The First 48 Hours After a DUI | Getting Your Driver's License Back | Easing the Consequences of a DUI | Fighting a Napa DUI
- Write a Detailed Narrative Account of the Incident
- Hire a Napa DUI Lawyer
- Why is contacting DMV so important?
- Calendar Court Date
- Save the Pink Temporary License
- Look for and Preserve Physical Evidence
- Photograph the Scene
- Fix Trigger Problems
- Avoid Fear & Stress
- Don't Act on Casual or Bad Advice
Defenses rely on specific facts, but memory begins to fade immediately. A top Napa County DUI attorney will tell you that it is really, really important to immediately write down an honest account of what happened and include everything leading up to the initial encounter with Napa County law enforcement and during and after. Defenses are in the details, and also, later testimony is more credible in front of a Napa jury or the DMV hearing officer if you remember more than only the facts which establish a particular defense. The more details you remember, the better the chances of identifying defenses, appearing more credible, and winning a case in Napa County.
It is always best when discussing facts which could have adverse legal consequences that you maximize confidentiality. Write "confidential attorney-client communication" at the beginning of the narrative and send it to your Napa DUI lawyer during the first two weeks following the arrest.
Who, what, where, when and how
You can begin to see why this Tip for how to write your narrative is so extensive if you review Ten Tips to Fight a Napa County DUI, on this site and understand that we are trying to find the facts which establish one or more of the many ways to defend a DUI. So in your narrative of what happened, Napa County DUI attorneys want you to focus on the who, what, where, and when. Where had you been prior to driving, and where were you headed? Where were you before the driving which resulted in the police contact? What time did you arrive at the last location and what time did you leave before the police contact? Who were you with, who saw you leave? Always include how you remember each time or event: was it at last call? 10 minutes after closing time? Do you remember looking at your watch or car clock, or did someone remark on the time? Time stamp on a bar receipt? Credit card record? Cell phone record?
Include for your Napa County DUI lawyer your route of travel, and any recollection of traffic conditions in Napa County. When and where did you first see Napa County law enforcement, precisely when did you see red police lights or otherwise believe you were no longer free to leave, specific words exchanged, why were you pulled over, or if you were already stopped or parked prior to seeing the police, then why, and precisely when and where did you stop (include how you recall the time), whether it was a deserted or busy area? Who was with you before and during the arrest?
Finally, include seemingly irrelevant recollections such as your clothing, the weather, and how you were feeling that day; this kind of information may be useful for your Napa County DUI lawyer. Who was the arresting agency: Napa CHP, Napa County Sheriff, Napa, St. Helena, Calistoga, or American Canyon police or another local agency? A "turn over" to CHP or other combination of Napa County police agencies?
If you were in an accident in Napa County, your Napa DUI attorney will want you to include in your narrative details such as location, who was at fault, who phoned for help, precisely what time of day or night did the accident happen (check and keep phone records and receipts), who arrived at the scene first, how long did it take for the first witness or police to show up, how many Napa County police or emergency agencies were finally present, did you see any injuries, was the accident scene rural or in town, deserted or were there people or cars passing by, did the police engage traffic diversion procedures, road blocks, etc.
Eating, drinking, medications
Include for your Napa DUI lawyer a description of any medications you were taking and/or physical or mental conditions you may have. Include a description of your eating and drinking (including drinking while driving and/or especially drinking after driving), where, what, how much, and actual time of start and finish for each meal and for each drink, and/or medication, duration from time of last drink to time of driving to time of first Napa County police contact and from time of driving to time of blood and/or breath tests, location, estimated time, and results of each breath or blood test.
Field sobriety tests
A good Napa DUI attorney will want you to include a description of each field sobriety test which you performed. These typically include the eye exam (follow a finger or pen with your eyes), walk and turn, and one leg stand (raise one foot 6 inches and count out loud). Others may include the modified Romberg balance test (feet together, head tilted back, close eyes, estimate 30 seconds), finger to nose with eyes closed, finger tapping, hand clapping, and reciting or writing the alphabet.
Include what the Napa County law enforcement officer said to you before and after, whether the officer told you that you did not have to complete them, whether s/he demonstrated each test prior to asking you to perform them, and any variations between the video demonstrations and your actual experience. Include the pre-arrest breath testing (called a preliminary alcohol screening "PAS" test, which is typically considered the last field sobriety test, as contrasted with the post-arrest breath and/or blood tests which actually are the ones that "count" against you).
If drugs are part of this case (legal or illegal) then include dosages prior to the incident, any prescriptions or recommendations, and whether during or after the arrest the Napa County law enforcement officer took your pulse or other vitals and/or held a card to your face to measure pupil size or examined your body in any way.
Post-arrest breath and blood testing
Include in your narrative what you were told by Napa County law enforcement at each stage of your encounter, and how you responded or reacted. Indicate precisely what the officer said regarding post-arrest breath and then blood and urine testing, and if you provided one or more breath tests, did the Napa County law enforcement officer inform you thereafter that you have a right to a blood test. State whether you ingested anything just before a breath test, such as alcohol, mouthwash/mints, chewing tobacco, smoking, food. Also include information if you suffered reflux, belching, or you were physically ill at the time of, or just before, a breath test.
