Available for free, confidential consultations 24/7 at (831) 431-0986

This website focuses on DUI Defense in Santa Cruz County. I have attempted to provide a resource for the Santa Cruz region in regards as what to expect in Court for a DUI and how to best handle it from here. My name is Michael Rehm; I am a DUI Attorney representing those charged with driving under the influence in Santa Cruz. I offer free, confidential consultations should you wish to skip the information below and just call, you can. The number is (831) 431-0986. The video below also will provide information on what to do after a DUI arrest, and what you can expect in the Santa Cruz County Court. The video will not discuss all of the applicable defenses in this area of law, for more information on defenses, read below, or call me at (831) 431-0986.

What Do I Need to Do Now?

First off, you need to understand the “10 Day Rule.” A HEARING MUST BE SET WITH THE CALIFORNIA DMV WITHIN 10 DAYS OF THE DUI ARREST. This needs to be done. Please understand, it just a matter of setting the hearing up within 10 days of the arrest. The hearing will not actually occur within 10 days, it just needs to be scheduled. It is simply a matter of calling the DMV. If you were arrested in Santa Cruz County, you must call the DMV Driver Safety Office located in San Jose. Their number is (408) 229-7100.

I provide this service for clients. In fact, most DUI Attorneys will do this for their clients. So, if you are planning on retaining counsel, ideally you do it within 10 days of the arrest. If you are not going to hire a Lawyer, or need to do it after 10 days from the arrest, make sure to accomplish this on your own. I provide more detailed information in the beginning of the video above which goes through exactly what you need to say and do when on the phone with the DMV.

There are multiple reasons why this is important:

(1)First off, it allows you to contest the DUI with the DMV. The DMV acts separately from the Court system. They are going to attempt to take your driver's license independently of what happens in Court. If you do not set the hearing within 10 days of the arrest, assuming there is enough evidence to show you were actually driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of a 0.08% or more, the DMV will automatically suspend your driver's license 30 days from the date of the arrest. If you set the hearing up, you will keep your driver's license through the outcome of the hearing, which can occur several months after the incident occurred.

(2)Second, when you set up the hearing with the DMV, the DMV will mail you the discovery they obtain when they receive it from law enforcement. Discovery includes the results of any chemical test you might have taken (blood, breath or urine), as well as the police report. For the most part, although not a certainty, you will receive all of this discovery before the first court date. It is generally the only way you can view the discovery prior to court. It is advantageous to be familiar with the discovery in the case before you walk into court.

There are other reasons why it is wise to set up the DMV hearing, but for now, just realize it is a crucial first step to a successful defense, often time's people have no idea it needs to be done, and it needs to be done.

What will happen in Court?

That depends on multiple factors. First off, the first court date is your arraignment. In a typical arraignment you will find out what you are being charged with. In the context of a DUI case, there are multiple charges that can apply, but in general, there are a couple of main ones. If this is a misdemeanor case, meaning no accident with injuries or a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense, the charges will generally be a violation of Vehicle Code 23152(a) and Vehicle Code 23152(b).
Vehicle Code 23152(a) is driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The District Attorney does not have to show you are at 0.08% or more in regards to this charge. If you are a 0.08% or more it will be taken into consideration in proving this charge, but it will not be the only factor. If you have no alcohol, and only drugs in your system, this charge will apply. Drugs include marijuana (even if prescribed) and other prescription drugs. A valid prescription is not a defense. It may help to show a lack of impairment, but it is not an affirmative defense. It is become extremely common to see Marijuana DUI's and the elderly arrested for a DUI because of their prescriptions, which they thought provided a defense to the charge.

Vehicle Code 23152(b) states that is unlawful to be driving with a 0.08% Blood Alcohol Level or more. This charge seems straightforward, but the real issue with this charge is all of the elements have to be concurrent. Meaning, the prosecution has to show the driving and the 0.08% or more happened at the same time. If you provide a blood sample or a breathalyzer 30 minutes after you are pulled over, that only gives an indication of what your blood alcohol level was at the time of driving, not what it actually was. Keep in mind if this is drug only case, this charge will not be there.

