Fight Your DUI Charges with a DUI Lawyer San Francisco, CA Residents Trust
A DUI can be an expensive criminal charge that stays on your record for years, so it’s important to contact a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA as soon as possible. Being charged with a DUI can be frustrating and overwhelming, but with the help of the right lawyer from The Morales Law Firm, you can navigate through the legal process and know exactly what comes next – and you can get all the information you need to beat your case.
The Impact of a DUI
The punishments become more severe with subsequent DUIs, but even if it’s your first DUI you can expect a suspended or revoked license. In some cases you’ll have to even attend counseling or workshops, and perform community service. Depending on your judge and the details of your case, the sentence may be light or it may be heavy – it’s up to you and your San Francisco DUI lawyer to reduce your charges or even get your charges dropped completely.
Most people assume that a DUI is an in-and-out process, and they oftentimes think that the punishment (whether it’s jail time or a hefty fine) is the worst they should expect. Unfortunately, the impact of a DUI reaches much farther. Having a DUI on your record means having a hard time applying for housing, applying for jobs, and even applying for loans.
How Can a DUI Lawyer Help Me?
The Morales Law Firm is committed to helping you fight your DUI. If you decide to contest your DUI (and you should), you’ll need all the legal assistance you can get. Fighting the charges depends on finding flaws in the police work that led to your arrest, but before you even start going over the details of your initial traffic stop, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the entire court process. Fortunately, your DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA is a helpful guide that can provide you with all the information you need.
Once you get your bearings, you and your attorney will get to work. This means recounting every last detail that led to your arrest, including working with your lawyer to obtain a copy of the police report so you can see if there was any flaws or improper conduct during your arrest. If it can be proven that the arresting officers failed to follow proper protocol, you could have a strong defense on your hands.
Why Choose The Morales Law Firm?
Unfortunately, many DUI attorneys are only in it for the money. They look at their clients like just another paycheck, and they couldn’t care less about the outcome of your case – as long as they get paid, they’re satisfied.
At The Morales Law Firm, we’re as committed to your case as you are. We know that behind your case is a person with a future worth protecting, and we know that you shouldn’t pay for a minor mix-up for the rest of your life. When you contact us, you’re contacting a law firm that treats you like an actual human instead of just another case number, and we’re ready to help you every step of the way.
Get in touch with a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA today, and see how The Morales Law Firm can protect your future.
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.
5 Questions to Ask When Getting a DUI Lawyer
If you think you need a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA, you probably do. A lawyer from Morales Law Firm can help you through tricky situations involving a DUI and can advise you on what action you should take (as well as what action you shouldn’t take).
If you’ve never hired the services of a DUI lawyer, you probably have a lot of questions about the process and what to expect. Here are a few of the most important questions to ask when getting a DUI lawyer.
1. Do You Have Experience Defending DUI Offenders?
Not all lawyers have experience with defending DUI offenders. For this reason, it’s important to ask this question before you hire any lawyer to defend you in your DUI case. You’ll also want to make sure the lawyer you choose has been successful in the past with winning DUI cases for their clients.
2. Do You Think You Can Help Me With My Case?
A good DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA, will be upfront with you about whether or not he or she can handle your case. Though no good lawyer will ever give you a guarantee, you should at least get an honest answer about whether the lawyer is prepared to properly defend you.
3. How Much Do Your Legal Services Cost?
This is a very important question to ask before hiring a DUI lawyer. Different lawyers charge different rates, and some may also have extra fees they tack on to the total cost. To make sure you can afford the services of the lawyer you choose, take the time to ask about and understand all costs associated with your defense. At Morales Law Firm, we’re very open and upfront about our rates. We never surprise our clients with unexpected fees or undisclosed charges.
4. How Many of Your Clients Plead Guilty?
In some cases, pleading guilty truly is the best course of action when dealing with a DUI case. However, if a lawyer has a disproportionate number of clients plead guilty, it may be a red flag. To get the best possible outcome for your situation, it’s best to look for a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA, who views pleading guilty as a last resort in most cases.
5. Do You Have an Upcoming DUI Trial I Can Observe?
If you want to see your chosen lawyer in action, ask if there’s an upcoming DUI trial you can observe. That way you can see firsthand how effective your lawyer is at defending DUI clients.