Your Napa DUI attorney will tell you that DUI cases where you failed to provide any breath, blood or urine test after the arrest increases your penalty exposure with additional jail time, and at least one year of no driving whatsoever, regardless of hardship to you or others. Therefore it is critical that you recall and document for your Napa DUI lawyer the precise language used by the officer and your precise responses with respect to any discussion of your obligation to perform a chemical test after arrest, and the consequence of failing to provide a test.
Documents and evidence
Include documents you were handed during or after the arrest (of course, keep copies of everything). Include a description of any physical evidence of recent alcohol consumption which may have been in your vehicle (especially if you drank after driving but prior to police contact) such as half-empty beer cans in the car, empty liquor bottles, receipts from stores or bars or restaurants, etc. If such evidence exists, make sure you preserve or retrieve it, or if it's already gone, then describe it in detail including names of anyone who may have seen such evidence.
Ask friends, bartenders, store clerks, and other witnesses now if you don't remember certain details. Their memories fade quickly too.
If you believe you have a substantial defense, then any good Napa County DUI lawyer whom you work with will want a full description of the details and the circumstances of the defense, and any witnesses, including their phone numbers. It is easier to get contact information to your Napa DUI attorney now rather than two months from now.
Protect your own interests
Getting a local Napa County DUI lawyer gives you your best shot at beating a DUI in the local Napa Superior Court, and protecting your driver's license at the Napa DMV. All of the other parties to your case have their own agendas: the arresting officer, the DMV, the Napa County District Attorney and the Napa County Judge. For a more detailed discussion of the police agenda, see Ryan's discussion in this Top Ten Tips series: Don't Follow Bad Advice. The judge and assistant district attorney who are examining your case are both highly disciplined and experienced lawyers, and, together with the DMV hearing officer assigned to your case, all of these local DUI authorities who are about to make decisions about the outcome of your matter are guided by much broader public safety considerations than just you or your own personal hardship, family needs or future job security.
Napa County DUI attorneys are specifically hired to protect you in every practical way. Not only can the outcome of a Napa County DUI affect you for the rest of your life, but in addition, all kinds of unexpected complications in Napa DUI cases can trip you up, and all kinds of shortcuts exist making it easier for you to comply with far less pain at the end of the day; only Napa DUI lawyers are uniquely positioned to navigate you through this situation, and no one has the expertise to go it alone.
Would you perform medical procedures on yourself? Engineer your own home? Fix your own plumbing or electrical problems? Sue a big company without a good lawyer on your side? We hire professionals to address and properly fix all kinds of problems in our lives, expertly and correctly from beginning to end, with minimum confusion and stress, with maximum information and flexibility, the options and execution you need right now. Don't follow casual advice from friends or try to do this yourself; you should have a Napa DUI lawyer looking out for your own best interests and easing the consequences so that you may move on with the least stress and inconvenience.
Public defenders. If you really cannot afford to hire a private Napa County DUI lawyer, then it's almost always advisable to appear at the first court date in the Napa County courthouse and when your case is called by the judge, don't try to explain your case or circumstances or ask for a break, but rather, at the very first moment that you are permitted to speak, simply ask for the Napa County Public Defender to be appointed.
Representing yourself. Although you have a constitutional right to represent yourself according to the US Supreme Court's Faretta Ruling, understand that in any civil or criminal case, it is nearly always considered a mistake to represent yourself in court. This is because the other side (in Napa County criminal cases, the other side is the State of California) has its own highly trained lawyer (the District Attorney), with a bank of assistant lawyers and staff, but you don't have such support if you represent yourself, and therefore you are at a severe disadvantage. In addition, one is always biased and sympathetic to one's own personal situation, and unable to objectively advise yourself of your own best interests. This is true even for defendants who are themselves lawyers and is the fundamental reason why "a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client." See also the Napa County Superior Court's Faretta Waiver advisements and warnings if you still wish to consider this ill-advised alternative to affordable counsel.
DUIs are actually very complicated
If you don't see how involved and complex even a first DUI can be in Napa County without a lawyer, then click on our Napa DUI Lawyer Anatomy of a DUI on this site and see the many different directions a Napa case can go, as well as the collection of obligations, timetables and tasks to perform. A local Napa DUI attorney who can guide you through the maze of bureaucratic doo-doo, not to mention the possibility of getting charges reduced or dismissed, is well worth the expense. Your situation requires an attorney knowledgeable in the precise area of the law in which you find yourself. Consider just a sample listing of possible DUI defenses on this site by clicking on Ten Tips for Fighting a Napa County DUI. A DUI should be handled by a criminal defense lawyer who regularly defends DUI cases in your courtroom.
Here's what a Napa County DUI lawyer does for you
A private DUI lawyer will go to Napa Superior Court or traffic court for you and in most Napa County cases you don't ever have to appear. This is particularly helpful if you don't live in Napa County. A private Napa DUI lawyer should also handle the DMV case for you so you don't have to yourself (these hearings are usually litigated in the Santa Rosa or Petaluma satellite DMV offices). The value of this convenience and the possibility of a Napa DUI lawyer successfully obtaining lower or dismissed charges and protecting your driver license, is well worth a reasonable Napa attorney fee (typically in the $1500-$2500 range for any straight-forward 1st or 2nd DUI in Napa County).
