DUI
License Suspension / Revocations / License not in possession
DMV Hearings
Reckless Driving
Hit and Run


DUI

Being arrested for a DUI in California is a serious matter, even if it’s a first offense.  California’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .08 percent.  That means your BAC cannot be or surpass .08 grams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood while you are driving.  Nor can one drive a vehicle if one is under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.  A good attorney needs to have effective defenses to both charges, based on the facts of each case.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

The procedures and testing tools for determining a driver’s BAC are not absolutely flawless.  Sometimes the machinery used for the tests give errors.  Sometimes the personnel administering the test make gaffes in carrying out the test procedures.  Occasionally, foreign matter in the mouth can skew the outcome.  If a blood test was given you are allowed by law to have the blood retested by an independent lab.  If the results are significantly different, the outcome may be used as evidence to raise reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the original test.  Your BAC is pertinent at the time of your driving.  If the test was given considerably later after the officer made the traffic stop the results may be inadmissible. 

Driving Under the Influence

Whether you were driving under the influence is very subjective, often by an officer who is often less than objective.  Of the numerous DUI police reports I have read, most of them say something like, “The suspect had the odor of alcohol on his breath, blood-shot watery eyes and slurred speech.”  Many of us know from our personal experiences that sometimes people under the influence have an odor alcoholic beverage, sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they have blood-shot and watery eyes and sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes they have slurred speech and sometimes they don’t.  Once you have been arrested for a DUI, the officers will write their reports in a manner to help the prosecutor obtain your conviction.  Their reports will most likely contain evidence of their observation of your driving, their observation of you, your statements to the officer and your performance of the field sobriety tests.

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)

FSTs include walking heel to toe a certain number of steps in a straight line and turning around and walking back, balancing on one foot, reciting the alphabet, tipping your head back, feet together arms out to the side, eyes closed and estimating 30 seconds, and so on. They may also give you the “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus” test, where you are instructed to watch the tip of the officer’s pen or finger as the he moves it from side to side.  Your performance on the FSTs is, again, a very subjective evaluation.  There is no pass fail cutoff point.  If one asks what a passing score is, one will not be given an answer.  These tests are used solely to gather incriminating evidence to be used against you.  You are not required to take them.

Penalties

The sentences for DUI offenses in California are greater than ever before. Even first-time offenders may face mandatory jail time if there is a minor in the vehicle, excessive speeding, or a refusal to take a blood alcohol test.  Multiple offenders can find themselves facing significant jail time.  They may also be looking at being classified as a “Habitual Traffic Offender” by the DMV or even have the charge filed as a felony against them.

 

 

Q&A for DUIs

Am I required to answer the officer’s questions when I get stopped for a DUI? 

No!  Other than identifying information such as your name, address, license, registration and insurance, you have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say, can and will be used against you if it helps to convict you in any way.  Normally it is best to courteously decline to reply to any of the officer’s inquiries.

Since the officer did not read me my rights, will they have to dismiss the charges against me?

Not necessarily.  An officer is only obligated to give you Miranda warnings if he questions you while you are “in custody.”  A traffic stop – and the officer’s DUI investigation of you – is not legally considered “custody” for Miranda rights purposes.   (Some exceptions may apply to some situations.)  Again, REMAIN SILENT, whether the officer gives you the Miranda advisement or not!

After I’m stopped, am I required to do those roadside tests like closing my eyes an estimating 30 seconds or balancing on one foot?

No, you do not.  Those roadside tests, called field sobriety tests (FSTs), are voluntary.  You have the right and are allowed not to perform them, and you should exercise this right.  This is a position where need to act calmly.  After having you exit your car, the officer may give you directions that seem like a command.  Politely tell the officer you would prefer not to do them, without giving any reason.  If he says something like if you don’t do them I am going to arrest you, let him arrest you.  He is not arresting you for not performing the tests, but because in his mind he already thinks he has enough evidence to make a DUI arrest.  Your performing the tests will just give him further evidence to what he already believes.

Am I required to take a blood or breath test?

If you do not take a test, it is known as a “refusal.”  Your license will likely be suspended for one year by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).  If you take the test, and your results come back equal to or greater than the limit, you will probably have your license suspended for 120 days for your first offense.

