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Diversionary Programs Available For First Time DUI Offenders

Interviewer: Are there any alternative punishments or diversion programs available for the first time DUI offenders such as long detention or ankle bracelet?

Matthew Murillo: Yes.  There are generally no diversion programs available for DUI. By that, I mean that there isn’t really a program that’s set up in California where you can accept counseling or something and then just getting the case dismissed – unless there is a “Veteran’s Court” option in your County. There are alternative sentencing programs. If you have to do jail time or have to do some sort of custody, there is a way that we can get either the DA or a judge to let you do house arrest or let you do community service or some kind of work, so that your work life and your home life isn’t affected nearly as much. There are a lot of those options available and those options that are available vary by the county, but usually the DA is willing to concede on some of those.

If the Presence of Drug Metabolites is Determined then the Driver Will be Charged with a DUI

Interviewer: Are there any laws for drivers that have drug metabolites in their system but are not intoxicated while driving?

Matthew Murillo: No.  If it shows up in your system, the DA is going to try and argue at least that the drug was in your system at the time you were driving. Because of that, your driving was impaired, even if you can show that the drug was last taken 30 days ago or 10 days ago or 10 hours ago. If it’s in your system, the DA will try and argue that it was causing you impairment.  There’s really nothing that prevents them from doing so.

A Competent Attorney Can Usually Prevent Their Client from Serving Jail Time

Interviewer: What level of success have you had in either getting charges, fines, jail time or other punishments reduced when it comes to DUIs?

Matthew Murillo: That’s going to depend a lot on which of those categories we’re talking about. If you’re talking about jail time, it’s a pretty high level of success where somebody does not have to go to jail.  It’s actually most of the time even on repeat offenders; we can usually keep people out of jail. Not always, but often. Dismissal, that’s one of the things that are a lot harder to combat because the DA does have a duty to not file a case if they don’t think they can legitimately prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Having the Charges Reduced Depends on the Particular Circumstances Unique to that Case

It’s going to be a lot harder to dismiss a case if it has been filed, but we have been able to get those every now and then. With respect to reducing the charges, much of that depends on the circumstances of the case and what arguments are there to support that reduction. I’ve had cases reduced to reckless driving offenses, some reduced to public intoxication, some reduced to minor speeding tickets like a speed limit violation or blowing the stop sign.

The Ignition Interlock Device is Essentially a Breathalyzer Machine that is Attached to a Car

Interviewer: What does an ignition interlock device entail? How would someone receive that or how would that be imposed on someone?

Matthew Murillo: The ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer machine that needs to be installed on a vehicle. In California, it needs to be installed on any vehicle that you own or have reasonable access to. What that does is basically requires that you blow into the device before starting the vehicle and again, periodically, while you’re driving.  It requires you to pull over every 10, 15 minutes, maybe 20 minutes depending on the setting, and blow into the device again to keep the car going.  If it registers any alcohol, it will send the signal back to the agency that’s monitoring the device and then they will then notify the court that you had a positive reading.

Ignition Interlock Device is Usually Imposed After Multiple DUI Offenses

It’s usually not required unless you have multiple convictions but there are some counties in California, like Los Angeles County that does require it even if it’s a first offense.  It can be costly to maintain and monitor.  When it is required, it must usually be kept for a minimum of 12-months.

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