Any good Napa County DUI defense lawyer will closely examine the Napa County Superior Court complaint against you and the police report completed by Napa County law enforcement, looking for any glaring or less obvious defenses, and then sit down with you for as long as you need, explain everything to you and ask you to make your own decisions after you understand the issues, likelihood of success, possible additional costs if any, and probable risks and consequences. A good Napa DUI lawyer will help you navigate the minefield of possibilities, get you through the bureaucratic mess which is present in every Napa County DUI arrest case, help you understand the multiple tasks facing you, and coordinate the timing of tasks and resolutions, to get all of this behind you from arrest to resolution with the least amount of stress and pain.
Why is using a local attorney so important? Choose carefully
A local DUI lawyer who lives and practices in Napa County is far better than one based in Marin, San Francisco or LA, because lawyers who regularly practice DUI law in Napa know how the Napa DMV, and how the Napa County judges and Napa County District Attorney react to certain cases, and we know the available options and procedures here in Napa County which often vary widely in different counties. For example, a standard no-defenses second DUI in Napa County is typically sentenced to thirty days of jail, but all of the time may be served by volunteering with the county if you are not otherwise ineligible. By comparison, in Marin County the typical sentence for the same charges is fifteen days instead of thirty, and four days must be served in actual custody. Napa's typical sentence for a second DUI is only ten days of jail, all of which may be served with a jail alternative. Local Napa lawyers who actually live and practice in Napa County know Napa County DUI practices and procedures.
If you don't see how the wrong DUI lawyer can be a catastrophe, click here to see an authentic Bad DUI Lawyer Email Sent to Ryan complaining about a remote lawyer, missed court appearance, arrest warrant, ridiculous DMV phone hearing resulting in a two-year license suspension, total disaster.
Ask questions, and choose carefully; here's another real statement, from one of Ryan's former clients: "I also wanted to share something that you may or may not wish to add to the testimonial (if you've used it). Since being in the DUI program, I've come across a wide range of folks who have had varying experiences with their lawyers. Every time someone shares a story, I am even more grateful than ever that I sought you out and that you agreed to take my case. I've heard stories from people whose lawyers won't answer any questions after court, who wouldn't appear for them in court (it's possible that they weren't allowed to I suppose) or who gave such minimal information that they have been left to navigate much of the DUI laws and DMV processes by themselves. So, thank you again for all of your help, your honesty and bluntness, and your follow up."
Don't pay extra by being fooled into hiring a smooth talking "big name" criminal lawyer based in another county like San Mateo, Marin, San Francisco or Los Angeles to whom you pay more money so that he or she can hopefully accomplish the exact same result as a Napa County DUI defense attorney, or worse yet they turn around and hire a local Napa no-name contract lawyer to appear for you. The quality of representation might be adequate but still a waste of additional money and an unwanted additional layer of people and miscommunications.
If you wish to test whether your prospective lawyer is truly knowledgeable and local, ask how many offices he/she has, where his/her primary business office is located, how often he/she appears personally in Napa as compared to other courts, when was the last time he/she physically stood in front of a Napa County judge on behalf of a client arrested for DUI, at which DMV office he/she conducts DMV hearings, and what is his/her personal understanding of a standard no-defenses DUI sentence in Napa County. The answers should be immediate, specific, and confidently provided to you.
Don't go to court for a DUI. Let your lawyer go instead
It is much easier for you (and well worth it) if you do not have to take time off work and attend a stressful and confusing appearance in Napa Superior Court in if your DUI attorney determines that there is no other reason for you to attend. Most court appearances are boring for non-lawyers, and the first appearance following a DUI arrest in Napa County is usually only meant to trade papers and information and set new dates, not to argue anything of substance. Typically in Napa and Sonoma County you are not required to attend a misdemeanor court or DMV hearing unless there is a substantial proceeding where evidence is to be formally introduced (usually only a contested hearing or actual trial proceedings). With notarized plea forms, a defendant need not even appear for any kind of sentencing in Napa. In Marin County you must only attend sentencing if you live in Marin or a bordering county.
Will your absence be noticed by the court or required by your attorney?
No, as discussed above, in most cases court appearances are strictly procedural. Unless special circumstances are present (such as a high blood alcohol level alleged, multiple priors, or a violation of probation), judges do not wish to speak to a defendant at such proceedings. Ryan's clients who live in Napa County, rarely, if ever, come to court in typical DUI cases. This doesn't mean you'll be left in the dark about your case. A good attorney will explain the entire process, from arrest to resolution. To begin understanding this process, click here to see Ryan's comprehensive Anatomy of a Napa County DUI flowchart. In addition, Ryan's tech know-how can be very helpful to avoid the need for client travel, meetings or appearances, especially at the procedural beginning of a case. If requested, we .pdf police reports and other case documents to you within 24 hours after court appearances.
You can (and should) closely follow the progress of your Napa County case by regularly communicating with your DUI lawyer before and after Napa court appearances, and follow your case separately online by clicking on Resources on this site and then find your local court under "Superior Courts" by clicking on the county where you were arrested (for example, Napa, Marin, or Mendocino), and search your name. Napa Courts have an online calendar for Napa appearances which lists your name, case number, the Napa courtroom for your case. Sonoma Courts and Mendocino Courts have similar online calendars. Marin Courts have San Rafael appearances online weeks in advance.
Beware the driver license sting operations
Important!! If you have a suspended license, don't drive, and if you drive to court in Napa, you stand a chance of being arrested in regional sting operations where Napa County police agents can watch in court and radio to officers waiting to stop you when you drive away from the courthouse.
