The leventhal firm

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)


A DUI arrest can throw your life into chaos, with license suspensions, DMV proceedings, and multiple court dates; and, a conviction for VC 23152 or VC 23153 will result in thousands of dollars in fines, hours spent at mandatory classes, and suspension of your privilege to drive from 6 months to 5 years. Felony DUI charges can result in far worse consequences, including a California state prison sentence. You should not deal with this alone, and you do not have to spend a minute worrying about how to defend your DUI. Our highly experienced criminal defense lawyers understand DUI charges, and will guide and protect you every step of the way. We have extensive experience defending against misdemeanor and felony DUI charges in Los Angeles County –whether you have been accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription drugs, or any combination; our lawyers will fight for your rights and get the best outcome for you.

California DUI Charges:

California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) makes it unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while “under the influence” of an alcoholic beverage. This DUI charge is typically proven by the officer’s opinion that while you were driving, your mental/physical abilities were so impaired by alcohol that you were not able to drive safely. Evidence of traffic violations, collisions, and your inability to perform “divided attention tasks” as demonstrated by field sobriety tests can bolster the officer’s opinion.

California Vehicle Section 23152(b) makes it unlawful to drive while your blood alcohol level equals or exceeds .08 percent. Typically, this DUI charge is proven by a breath test reading or an analysis of your blood. It does not matter whether you were actually impaired or unable to drive safely when we discuss VC 23152(b) or the “per se” DUI charge. You are guilty of this misdemeanor if your level was at or above .08, whether you were sober or not.

California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f) and VC 23152(g) make it unlawful to drive a motor vehicle while “under the influence” of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol, respectively. These DUI charges require an expert criminal defense; and our Los Angeles and Pasadena DUI lawyers are up to date on the scientific principles that underly DUI matters. Many prosecutors try to use performance on the field sobriety tests to support their opinion that you were under the influence of drugs and unable to drive safely. Prosecutors argue that physical signs of having taken a drug, such as rapid heart rate or dilated pupils, equate to impairment. Our DUI attorneys know that there is no science supporting the use of FSTs in drug DUI cases. We vigorously fight the conclusion that detection of drugs in your system or signs of being under the influence of a drug mean that the drugs made you an unsafe driver. As of now, California does not have a “per se” drug DUI offense, primarily because there is not enough validated scientific research to equate impairment with a particular nanogram level of drug metabolite in someone’s system.

Services Upon Arrest for DUI:

DUI attorneys at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM begin defending you from the time of arrest – that’s when the consequences start kicking in. If you wait to call a lawyer, you risk unnecessary suspension of your driver’s license, loss of crucial evidence, the inability to influence the prosecutor’s filing decision, and/or a possible arrest warrant.

Our Pasadena and Los Angeles based criminal defense and DUI attorneys put our clients first – we will meet with you right away and hear every detail of your DUI arrest while it is fresh in your mind. We will also conduct a personalized medical interview, as there are many conditions and illnesses that can produce artificially high blood/breath alcohol readings or mimic symptoms of drug/alcohol use. During our meeting, we will let you know what the criminal and administrative processes will look like for your particular charges and talk about how we can best defend your VC 23152 and VC 23153. It is our goal to put our clients’ minds at ease, and criminal defense attorneys at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM have the trial experience and knowledge to answer all of your DUI questions.

If you are arrested and brought to court in custody with unaffordable bail, we will first analyze the complaint and arrest reports for probable cause. If the police did not have probable cause to arrest you, or if the arrest reports do not properly support the charges, we will move to have your case immediately dismissed under Penal Code Section 991. If the DUI case proceeds, we will then present evidence to the judge of your community ties and proof of employment, and we will fight for your release. If you are out of custody and you are given a court date months away, THE LEVENTHAL FIRM Los Angeles and Pasadena DUI lawyers get to work reviewing and preserving evidence and preparing for the DMV Administrative Per Se (“APS”) hearing. These issues are time-sensitive! Our Los Angeles and Pasadena criminal defense attorneys know to request the DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest. We get court orders immediately to preserve “black boxes” containing information from car accidents, blood samples, and audio recordings, all of which have the potential to be degraded or be destroyed.

The criminal defense attorneys at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM also monitor the status of your DUI case, as it may not be filed before your criminal court date. This does not mean that your case was “dropped!” Where the police have taken a sample of your blood for drug or alcohol analysis, your DUI case may not be filed until the prosecution’s crime lab has completed the analysis. In small jurisdictions like Glendale or Burbank, the police are busier, and can take months before submitting all their reports for a DUI drug case. We will stay on top of the case and make court appearances, protecting you from warrants issued without notice. Generally speaking, the prosecution has one to three years from the time of the arrest to file – the statute of limitations here depends upon the nature of your DUI charge.