Whether or not you take a test, you have a right to an Administrative Per Se (APS) hearing with the DMV to decide if your license will be suspended.  By asking for a hearing, you are allowed to keep your license until the hearing date.  In the meantime, avoid alcohol along with driving!  The punishment for repeat offenders is severe!

Note, the blood or breath test you submit to at the police station is the test that counts.  Officers often have a small hand-held breathilizer, known as a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device.  The officer may have asked you to blow into this device at the scene.  This is just another FST.  The law allows you not to take this test.  Your refusal to take the PAS test will not result in you losing your license from the DMV.

If the officer said I refused the chemical test, what impact does it have?

California’s Implied Consent law deems you have given consent to have your blood or breath tested to determine the alcohol content of your blood if you have been lawfully arrested for a DUI.  The law allows the DMV to take away your license if you fail to submit to the test.

What chemical test should I choose, a blood test or a breath test?

If you believe the blood alcohol level will be close to the limit, a blood test may be preferable, as the law allows you to have it retested by an independent lab.  However, if you think your blood alcohol level may be high or your aren’t sure, a breath test may be a better choice.  There are several factors that could produce inaccurate and unreliable breath results.

How long will my license be lost for a DUI charge?

If you refused a blood or breath test: 12 months.  If you took a blood or breath test: 4 months for a first offense.

What steps should I take to keep my license?

You have ten (10) days from the date of your arrest or citation to ask for a DMV hearing.  If you choose not to have the hearing, the DMV will suspend your license automatically.  The ten day deadline begins to run when you are given your Temporary Driver’s License from the officer; normally this is when you are cited or arrested.

Your temporary license is only valid for ten days, unless you call the DMV for a hearing.  If you requested a DMV hearing within 10 days, your temporary license will be extended until your DMV hearing, which is usually a few weeks away.

What will happen at my DMV hearing?

The DMV hearing is limited to three main issues, but sometimes some minor related issues will be decided by the hearing officer.  The three main issues are:

1.     Did the officer have reasonable cause to believe you were driving a vehicle in violation of the DUI laws?

2.     Were you lawfully arrested?

3.     Were you driving the vehicle with a .08 or more blood alcohol level?

In cases where you refused to take the blood or breath test a couple of additional issues will be decided:

1.     Were you advised by the officer that if you failed to take a test your license would be suspended or revoked?

2.     Did you fail to take the test after being advised by the officer?

If the DMV hearing officer believes the statements are true after the hearing, he will suspend your driver’s license.

I’m also going to court on the DUI charge, what is the difference?  

Your court appearance and the DMV hearing are two separate actions.  You now have two major events taking place at the same time each serving a different purpose.

The DMV hearing is a civil administrative proceeding concerned only with your license and whether it will be suspended or revoked.  However, be aware the DMV gets two bites at the apple.  One at their own hearing and another after the court proceedings are finished.  To not have your license affected you must prevail at the DMV hearing and not be convicted or plead guilty in court.  If you are convicted or plead guilty in court the court will notify the DMV of the conviction or guilty plea which will result in your license being suspended or revoked.

Your court proceedings can result in jail, probation, fines, mandatory alcohol classes and other restrictions.  However, courts generally leave the standing of your license up to the DMV and let them determine its status.

Why does the DMV give me the right to a hearing when I’m already scheduled for court on the DUI charge?

Our State and Federal Constitutions grant us the right, that no person shall be deprived of their property without due process of law.  Due process of law means you will have notice of the action DMV plans to take against your driving privilege and the opportunity to be heard, through an APS hearing.

Can my court trial and DMV hearing be combined since the issues are related?

No.  The court trial and DMV hearing are independent of one another.  The Court trial determines whether you are innocent or guilty of a criminal charge.  The DMV hearing considers the circumstances relating to a DUI arrest such as driving and the blood alcohol level or refusing to submit to a chemical test.

If the prosecutor offers me a plea bargain to a lesser charge without jail, should I take it?

Many factors need to be considered before accepting any plea bargain.  For example, if you were on probation at the time of your arrest or citation, your probation may be revoked.  Your guilty plea may also cause a your deferred judgment and sentence to be revoked, if you had one at the time.  An attorney should be consulted and can help you figure out what is the best option for you with all the variables.  Your attorney will help you protect rights, your license, and your freedom.

Is jail mandatory?

