Fight Your DUI Charges with a DUI Lawyer San Francisco CA Residents Trust
How does a police officer determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs?
The Morales Law Firm defends drivers who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI); a drunk driving lawyer San Francisco CA from our firm can protect you from overzealous law enforcement officers and prosecutors. There are several methods a police officer may use to tell if a driver was DUI prior to the officer making contact. None of those methods are infallible, as our San Francisco CA drunk driving lawyer knows very well. Many people are arrested for DUI under false pretenses. Because a conviction may result in a long jail term as well as very expensive fines, a false charge and conviction are patently unfair. The Morales Law Firm aggressively pursues justice on behalf of our clients. Contact us without delay if you were charged with DUI. We offer a free consultation with our DUI lawyer San Francisco CA whether you have posted bond or are awaiting sentence. If someone close to you is incarcerated on a pending DUI charge, contact us.
Does a police officer have the right to pull someone over for any reason?
The officer must have a reasonable suspicion that a driver is breaking a law, is a risk to the safety of someone else, or committing a negligent act. There are other recognized and accepted reasons for when a law enforcement officer is justified in detaining or stopping an individual. However, there are also guidelines and restrictions. Every situation is different and so it is necessary for a drunk driving lawyer in San Francisco CA to review the unique details of a case before determining the best legal strategy moving forward. At The Morales Law Firm, we take the time necessary to properly defend a client who is charged with a DUI. Our DUI lawyer has years of experience representing defendants of all ages and backgrounds. It’s very likely we can help you too if you were arrested for DUI.
Here are some of the methods a police officer may employ prior to arresting someone for DUI:
- Visual observation. A police officer may observe a driver is weaving between lanes, driving erratically, or otherwise acting impaired. Once observed, the officer has reason to pull the driver over. However, a DUI lawyer may have cause to question whether their client’s behavior was truly suspicious to the driver and if it merited pulling over the driver. Depending on the events that transpired, your San Francisco CA drunk driving lawyer might question any number of things in order to assert your innocence.
- Field sobriety test. When a police officer pulls over a driver for suspected DUI, or for any other reason, if they have further reason to believe the driver may be impaired then they may request the driver to perform several tests. This is known as a field sobriety test because they are gathering more information “in the field” before taking the driver down to the station in case that is not necessary. The main problem with a field sobriety test is that it relies on the person’s ability to successfully perform certain balance tests. Many people cannot pass these tests even when they are clean and sober. Therefore, if they fail the test it is not a fair indication of their sobriety level. Your DUI lawyer from The Morales Law Firm will take a close look at how the officer conducted the field sobriety test and if you have physical limitations that may have caused the outcome of the test.
- Chemical test. The laws on chemical testing prior to an arrest vary from state to state. In some states, the testing is mandatory and if the driver refuses, they are automatically considered to have failed the test. In other states, it is not mandatory and your drunk driving lawyer San Francisco CA can tell you what repercussions you may suffer for refusing to take the test.
Prior DUI Convictions
If you have just received another DUI or DWI, you should not delay in calling a DUI lawyer for help. At Morales Law Firm, our DUI lawyers know the potential consequences of a subsequent DUI conviction. We will help you to avoid the conviction or to reduce the impact of a guilty verdict. If this is not your first DUI, and you need legal advocacy, call Morales Law Firm.
You can be convicted of a DUI if you have been found to be driving while impaired or under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of them. When you are facing a DUI charge, the severity of your penalties will largely depend on whether you have any prior convictions.
DUI laws are meant to protect the community and prevent people from engaging in repeat actions. This means that prosecutors and police have very limited sympathy for those who have multiple DUIs. This is one of the primary reasons why repeat offenders face harsher penalties than first-time offenders. Even if this is only your second DUI, you may be considered a repeat offender.
The Lookback Period for DUIs
All states have a look back period for DUIs. These laws outline when a prior DUI conviction will count as a previous offense. Some states have a lookback period of 3 years, 5 years, and some 7 or more years. If you committed a DUI within the lookback period, your new charge will likely be considered a subsequent offense. If you’ve never had a DUI conviction or you had one that took place beyond the lookback period, this will be considered your first DUI.
Penalties for Subsequent DUI Charges
If you already have a DUI conviction, and it occurred within the lookback period, your current charge will be for a second, third, and so forth, DUI. Your charges will also depend on your BAC limit, and other circumstances related to the incident. Some penalties may include:
- 30 days to one year in jail
- Up to 10 years in prison (for more than 3 or 4 DUIs)
- A fine between $5,000 and $10,000 (or more)
- A drivers license suspension
- Mandatory alcohol or drug treatment
- Mandatory interlock ignition device
- Community service
If you were involved in an accident at the time of your DUI, and caused injury or death to another person, or damaged property, your charges may be more severe. You should not pursue a case like this without a DUI lawyer.