These stings typically happen at random times throughout the year and result in huge additional headaches (not to mention more jail time) for those caught. A Napa Register news article announced such a court sting in Napa County, reporting that Napa police will "have a court sting operation to bring traffic violators to court and suspend their licenses...Officers will guard their cars to make sure the violators don't drive off before their cars are impounded." The Napa DUI court sting operations have been held with increased frequency for the last few years: Napa DUI Court Stings. Sonoma County has conducted such stings for several more years: Santa Rosa DUI Court Stings. Have a Napa DUI lawyer appear for you instead.
Bail companies and lawyers
Typically people arrested for DUI in Napa County are either released by police on their own recognizance ("OR") after being processed, or post bail to be released. Bail is supposed to be set by the jailer pursuant to a court bail schedule which lists most possible charges and the bail amount for each charge. These amounts can go up or down depending on a variety of factors relating to a case. If someone arrested for DUI is not released on OR, or cannot bail out and is due to appear in court while still in custody, then most likely bail would be set at the first court appearance, or the person arrested for DUI may be released on a more comprehensive form of OR called "Supervised Own Recognizance" ("SOR"), where the judge imposes special SOR Conditions on the defendant's release. Often a Napa County DUI attorney may take the opportunity to save an arrestee or family large sums of money by arguing that such conditions will be better for the defendant and the community than posting lots of bail money.
Sometimes, someone arrested for a DUI in Napa County may not be able to get out of jail immediately, or at all, unless they post bail. A friend or loved one can usually post 10% of the stated bail for someone who is in jail. See, for example, the San Rafael's Zig Zag Bail Agreement & Application. See also Napa's Aladdin Bail Bonds FAQ's for answers to frequent questions about bail. See also Santa Rosa's Romelli Bail Bonds FAQ's. Some Napa County bail companies will refund money to you if you hire a private Napa DUI lawyer. Most bail companies offer an 8% rate rather than a 10% rate (they will give you back 20% of what you paid) if you hire a private Napa DUI attorney, probably because it's more likely the case will resolve properly with a local DUI lawyer involved.
You can call or visit your Napa bail company office to inquire about its rate chart (California Department of Insurance states such fees are to be posted in a visible location in every bail bond office) and see if obtaining a DUI lawyer (or being a member of a union or the military) gets you a lower rate. Click below to see examples of the forms used by local bail companies in Napa County:
Typically, you can only qualify for the lower Napa County private DUI defense attorney rate if you act within a specified time. For example, Aladdin's lower private attorney rate is only available if the private lawyer was retained within five days of the date that the bail was issued and proof of such retention is received by the bail company within 30 days. Romelli only offers the reduced rate if told at the time of posting bail that a private DUI lawyer has been retained already.
Good DUI lawyers will inform you that laws related to right to bail by people arrested for a DUI in Napa County are generally found in Penal Code Sections 1268-1320.5. Bail companies are regulated by the California Department of Insurance. Department regulations may be found in the California Code of Regulations at Title 10, chapter 5, subchapter 1, article 2, sections 2053-2104. You may find bail company license information and any recent enforcement actions by the Department by clicking on Bail Agent License Status.
Don't pay a reimbursement bill from a police agency or hospital before speaking to a lawyer
You might get a bill from the police. Some police agencies routinely mail reimbursement bills to attempt to recoup costs for arresting you! Even though you may be a Napa County taxpayer and may have already paid for the police department, the police car, and the salary of the police officer whose arrest you are now fighting, still, in these tough economic times Napa County agencies may try to bill you for reimbursement of their costs for the actual arrest incident pursuant to Government Code Section 53150. Click here to see a CHP Invoice, a CHP "Second Notice", or here to see a Santa Rosa Police Invoice
Although an invoice pursuant to this law may be valid if emergency personnel were required to respond (for example an ambulance, paramedics or fire trucks responding to a DUI accident scene, or more CHP or Napa officers to manage traffic interruption), nevertheless, the California Court of Appeals for Napa County has ruled that an ordinary arrest for DUI is not a sufficient trigger event to require reimbursement to Napa County law enforcement under this law. See California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court (Allende) (1st Dist 2006) 135 C.A.4th 488..
A recent example. A recent CHP invoice received by one of Ryan's DUI clients who was subjected to a typical, uneventful DUI arrest, states that "the defendant herein shall pay to CHP the total indicated below" listing 5.2 personnel hours and a total due of $469.33. After reviewing this client's incident, and the invoice received, Ryan was outraged by the intimidating and misleading "defendant shall pay CHP" language in the invoice from an agency whose leaders are sworn to uphold and enforce the law; he advised this individual client not to pay the bill based on the facts in her case, and fired off a Counsel's Reply Letter on her behalf.
Although failure to pay may result in a debt collection lawsuit (civil, not criminal case), or may cause an item to be referred to the Franchise Tax Board or a collection agency risking a negative credit incident (many if not most people may never hear from the police agency again, especially if the arrest was in fact uneventful), such possible risks may be addressed, minimized and/or negated with vigilance and protest when the claimed debt is disputed and invalid on its face.
2011 Allende II ruling: On December 9, 2011, the Court of Appeals for Napa County DUI cases re-examined the issue of when CHP can recoup costs for DUI-related incidents, in Allende v. Dept of California Highway Patrol ("Allende II"), and upheld the CHP's latest policy, to seek cost recovery "for any incident in which an officer is dispatched to a call resulting in a DUI arrest of a driver."
