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Santa Ana Drunk Driving Criminal Defense Lawyer

DUI License Suspension Attorney

If there was ever a time when the State of California was easy on drunk drivers, that time is over. These days, a first drunk driving conviction carries penalties including a driver's license suspension, jail or probation, thousands in fines and fees and mandatory alcohol education classes. In some areas, there are even more penalties. First-time DUI offenders in Los Angeles and other Counties are now required to install an ignition interlock device at their own expense, and several counties require police to hold defendants in jail overnight. And after your release, you can expect ten years of sky-high auto insurance rates.

But you'll face none of these penalties if you're never convicted of intoxicated driving. the Law Offices of Joseph M. Tysel have many ways to defend people accused of DUI/DWI. Blood-alcohol concentration testing is less accurate than many people believe, and field sobriety tests are so unreliable that not all are admissible as evidence. The behavior of the police also matters — any violations of your rights, or careless handling of the chemical BAC test, can taint the evidence, causing it to be thrown out. That's why you should never plead guilty just because the police have BAC test results over the legal limit.

Two Charges, Many Defenses

In California, people accused of DUI actually face two charges. One is driving with a BAC at or above 0.08, called a per se offense. The other is driving under the influence of alcohol. Even if you're convicted, you can only be penalized once — but prosecutors combine these charges in order to hedge their bets. This way, even if you can weaken or invalidate one charge, they can still try to convict you on the other.

Fortunately, an experienced intoxicated driving defense attorney can defend both charges. The prosecutors can easily trot out the BAC test results for the per se charge — but as we noted above, there are many avenues of defense. If the BAC evidence is thrown out as tainted or unreliable, they will have to prove that you were driving while impaired by alcohol. And to do that, prosecutors must rely on circumstantial evidence like erratic driving, bloodshot eyes and field sobriety tests. All of these have alternative explanations, making them easy for an experienced lawyer to challenge in court.

The situation is a little different for defendants accused of driving under the influence of drugs. There is no legal limit for drugs in California — any amount of a prohibited drug is too much. (It also doesn't matter whether the drug was an illegal street drug or a drug that was legally prescribed to you, which is an unpleasant surprise for some drivers.) That means prosecutors have to use circumstantial evidence to show that you were impaired by the drug. When drugs that linger in the system are involved, an experienced attorney will also look at whether the driver is being unfairly prosecuted for drugs whose effects wore off long before they got behind the wheel.

Refusing the Breathalyzer (or Blood Test)

California has an "implied consent" law that says drivers agree to take a chemical DUI test as a condition of receiving a driver's license. As a result, the state has the power to suspend your license if you don't agree to a test. (You do have a limited right to choose between blood, breath and urine tests.) In fact, the license suspension is for one year, which is three times as long as the standard suspension for a first drunk driving conviction. Refusing to take a chemical test denies prosecutors the chance to charge you with a per se violation, but you can still be charged with the impaired driving form of DUI. Proper instructions must be given. If you were not properly advised and in other situations, we may challenge whether you in fact "refused" the test.

Defending Your Driver's License

California law enforcement officers have the right to confiscate defendants' driver's licenses during the drunk driving arrest. Upon their release, defendants are given a pink piece of paper that serves as a temporary driver's license. Many defendants miss this in the stress and upset of an arrest — but that form tells you how to request a DMV hearing that could save your driver's license.

Under the law, drivers are entitled to defend their driving privileges, but the DMV hasn't made it easy: You have just 10 days from your release from custody to request the hearing. This hearing is not a court case, and its outcome is completely separate from your DUI criminal case. At the hearing, a DMV officer will decide only:

  • Whether you were driving with a BAC of 0.08 or higher
  • Whether your traffic stop and arrest were lawful

You have the legal right to be represented by an attorney at this hearing. We can represent you at the DMV hearing as well as in the DUI case, allowing you to coordinate your defenses. We also request the hearing on behalf of clients if we can take the case early enough. But to have this chance to keep your driver's license, it's very, very important to take action right away. While we can still fight to have the DMV hear your case after the 10 day deadline, the process is much less difficult if the appeal is made in the initial 10 days.

Call Us Today

At the Law Offices of Joseph M. Tysel, we've helped many clients beat DUI charges and save their driving privileges. If you're facing any kind of drunk driving charge, from a first offense to serious charges like DUI manslaughter, don't wait to call us for help. You can reach our main Santa Ana office at (714) 953-7414 or send us a message online.

Working for you.

When a case requires aggressive action, we are aggressive. When a case requires negotiation, we work to negotiate a beneficial outcome.

Experience matters.

Joseph Tysel is a criminal defense lawyer that has the experience and credentials that you need in your legal representation. For more than 20 years he has been taking on criminal cases, providing clients with favorable results in even the most challenging circumstances.