SAN DIEGO DUI ATTORNEY
Protecting Your License, Freedom and Reputation – San Diego Driving Under the Influence Lawyer
One Mistake Should Not Shape Your Future
If you are driving home from a bar, restaurant, party or sporting event after a night of drinking, the sudden appearance of flashing red lights in your rearview mirror can be terrifying. If you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, you are not facing a mere “traffic violation.” DUI is a criminal offense that can result in severe penalties and a significant long-term impact on your future. If you are charged and convicted of DUI, you can face jail time, loss of your driving privileges, a criminal record, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), community service, substantial fines and costs and more. If you are involved in a collision that causes injury or a fatality, you can even face a felony conviction and a lengthy term in state prison.
When the stakes are this high, you need an experienced San Diego DUI attorney to challenge police procedure, chemical testing and field sobriety tests while fighting for your future. The impact of a DUI conviction while driving in Southern California is not limited to the penalties imposed by a judge. The consequences of a DUI conviction can impact many aspects of your life far into the future. Some of the ways a DUI conviction can haunt you include the following:
- Ineligibility for certain jobs that require an occupational license from the State of California
- Discovery by companies when seeking employment or promotions
- Denial of financial aid for education
- Disqualification from professional licensing (doctor, lawyer, dentist)
- Penalties imposed by academic institutions
- Adverse immigration consequences, such as deportation, removal, exclusion from re-entry
- Impact on child custody decisions in family court
- Use by landlords to deny rental housing
If you are arrested for DUI in San Diego, you cannot afford to simply accept the first plea offer from the Assistant District Attorney because you are not just going to just pay a fine and walk away. San Diego DUI defense attorney Isaac Blumberg understands the stakes when you are charged with an intoxicated driving offense. He has successfully represented thousands of people throughout Southern California charged with crimes ranging from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Mr. Blumberg has also obtained many “not guilty” verdicts in DUI jury trials. Whether he is arguing for suppression of your breath test results because the officer lacked sufficient basis for pulling you over or exposing the mishandling of a blood specimen used for chemical testing, Mr. Blumberg is prepared to zealously advocate for your future.
Understanding the DUI Process in San Diego
DMV License Suspension Hearing
If you are arrested for DUI/DWI in San Diego County, you actually become involved in two separate cases: (1) a DMV administrative hearing regarding your driving privileges; and (2) the DUI/DWI criminal case. You should act immediately to retain an attorney after your DUI arrest because you have only ten days from the date of your arrest to appeal a DMV suspension of your driver’s license. Mr. Blumberg has extensive experience representing clients at DMV hearing, and has represented clients in front of every DMV Officer in San Diego. He has a proven track record of success defending the driving privileges of his clients at these administrative hearings.
San Diego DUI/DWI Criminal Case
When you are arrested by the police for DUI/DWI, you will actually be charged with two distinct but related criminal offenses: (1) California Vehicle Code Section 23152(A) & 23152(B). A violation of VC Section 23152(A) applies if you were arrested based on evidence that your actual mental or physical driving abilities were impaired. The VC Section 23152(B) violation is what is referred to as a “per se” offense. An individual can be convicted of this offense even if the person drives perfectly and exhibits minimal signs of physical or mental signs of intoxication. A “per se” violation only requires the prosecutor to prove that a lawfully administered chemical test of blood, breath or urine established that driver was operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
Stopped by the Police after Drinking or Ingesting Drugs in San Diego: Now What
While the prospect of being pulled over when you have been drinking or using drugs can be extremely stressful, your actions during the stop can certainly have an influence on the outcome of a DUI case. Unless you are stopped at a DUI checkpoint or you are involved in an accident, a DUI investigation will usually involve you being pulled over for erratic driving or a traffic violation. When the officer stops your vehicle, he or she typically will not have enough evidence for a DUI arrest.