The Most Common Reasons a DUI Is Dismissed
Driving under the influence is a serious concern. People who operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol place not only themselves but also others at risk. On the other hand, there are plenty of situations where someone might be falsely charged with a DUI. That is why you should always work with a DUI lawyer in San Francisco CA, such as a lawyer from The Morales Law Firm, if you have been charged with a DUI. What are some of the most common reasons why a DUI might be dismissed?
No Probable Cause
One of the first reasons why a DUI might be dismissed is a lack of probable cause. Before a police officer can pull you over under suspicion of driving under the influence, they must have a reason to do so. Were you drifting across the road? Did you roll through a stop sign? If there is no probable cause to pull you over, then all evidence stemming from any subsequent investigation might be thrown out.
Improper Administration of Field Sobriety Tests
Another reason why a DUI may be dismissed is due to an improper administration of field sobriety tests. There are a number of tests a police officer can administer to see if someone might be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If these tests are not properly administered, then it is difficult to trust the information. A DUI lawyer in San Francisco CA can review the evidence to see if the tests were performed properly in your case.
The Equipment Was Not Properly Calibrated
Finally, all equipment used to measure your blood alcohol concentration has to be properly calibrated to work correctly. Otherwise, the results cannot be trusted. Many DUI cases hinge on the results of a breath test or a blood draw. The equipment used to measure someone’s blood alcohol concentration must be calibrated regularly. A trained lawyer can ask to see the devices used to measure your BAC. If they were not calibrated properly, the measurements might be thrown out.
Work With a Criminal Defense Lawyer
These are just a few of the most common reasons why a DUI might be dismissed. Even if you feel like the law is on your side, it is still important to work with a DUI lawyer in San Francisco CA, such as an attorney from The Morales Law Firm, who can make sure your rights are vigorously defended.
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.
Common Myths About DUI Charges
Many people get charged with a DUI every year in California. However, there is still so much misinformation about these charges. Here are some common myths about DUI charges that you shouldn’t believe.
- Getting a DUI is no big deal. Unfortunately, some people take DUI charges too lightly. They assume that a DUI is just a minor offense that won’t affect their lives too much. This just isn’t true. Even if this is your first DUI charge, you should take it seriously. If you get a conviction, you may face hefty fines, jail time and loss of your driving privileges.
- If I get pulled over for a DUI, I’m automatically guilty. Just because you were pulled over by a police officer over suspicion of drunk driving, does not mean you automatically have to plead guilty. If you have an experienced DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA representing you, it is possible to get your charge reduced or dismissed. He or she can look for holes in your case. For example, if the police officer didn’t have a valid reason to pull you over in the first place, your case could get thrown out.
- If I refuse a breathalyzer, there won’t be any evidence against me. Some people decline to submit a breath test after getting pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. They may assume that there will be no evidence to be used against them. However, police officers can still provide evidence that you were under the influence of alcohol. For example, they may have observed you swerving in and out of lanes or an odor of alcohol coming out of your mouth.
- Any attorney can defend a DUI charge. When you’re dealing with a DUI charge, you don’t want a divorce or estate planning lawyer to assist you. It’s important to work with a criminal lawyer who has specific experience with DUI cases. He or she will have knowledge of the DUI laws in your state and can provide you with a better defense.
- Coffee will help me sober up. Some people have the misconception that drinking a cup of coffee will be enough to sober them. The truth is that time is the only thing that can sober you up. Just because you drink coffee after drinking alcohol, doesn’t mean that it’s safe for you to drive.
Common Defenses for a DUI Charge
If you have been charged with a DUI, you do not automatically have to plead guilty. Your DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA may be able to come up with a viable defense for your charge. Here are a few common DUI defenses to be aware of.
- Illegal stop by police. The police can’t just pull drivers over whenever they feel like it. They must have a legitimate reason for stopping a driver. In the case of a DUI, a police officer must actually see you doing something wrong before pulling you over. For example, if you were speeding and swerving all over the road, the police officer has a reasonable reason to stop you. However, if you were obeying all the traffic laws and an officer still pulled you over, you may be able to argue that he or she didn’t have reasonable suspicion to stop you.