Avoid These Mistakes if Stopped for DUI
There can be nothing more intimidating than to see the blue lights flashing behind you and the sounds of the siren signaling for you to pull over. Even if a person hasn’t been drinking, the experience can be stressful, especially if the officer who pulled you over suspects you are driving under the influence. But no matter how scared you may be in this situation, a San Francisco, CA DUI lawyer suggests that if this does happen, remember that you have rights. It is critical to know what you should do and what you shouldn’t do in order if you have been stopped on the suspicion of a DUI.
The following are things you should not do if you have been stopped. If you do get arrested, contact The Morales Law Firm to meet with a San Francisco, CA DUI lawyer and find out how we can help.
Do Not Admit You Have Been Drinking
People who have only had one or two drinks make the mistake of thinking it’s okay to admit that to the police if they are stopped. However, this is one of the worst things you can do if stopped for a suspected DUI. This admittance can and most likely will be used against you by the prosecutor in proving their case against you. However, you also do not want to lie to the police, either. If you are asked if you have been drinking, a San Francisco, CA DUI lawyer recommends you answer the question by asking the officer if you are being charged with anything. When asked again, tell the officer you would rather not answer that question.
Cooperate with Law Enforcement
Even if you have had nothing to drink and are frustrated at being pulled over, it is imperative you cooperate with the officer. You are required to provide your name, driver’s license, and registration to the officer. Even if the officer arrests you, keep on cooperating, no matter how wrong you feel the police officer is. Your DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA can defend you against these charges and the more your attorney can show you cooperated, the more beneficial it is for your case. Resisting arrest can just escalate the charges and compound whatever penalties you could be facing.
Do Not Submit to a Field Sobriety Test
Many people are under the mistaken impression that if an officer asks them to submit to a field sobriety test, they are required to under the law. However, this is not true. While it is important to cooperate with the officer – as mentioned above – never agree to submit to field sobriety testing. Multiple studies show that these tests are often incorrect and depend on how the officer executes the test and the officer’s judgment. Whatever the results are can be used against you.
Do Not Permit a Request to Search Your Vehicle
If a police officer has probable cause to search a vehicle, they can do so without the owner’s consent. Whatever incriminating evidence they find can be used against the driver in court. If the officer does not have probable cause to search the vehicle, they are not allowed to search without the driver’s consent. This is why you should never give consent to search. If the officer conducts the search anyway, a San Francisco, CA DUI lawyer can challenge any evidence the officer finds later on in court. Keep in mind that you should still be cooperative if the police do start to search your vehicle. Do not try to stop them as this could result in serious charges for you.
Know Your Rights
You should always be ready and know what your rights are if you get pulled over for anything. You always have the right to remain silent and to wait to speak with law enforcement until you retain legal counsel. This is crucial to remember so that you protect yourself from self incrimination. Even if you think you are helping your case by explaining what happened, some of the details may be incriminating and actually end up hurting you. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know what you should and should not say to law enforcement and will be happy to sit by your side while you go through this difficult time. Be sure to tell the arresting officer that you want to speak with a lawyer and make that be your very first phone call. You have the right to wait until someone experienced is with you and can help protect your freedom.
In the United States, you are innocent of a crime until proven guilty. Do not give up immediately just because you feel defeated. A good DUI lawyer in San Francisco, California will be happy to make sure you get a fair trial and are not put behind bars if you don’t belong there. He or she will work to get you the most minimal sentence possible, or even potentially get your case completely dropped if he or she is able to. DUI lawyers have seen many different cases throughout their careers and know what it takes to win a case.
Do Reach Out to a Lawyer
It is crucial to have an experienced criminal lawyer who specializes in DUI cases on your side. The lawyers at The Morales Law Firm have years of experience dealing with people who have been arrested for driving under the influence. We know what kind of defense may hold up in court and will speak with you in depth about the incident and go over whether or not we think that there is a real case for a DUI. If so, we will try our best to come up with a good defense, and if not, we will try to debunk everything law enforcement said about the incident. Sometimes, people are arrested for DUI and in reality did nothing wrong. You should not be punished because evidence is faulty or nonexistent. The sooner you reach out, the faster we can try to jump on your case so that you will be able to get everything over with and move on with your life. A DUI is a very serious charge that goes on your permanent record. This can affect your job, your ability to drive, and even hurt your interpersonal relationships if you are found guilty. This is why it is important to take this charge seriously and to hire someone to help you fight it.
Call Morales Law Firm For Advice from a Qualified DUI Lawyer
If you are facing a DUI conviction, and this is not your first one, you may be looking at a number of penalties and consequences should you be found guilty. You can count on the prosecutor building a case against you right now; therefore, you should not delay in building your own case that defends your rights and protects your interests. For legal help from an experienced DUI lawyer San Francisco, CA clients recommend, please call us now.
If you were charged with a DUI, contact a San Francisco CA drunk driving lawyer at The Morales Law Firm immediately for a free consultation.
“I have worked with Chris Morales on cases for several years. He is tops, a well versed lawyer who understanding client relations and representation. Simple a top professional, and a great colleague.”