To the dismay of Napa County DUI lawyers, the Allende II court embraced its "Fox Guarding the Chicken Coup" approach to when CHP can collect money from citizens whom they arrest for DUI, writing about the "wisdom of deferring to CHP expertise" in this inquiry, and noting the CHP's stated internal policy where "the CHP has instituted an internal appeal process under which arrested drivers may challenge an officer's initial determination that an incident qualifies for cost recovery. According to the evidence, "when [the CHP] send[s] out an Emergency Response Cost invoice under the CHP's Cost Recovery Program, and disputes arise over the propriety of the invoice, [it] has established procedures for investigating, reviewing, and resolving such disputes . . . ." For example, if "the dispute involves a contention . . . that no emergency response to an incident was involved, [the CHP] will put the invoice on hold and forward a copy of the invoice file (including the dispute letter) to the area office from which the incident arose. Information is requested from the area office so that an appropriate response can be made. If it is determined that the invoice was mistakenly issued, [the CHP] will cancel the invoice and inform the disputant of that fact. If the area office believes the invoice was properly issued and the disputant does not agree, or if the contention involves a dispute regarding the Government Code, the matter may be referred to the CHP's legal office. The CHP's counsel will then review the materials. When the CHP's counsel concludes an invoice was not appropriate, the charges are cancelled."
Allende II also upheld the specific formula for determining the amount of reimbursement in a Napa County DUI arrest, where "CHP calculates annually a standard hourly rate for its officers by taking the monetary wages paid to a mid-step traffic officer, adding the cost of benefits (retirement contributions, health insurance, workers compensation and Medicare contributions) and dividing that amount by an officer's "total actual working time," which includes the total number of hours an average officer works after subtracting paid time off for holidays, vacations and other leave."
Napa DUI attorneys are following these developments and are in the best position to advise someone arrested for a DUI in Napa County who subsequently receives a bill from a local police agency for the type of cost recovery described here.
You might get a bill from the hospital. Often a DUI arrest involves a blood test, because a breath test was unavailable, or because you chose the blood test rather than the breath test, or because the officer informed you (as they are required) that the breath-testing equipment does not retain any sample of the breath and that no breath sample will be available after the test which could be analyzed later by you or your DUI lawyer, and because no breath sample is retained, you have the opportunity to provide a blood or urine sample that will be retained at no cost to you so that there will be something retained that may be subsequently analyzed for the alcoholic content of your blood. See Vehicle Code Section 23614.
The fact that the police do not have access to their own medical staff, or to a paramedic response (many police agencies do have such access), does not mean that you should have to pay for alternative hospital staff to perform the blood draw while you are in state custody exercising a right protected by law which specifically states that there will be no cost to you. If you received such a bill (click here for an example of a hospital bill for blood draw), then you should discuss it with a DUI attorney before paying it. Always discuss your individual circumstances with a Napa County DUI lawyer because they may affect the actual advice given to you in your unique case.
DUI defendants should always consult with a Napa DUI lawyer about the individual circumstances of an arrest before being intimidated into paying any such invoice from Napa County, a hospital, or state law enforcement agencies.
The best Napa DUI lawyers will explain to you at the beginning of your first conversation that, in nearly all Napa County DUI arrests, the arresting officer confiscates your driver's license and gives you a pink carbon copy of a notice of suspension and temporary license, unless you have an out-of-state license or the alleged DUI is only drug-related, or there is otherwise no or very low alcohol testing. Click here to see a real example of this type of notice: Pink Temporary License.
The last paragraph of the pink license (look for the heading "Hearing Information" towards the bottom, as pictured here) states that you have only 10 days from the date you received the notice to ask the DMV for a hearing (it's called an Administrative Per Se "APS" hearing), in order to stop the DMV's automatic suspension or revocation of your driving privileges in the State of California. Usually this 10-day period starts on the DUI arrest date, but not always -- check the written "Detention/Arrest Date" at the top of the pink license itself. There is no reference to business days, so this "10-Day Rule" means ten calendar days (although there may be rare exceptions, see below). This DMV suspension or revocation is otherwise automatic on the day your pink license expires, and is entirely different and independent from the court's proceedings. For example, you might win in court later if your Napa County DUI attorney succeeds in having your case dismissed, but still lose your license because of this separate DMV APS proceeding and DUI suspension.
Click on Ten Tips To Get Your License Back on this site for a detailed explanation of the differences between the APS suspension and the Napa County court's separate conviction-related suspension. You will begin to see why hiring a local Napa DUI lawyer to defend you at the Napa DMV and in Napa County Superior Court is a good idea.
If you hire a Napa DUI lawyer then the lawyer can (and should) contact the San Francisco DMV for you, but usually you or your lawyer must request this hearing within 10 days of your DUI arrest or service of the pink notice and license, in order to be certain to preserve your right to challenge any DMV license suspension later at the DMV. If you miss this deadline, then in most cases you lose any ability to completely protect your driving privileges. Usually, early in a DUI case before we know how the arresting officer will describe the incident, the best defensive strategy is to aggressively preserve all of your options by means such as a timely and proper request for a Napa DMV hearing as soon as possible after the DUI arrest.