- Inaccurate breath test. If a police officer pulls you over due to suspicion of drunk driving, he or she may ask you to take a breathalyzer. However, certain procedures have to be followed with a breath test. If the officer fails to follow these procedures, your case may get thrown out. For example, if the police officer did not properly calibrate the breathalyzer machine, your lawyer may ask the judge to dismiss your case.
- Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions can make people appear drunk when they actually aren’t. If you, for example, suffer from a neurological condition, you may have slurred speech. If you have diabetes and are experiencing ketosis from it, your breath may have an alcohol smell.
- Failure to advise you of Miranda rights. If police place you under arrest for a DUI, they are required to inform you of your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer and the right to a court-appointed lawyer if you can’t afford to pay legal fees. If police do not advise you of your Miranda rights, the evidence they obtain afterward can’t be used in courts.
- Illegal search and seizure. Police do not have the right to search your vehicle if they have not placed you under arrest yet. If they search your vehicle without your permission, any evidence they find may be thrown out.
FAQs About DUI in California
Do I Have To Consent to a Field Sobriety Test?
Whenever you drive in California, you are required to consent to a field sobriety test, either via brethalyzer or blood. You can’t talk to an attorney about which to choose; you must decide on the spot which you are more comfortable with.
If you choose breathalyzer, but the officer suspects you may be under the influence of drugs, you may have to submit to blood or urine screening anyway, since the breathalyzer can’t test for drugs.
If you refuse to allow this testing, your driver’s license may be suspended. You should consult a DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA, about getting your license back if it’s suspended based on your refusal of testing.
What’s the Illegal Blood Alcohol Content?
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, there are various levels of blood alcohol content (BAC) that make it illegal for you to drive.
- If you are 21 or older, your BAC must not meet or exceed 0.08%.
- If you are under 21, your BAC must not meet or exceed 0.01%.
- If you are on DUI probation, your BAC must not meet or exceed 0.01%.
- If you are driving a vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license, your BAC must not meet or exceed 0.04%.
- If you have a passenger who is paying you to drive them, your BAC must not meet or exceed 0.04%.
What Charges May I Be Facing?
California Vehicle Code 23152(a) VC makes it illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol. Vehicld Code 23152(b) makes it illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or greater. If you are arrested for DUI in California, you may be charged with violating both these sections. You could also be charged with misdemeanor DUI with injury, felony DUI with injury, or felony DUI. The Morales Law Firm or another DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA, can help you understand the charges against you.
What Potential Sentencing Could I Receive?
Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, unless there is injury to a person or property, in which case they may be tried as felonies. As such, sentencing can vary. A DUI lawyer in San Francisco, CA, such as The Morales Law Firm, may help you determine what your potential sentence may be.
Your sentence could be anywhere from six months in county jail to 16 years in state prison,, fines between $390-$5,000, three to 30 months of DUI school and either an ignition interlock device, which won’t let you start your car until you pass a breathalyzer test, or suspension of your license for up to five years.
What will happen immediately following a police officer charging me with a DUI?
If a police officer has charged you with a DUI and taken you to jail, there are a few things you can expect.
- You will likely be released from jail shortly. This could be within just a few hours of your DUI arrest. Unless you are being charged with a DUI in addition to more serious charges (someone else was injured or killed because of the DUI), then you will likely be able to call someone to pick you up and take you home. This does not mean your legal battle is over.
- Your driver’s license might be suspended. When this is the case, it can make living your life incredibly difficult. This is another reason it is a smart move to work with a DUI lawyer San Francisco, CA residents rely on during this time. Your lawyer can help you get in contact with the DMV as soon as possible to get a hearing to challenge a license suspension. While you are waiting for your hearing, you may still be able to drive. Even if you are not fully able to protect your license, your lawyer may be able to argue for your to get a restricted license so that you can still drive to work or school, especially if this is a first-time offense.
- If you are convicted of a DUI and it is your first offense in California, you may have jail time or you may get probation, fines, community service, or an alcohol offender program. In addition, the conviction will stay on your record and may impact your driver’s license, where you are able to get a job, and whether you can keep your job. Repeat DUIs carry worse offenses, like jail time, license suspension, and worse if there are aggravating factors.
It is paramount that you begin working with a DUI lawyer you can rely on from the start if you have been charged with a DUI. They can help you understand what you can expect from the process and what your chances are for getting the charges reduced or dropped. If you would like to work with a lawyer from the Morales Law Firm, call our office now.
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.