Sometimes.  Please consult with an attorney to see if there alternative sentencing options available for your particular circumstances

Additional DUI Information

For more information regarding Driving Under the Influence offenses, suspended or revoked license, and answers to other related questions, please contact our office by phone 1-714-289-2662 or the link on our website.

License Suspensions / Revocations / License Not in Possession

Caught With No Drivers License?

If the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has suspended or revoked your drivers license, or you think they may be doing so in the near future,  you need to speak with an experienced qualified attorney that can help you. Many Californians rely on their capacity to drive from one point to another.  When their privilege is lost from a driver’s license suspension or revocation because of a DUI charge or too many points from traffic tickets, it can create problems in their life.  Overcoming that challenge by driving with a suspended or revoked license can be appealing.  Regrettably, if you surrender to that enticement and are apprehended, the results can be severe.  Mandatory jail time is often required for offenders of a suspended or revoked license due to a DUI.  The law offices of Kim W. Hansen can help you contest the charges.

To speak with me personally, an experienced lawyer of over fifteen years, about your charge of driving while your license was suspended, revoked, or not in your possession, call 1-714-289-2662 today.

In Orange County, and the surrounding counties of California, people turn to the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen for effective criminal defense representation. We examine all aspects of a case to discover as many opportunities as we can to help our clients prevail over the charges against them.

We recognize the penalty for driving on a suspended or revoked license can be severe, in particular  if you currently have DUI allegations.  You could be dealing with mandated jail time.

 

Other Reasons for Losing Your License

One can have a license suspended or revoked for medical reasons such as epilepsy, seizures, loss of consciousness or other conditions affecting driving skills, alertness, reflexes or motor skills.  Although some do experience circumstances that rightfully prevent them from driving, due to safety concerns, many drivers have only temporary symptoms or are otherwise able to drive safely and should not lose their privilege to drive.

 

Another reason the California DMV can, does and will revoke a license is if it decides a driver has lost the mental and physical ability needed to obey traffic laws and drive safely. Although the DMV imposes no age limits to driving, they do scrutinize senior citizens closely.  One way they do this is mandating all drivers over 70 to appear in person at a DMV office to renew their license.

A driver can also lose their license for failing to appear at their court hearing.  When one misses a court hearing or fails to pay court ordered fine, the DMV is notified and a hold is placed on the person’s license.  Typically the court will also issue a bench warrant.

Falling behind in your court ordered child support payments can also trigger a suspension of your driver’s license.  Once the district attorney’s office notifies the DMV of your being in arrears of your child support payment, your license will be suspended until the payments are caught up.

If you have any of these situations that have caused you to lose your license call the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen today for immediate help 1-714-289-2662.  We will do whatever it takes to help you restore your driving privileges.  Whether your problem requires working with the DA to clear up your child support issues, or clearing bench warrants or failures to appear or pay a fine, or removing holds on your license at the court, or representing a senior or someone with a health condition at a DMV reexamination hearing and offering evidence of your ability to drive safely, we can help.

DMV Hearings

After being arrested for a DUI, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver’s license – even before you appear in court, unless you ask for a DMV hearing.  These hearings are known by the DMV as “Administrative Per Se” (APS) hearings.  The DMV is an administrative civil agency that decides, unrelated from the court, whether to suspend your license for a DUI offense.  You must request a hearing within ten days of your violation to maintain your right to an APS hearing.

 

This APS hearing is not a criminal hearing.  Any criminal charges brought against you will come later in the court system.  A DMV APS hearing is vital for your later criminal DUI defense because it allows your attorney an opportunity to see, hear and evaluate the evidence the police have against you and to challenge it.

 

The most effective way to protect your rights at the APS hearing is having an experienced attorney representing you, who is familiar with the DMV administrative law process.

 

The Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen will meet with you, discuss your case, and provide competent, experienced representation at your DMV hearing.

 

Getting a lawyer on your case before the hearing is important.  APS hearings have many procedural issues, statute of limitations (deadlines) and consequences.  Many people unknowingly give up their rights, fail to get documents and other evidence for the hearing.

 

We can set the hearing date, if not already set, and appear for you so that you do not have to miss work, if you choose not to be there.  We will request a stay on your license meaning it won’t be suspended (if at all) until after you have the hearing, and request the evidence to be sent to our office before the hearing.  We will vigorously represent you, raise all appropriate objections to any evidence we think is improper, and get the best possible outcome for you.

