Q. What do I do if I am pulled over for DUI in the Long Beach area?
A. If you are stopped, most likely the police officer stopping you has observed something erratic about your driving that gives him or her reason to believe your driving may be impaired. While you generally may not refuse to take a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or drug test (see below), you have the right to refuse to answer questions or perform field sobriety tests. Refusing to cooperate may be your right, but it may also arouse the officer's suspicions, and the police officer has wide discretion whether to arrest you, issue a citation, or let you go.
If the officer asks you to get step out of the vehicle, you must comply. At this point, the officer has the right to conduct a quick, minimal "pat down" search of your person for weapons for the officer's safety. Whether the officer has the right to conduct a more thorough search or your person, personal effects, or vehicle depends on a variety of circumstances.
It is always advisable to be civil, polite, and respectful with the arresting officer. If you disagree about the facts or the way you are being treated, you can bring these matters up later with your attorney or a supervising officer.
Q. Can I refuse to take a test?
A. By state law, operating a vehicle means you have given implied consent to submit to a blood or breath test (for alcohol) or a blood or urine test (for drugs). While you cannot be forced to undergo a test against your will, refusing to take a test is grounds for your arrest and subjects you to the same range of penalties as if you had taken a test and failed, something to certainly be mindful of.
Q. How do I get my license back?
A. If you fail a BAC or drug test or refuse to take a test, you may find your license immediately suspended/revoked. When this happens, your license revocation will be reviewed by a state office, the Administrative Driver License Revocation Office (ADLRO). While the ADLRO generally upholds revocations, you have the opportunity at this stage to submit additional information to assist the ADLRO in reaching its decision. If ADLRO upholds the revocation, you have a right to a hearing either to challenge the decision or request a restricted permit (see below).
Your license may also be suspended or revoked if you are convicted of DUI. The terms of this suspension depend upon your prior convictions and other matters. To give yourself the best chance to defend, consult an attorney well versed in local DUI law.
Q. How will I get to work if I can't drive?
A. In most cases, the court has the discretion to issue a restricted permit when suspending your license. With the restricted permit, you will be allowed to drive to and from work and any court-required community service or treatment programs. You may also get a permit that allows you to drive for work-related purposes.
Q. Will they install an ignition lock on my car?
A. An ignition interlock device is a mechanism installed on the dashboard of your car that measures your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) via a breath test. If your BAC is above a certain threshold, then the car will not start. Under the law passed into effect in July 2010, a first-time offender could be sentenced to a one-year license revocation accompanied by an installation of an ignition interlock on any vehicle operated by the person.
Q. What is my (the client’s) role in my representation?
A. Generally speaking, the client makes the ultimate decisions which guide the case, while the attorney decides the best strategy to use to reach the client's goals. In the criminal defense context, the client is called upon to decide issues such as what plea to enter, whether to go to trial before a judge or jury, and whether to accept or reject a particular plea agreement. You may be called upon by the judge to make other important decisions which affect your rights, such as agreeing to waive timelines that affect your right to a speedy trial.
It is your attorney's job to make sure you understand the significance of the decisions you are making. Our Long Beach Criminal Defense law firm has been representing individuals arrested for DUI in the Long Beach area for decades. If you are facing an administrative suspension of your license, contact our team of Long Beach DUI lawyers for a free initial case evaluation. We can help you put the pieces back together.