TYPICALLY ASKED QUESTIONS
There is no one lawyer who is “the best” at any case. Chico has many experienced attorneys who do good work for their clients. There are, however, ways to tell whether a specific lawyer knows how to handle your case and whether you should trust them with your future. Being charged with any crime is a serious, often life-changing moment, and the repercussions can last for decades. That’s why it’s so important to find a lawyer who has the right experience and knowledge to get you the best outcome possible.
5 Warning Signs of Bad DUI Lawyers
Just because a lawyer says they take certain cases does not mean they are the right lawyer for you.
Here are some warning signs you can look for when considering a DUI lawyer:
- They promise they can win. No lawyer can predict the outcome of a case and even the best lawyer does nothave total control over what will happen. A good lawyer will tell you what is most likely and they will have a track record to back it up. It is illegal and highly unprofessional to guarantee an outcome.
- They say they are the only person who can help you. This is the sign of strong-arm sales tactics, not legal expertise. Talented attorneys speak of their competitors with respect and can clearly explain what they do differently that sets them apart.
- They cannot reference other cases like yours that they have won. This is a huge red flag. Tell the lawyer about the specifics of your case and ask if they have dealt with this before. An experienced lawyer has seen these situations before.
- They take any type of case they can get. The law is very complex and lawyers can spend years working on cases before they become highly knowledgeable. That means you should seek out someone who works exclusively on your type of case. The lawyer who also takes personal injury claims, divorces, or robbery cases is probably not the right lawyer for you.
- They don’t listen to you. The best lawyers are compassionate and attentive when you talk. They want to understand your specific case and help you succeed. If a lawyer doesn’t seem to listen to you, you can probably find a better one. Ultimately, they play a role in your future and if the lawyer doesn’t seem to care about your future, then you can most likely find someone who cares.
You will lose your license either:
- 30 days after your arrest, if the DMV suspends it, or
- On the day of your sentencing, if you are convicted of DUI
California’s DUI laws are complicated, because there are two different ways to lose your license. Technically, all license suspensions are handled by the DMV, but they can go ahead and suspend your license on their own (known as administrative suspension or per se license suspension), or they can wait until the courts convict you.
By default, the DMV will automatically suspend your license 30 days after your arrest unless you take action to stop it.
The 30-Day Deadline for Administrative Suspension
When you are arrested for DUI, police will take away your license and give you a piece of paper that serves as a temporary license. This temporary license will expire after 30 days, and at that time the DMV will suspend your license unless you fight it. You must file a request for a hearing within 10 days of an arrest (our office can do this for you if we are your attorney), or the license suspension stands. The easiest way to do this is to ask a DUI lawyer to request the hearing for you. Our office has plenty of experience and can handle this for you.
Once you request a hearing, it’s possible that you’ll still end up facing administrative suspension—but it’s far less likely. This is because:
- Your lawyer can represent you at the hearing, and can often convince the DMV not to suspend your license at all. And,
- The hearing is often scheduled many months in the future—so you may end up resolving your case at court before the hearing ever happens at all.
The Timeline for License Suspension from the Courts
If you win your DMV hearing, you can keep your license until and unless you are convicted by the court. This can be a matter of just a few months, if your case moves quickly, or it can be much longer. But the court cannot order your license taken away for your DUI until you are actually convicted.
This means you have the chance to avoid losing your license altogether. This can happen if:
- Your lawyer bargains the case down to a lesser charge, instead of DUI
- Your lawyer attacks enough of the prosecutor’s evidence that the case is dropped or dismissed
- Your lawyer wins your case for you
Letting you keep your license should be your lawyer’s highest priority, along with avoiding jail time. These are the two most difficult penalties for most people to face.
Have you been charged with DUI? We can represent YOU. Call for a FREE consultation. Call us at 530-580-8529
One of the most dreaded penalties of a DUI conviction is having your driver’s license suspended. It’s almost impossible to get around without driving. We use our cars to go to and from work, errands, and important appointments like doctor visits, seeing family and going to school. A single DUI conviction can take all of that away.
California does allow restricted driving privilegesfor many DUI offenders. A restricted driver’s license lessens the burden of having your license suspended. It will typically allow you to go to and from your job, potentially helping keep your life on track. But getting your restricted driver’s license can be confusing. Here’s some information on the process.
How to Get Your Restricted Driver’s License
- Determine if you are eligible for a restricted driver’s license. Not everyone convicted of DUI is eligible to receive restricted driving privileges. In some cases, the judge may have directly told you at sentencing that you can apply for a restricted license. But in many cases the judge doesn’t address this. Generally, the only people not eligible for a restricted license are drivers who
- already had their license suspended or revoked when they were pulled over for DUI,
- refused to take a chemical test after being arrested for DUI.
If you aren’t in those categories than you should be eligible.