Obtaining a stay on the pending suspension
Typically the pink temporary license handed out after a DUI arrest gives the holder 30 days of driving privileges (assuming you are otherwise validly licensed). But what about after that 30 days? If your Napa DUI lawyer successfully requests the DMV hearing within the first 10 days from the date of the DUI arrest, then the DMV is usually required to stay (postpone) the suspension which would have been imposed following expiration of the 30-day pink temporary license, and send the arrestee a New Temporary License which is intended to allow driving until the outcome of the hearing. In Napa County, these new temporary licenses are usually issued once your Napa DUI attorney sets the date of this requested hearing a few weeks after first contacting DMV. The new replacement temporary license usually lasts about four months from the date of issue. The new temporary license can be extended or shortened by your Napa DUI lawyer depending on when the DMV hearing issues are expected to be resolved.
Public defenders do not handle DMV
If you decide you want a Napa DUI attorney but you intend to ask for a public defender to provide for your defense because you believe you qualify financially for a court-appointed lawyer, then understand that the Napa County public defenders do not handle DMV cases and do not have nearly as much experience as most private DUI lawyers defending DUIs at the DMV. And even if they could handle DMV in a different world, they are nearly always appointed only after you personally appear in Napa court, usually well after the 10 days from arrest, but the fact is that Napa County public defenders only handle Napa County criminal cases, and Napa DMV is a separate administrative law proceeding to lose or protect your driver license.
How to request the hearing
Note that different attorneys might provide different types of information to DMV about you and your incident depending on the unique circumstances of your case, so if you are going to hire a Napa County DUI attorney inside the ten-day period following arrest, then asking your attorney to accomplish this hearing request on your behalf allows him/her to proceed as they are most comfortable, given the facts of your case and in your best interests.
If you still wish to do this yourself, then you may telephone the DMV at the number provided on your temporary license (or click here for info on how to Contact a DMV Driver Safety Office), and then follow up with such confirmation as a written certified return receipt mailing to the proper address on the temporary license. To be effective, you may want to include in the mailing your name, driver's license number, and date of arrest. To preserve all of your options, you may specifically request an "in-person" hearing (assuming you live in Napa County or will be hiring a local attorney). If you are still considering hiring a DUI attorney, you may inform the DMV of this so that they can wait to schedule the hearing directly with your Napa County DUI lawyer at a time that is mutually available.
To be fully prepared, you may also request "discovery" which is the packet of information which will be used by local Napa DMV to support the ultimate decision whether to suspend your license. By asking for the discovery, you will be able to see what documents the DMV has collected to be used against you, including what the Napa or Napa County law enforcement officer said about your case, his/her reasons for pulling you over or first encountering you, your performance on any field sobriety tests, and the results of any blood or breath alcohol tests, etc.
Don't be discouraged by confusing or incomplete advice, or unexpected questions
Don't be discouraged by the constant busy signals, or long-winded recordings, and, as discussed in Tip #10 ("Don't Follow Bad Advice") on this site, don't be discouraged from asserting your rights in person if, for example, a Napa County police officer, or Sacramento or San Francisco DMV phone operator, or Napa DMV counter clerk states that you don't "need to" or "have to" get a DUI DMV hearing, and you should just "wait" until you receive a DUI suspension notice from DMV.
During a new client call, one former client arrested for DUI told Napa DUI lawyer Ryan, "I called the number this morning and asked if I should have a hearing date, and the DMV lady said "It's up to you, why, are you disputing it?" So I said "No, I got a DUI so I guess not," and she said "Your license is valid now for 30 days, and then you'll be suspended for 30 more days, and after that you can go to the DMV and ask for a work license." So I was all confused and decided to call you."
Same story, different actors, on another new client Napa DUI lawyer call, a client told Ryan, "I called the number on the pink temporary license, but the DMV operator said, "Is there any reason why you believe the DUI charges are not true?" The client then asked Ryan, "Are they going to laugh at me during the hearing?"
Another client on her first Napa DUI lawyer call told Ryan that, when she tried to get her DMV hearing set up within the first 10 days after arrest, "They told me that I would have to set up an appointment but I should just wait until I go to court to figure out what to do with my license, so come back in 30 days to see if I can get a restricted license."
Another client, during his DUI attorney call, told Ryan that, when he called for the DUI DMV hearing, "The guy said that if you have had a drink and then drive, then you are drunk driving; most people try to put it behind them and move on."
Another client, during her first DUI attorney call, related that when she called to ask for a hearing, the DMV employee stated "Here's what you do: get an SR-22 and you'll get your license back!"
A good Napa County DUI lawyer will explain to you that not only is this kind of "advice" completely over-simplified, confusing and intimidating, but in addition, if you don't successfully ask for a hearing and challenge the Napa DMV administrative suspension, you will lose any possibility to take control of the process and you will lose the opportunity to protect yourself from a DUI license suspension. If you follow such advice, or fall victim to this manipulation, you will lose valuable rights that could have saved you.
Beyond 10 days?
If you believe you are already outside of 10 calendar days from the date of your DUI arrest, you should contact a local Napa County DUI lawyer immediately to see if you still have time or otherwise fall within a limited number of exceptions to the 10-day rule.
For example, even though the ten days have expired, the citing officer may have failed to serve you with, or incorrectly completed, the "Administrative Per Se Suspension/Revocation Order And Temporary Driver License," otherwise known as the "pink temporary license" (see Tip #5). If the pink license was never given to you, or was incorrectly filled out by the arresting officer, or was in the wrong language, the DMV may send you a "14-Day Re-Notice" with a renewed opportunity to request a DMV hearing to challenge the pending suspension. Click here to see this "14-Day Re-Notice" (the important language is boxed in the picture above), and see also this same concept with a 10-Day DMV Re-Notice (often used in refusal and probation violation hearings).
