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DUI Defense Attorney

Attorney Sean Hobson is familiar with the intricacies of the California criminal justice system and will take care of many aspects of your DUI case for you, including scheduling your DMV hearing, representing you at the DMV hearing, keeping track of important deadlines and filing any pretrial motions that may help your case.

Sean can also negotiate with the prosecution to try to get your DUI charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense with fewer penalties. If your DUI case goes to trial, he will present the strongest possible defense available to you, challenge the prosecution’s evidence against you and advocate for your best interests throughout the duration of the criminal case.

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Your Time To Fight For Your Driving Privileges Is Limited

Although DUI arrests are some of the most common criminal offenses in San Diego, there are some important things people do not know about them. First, if you have been arrested for a DUI in San Diego, you only have ten days from the date of your arrest to schedule a hearing with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to contest the suspension of your driver’s license. If you do not schedule a hearing with the DMV, you generally forfeit your right to have a hearing and your license will be suspended automatically thirty (30) days after your arrest. If you would like to attempt to retain your driving privileges and improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome in your criminal case, you should, after your DUI, contact a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney.

Attorney Sean M. Hobson understands how frightening and confusing a DUI arrest and prosecution can be, especially when potential jail time is looming over your head. Contact the Law Office of Sean M. Hobson today for a consultation and evaluation of your San Diego DUI case.

Driving Under The Influence Case Overview

Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both is a crime in every state and is commonly referred to as DUI. Misdemeanor DUI charges may seem like a relatively minor offense in some states, but that is not the case in California. California, especially in San Diego County, has come down hard on all DUI offenses. The consequences of a San Diego DUI conviction depend on the circumstances of your case. The consequences can adversely affect almost every aspect of your personal and professional life.

Most Common San Diego DUI Charges

A San Diego DUI arrest typically occurs as the result of a traffic stop or DUI checkpoint. If the officer who pulls you over or stops you at the checkpoint has reason to believe you may have been driving under the influence, they will begin a DUI investigation. During the investigation, the officer may ask you questions about your drinking or drug use, ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test and/or ask you to perform a series of field sobriety tests to determine your level of intoxication, if any. It is important to know your rights under the law when you are stopped for DUI in San Diego, so you can avoid saying or doing something that ends up hurting you later on.

In California, DUIs are generally charged under California Vehicle Code § 23152. DUIs are typically charged as two separate violations: Vehicle Code § 23152 (a) VC – the law that makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs – and Vehicle Code § 23152 (b) VC – the law that makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. These are two separate crimes that can arise from the same act, and individuals arrested for DUI in San Diego typically see both violations on their DUI ticket. Under California law, it is also a crime to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs (Vehicle Code § 23152 (f) VC), under the combined influence of any alcoholic beverage and drug (Vehicle Code § 23152 (g) VC) or while addicted to the use of any drug (Vehicle Code § 23152 (c) VC).

What To Do After A DUI Arrest

Exercise Your Right To Remain Silent

Following a DUI arrest, you will probably feel confused, overwhelmed and unsure about your legal rights, and the police may try to take advantage of your situation by asking you questions about your DUI, hoping you say something that can be used against you. One of the most important things to remember is that you have the right to remain silent, which means you don’t have to answer any questions without an attorney present.

Contact An Experienced DUI Defense Lawyer

The police may try to convince you that they are on your side and only want to help, but keep in mind that the police have their own agenda. Their main objective is to gather evidence that the prosecution can use to get a guilty verdict at trial. Your best course of action after being arrested for DUI is to enlist the help of a DUI defense attorney, whose primary goal is to help you get the charges dropped. With an experienced lawyer in your corner, you can ensure that you understand your rights under the law and avoid making any mistakes that could end up hurting your case.

Anatomy Of A DUI Arrest

Most California DUI arrests begin with a traffic stop or a checkpoint. The officer asks you to perform a series of field sobriety tests and to blow twice into a handheld Breathalyzer, called a Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) device. After the arrest, the cop usually will ask you to take a blood or breath test at the police station, jail or hospital (you’re required by law to take this test, and refusing the chemical test may result in tougher California DUI penalties and a one-year drivers license suspension).

For most misdemeanor DUI arrests, the police will release you within a few hours of arrest and booking (but for a felony DUI or accident case, you may have to post bail). Upon release, you should be given two documents: a citation to appear in court and a pink temporary license. The cops will usually take your California driver’s license and mail it to the DMV. If you’re from out of state and get a California DUI, the police here can’t take your physical license.

Starting in 2019, DUI arrestees can immediately apply for an IID-restricted license – IID is short for ignition interlock device, which is a Breathalyzer that keeps vehicles from starting if it detects alcohol. An IID-restricted license permits DUI arrestees to continue driving without limitations as long as they keep an IID in their cars. The length of time an IID-restricted license lasts depends on the defendant’s DUI history. (California Senate Bill 1046 (2018).

How Can An Attorney Help With My DMV Case?

You are entitled to have an attorney represent you at the DMV hearing resulting from a DUI arrest. You must contact the DMV within 10 days of your arrest to request a DMV hearing. Otherwise, you forfeit your right to a hearing and your license automatically goes into suspension after 30 days.

Once you have retained Sean Hobson’s firm, he can request the hearing for you. It’s usually better that way because your lawyer can often schedule the hearing further out (thus getting more time to prepare), and he/she can sometimes influence what DMV hearing officer gets assigned to the case.

