Common Questions After A DUI Arrest In California


For most of our clients arrested for DUI in California, their arrests represent their first ever contact with the criminal justice system. Given the involvement of both the criminal courts and California DMV in the DUI process, it is no surprise most people charged with first offense drunk driving charges find themselves scouring the internet to find out what they can expect moving forward and what they should be doing next. The following are some of the most common questions posed by our clients during their initial consultations following an arrest for DUI:

My car was impounded by the police….Can I get it out?

If you were arrested for a standard DUI, you will not have a problem getting your car released from impound after paying the associated storage/release fees and showing proof of insurance and ownership. It is important to note an impounded vehicle can be held on an “evidence hold” after a DUI arrest if the police are continuing an investigation into crimes in addition to your DUI charges, such as Hit & Run, Drug Possession with Intent to Sell, Transportation of Drugs, or Receiving/Possession of Stolen Property.

Is my driver’s license suspended now that I’ve been arrested for a DUI?

No. Your driving privilege following a DUI arrest will remain valid for the next 30 days in spite of the police confiscating your driver’s license. After you are released from jail, you will be issued a temporary license or “pink paper,” which will serve as both your proof of valid driving privilege and your formal notice to notify DMV within the next 10 calendar days to request a DMV hearing to contest the DMV’s independent suspension action. Once your DMV hearing request is made, the DMV’s administrative suspension would be “stayed” or delayed pending the outcome of your DMV hearing. Thus, your driving privilege would remain in effect until your hearing outcome, however long it takes.

Will my license be automatically suspended after a DUI arrest?

Not necessarily. In order for your driver’s license to be suspended, you must either be convicted in criminal court and/or lose your DMV hearing. After you’re released from custody, you’ll be issued a notice to appear in court along with your temporary license. The time between an arrest date and initial court appearance can vary. However, it is typically scheduled a month out or more. Therefore, a court conviction wouldn’t occur immediately nor is a conviction a certainty. The separate and independent administrative suspension imposed by DMV would only occur if you either failed to request your DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest, in which case your license would be suspended 30 days from your arrest date, or you lost your hearing. While a suspension of your driver’s license is a potential consequence of a DUI arrest, it is by no means immediate nor a certainty.

Do the police have to give me a copy of my DUI arrest report before my first court date?

No. The evidence against you, including the police report, will not be released until your arraignment hearing. Although you or your DUI lawyer may be able to obtain the reports and some evidence prior to your first court appearance as part of the independent DMV action, you nor your attorney can obtain a copy of the report by simply filing a request with the police department. In DUI cases involving an auto collision, a collision report can be obtained. However, the collision report would only include the details of the traffic accident, but no details regarding the DUI arrest and investigation.

What happens at my first court date?

The arraignment hearing or “first court date” is a fairly uneventful proceeding for the most part. Since California misdemeanor DUI arrests do not typically require bail to be posted, DUI arraignment hearings usually involve entering a “not guilty” plea and receiving “discovery” or the available evidence from the prosecution. The evidence will include your chemical test results (blood or breath), the police report, and a copy of the criminal complaint or indictment filed against you. Competent DUI lawyers will not plead you “guilty” or “no contest” on your first court date. Therefore, you can expect your case to span several pretrial court appearances over the course of several months or longer if your case proceeds to trial. In addition, your presence would not typically be required for your arraignment hearing as there would be no benefit to your attendance. However, if you’re not represented by a privately retained attorney, you would be mandated by California law to appear. In some circumstances, your presence in court for arraignment would be required. For example, if you’re facing a 2nd DUI in Orange County and were initially released from police custody without posting bail or on your own recognizance (O.R.), you would need to appear even if you’re privately represented by a DUI attorney as the judge would likely impose bail.

More questions? Call our Los Angeles DUI defense attorneys for a free consultation

California DUI law is complex as drunk driving defense practitioners must possess the experience and expertise to challenge evidence in both the criminal court and DMV proceedings. Due to the two aspects (criminal court and DMV) involved with a DUI in California, there are numerous potential outcomes. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, or Riverside counties, call our Southern California DUI attorneys at Sitkoff & Hanrahan, LLP today for a free case review at (866) 430-8383.

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