Another example is if your 10th day from the date of your Napa DUI arrest falls on a weekend or recognized holiday, in which case you may have one or more extra days to preserve your right to fight the pending suspension. You can see that it may not be too late to try to save your license if it is about to be suspended. A Napa County DUI lawyer can help you move properly and quickly in this regard.
Be sure DMV has your correct mailing address
If DMV has an old mailing address (for example, outside of Napa County) then you might not receive critical notices providing a time-sensitive right to a hearing (sometimes only 10 days), or giving you a date for the start of a suspension, or sending you a new temporary or permanent license, which are usually sent to you at your address on record at DMV.
Because the vehicle code requires you to provide a change of address to DMV within 10 days of obtaining a new address, you are not permitted to complain if DMV sends important documents to an old address on record. In order to allow your Napa County DUI lawyer to react quickly and challenge wrong or unfair decisions or planned actions against you, you must ensure that DMV has your correct address, unless there are compelling reasons not to do so. You can visit the Napa satellite DMV office to submit a Napa County change of address, or click here to Update Your Address Online, if DMV has an old address.
One of the first questions from a good Napa County DUI lawyer will be "what is your first court date?" If you don't know the first court date, or worse, you ignore your first court date in Napa, or forget to appear in Napa County Superior Court, then the court will most likely immediately issue a bench warrant for your arrest. Such a development would likely lead to severe inconvenience to you (including arrest and incarceration), and would later look bad to the court. We prefer to have a Judge smile rather than frown at the first court appearance. Private Napa DUI attorneys appear for their clients in Napa County Superior Court (and sometimes in Traffic or Juvenile Court too) to ensure that no warrant is issued, to protect any bail you posted, and to start your case properly in front of the court, sparing you the embarrassment, stress and inconvenience of having to personally appear on your own.
Court date on "Cite Release"
If you were booked into the Napa County jail, and then subsequently released without being required to post bail, your Napa DUI lawyer will want you to find the "Cite Release" paper which you were likely handed upon discharge from the jail. This paper indicates your first court date in the first full paragraph on the middle of the page. Click here for an example of a Napa DUI Cite Release with the first court date indicated.
Court date on citation
If you were not taken to the county jail, but rather you were released at the scene, or released later from a local police station, then you were likely handed a citation or "Notice to Appear," that looks much like a typical speeding ticket. If you were handed such a citation, then you can find your first court date at the bottom of that paper. Click below to see samples of typical Napa County citations showing an arrestee's first court date at the bottom of the front side of the Notice to Appear, and additional information on the reverse:
- CHP citation
- Calistoga Police Department citation
- Napa County Dept. of Corrections "Cite Release"
- Napa County Jail Release Cite Report (old)
- Napa Police Department citation
- Parks and Recreation citation
- St. Helena Police Department citation
Court date on bail papers
If you did not receive a citation, or it has no court date, but you bailed out of jail, then your Napa DUI attorney will tell you that your bail receipt, or Statement of Charges, or calendaring sheet should have your court date listed. Click here for examples of your first court date listed on an Aladdin Bail Receipt, or Aladdin Statement Of Charges, or a Romelli Bail Receipt. If you paid a cash bail directly to the court rather than using a bail company, then click here to see an example of a Cash Bail Receipt page where the first court date is hand-written at the bottom, or a small Jail Receipt where the first court date is printed at the bottom.
District Attorney cite letter
Sometimes no citation is issued at the time of an incident (often after an accident), or a defendant shows for court at the time listed and there are no charges, or for some other reason a defendant receives a Cite Letter from the Napa County District Attorney, listing a first court date to appear, and typically a request to present oneself for booking and release one week prior to the court date if booking was not performed following the incident in question. A copy of the criminal complaint with the charges to be filed is usually attached, indicating a case number and other information of use to your DUI lawyer. This is the time to hire a Napa DUI attorney if not already accomplished.
With respect to any request to appear for booking, most Napa DUI lawyers are aware of PC 853.6(g) which allows for such a booking procedure, but this statute provides that failure to comply with the request to present for booking prior to court simply results in an order from the judge to do so before the next court appearance.
Juvenile DUIs (under age 18) are usually treated differently than adult DUIs in Napa County.
The juvenile probation department in Napa is typically first to become involved, and will usually contact a juvenile and his/her parents with a letter several weeks after the arrest, requesting an interview about family life, school, and substance abuse. Click here to see similar example in Sonoma County of such a Probation Letter.
A Napa DUI lawyer may accompany the juvenile and parents to this probation interview. A decision will be made whether to recommend Napa County juvenile court proceedings.
Haven't hired a lawyer yet?
If you cannot decide what to do before your first appearance, you may stand up in court in Napa when your case is called, and tell the judge that you need additional time to speak with a Napa DUI lawyer. If you cannot afford to hire a private DUI lawyer, then you may appear at the first court date and before saying anything else, ask for a public defender to be appointed (note: Napa County public defenders do not contact DMV for you or handle DMV hearings). The reasons listed above for getting a Napa DUI lawyer apply whether you are paying for a private attorney or using a publicly appointed attorney. Get a lawyer!
After most Napa County DUI arrests, the police keep your California driver license, and give you this pink sheet of paper (click on picture to right) as a replacement driver license. This temporary license is your new license, which required to be on your person while driving, and has important information of value to both you and to your Napa DUI lawyer (see the information in Tip #3 above under "Contact DMV").
