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Santa Cruz, CA criminal defense attorney DUI

There are many violations that can lead to a motorist losing his or her driving privileges. For instance, being convicted of multiple moving violations, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI), reckless driving, or other offenses are serious traffic infractions that could result in the suspension of a driver’s license. In California, a motorist who is arrested for DUI is subject to two separate types of proceedings: criminal and administrative. A criminal conviction can result in fines and/or jail time. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can also take away driving privileges through an administrative hearing. This can significantly impact a person’s daily life, especially if he or she needs a car to get to and from work. If you are facing DUI charges, it is imperative that you hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you prepare for your hearing and achieve the best possible outcome. 

Administrative Per Se Hearing

If you are a California driver who is arrested for DUI, the law enforcement officer will confiscate your driver's license and give you a “Notice of Suspension.” This document acts as a temporary license for 30 days.

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Santa Cruz, CA criminal defense attorney DUI

It has now been nearly a year since COVID-19 has entered the picture, and it has brought havoc to the criminal and traffic courts and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) along with the rest of our society. On a good note, the driving under the influence (DUI) programs (often required for a defendant to take to alleviate a license suspension or as a condition of probation) are up and running. They are also proceeding by way of Zoom or similar remote appearance technology. This is quite helpful; in the early months of COVID, the programs were closed, and this caused major problems for some people trying to regain their driving privileges. 

DMV has rolled forward with their hearings and insists that they be done by way of telephone. As for how this works when cross-examining an arresting officer? Showing a video to the DMV hearing officer? Other avenues to get one’s point across in a hearing? It does not work well at all. DMV does not seem to care much about these hurdles, and they continue to roll forward with their hearing procedures. 

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Posted on in DUI

Santa Cruz DUI attorney license suspensionDrinking and driving is against the law, and an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) can have a wide variety of negative consequences. In fact, even a first-time DUI can have far-reaching effects that may follow you for the rest of your life. If you are facing DUI charges, you will want to work with an experienced attorney to determine your best options for defense. 

Effects of a DUI Charge

Following a DUI arrest, you may not fully understand your rights, and you may be unsure about what will happen during your case. A DUI charge can affect your life and your reputation in a variety of ways, including:

  • Driver’s license suspension: Upon a DUI arrest, your license will typically be confiscated by law enforcement. Even if you are not formally charged or convicted of DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles will issue an automatic driver’s license suspension. To contest this suspension, you must request an administrative hearing within 10 days after you receive notice of your license suspension. 
  • Use of an ignition interlock device: For a first-time DUI offense, your driver’s license can be suspended for six months. However, you may be able to regain your driving privileges by having an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your vehicle. An IID is an in-vehicle breathalyzer that will only allow the car to start if the driver is sober. Repeat DUI offenders and those who cause injury to others when committing DUI may be required to use an IID for one to four years. 
  • A criminal record: Even after completing a sentence for a DUI conviction, including serving jail time or probation, paying fines, or completing other requirements, your DUI charge will remain on your criminal record. Information about your arrest will show up in any background checks, allowing others to learn details about the alleged offense.
  • Mug shot: When you are booked following an arrest, your “mug shot” will be taken. This picture could end up on one of the websites that post such information, so that a mere computer search of your name will return your mug shot.
  • Employment: Because a DUI will show up on background checks, prospective employers may choose not to hire you, even if you only had a single offense that occurred several years in the past. The loss of your driver's license following a DUI arrest could affect your ability to work in a career that involves driving. A DUI conviction may also result in the suspension or revocation of a professional license. 
  • Child custody: DUI arrests or convictions may play a role in decisions about child custody made in family courts. If you are getting divorced, a recent DUI may cause a judge to question your fitness as a parent, which could result in the loss of custody or restrictions on the time you spend with your children.
  • International Travel: During a period of probation after a DUI charge, you may require special permission to travel. In addition, some countries prohibit entry by those with a DUI conviction. In Canada, for example, a person is restricted from entering the country for at least five years after a DUI conviction.

Contact a Santa Cruz DUI Lawyer

Being arrested for driving under the influence can be a frightening experience, and it can have a huge impact on your life going forward. To ensure that your rights are protected, you should contact an attorney immediately following your arrest. At the law office of John W. Thornton, we will work to help you minimize the potential consequences you may face, and we will do everything we can to preserve your reputation. Contact our experienced Santa Cruz, CA DUI defense attorney at 831-426-5800 to schedule a free consultation. 

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Santa Cruz, CA DUI attorney for license suspensionOne of the more common questions folks who are curious about DUIs ask is whether to take a breath or blood test, or whether to refuse testing. The answer is different for different situations, but one answer is easy: do not refuse the “chemical test” of breath or blood unless you do not care about having a driver’s license.

California law states that a driver has agreed to both agree to and submit to a “chemical test” after an arrest for DUI. The phrase “chemical test” can be misleading - it simply refers to a blood or breath test following arrest. They will not be putting chemicals in you, and at least here in Santa Cruz, the blood test is typically done at a hospital. There is a pre-arrest breath test called a PAS (preliminary alcohol screening test) that you can, by law, refuse - and the officer is bound to tell you that. After arrest, though - even an arrest that seems unlawful, off base, or just plain wrong - a refusal to take the “chemical test” will likely lead to a driver’s license suspension of at least one year. That is zero driving and zero sympathy, with your license gone for a year, no matter your need to drive.

Moreover, what the DMV can deem a refusal to take a chemical test is often ludicrous. Silence can be seen as a refusal, even with no physical resistance. If you politely state “Please just note that I object” – the DMV will call that a refusal. Saying “I will take a test if you get a warrant” is refusal as far as the DMV is concerned.

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Santa Cruz, CA DUI attorney child endangerment

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and can result in serious consequences. However, having a passenger in the car under the age of 14 will increase the severity of the punishment. The laws of the state of California are meant to keep everyone safe, and violating these laws by committing DUI with a child in the car can be considered child endangerment.

California Laws and Child Endangerment

According to California Vehicle Code 25372, a person who drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child under 14 years old in the car is subject to increased punishment. While a first-time DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor, this is considered a very serious misdemeanor – not only in court, but with Child Protective Services. Child Protective Services may be called to the scene of arrest, and they have the ability to take your child/children into their protective custody as you go off into police custody. There is follow up with CPS to make sure the children are in an acceptable home, and they will likely notify you that they are seeking to place you on a list of child abusers (Child Abuse Central Index). They will also inform you of your right to fight that designation.

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