 

Contact the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen

 

If you have any concerns about DMV hearings or lost your license because of a traffic violation or any other reason mentioned above, in the Orange County area or anywhere in California, we can help.  The initial consultation is free; the consultation can be done by phone if you are out of the area.  Our fees are competitive, and generally are a fixed rate, not hourly billing.  Cash discounts are given, but credit and debit cards are accepted.  To contact us call 1-714-289-2662.

 

 

Reckless Driving

Like many states, California allocates point values to traffic citations, like reckless driving and suspends a driver’s license if the total points accrued for the traffic violations surpass a set number over a specified time period.  The Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen, represents individuals facing losing their license or other charges throughout Orange County, California, as well as Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.

We represent drivers charged with numerous traffic offenses such as:

  • Reckless driving
  • Hit and run
  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Suspended or revoked license
  • Open container

These types of charges carry conditions of jail time and need to be taken seriously!  We can help you with these or other traffic offenses, and we believe that our firm will provide you the best possible defense and outcome of the charges against you.

Be aware, when a guilty plea is entered on these charges not only is there a sentence and punishment but it adds points toward a suspension of your driver’s license, usually resulting in substantial rate increases of your insurance premiums.

We will evaluate your case and look at all the facts, look at your driving record and discuss your options.  Sometimes a reduced charge can be worked out to lower the points that go on your driving record.  Alternatively, if you want to contest the charges, we can discuss that option as well.  Your fee will be based on whether you want a trial or not.  Call your Orange County, California defense law firm at the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen 1-714-289-2662.

 

Hit and Run

If you have been mixed up in an accident and you purportedly fled  the sight, you could be facing a hit and run charge.  This is a serious charge that could result in stern penalties and punishment that could impact your life significantly.  It is vital that you if you have been arrested, cited or summoned in the mail for a hit and run that you immediately speak to an experienced attorney.  The sooner you speak to an attorney, the quicker your attorney can begin your defense.

An investigation of an alleged hit-and-run accident frequently brings a flood of puzzling legal and insurance concerns and penalties.  With the police and district attorneys looking for a conviction, a critical fact needs to be determined:  Where the accused was at the time of the accident.  In other words, who was actually driving the car at the time of the accident?

The Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen can offer educated and experienced aid in unwinding the legal challenge of a hit-and-run charge and in defending you against hit-and-run or reckless driving charges.  We can assist you finding a solution to your problem.  We will provide you with a knowledgeable and effective defense to your charges.

 

A felony or a misdemeanor?

You could be looking at either a felony hit-and-run charge or a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge.  If you purportedly fled the scene of an accident that involved someone being seriously, physically injured or a large amount of property damage, you could be likely facing felony hit-and-run charges.  If the accident caused only slight to moderate property damage, you will probably be charged with a misdemeanor hit and-run offense.

I did stop, so how come I’m being charged with hit and run?

California law calls for anybody caught up in a traffic accident, not considering who is at fault, to stop immediately and trade driver’s license and insurance information before they leave the scene. Stopping, looking to see if any injuries or property damage occurred without exchanging this information, and then leaving can open yourself up to this charge.

I’ve a hit-and-run charge in Orange County, California, what should I do?

You are quite likely distressed and worried about your charges and justifiably so.  At the Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen, we are knowledgeable in the California criminal justice system and we will work diligently to defend you.  With more than 30 years of experience in the criminal justice system, 15 as a defense attorney, we will help you avoid the worst and get the best possible outcome for you in your hit-and-run charge.  Call us for immediate help 1-714-289-2662.

If you, or someone you know have been accused of a hit-and-run offense we can help solve your problem!

We will labor to defend you in your court case.  It is essential to remember that eyewitnesses can be wrong, license plate numbers can be copied down incorrect, and spectators can misidentify you.  There are several ways to defend a hit-and-run case.  It is only a question of getting to know the facts of your case and your circumstances and then recommending the best solution of your case to you.  We can often get your charges reduced or even dismissed; after reviewing the facts and evidence, we will give you our evaluation of the likely outcome or your case.  We will look to see if your are eligible for a Deferred Entry of Judgment, available in some jurisdictions or a Civil Compromise.  These are tools we use to get your charges dismissed.