DMV Admin Per Se License Suspension Hearing for DUI:

When our Los Angeles DUI attorneys take on your defense, we will represent you at the DMV hearing, which is separate from the criminal court hearing. At your DUI arrest, the police officer will usually have given you a pink order of suspension of your privilege to drive. The license suspension will take effect after 30 days unless you request a DMV APS hearing within 10 days of your arrest. This is why it is vital that you call the Los Angeles and Pasadena DMV license lawyers at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM as soon as possible. We will take care of the long wait and paperwork associated with the DMV. We will arrange the hearing and prepare for it as if it is a full blown trial.
At the APS (“admin per se”) hearing, the DMV must prove that the DUI arrest was lawful. They must also prove that you were driving a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of over 0.08 percent or that you refused to take a chemical test. Not only is this a chance to prevent the suspension of your driver’s license, but it is also the first opportunity to question the arresting DUI officer about her opinions and observations. Our Los Angeles and Pasadena DUI attorneys will use this recorded testimony to contradict, or impeach, the officer at trial.

DUI Pretrial Services:

In California DUI cases, our lawyers double-check every step of the police investigation and protect you against violations of your rights. Here are some of the steps we take:

1. Review all reports in your case – crime and arrest reports, DUI investigation reports, and traffic collision investigations. Our expert DUI lawyers can identify in an instant when reports show a botched investigation. Improper collection of evidence, misreading of admonitions, or failing to go “by the book” when giving sobriety tests are all factors that cast doubt on the investigation and DUI charges.
2. Obtain additional evidence. We will subpoena patrol car audio and video recordings, officers’ personal audio recordings, officers’ computer entries and radio traffic, for every officer who came on scene or participated in your DUI investigation and arrest. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers go above and beyond, uncovering evidence that may not be mentioned in the police reports.
3. Have an independent lab re-test all blood results. We don’t rely on the prosecutor’s proof or the Sheriff’s crime lab.
4. Gather the records for breathalyzer machines: Datamaster, EC/IR, or PAS. If the prosecution is going to rely on a machine’s printout to prove that your blood alcohol level was over .08%, that machine needs to be properly maintained and calibrated.
5. Consult with our own Los Angeles expert witnesses: toxicologists, medical professionals, and psychopharmacologists. These DUI experts will review the evidence and give their own opinion as to whether you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of driving.
6. Move to dismiss your DUI case if the police committed misconduct or evidence was seized without a warrant or probable cause.

DUI Trial Services:

Every criminal defense attorney at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM has successfully tried numerous DUI cases before a jury. Trials are often the only way to avoid a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Getting a “Not Guilty” verdict from a jury trial is the only way to reverse a DMV license suspension and often it is the only way to avoid a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Our DUI defense is systematic and thorough. We begin with a series of motions under Evidence Code Section 402 to exclude the prosecution’s evidence. If a field sobriety test was not conducted according to NHTSA guidelines – we will ask to suppress it. If your statements were taken in violation of Miranda, we will ask to suppress them. And if the officers did not comply with Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations when testing your blood, breath, or urine, we will ask to exclude those test results from evidence too.
We use carefully designed jury questions to select fair jurors. The LEVENTHAL FIRM’S Pasadena AND Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers know how to expose every mistake in the prosecution’s case through careful argument and precise cross-examination. And we also present our own evidence and witnesses when a case calls for it. If the jury returns with a guilty verdict, we continue your DUI defense at the sentencing hearing, objecting to unnecessary terms and unconstitutional conditions. We will also help you navigate through your DUI probation obligations, if any.

DUI Felony Charges – Special Services:

DUI Causing Injury – VC 23153
If you were driving and are alleged to have injured someone else while under the influence of drugs or alcohol in California, you may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor under California Vehicle Code section 23153. Our Los Angeles and Pasadena DUI attorneys fight “DUI Causing Injury” charges with a roster of experts. The events alleged in VC 23153 cases generally involve a traffic accident. Our DUI attorneys, investigators, and experts work together to photograph and investigate the scene as soon as possible, documenting present road conditions and signage. We review the traffic collision reports and consult with our own expert accident reconstruction scientists, who analyze the black box data from the cars as well as all other evidence, to determine all the factors contributing to the accident. The very thorough and creative criminal defense attorneys at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM also subpoena claims files from automobile insurance companies – another source of evidence separate from the prosecution team. Another expert we frequently consult in DUI Causing Injury cases is a biomechanics specialist to review the accident reports and medical records, determining the cause and extent of any injuries.

Prior DUI Convictions
If you have prior DUI convictions, you may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor, depending upon when those crimes were committed and the number and type of DUI convictions. DUI convictions can be alleged for up to 10 years, and may qualify as a prior even when they occur outside California. When our Los Angeles and Pasadena criminal defense attorneys receive a case with prior DUI convictions for VC 23152, VC 23153, VC 23103, PC 191.5, or PC 192, we begin a careful investigation into the validity of these convictions. The prior conviction may be invalid if, for example, you were not represented by an attorney or other constitutional rights were violated. In order to protect your rights and prevent unjust sentencing enhancements, the criminal defense attorneys at THE LEVENTHAL FIRM review the court file and documents and transcripts from your plea and sentencing proceedings in every prior conviction alleged. Our DUI lawyers fight for you, bringing a motion during a special proceeding to strike every defective or unconstitutional prior conviction.