For most clients, Sean will conduct the hearing on your behalf. You may or may not be asked to attend. Sean’s primary objective is to convince the DMV not to suspend your driver’s license. He may also use the DMV hearing as an opportunity to gather evidence that may prove useful in court.

For example, attorney Hobson can subpoena the Breathalyzer’s maintenance and calibration logs, often revealing a history of malfunctions and inaccurate readings. He can also subpoena the arresting officer to testify at the DMV hearing to elicit testimony about poor DUI training and mistakes in the investigation.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the DMV’s hearing officer takes the matter into consideration and later issues written findings. The decision usually gets mailed out in one to 30 days. If the DMV finds in your favor, no license suspension is imposed (though a DUI conviction in court could trigger a separate suspension). If the DMV finds against you, your license goes into suspension within a few days of receiving notice. In those cases, you can usually get a restricted license within 30 days, allowing you to drive to and from work-related activities and any court- or DMV-imposed alcohol program.

Sometimes, we can make arrangements to get you a restricted license right away. But you must heed the suspension while it’s in effect. Driving with a suspended license in California is a crime and can lead to jail time, a probation violation and a longer license suspension.

The DUI Court Case

Most drivers whose BAC allegedly exceeded 0.08% get charged with two misdemeanor crimes: DUI under Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Driving with Excessive BAC under Vehicle Code 23152(b). Your objective is to avoid a conviction for either of these offenses.

Your California DUI attorney most likely can attend all the DUI court proceedings on your behalf unless there’s a hearing where you have to testify or the case goes to trial. Most DUI cases may involve several court dates that can span over several months. During this time, your DUI attorney collects evidence, runs motions and negotiates with the judge and prosecutor to seek a dismissal or a reduction in the charges.

If a settlement is reached involving you pleading to a DUI or a lesser charge, this can be completed in one of two ways. You may come to court and plead in person before the judge. Or, in many cases, your California DUI lawyer can have you sign notarized documents (called a Tahl waiver) outside of court. Your attorney can then bring the documents to court and execute the plea on your behalf.

If no settlement can be reached, the DUI case will ultimately be set for a jury trial. Prosecutors and judges often give better deals after a case gets set for trial, as there may be more trials on the docket than courtrooms available to accommodate them. Also, problems in the state’s evidence become more apparent when a trial D.A. finally takes a hard look at the case.

Every DUI conviction carries a driver’s license suspension. However, it is usually possible for DUI defendants to continue driving without restrictions if they agree to get an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in their vehicles.

San Diego DUI Defense

Just like in any criminal case, the prosecution in a DUI case bears the burden of proving the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which means the prosecutor assigned to your case must establish each element of the crime to the extent that no reasonable person could reasonably doubt your guilt. The elements of a San Diego DUI case include the following:

  1. You drove a motor vehicle.
  2. When you drove, you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or you had a BAC of 0.08% or higher.

These may seem like fairly simple facts to prove, but that is not necessarily the case. No matter how irrefutable the prosecution’s evidence against you may seem, San Diego DUI cases are rarely hopeless. In fact, good defense attorneys routinely beat DUI charges, and the sooner you hire a lawyer to represent your case, the better your chance of successfully beating the charges.

It is important to remember that bad driving does not automatically mean you are driving under the influence. The objective symptoms of intoxication are not the same as those of DUI. Field sobriety tests (FSTs) do not accurately measure impairment and “mouth alcohol” can lead to a falsely high BAC result because it may have been “on the rise.” Additionally, your medical condition may have inflated your BAC result. Looking at what the officer did is also important because the arresting officer may not have followed the proper procedure.

Potential Defenses For Your DUI Case

Some possible strategies your defense attorney can use to challenge the prosecution’s evidence include the following:

  • Unlawful DUI arrest: If your DUI arrest was unlawful, you may be able to get your DUI charges dismissed.
  • Illegal DUI checkpoint: The police are required to follow certain strict guidelines in setting up and executing a DUI checkpoint. Any violation of these guidelines could be used as a defense in your DUI case.
  • Miranda violation: If the police question you about your DUI without reading you your Miranda rights, your attorney may be able to get your case dismissed.
  • Title 17 violation: Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations establishes certain regulations for how the government must conduct DUI breath, blood and urine tests. If your attorney can show that the police failed to properly collect or store evidence related to your test, the prosecution may not be able to use the chemical test results as evidence in your case.
  • False positive chemical test: DUI breath and blood tests are not always 100% accurate, and if your attorney can establish that your test result was a false positive, he or she may be able to get the DUI charges against you dropped.
  • Lack of probable cause: If the arresting officer did not have probable cause to stop you in the first place, your attorney may be able to get you acquitted.

How Will A DUI Affect Me?

If you are convicted of a DUI in San Diego, that conviction will remain on your driving record for 10 years and on your criminal record permanently. A DUI conviction can adversely affect your employment, professional licensing and other aspects of your personal and professional life. If you have been arrested for DUI in San Diego, the best way to protect your rights is to consult a criminal defense attorney with experience defending clients against DUI charges. Sean understands how devastating a DUI conviction can be for clients, which drastically changes based on their individual needs and case-specific circumstances. He will do everything he can to get the best possible outcome in your drunk driving case while making the process as easy and smooth as possible for every client.

Request a consultation today. Call the Law Office of Sean M. Hobson at 760-640-9777 or send an email.