- Wait 30 days oruntil your “hard suspension” period is over. There is always a waiting period before you’re eligible for your restricted driver’s license. For most DUI offenders, this period is just 30 days, as mandated by the DMV. However, in some cases the judge will impose a period of “hard suspension” as part of your criminal sentence. Hard suspension is time where you cannot drive at all. All sentences for a second, third, or subsequent DUI within a 10-year period will include a hard suspension. You can either wait until the hard suspension is over, or in some cases shorten it by agreeing to install an ignition interlock device in every car you own.
- Enroll in DUI school. The DMV will not agree to give you any driving privileges unless you’re complying with the terms of your sentence. The most basic requirement you must meet is to enroll in DUI traffic school, a series of classes that teach you to drive safely. Note that you only have to enrollin the classes to get your restricted driver’s license; you don’t have to wait until you Ask your DUI school program for proof of enrollment. You’ll need this document when you apply for your license.
- Enroll in other court-ordered programs as required. Some DUI sentences require you enroll in other programs as well. These may include addiction treatmentsuch as an AA group, a drug addiction support group or rehab. Again, you must enroll in this treatment program before you apply for your restricted license, but you don’thave to wait to complete it. Ask for proof of enrollment.
- Get the right car insurance. You must show “proof of financial responsibility” before you are allowed to drive. This basically just means proof of adequate insurance. DUI offenders need a higher level of car insurance than other drivers, which costs more. Talk to your car insurance company and tell them you need a form SR-22 for the DMV. More details on the SR-22 are available here.
- Apply for your temporary, restricted driver’s license. Once you have completed all the steps above you can apply for your restricted driver’s license. You can do this at your local DMV office. Bring the proof of enrollment and the SR-22 and any court documents about your sentence. You will have to pay a $125 fee (or $100 if you were under 21 when DUI occurred).
Once you are issued your restricted driver’s license, you can only legally drive under certain circumstances. Typically these include:
- To and from court-ordered treatment like DUI school.
- To and from work.
- During work, if and only if you are required to drive as part of your job.
Note that these steps only apply for personal driving privileges. There is no way to get a restricted Commercial Driver’s License.
Fight to Keep Your License
Getting a restricted driver’s license takes time and isn’t an option for every DUI offender. The best way to handle it is to never be convicted of DUI in the first place. Let us help you! Additionally, our office can help you apply for a restricted license! Call us at 530-580-8529
If you’re a licensed professional in California – like a doctor or teacher or real estate broker – your livelihood may be in jeopardy for sustaining certain kinds of criminal convictions.
The good news is that professionals have vested interests in their licenses. The board, department or commission that regulates you can’t just take away your license without giving you a chance for a hearing.
Our Defense Lawyers can help. We represent people accused of crimes and have experience helping professionals to avoid losing their licenses in disciplinary actions. We can help you understand what is going on and get the full benefit of your rights.
This article is about hearings in criminal conviction-related professional discipline cases. If you have questions after reading it, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.
Criminal convictions can impact licenses for the following particular professions:
California State Employees
Real Estate Brokers
When it comes to professionals and criminal convictions in California, however, even if you’ve turned things around, fulfilled your probation terms, gotten your case dismissed, etc., past convictions can continue to haunt you.
If you were convicted of a crime that your regulatory board or department considers substantially related to your fitness to do your job, it may be able to revoke or suspend your professional license.
If you don’t hold a license but have applied for one, you might have received a statement of issues.
We’ll look at examples of accusation and statement of issues cases in minute, but in the meantime, take note:
- Don’t panic, all is not over and done with. You may have defenses that can make the case go away or minimize the extent of discipline.
- Seriously consider hiring an attorney. You have the right to an attorney (at your expense) in disciplinary proceedings. A lawyer might be able to negotiate a favorable settlement with the licensing authority or persuade an administrative law judge to see things in your favor. A lawyer can help you see the “big picture” and assess how different strategies might lead to different outcomes.
- Keep on top of deadlines and be vigilant. Whether or not you opt for a lawyer, there are decisions you must make and deadlines you must comply with in order to fight your case. For example, you must notify the board within 15 days of receiving an accusation in order to preserve your right to a hearing. If you ignore the accusation and fail to respond, the licensing authority might go ahead and revoke your license in a default decision.
Just like the nurse and registered dental assistant applicant in our above examples, you are entitled to an administrative hearing in your discipline case in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act.
Administrative hearings serve as a “check” on overzealous enforcement efforts. They help ensure an appropriate balance is struck between your right to earn a living and the public’s right to be protected from possibly dangerous professionals.
The administrative hearing process is managed by the Office of Administrative Hearings (the “OAH”), which handles over 10,000 cases a year.
An OAH administrative hearing is like a mini court trial, with opening and closing statements, evidence and witnesses. Hearings take place in special courtrooms in Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego.
An administrative law judge (the “ALJ”) presides over the proceedings.10
The ALJ is independent from the licensing authority that is trying to take away (or deny) your license. The ALJ is an experienced lawyer whose job it is to ensure you get a fair trial.