If you are being charged with a felony, the charges will either be the ones listed above, with your prior convictions alleged, or it will be a violation of Vehicle Code 23153(a) and Vehicle Code 23153(b). These charges relate to the two charges discussed above with additional elements of the offense. In general, the additional elements are that another party was injured, and that you caused the injury because you neglected some legal duty you had. Basically, you were driving under the influence, you caused an accident, and that accident caused an injury to someone else. But let me caution that it can be more detailed than that, and these charges are extremely serious, especially when charged as a felony. Keep in mind that DUI with Injury can also be charged as a Misdemeanor (which is a plea bargain goal if you are charged with a felony), and that generally is based on the severity of the injury. These cases require an attorney, whether that attorney is a public defender or a private attorney, I highly advise getting help.

For the remainder of this section, I will reference cases where it is a misdemeanor offense. Misdemeanor and Felony offenses differ in the route they go through the Court system. If you are being charged with a felony call me at (831) 431-0986 for a free consultation as to what you can expect.

On a misdemeanor DUI offense, there are several different possibilities. First off, you should realize that if you hire myself or any other Santa Cruz DUI Lawyer, your attorney can and most likely will appear for you at the first court date. Generally at that court date, the case will be continued for a further court date, giving us the opportunity to get additional evidence in the case. As discussed earlier, the DMV will usually get you the police report and the chemical tests results, but in order to get any audio/video evidence (including the patrol car video) and the calibration records of the breathalyzer machine (records showing that the machine is actually working properly), another court date is set, and the District Attorney should obtain that discovery for you. In my experience, this is what occurs. If you do not have an attorney at the first court date, the Court will usually ask you whether you want to represent yourself or have the public defender appointed to your case (assuming you are low income). I always advise to ask for a public defender if you do not have a private attorney. Do not go it alone, there are too many pitfalls, and it is totally unnecessary considering you have a right to an attorney if you cannot afford one on your own (something that was not always the case.)

As a DUI Attorney, if I have already obtained the police report from the DMV before the first court date, and I am already aware of certain issues that I want to challenge, I can set it for the applicable motion in court at the arraignment. These motions include, but are not limited to, a Motion to Suppress and a Motion to Strike the Prior Conviction.

A Motion to Suppress challenges illegally obtained evidence, such as when the police pulled you over without a legal reason. A Motion to Strike a Prior Conviction requests that one or all of your prior convictions not be considered in the current case. There are multiple reasons why these motions can apply, but the results can be crucial in your case. Obviously, if you are a multiple offender, you want to change that fact in the eyes of the court, especially for sentencing purposes. If you file a Motion to Suppress, it is obviously advantageous if you can have the chemical test result, whether it is blood, breath or urine, thrown out of court.

This is the process of Court. DUI Lawyers obtain the evidence and then execute a plan of attack based on the evidence. The evidence includes the chemical test, the police report, witness statements, any independent surveillance footage, and of course, your testimony. Ideally, if you set up the DMV hearing within the 10 days, you can contest the same issues at the DMV hearing while all of this is going in court. If the evidence shows you have nothing but a damage control case that is the type of attack I will pursue. Every case is unique, and every case should be negotiated and challenged based on the evidence of the case.

In Summary:

Either hire a competent attorney, or set the DMV hearing on your own, and request the Public Defender in Court. Stay as positive as possible. I offer free, confidential consultations at (831) 431-0986. Good luck.

Michael Rehm provides representation throughout Santa Cruz County. This includes Watsonville, Santa Cruz, Capitola, Scotts Valley, Aptos, Ben Lomand, Live Oak, Soquel. The Law Office of Michael Rehm is not limited to Santa Cruz County; Mr. Rehm also practices DUI Defense throughout California.