First of all, going through the process of an arrest is something no one wants to go through. While we have all seen it on TV, movies, or heard about it from others, it can be a traumatic experience. With that said, there are things that you should be aware of other than going to court on your own. If you were arrested in Sacramento and ended up at the main jail, you know how bad the holding cells were and probably still traumatized.
In Sacramento, most of the DUI arrests near downtown as well as most areas nearby, results in the California Highway Patrol being involved, especially near the Capitol.
Typically, the officer will say that there was some type of traffic violation or bad driving. Then the officer will ask if you have been drinking and then if you smell like "alcohol" or say "yes" or have "red eyes" because you are tired, it goes downhill from there. You are asked to get out of the car and “requested” to conduct field sobriety tests and submit to a preliminary alcohol screening test if the suspicion is alcohol.
If the officer’s suspicion is some type of drug, then perhaps there will be questions about the use of illegal as well as prescription medications/drugs. It may even be a combination of alcohol and medication/drugs.
If the officer believes that you have a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, he or she will make an arrest, take your license, and serve you with a pink temporary license (DMV form DS 367). The temporary license is good for 30 days unless you or your lawyer requests an administrative hearing within 10 days of the arrest. By doing so, the privilege to drive is not automatically suspended in 30 days. As of 2019, if the arrest is for suspicion of alcohol, there may be ways to avoid a no drive period if certain things are done.
It also allows an attorney who knows what he or she is doing to subpoena various items through the DMV administrative process that may help refute the legality of the stop or arrest as well as records that may help show that at the time of the stop, you were not at a .08 BAC or impaired.
In the worst case scenario, you need to know the timing and what needs to get done to get you back on the road as quickly as possible.
As anyone who has been arrested before knows and for individuals who have never had to go through the experience, within a few days of the arrest mailers often referred to as “jail mail” starts showing up offering to represent you and will probably last for a few weeks. There is no harm in calling and getting a free consultation but make sure that you are talking to the DUI attorney who will be representing you, not some non-attorney…ask!
Of course if you already know an experienced DUI lawyer who you feel comfortable with, great. Perhaps someone you know can refer you to a DUI attorney who they felt was great. DUI reviews are also a good place to research how a good DUI lawyer will work with you.
Today, there are lawyer review sites that can help you narrow down whom to call for a free initial consultation such as http://AVVO.com where you can see if an attorney has a discipline record (you can also check the California State Bar Website at http://www.calbar.ca.gov/ ) but reviews from past clients as well as their experience in their field.
The bottom line is that you should make a number of calls, have the lawyer talk to you, narrow down the list and then go meet them face to face to make sure that the fit is right for you and that he or she is someone whom you believe will be responsive to your calls and answer questions.
Start researching ASAP for an experienced DUI attorney since there is a 10 day time period to set a DMV administrative hearing if your license was taken away due to suspicion that the BAC was .08 or higher.