Top 10 things to remember if stopped by the cops for DUI in Simi Valley:

Attorney Mindy H. McQueen can advise you what not to say if stopped for a DUI.

  1. DO NOT tell the cop that you are taking any kind of medicine (that could enhance the effects of the alcohol like Vicodin, Soma, sleeping pills, etc.).
  2. If you have marijuana, DO NOT think that telling the officer that you have a MJ card will make everything OK.  He will likely turn you in to the DMV and you may end up facing a Reexamination, where you could be facing long-term loss of your license.
  3. DO NOT tell the cop that you have not been drinking if you have been.  He will easily smell it, and then your credibility may become an issue if you testify at the DMV hearing or at trial.
  4. DO offer an explanation that explains your bad driving (if that’s why she stopped you): if you swerved because you were fiddling with your radio dials, ipod, iphone, etc., tell her.
  5. DO NOT tell the cop that you had “a couple of beers a few hours ago” because this will allow the DA to come in and argue that you were in the elimination phase (as opposed to the absorption phase).  Tell him that you just recently finished knocking back a few and that you do not feel the effects of the alcohol at all.
  6. DO NOT blow into the hand-held machine at the scene unless you truly did finish knocking back a few drinks in the last 20 minutes.  It is GENERALLY better to wait and opt for the blood test.  Exceptions:  You must blow into the hand-held machine if you are under the age of 21, are on probation for DUI, or if a judge has ordered that you submit to a breath test when requested to by a peace officer.
  7. DO NOT agree to take the FSTs.  The tests are incredibly subjective, and most people will do poorly due to being overweight, being 65 years of age or older, or because of various injuries or health conditions.
  8. DO NOT admit to feeling the effects of the alcohol.
  9. DO NOT fall for it when they tell you that you’ll get out of jail quicker, not be arrested, etc. if you blow rather than give blood.
  10. DO NOT REFUSE TO SUBMIT TO A CHEMICAL TEST.  If you have a fear of needles, then do agree to blow at the station (but not at the scene unless you JUST finished drinking a few drinks).  Refusing to submit to a chemical test will result in at least a 1 year revocation of your license (and the penalties go up from there), with NO restriction eligibility.  Worse yet, the cops will do a forced blood draw if you do refuse in Simi Valley—so they are going to get the blood sample no matter what.  Do yourself a favor and avoid  the enhanced penalties you will face with a refusal.

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Most DUIs are Misdemeanor Offenses, but Attorney Mindy H. McQueen knows that a DUI is a Felony in Simi Valley under the following circumstances.

  1. There was an accident and someone (other than you) was injured (the injuries generally need to be more serious than soft tissue injuries. These cases can often be reduced to a Misdemeanor at the time of sentencing in Ventura.
  2. You have a prior conviction for a felony DUI within the last 10 years.
  3. You have 3 or more DUI convictions within the last 10 years.

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» View the penalty chart for DUI in Simi Valley

* Simi Valley Superior Court routinely imposes the maximum fine and tacks on additional fees and assessments such that the total fine on a first DUI is approximately $3,500. Monthly installments are allowed.

** If under the age of 21, the license suspension will last at least one year pursuant to “zero tolerance” law.

*** When probation is imposed (aka “sentence suspended”) the actual jail time is generally 2 days for a first offense, 30 days for a 2nd offense (45 days for a 2nd offense if on probation for a prior DUI in Simi Valley), and 120 days and up on a 3rd offense. There are often alternatives to jail: work release (a community service program) and work furlough. I can help you obtain these alternatives to jail.

Additional Penalties if:

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If you have no money to hire an attorney, you may qualify for a court-appointed attorney (public defender). You are eligible for a public defender only if you are considered indigent. Indigent means your and your spouse’s combined income and assets are below a certain level. In Simi Valley you have to pay some money if you use the public defender, but the court retains some discretion to assess fees.

One thing to keep in mind is that the court-appointed attorneys will not be able to assist you with what many consider the most daunting aspect of a DUI arrest – the DMV-generated driving privilege suspension. Since the DMV action against your driving privilege is civil rather than criminal in nature, the public defenders are not able to assist you with the DMV (APS) hearing.

Learn more about Attorney Mindy H. McQueen.

Q. Why should I see an attorney about my DUI?
A. A DUI is a felony or misdemeanor, not just a traffic ticket. If you are convicted of DUI, there are mandatory legal penalties. Your driver’s license is automatically suspended unless you fight, and your insurance rates may skyrocket. If you hold a professional license, the conviction must usually be reported to the licensing agency. In short, you have a lot to lose. So it makes good sense to see if you can defend yourself against these charges.

Q. What should I look for in a defense attorney?
A. Most attorneys do not practice criminal law; even if they do, you need an attorney who specializes in DUI to defend your rights. When you are looking for a DUI defense attorney, you should evaluate the initial interview carefully. You should feel comfortable with the attorney and confident in his or her ability to handle this type of case. When you have questions, make sure they are answered to your satisfaction. Some firms use paralegals and marketing representatives to interview clients. Be sure you talk directly with any  DUI defense attorney you are considering.

Q. Could I represent myself in court or before the DMV?
A. Do-it-yourself legal work doesn’t make much sense. DUI is a criminal matter and there are stiff penalties, particularly if your case is mishandled. Take it seriously and the DMW issues do not pertain to how badly you need to drive, so don’t think you will cussed on your own with that appearance.

