. He keeps all the money, does little to no work, but has a great marketing director. Don't be fooled.
Now, if you haven't read it before, read it now. And if you have read it before, read it again. This article is chock full of info on what to do if you get stopped for a DUI and arrested.
It's starting now. Police agencies all over San Diego are setting up roadblocks, and putting officers on overtime, to make as many DUI arrests as possible. Hopefully, the tips below will come in handy for you over this 4th of July holiday.
1. If you drive in San Diego during the 4th of July holiday, and you plan on having a cocktail or two, make sure you know where your license, registration and proof of insurance are. San Diego DUI officers historically write in their San Diego DUI reports (putting only facts that harm you in them) that the suspect "fumbled for his wallet" and couldn't find his registration. They use this to try to show you were impaired. Be prepared.
2. When you get signaled by the San Diego DUI officer to pull over for a DUI assessment, do so immediately and safely. Roll down your window and put your hands on the steering wheel.
3. If a San Diego DUI officer asks you if you know why you are being pulled over, remember you don't have to answer. What a dumb question! He knows why he is pulling you over. He is pulling you over to assess you for drunk driving, and he's using the fact that you might have committed some minor vehicle code violations as an excuse. Don't make any admissions to him. So, you can just ask him, "why?"
4. The next question the San Diego DUI officer is likely to ask is, "Have you had anything to drink tonight." Remember your rights? You are not required to speak to officers. I know, I know, you think, "But if I don't talk to the officer, he will be mad." Let him be. You are not at a social gathering; he is not invited to your next birthday party. So don't worry about how he feels. He is collecting evidence against you. Don't give him any. It is best to say, "Officer, I appreciate what you do for a living, but I don't wish to answer any of your questions." You do NOT have to answer. The less from you he gets, the better for you in the long run. He is gathering evidence. But, you say, maybe he will let me go if he knows I'm being honest with him. NO. Most people who are pulled over and have alcohol on their breath get arrested. It's just a fact of life. Don't give him anything to put in that report that he can use against you later.
5. He may then say, "I'd like you to complete a series of tests for me." Again, let him know that you do not wish to participate in any tests. You are not required to comply. San Diego DUI officers try to give a series of field tests to determine if you are impaired. I have NEVER known any officer to do these as per the standardized protocol. I hold a certification authorized by the United Stated Department of Transportation to administer these tests, and was required to pass a practical and written test to get that certification given by a nationally re-known sergeant with the Idaho State Police. Cops learn how to do these, and then promptly forget them, making up their own "tests." Do not do them. Do NOT let the officer collect more false "evidence" against you. Just reiterate that you do not wish to perform and tests. It's your right.
6. The San Diego DUI investigation officer may then tell you he wants you to take an in field breath, hand held, breath test. Do not take this "test." It is unreliable, and regularly exhibits blood alcohol numbers higher than what you really are. The cop really, really wants you to do this now, because you have made no statements, and you have refused his field "tests." He wants this badly. He NEEDS some evidence. Do not do it. You are NOT required to blow into the little hand held machine.
7. The officer will most likely arrest you, cuff and take you downtown. You will be required to take a breath or blood test. You must choose to take one of these tests, or he will take what is called a "forced blood test" and your driver's license will be suspended for a full year.
A few pointers: If you are still absorbing alcohol, the breath test will read high. It is also an INDIRECT measurement of blood alcohol level. If you take blood, you won't get a result for at least a week. Also, SDPD and Sheriff's don't use the proper amount of sodium fluoride and potassium oxalate in the blood tubes, so you can attack those results later. Personally, I wouldn't let anyone hired by the city or county to draw my blood, after learning all I know about the incompetence of the people drawing the blood, and the lack of sanitation protocol in place. Why risk infection? (See, article on frightening practices in the San Diego crime lab).
If you are arrested, you will be released within 12 hours on your promise to appear. You will received a pink piece of paper called a "DS-367." This document tells you that you, or your lawyer, must call the Department of Motor Vehicle within ten days of the arrest to secure a hearing to determine whether or not the DMV will take your license. Do not miss this deadline or you will be suspended automatically.
So, be careful. Don't drink and drive if you can help it. Drive safely. Don't talk to cops. Be polite, but do not let them gather inculpatory evidence against you. And when you get home call this San Diego DUI Defense lawyer.
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