Los Angeles DUI Center
One of the most frequently charged crimes in the Los Angeles area is DUI. In recent years, police agencies have stepped up their enforcement efforts by increasing DUI patrols and conducting DUI checkpoint operations. A DUI arrest can result in criminal charges, a driver’s license suspension and various unanticipated collateral consequences. It is absolutely critical that anyone arrested for a DUI offense speak with a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney right away.DUI Lawyer Defending Los Angeles Clients
Michael Kraut is a dedicated DUI attorney based in Los Angeles who understands how to effectively defend those charged with DUI offenses. Mr. Kraut is a graduate of Cornell University who was educated at Harvard Law School and spent 14 years as a Deputy District Attorney with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Kraut opened his DUI defense firm to help those who have been arrested for or charged with DUI offenses in the Los Angeles area.DUI Process in Los Angeles County
A typical DUI process begins when a law enforcement officer observes a vehicle commit a violation of the law and then pulls over that vehicle. The violation observed does not have to be one associated with impaired driving and in many cases the reason for the stop may be an equipment violation such as improper window tint or a malfunctioning brake light. In California, officers must have reasonable or probable cause to believe that a driver has violated the law in order to stop a vehicle. DUI checkpoint operations are an exception, as they allow officers to stop and briefly detain all drivers passing through a manned checkpoint to determine whether or not they are under the influence.
After the vehicle has been stopped, an officer will approach and engage the driver in conversation and will be looking for certain telltale symptoms of intoxication, such as bloodshot and watery eyes, slurred speech or an odor of alcohol. If the officer suspects that the driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, he or she will ask the driver to exit the vehicle in order to conduct a DUI investigation. This would include field sobriety tests designed to measure the test-taker’s balance, motor skills and ability to remember and follow instructions.
The officer may also ask the driver to take a breath test using his or her portable preliminary alcohol sensor (“PAS”) device. The PAS test is not mandatory for most drivers. However, drivers who are under the age of 21 and those who are on probation for a DUI offense are required to take a PAS test when requested by an officer.DUI Arrest and Testing in Los Angeles
If the officer has probable cause to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver will be arrested and will be given the option of taking either a breath or blood test. This chemical testing is required and defendants who refuse testing can still be charged with driving under the influence pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC as well as a refusal allegation that will add mandatory jail time to the defendant’s sentence. Drivers who refuse chemical testing will face a yearlong driver’s license suspension during which they will not be eligible for a restricted license.
The breath test is typically completed on a Breathalyzer machine at the police station and the test results are immediately available. Drivers who select the blood test must be transported to a hospital or laboratory where a medical professional can conduct the blood draw. The blood test does not provide immediate results and the results of the blood test are usually not known for several weeks. If the driver is suspected of driving under the influence of drugs, he or she will have to take a blood test as there is currently no breath test available that can measure drug intoxication.Criminal Charges Filed in Los Angeles DUI
The arresting agency will refer the case to the local prosecutor, who will then determine what charges, if any, to file. Having an experienced DUI attorney during the prefiling stage is often critical, as it is possible to intervene before charges have been filed to present additional exculpatory evidence that may have been overlooked and argue on behalf of the client.
If filed, the case will go to court for the defendant’s arraignment. In most DUI cases that involve alcohol, the defendant will be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC and driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) VC. This allows the prosecution to pursue two different theories of guilt.Los Angeles DUI of Drugs
Increasingly, law enforcement and prosecutors are arresting and charging drivers with driving under the influence of drugs in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) VC. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of illegal narcotics such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamines. However, many people do not realize that it is also illegal to drive while under the influence of certain legally prescribed medications that can cause impairment, including painkillers such as Vicodin, anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and sleep aids like Ambien. The fact that a defendant has a lawful prescription for a medication is not a defense to a DUI drug charge. Since the legalization of marijuana, police and prosecutors are preparing for a steep increase in DUI marijuana cases, as has been experienced in other states.DUI Defenses in Los Angeles County There are a number of defenses that may be raised in fighting a DUI case. If the officer did not have reasonable or probable cause to stop the defendant’s vehicle, the defense may be able to challenge the vehicle stop by filing a motion to suppress evidence pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. If successful, the Court will suppress all DUI evidence resulting from the unlawful stop and the prosecution will often have no choice but to dismiss.
The defense may be able to attack the results of the breath or blood test by challenging the admissibility of the results. The defense may also be able to demonstrate how a driver was experiencing a rising blood alcohol, which would mean that his or her test results would have reflected a higher BAC at the time of testing than at the time of driving. In addition, the defense will be able to carefully examine the incident reports and all DUI discovery for any errors that may prove fatal to the prosecution’s case.
In many cases, the prosecution may consider a reduced DUI charge, including wet reckless pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC, exhibition of speed under California Vehicle Code 23109(c) VC or reckless driving per California Vehicle Code Section 23103 VC.DUI Penalties in Los Angeles County
DUI penalties can vary depending on the driver’s criminal record and the circumstances of the case. If the defendant has a prior DUI conviction occurring within the previous ten years, he or she would face mandatory jail time and an 18-month alcohol education class. A fourth DUI within a ten year period can be charged as a felony and those convicted can be sentenced to prison.
Defendants who are involved in DUI collisions can face increased penalties and will have to pay restitution to any and all victims as a condition of probation. When a DUI collision results in injury to another person, the defendant can be charged with DUI causing injury pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 23153. This is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
In addition, those who are convicted of DUI can lose their license for up to a year on a first time offense. This license suspension is independent of the administrative driver’s license suspension that is triggered by a DUI arrest. To challenge this suspension, the driver must request a hearing with the DMV within ten days of his or her arrest.
A DUI charge can often carry many unanticipated collateral consequences. A DUI conviction can trigger potential disciplinary action for those with professional licenses, such as doctors, nurses, teachers or attorneys, or those who plan on applying for one of these licenses in the future.DUI Trial Attorney in Los Angeles
Los Angeles DUI trial attorney Kraut enjoys a reputation among prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys as a top notch trial attorney. Mr. Kraut knows how police and prosecutors investigate and compile cases against you. He knows that you do not want to go to jail or lose your job or standing in the community. Michael Kraut now uses all of these skills, connections, and tenacity to defend individuals and corporations investigated and charged with a crime.
It is critical that you speak with a respected DUI lawyer in Los Angeles if you have been arrested for or charged with a DUI offense. Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who is highly respected by judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers for his in-depth knowledge of DUI law and unmatched litigation skills. Mr. Kraut is a top-rated LA DUI attorney who works hard to ensure his clients receive the best defense possible.
For more information about DUI, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 or through our online contact form.