Whether you retain counsel or not, a lawyer (most likely from the California Attorney General’s Office) will make the case for the licensing authority. If you decide to go it alone, you might want to check out OAH’s webpage on “Representing Yourself“.
There is no jury in an administrative hearing.
Burden of proof
As you may know from personal experience (or from television), in a criminal case the prosecutor can only win if he or she proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime.
The “burden of proof” – the measure by which a licensing authority must make its case – is less in an administrative case than in a criminal case because less is at stake. Nobody is going to jail.
In the case of an accusation, where a licensing authority is trying to take something away from you, the licensing authority generally must prove by “clear and convincing” evidence that you are not fit to have your professional license.
In the case of a statement of issues, however, the burden of proof shifts to you. You must prove that you are fit for the license in question.
Lots of work happens before the actual hearing. It is during this time that parties gather evidence for their cases.
The discovery process is not as complicated in an administrative hearing context as it is in other kinds of trials.13 But you still get access to key materials like:
- the names of witnesses the licensing authority intends to call to testify
- copies of statements relevant to the licensing authority’s case
- investigative reports made by or on behalf of the licensing authority
Evidence and testimony
The rules regarding evidence and testimony are also less technical in administrative hearings. But you can introduce relevant evidence, call and examine witnesses and cross-examine opposing witnesses.15
You have the right to testify in your own behalf, but even if you choose not to testify the licensing authority can still call you to testify “as if under cross-examination.”16
It is often useful in conviction-related disciplinary hearings to present evidence showing
- that your conviction was for a crime that is not substantially related to your profession
- that you have been rehabilitated from your crime
About a month after the hearing concludes, the ALJ will make a recommendation to the licensing authority about your case. This is called a “proposed decision”
The licensing authority then has 100 days to decide whether or not to accept the ALJ’s proposed decision. Often the licensing authority will agree with the ALJ’s proposed decision, but it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes the licensing authority disagrees with the ALJ and issues a different disciplinary order.
To start court proceedings a solicitor will file a Statement of Claim. If someone serves you with one of these, you shouldn’t ignore it. If you do, the creditor can apply to the court for a judgment against you. You usually have 28 days to take action after someone serves a Statement of Claim on you.
If you were convicted of an infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony and were ordered to serve county jail time, probation, pay a court fine, or a combination; we can petition the court for a ‘dismissal’ of the conviction.
The court may withdraw your conviction and the court record would state “. Your record will be changed to show a dismissal per Penal Code Section § 1203.4, rather than a conviction.
California Labor Code Section §432.7 states that an employer cannot ask someone applying for a job for information about an arrest or detention that did not end in a conviction. Also, an employer cannot ask about a referral to or participation in any diversion program. An employer is prohibited from searching for any record of arrest (from any source) that di d not end in a conviction. If this information comes to the employer’s attention anyway, the employer cannot use that record as a factor in hiring, promoting, or terminating that person. But, this same code section states that the employer may ask an employee or potential employee about an arrest for which he or she is out on bail or released on his or her own recognizance pending trial. A conviction, for purposes of this code section, includes pleas, verdicts, or findings of guilt.
Because in general people are protected from having to disclose to an employer or potential employer an arrest if it did not result in a conviction, this guide will focus on cases where one has been convicted and does not fall under the protection of this Labor Code section.
Once all your convictions have been dismissed, this is what you can expect:
Applying for private employment: Under most circumstances, private employers cannot ask you about any convictions dismissed under Penal Code section § 1203.4. So, when applying for a job in the private sector, you generally do not have to disclose a conviction if it was dismissed or expunged. But it is a good idea to read Penal Code section § 1203.4, or California Code of Regulations section § 7287.4(d) , or talk to an employment law attorney if you have questions about your rights and obligations regarding past convictions when applying for a job.
Applying for government employment or a government license: If you are asked by government employers or on government licensing applications if you have ever been convicted of a crime, you MUST respond with “YES — CONVICTION DISMISSED.” In California, government employers and licensing agencies (except for police agencies and concessionaire licensing boards) will treat you the same as if you had never been convicted of any crime.
You will not be allowed to own or possess a firearm until you would otherwise be able to do so.
Your dismissed convictions can still be used to increase your punishment in future criminal cases.
Your prior convictions cannot be removed from your DMV record.
If the judge grants an early termination of probation, the court will often expunge the defendant’s criminal record.
Before terminating your probation early, the judge will want to ensure that:
- You have successfully completed the terms of your probation (such as fines, classes or restitution),
- There are circumstances that justify early termination of probation.
Valid reasons may include (but are not limited to) the fact that your probation is keeping you from securing gainful employment, preventing you from advancing at work, or restricting necessary travel.
Penal Code 1203.3 PC gives the court the discretion to grant a request for early termination of probation at any time during the probation period.2 In practice, however, most judges want to see people complete at least 12 to 18 months of their probation before they will seriously consider the motion to terminate probation early.
Call us at 530-580-8529 if you wish to ask for an expungement.