Q. What if I can’t, or don’t want to, appear in court?
A. I can appear for you in court in most cases. You don’t have to be present.

Q. Can I discuss my case with family members, friends, or coworkers?
A. No, don’t. If you discuss your arrest with others, they can be called as witnesses by the prosecution. Your attorney can’t be a witness against you, and everything you tell your attorney, with rare exception, is confidential. Telling people about your arrest can damage your reputation, upset your loved ones, and may jeopardize your job. You should discuss your case only with your lawyer.

Q. Can you guarantee results?

A. Beware of any attorney who guarantees results. Such aggressive advertising is almost always misleading, replete with half-truths, and unbecoming of the legal profession. In the law, as in most areas of life, absolute certainty does not exist. However, the best results in any case always come from a good professional relationship with a competent attorney.

Q. Can I get my driver’s license back?
A. Possibly. Each case has its own special facts, and there are valid legal defenses that can be used at your DMV hearing to protect your driving privileges. One or more defenses may be present in your case.

Q. What is the DMV hearing about?

A. The DMV has the right to suspend or revoke your driving privilege if you don’t challenge the action. To do this, the hearing officer decides whether the police officer had a legal right to stop you and a legal right to arrest you. Then, depending on the test you took, they also decide whether your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit. Hearings for test refusal cases are handled in much the same way.

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A DUI arrest does not mean you are guilty. Contrary to popular opinion, police officers make mistakes. Moreover, the hyper-technical laws surrounding the regulation of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) are rife with ambiguities, and these laws are anything but straightforward. Consequently, unless you are an attorney who specializes in defending those accused of DUI, you are probably not qualified to judge whether you have one or more defenses to the charges.

You owe it to yourself to become educated about what to expect and, just as importantly, what to do about it. Much depends on whether you are actually convicted of drunk driving, as opposed to just arrested. In other words, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Not only could you suffer a criminal conviction, a jail sentence, a hefty fine, a lengthy DUI education course and up to five years of probation; you would also have to contend with the associated insurance premium hikes. A typical DUI arrest results in two legal proceedings: One against the person (aka “the criminal case”) and one against the person’s privilege to drive in the state of California. There are many defenses to both of these legal proceedings, and surprisingly few of those address the basic question of “how drunk were you?”.

Many traffic stops are illegal

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution was intended by our Founding Fathers, and those who enacted the Bill of Rights, to prevent the United States of America from becoming a police state. Many people think that police states are something that happen only in the movies, futuristic novels, or in other countries. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Almost any society can become a police state overnight and, arguably, the United States already has. Nevertheless, here there are mechanisms available to anyone accused of crime to ensure that their fundamental rights to privacy, against warrantless search and seizure, to counsel and against self-incrimination have been honored. However, it is not enough in most cases to simply claim that your rights have been violated or denied. Vindicating these rights requires a skillful attorney and the right facts. If a traffic stop was not based upon a warrant or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, the entire case must be thrown out. To find out whether your case involved an illegal traffic stop, you should speak with an attorney who specializes in DUI defense right away.

DUI Arrestees Have 10 Days

November 15, 2010

By state law, everyone who is arrested for driving a motor vehicle in the state of California with .08 % of alcohol by weight in their blood, or greater, will have their privilege to drive in the state suspended for at least four months. This law is known as the Administrative Per Se suspension, or the “stop and snatch” law. The length of any such suspension will vary depending on such factors as your age, whether you have previously been convicted of DUI, and whether you refused to take a chemical test (or failed to complete one). With the right legal counsel, you can greatly diminish the probability that your privilege to drive will be suspended for any length of time.

A DUI arrestee only has 10 days from the date of the arrest to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles of their desire to contest the Administrative Per Se driving privilege suspension. If the DUI arrestee fails to notify the DMV of their desire to contest the suspension, then they will have to stop driving as of the 31st day after arrest, period. The suspension, in such cases, will remain in effect indefinitely or until the arrestee has gone without driving for at least 30 days (on a first time DUI), and jumps through a number of hoops (i.e., enrolling in a DUI class, getting a special insurance policy called an “SR-22” and paying a re-issue fee).

Contesting the suspension involves an administrative hearing, either in-person or telephonic, which lasts about an hour and is held before an employee of the DMV who acts as both the prosecutor and judge. It is a good idea to be represented at any such hearing by a qualified DUI defense lawyer as the defenses and the evidentiary issues are technical and complex evidentiary issues are involved. Simply pleading to the hearing officer that you need a driving privilege to get to work will not be enough.

The DMV is so back-logged that the average wait time for a hearing and a decision is a couple of months; moreover a stay on the automatic suspension of a valid license can be obtained until a decision is made. So another reason why a DUI arrestee may choose to contest their driving privilege suspension is to delay the effective date of the suspension for several months. While the goal for most people is to beat the suspension, some simply need more time to prepare to go without driving for at least 30 days. TIP: While you may certainly notify the DMV of your desire for a hearing and a delay of the imposition of the suspension without the assistance of a lawyer. It is better if the attorney you retain does it for you. Otherwise it can later cause scheduling problems. I prefer to notify the DMW on behalf of my client; for assistance call me at (805) 482-1961