Questioning during a Stop
The officer will likely ask you a number of questions about where you are coming from and whether you have been drinking. While you should not lie to the officer, you should not answer these questions unless you have ingested absolutely no drugs or alcohol. While you should have your license and registration ready to provide to the officer, you are not required to answer questions about your activities. These questions serve two functions for the police officer. First, the officer wants you to provide incriminating statements, so he can initiate a DUI investigation. Second, he is observing you for physical signs of intoxication like red eyes, alcohol on your breath, slurred speech and similar indicators. There is no benefit in being belligerent, but you might want to politely indicate that you are not comfortable answering any questions without a lawyer.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) & Portable Breath Tests
At some point, the officer probably will ask you to participate in field sobriety tests (FSTs) and to submit to a portable breath test. These preliminary forms of alcohol or drug screening are administered to support probable cause for a DUI arrest. A driver is not obligated to submit to either of these forms of screening, so it is usually not in your interest to do so unless you have not ingested any drugs or alcohol. While the officer might still arrest you for DUI/DWI, you will have limited the evidence available to the prosecutor.
Formal Chemical Testing of Breath, Blood or Urine
When you are transferred to a police station for a breath test or medical facility for a blood test, there are consequences for refusing formal chemical testing under V.C. Section 23612 Implied Consent for Chemical Testing. A refusal following a lawful arrest will result in additional penalties. For a first offense, these additional penalties include: 2 extra days in jail, an administrative license suspension of one year and nine months in DUI school. There is no restricted license afforded during the yearlong suspension. If you refused chemical testing, the prosecutor can comment on the refusal as consciousness of guilt and still pursue a criminal case based on the officer’s observations.
DUI Drugs (DUID)
If you are charged with DUI drugs (DUID), your situation will differ from the alcohol version of DUI in certain respects. There is no “per se” violation for drugged driving, so the cases can be harder to prove for the prosecutor. Blood or in rare instances urine testing will be administered to obtain evidence of DUID. The officer typically summons a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) who is specially trained to conduct tests and observations, and he will testify in court. The California DMV also cannot suspend your driver’s license for a DUID unless you refuse chemical testing or also have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
Persuasive San Diego DUI Defense Based on Proven Strategies
While sometimes Mr. Blumberg will negotiate a first-time DUI down to a “wet reckless” violation, he understands that his job is to fight for the best possible outcome for his clients. He carefully reviews police reports, chemical testing and other evidence to develop effective strategies when seeking a dismissal or acquittal. Some of the defenses that Mr. Blumberg might successfully employ in your case include:
- Exposing an Improper Stop: If the officer does not have sufficient basis for the initial stop, Mr. Blumberg will seek to have all evidence obtained following the stop suppressed.
- Demonstrating Unreliability of FSTs: Even when conducted, demonstrated and scored perfectly, FSTs can be fairly inaccurate. Further, many officers lack sufficient training and experience in administering these highly subjective tests. FSTs also are as likely to reveal injury, illness, obesity or lack of coordination as alcohol impairment. Mr. Blumberg has the same training police officers receive in FST’s and makes sure a jury understands the inherent unreliability of FSTs.
- Failure to Observe Mandatory Waiting Period: When a police officer administers a breath test, the officer is required to observe a 15 minute continuous observation period. This waiting period is to mitigate the risk of an inaccurate breath test because of mouth alcohol. While the officer is supposed to carefully watch for belching or other factors that could interfere with an accurate result, many officers take this time to write reports or handle other tasks.
- Rising Blood Alcohol Defense: A driver can be convicted while operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or higher. Depending on when a driver consumed alcohol and the delay before administering a formal breath or blood test, an individual’s BAC can rise over the legal limit after the stop.
- Challenging Breath Test Results: There are many factors that can compromise the accuracy of a breath test, including low-carb diets, diabetes, mouthwash, gender, improper calibration of the device and other factors. Mr. Blumberg carefully investigates chemical testing procedures and results that compromise the test’s accuracy or reliability.
Let Us Start Fighting For You Today!
If you have been arrested for DUI or any other alcohol or drug-related driving offense, we invite you call us at 619-525-9911 to learn how we can help. Mr. Blumberg handles DUI cases in San Diego and throughout San Diego County.