Los Angeles DUI and Traffic Court


Contrary to what some people may believe, driving under the influence is a criminal offense, and not a traffic infraction. This means that the majority of DUI cases are heard in the criminal courts. However, certain DUI-related offenses may be sent to traffic court. It is important to understand the difference between criminal court and traffic court in regards to DUI cases.

Most DUI offenses are misdemeanors that are punishable by up to a year in jail. These offenses are filed and prosecuted by a prosecutor from a District Attorney or City Attorney office and a defendant has certain rights, such as the right to a jury trial held in front of a judge or commissioner.

Infraction matters are less serious offenses that are typically traffic violations. These offenses are assigned to traffic court and are punishable by a fine. Infractions are not reviewed or filed by any prosecutor. Instead, the infraction is filed directly with the court by the officer involved. The citation provided to the driver will include a due date to schedule an arraignment on the ticket. At the arraignment, the driver can either plead guilty or no contest or can schedule his or her case for trial. The officer will be subpoenaed for the trial date. If the officer fails to appear in court, the infraction will typically be dismissed. If the officer appears, the court will hold a trial in front of a judge, commissioner, or judge pro tem (an attorney serving as a temporary judge who is permitted to adjudicate traffic matters). The officer will testify directly and the driver can present his or her argument to the judge, who will ultimately determine whether or not the driver is guilty or not guilty of the infraction.

While the majority of DUI offenses proceed in the criminal court system as misdemeanors or felonies, there are certain DUI offenses that are infractions and are assigned to traffic court. Drivers who are under the age of 21 are not legally allowed to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. Drivers who are under 21 and who have a BAC in excess of 0.08 or higher can be charged with misdemeanor DUI pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC. However, drivers under 21 who have a BAC between 0.05 and 0.07 percent can be cited for a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23140 VC, which is an infraction. This offense would be sent to traffic court. If the driver is convicted, he or she would face an automatic one-year driver’s license suspension in addition to court fines and would have to take an alcohol education program before having his or her driving privileges reinstated.

Drivers under 21 who have a BAC of 0.01 or higher can also be cited for a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23136 VC. This offense is also a traffic citation that is punishable by a fine and would proceed in traffic court. This code section also triggers an administrative one-year driver’s license suspension that the driver can challenge by requesting an Administrative Per Se hearing from the DMV. It is critical to remember that even if a driver has a BAC below 0.08 percent, his or her case can still potentially be charged as a misdemeanor DUI based on the underlying driving conduct.

If you have been cited for DUI and are not sure if your case is a misdemeanor or infraction, it is critical that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer right away. Los Angeles DUI Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who knows how to effectively fight DUI allegations in both criminal and traffic court and before the DMV.

For more information about Los Angeles DUI and traffic court, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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Client Reviews
He gave me the peace of mind that my DUI case was going to be resolved. He fought for what it was needed and helped me by answering all my questions. Mike is not an average attorney. He’s a very experienced, honest and straightforward person that is there for you!
I hired Attorney Mike Kraut and I'm am so happy and grateful that I did! I was arrested for a DUI because my BAC level was over the .08 limit. I ended up getting a wet and reckless instead of a DUI. I still have to do some classes and I'm on probation, but I do not have a DUI on my record. If you have a DUI hire Attorney Kraut, he definitely knows his stuff!
There aren't enough positive words to write about Mike, but let me be clear that this is the only lawyer worth hiring in Los Angeles. Mike is professional, caring, and an absolute champion at winning in court.
Mike Kraut is not a typical lawyer. He is a straightforward person with a true heart and a sympathetic ear. He is also smart and connected and he cares about the people who seek out his help. He got my son out of a jam. He did it quickly and painlessly. I recommend Mike Kraut to anyone that needs his services.
Thank you Mike for helping my son.
Michael Kraut is a rock star lawyer. I was really happy and satisfied with the results I received from Michael and his team. A few months back I was being accused of a serious felony. Mike gave me sound legal advice and worked diligently to clear my name. Mike was great at always keeping me updated and returning calls. Great, great lawyer I cant say enough about this man!
How can I express how relieved and pleased I am with Michael's professional abilities to have my Felony brought down to a misdameanor to a possible dismissal with deferment. With his care my life has been turned around and cannot say how helpful he's been not only in my case but life. He, himself has changed how I view criminal lawyers. Thank you so much Michael!