If you are like most people, you wonder what happens if you or a friend is arrested for drunk driving? A Driving under the Influence (DUI) commonly referred to as a Drunk Driving is a criminal offense that involves two separate legal proceedings: the court trial and the DMV hearing. Last week we discussed DMV. Of course it goes without saying that you do not have to be drunk. You merely have to be Impaired or Buzzed and that happens if your blood alcohol level is .08 or higher.

It is important to be aware of the many parts of your proceedings starting with the Booking and Custody: Your driver's license will be confiscated and you will be taken to the police station where you will be offered another chemical test. You will be fingerprinted and photographed...locally at the Palm Desert Sheriff's Station and possibly taken to Banning. You may be released on your own recognizance (OR) or you may have to post bail.

These are the different stages:

Schedule a DMV Hearing: One of the first things you should do after you are released from custody is to schedule your DMV hearing or better yet hire an attorney to do so. You only have 10 days from the date of your arrest to make your appointment, which is your only opportunity to challenge the suspension of your license.

Retain an Attorney: The laws and proceedings for a drunk driving arrest can be complex, but the assistance of an experienced attorney will provide your case with the best chance to achieve a successful verdict. Your lawyer can thoroughly examine your charges and the circumstances that led to your arrest to determine if your rights were violated in any way and build a powerful defense against the prosecution's charges.

DMV Hearing: At your DMV hearing, you have the opportunity to present evidence of your own and subpoena witnesses, including the arresting officer. Your attorney can advocate for your license and driving privileges on your behalf, and the DMV will then rule on whether or not the officer had reasonable cause to take your license. In most cases the hearing officer who is both the prosecutor and judge, will rule against you. Though normally your lawyer will not have you testify this is a proceeding where your attorney can get an idea of how the witnesses against you will testify.

Arraignment: Your arraignment is the first court hearing and is when you are formally charged with driving under the influence. It is at this hearing that you will enter your plea of guilty or not guilty as the Indio court does not accept a no contest plea. It is the stage when you decide whether you will accept the charges or fight the allegations brought against you. We ALWAYS plead not guilty. If you insist on pleading guilty at this stage you probably do not need a lawyer........but that would be a mistake. By pleading guilty, your sentence will be immediately imposed by the judge. If you plead not guilty, the judge will set a future court for a settlement conference and later your case will be tried by a jury and judge if a plea cannot be worked out.

Plea Bargains and Pretrial Motions: After the arraignment your attorney can discuss the case with the District Attorney and possibly negotiate a plea bargain that is beneficial for you. If a plea bargain is not reached, your lawyer can file motions to suppress evidence. At the suppression hearing, you can fight to have certain parts or all of the prosecution's evidence thrown out if your rights were violated.

Trial: Your case will be tried by a judge and jury, and the prosecution and your lawyer will present evidence, their respective arguments, and cross-examine any witnesses. The information learned at the DMV hearing is essential for a positive result at this proceeding. The jury will then decide whether or not you are guilty of driving under the influence.

Sentencing: The court will impose your sentence after reaching a plea bargain or after you are convicted. The penalties will differ based on the circumstances of your case, but could include fines, jail time, community service, and alcohol education. In the Indio Court custody is usually a condition of a plea. However you and your lawyer can work out trading the custody for home arrest with an ankle bracelet.

Most new clients ask "you mean I could go to jail for a first offense DUI? I explain "Yes, in the Indio Court you will receive a period of time in Jail as part of your sentencing"! Most DA's will demand 10 days as a start on a first offense arrest with a low blood alcohol reading.

The bottom line is


Dale Gribow has been selected every year as a "TOP LAWYER" by Palm Springs LIFE, and is also AVVO PEER rated SUPERB by fellow attorneys. Gribow has been named Man of the Year 7 times by both The City of Hope and the City of Palm Desert. For more than 30 years, Dale Gribow Attorney at Law has been committed to protecting client's civil and constitutional rights. Regardless of whether the matter concerns a Serious Accident, DUI, Business, Real Estate or Estate Planning issue every case is diligently handled with the utmost of respect and care. The Gribow firm offers clients decades of experience and success, thus making Gribow the attorney of choice for thousands of clients. If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760-565-0533.