Click here to see a real example of this type of notice: DMV Pink Temporary License, or here for the older 2016 version, or here for the older 2015 version, or here for the older 2012 version, or here for the older 2010 version, or older 2009 version, or older 2008 version, or older 2006 version.
Click here for the pink temporary license in Spanish, or the older Spanish 2015 version, or the older Spanish 2012 version, or the older Spanish 2010 version, or the older Spanish 2008 version. You can find additional information provided by the DMV regarding issues considered at the DMV hearing, penalties and restricted licenses on page 2 (the reverse) of this pink temporary license.
The best Napa DUI lawyers will tell you the most important aspect of this pink temporary license is that the pink license is only valid for 30 days, and if you don't act to protect your rights within ten days of the DUI arrest date (the arrest date is usually hand-written at the top of the pink license), then in most cases your privilege to drive in California would be suspended after the 30-day pink license expires.
Knowledgeable Napa DUI lawyers will tell you that the under age 21 minors DUI procedures in Napa are very similar. Click here to see an example of the Under Age 21 Pink Temporary License, and here for the older 2008 version, or older 2004 version. Click here for the Under Age 21 Spanish Language Pink Temp.
Much more information about Easing the Consequences and Getting Your License Back can be found on this site. And if you didn't get this pink temporary license (search your pockets from the day of arrest, your wallet/purse and your vehicle compartments, where Napa DUI arresting officers may have placed it for you), then talk to a Napa DUI lawyer about what this means, and why you may or may not wish to ask the Napa County arresting agency to give it to you. A Napa DUI attorney may be able to save you enormous inconvenience.
Note that some local agencies outside Napa County, such some police agencies in Marin, generate their DMV documents by computer so the temporary license looks almost identical to the examples in the links above, except your copy is typed and white rather than handwritten and pink. Click here for an example of this Computer Generated "Pink" Temporary License.
- 6. Look for and Preserve Physical Evidence
- 7. Photograph the Scene
- 8. Fix Trigger Problems
- 9. Avoid Fear & Stress
- 10. Don't Act on Casual or Bad Advice
Important physical evidence, which your Napa County DUI lawyer might be able to use to help defend your DUI case, will be lost or disappear quickly. Save anything left in the vehicle or your pockets that in any way pertains to the incident, such as maps you used, receipts from places you visited, or partially consumed wine, beer or liquor bottles.
If no one saw you driving, find and save receipts from any bar, restaurant or liquor or retail store which may help to prove time of departure or amount of consumption. Save phone and/or text messages or phone bills that show times of calls, names, times, activities, etc. Even a call to a bar or restaurant may help preserve the name of a bartender who remembered you. If an accident or collision was part of your incident, or police allegations of faulty equipment, find and save auto repair bills or vehicle condition reports.
If a medical condition could explain certain behavior, find and save medical evaluations/reports, prescriptions, pill bottles, letters from doctors. If physical damage or injuries occurred, take photographs (see the next Tip: Photograph the Scene), so that your Napa DUI attorney can show the prosecutor or the jury instant visuals of important occurrences or conditions which might be favorable, and could meaningfully affect the outcome of a DUI case.
Your Napa County DUI attorney will explain to you that photographs of things such as your route, or an intersection, or a lane line you allegedly weaved over, a stop sign which you supposedly ran through or a Napa County neighborhood you were driving through, may make a huge difference to the success of a DUI defense. Don't snap pictures while driving, but obtaining, preserving, and presenting photographic evidence later may prove decisive in your favor.
A picture of the scene of the arrest and/or the location of sobriety testing may help your Napa DUI lawyer challenge an officer's credibility. A photograph of an alleged illegal trailer hitch, broken tail light or other equipment issue or malfunction (especially if you believe everything was working fine), or a picture of a temporary registration sticker or allegedly obscured or misplaced license plate may show you were perfectly legal when driving, and may convince a prosecutor to drop a case, or provide your Napa DUI lawyer with just enough evidence to rebut a police report and prove an illegal police stop.
A photograph close in time to the arrest showing any fresh damage to a vehicle, or injury to you or others (due to driving, or due to later police misconduct) may be critically important to your Napa DUI attorney weeks or months after a DUI incident when closer examination of your matter shows the need for evidence to support your side of the story.
But of course physical evidence changes with time, and disappears or may be lost before you realize its importance. If you sit and think (or better yet, talk to a local Napa County DUI lawyer) about how you might want to prove certain facts later, you may realize that a photograph (or better yet, ten photographs) now can preserve the appearance or state of something or someone for later, before it is lost, and just may make the difference between a DUI conviction and a far better disposition or dismissal.
The best Napa DUI lawyers will tell you that if you want to avoid aggravating the judge or making future arrests even worse, you may wish to consider fixing or addressing outstanding problems that trigger or contribute to adverse contact with the criminal justice system.
Licensing and Equipment
Napa DUI attorneys often advise clients that it may very well be in their best interests to get a suspended driver's license fixed, properly register any unregistered vehicle, pay off old tickets at the Napa County courthouse in Napa, renew expired insurance, and fix vehicle equipment violations which led to the initial stop and DUI arrest in this incident or could lead to police stops in the future.
DUI lawyers see common vehicle and equipment violations which can be addressed to reduce the chances of future police contact, including expired registration tags, malfunctioning tail lights, headlights and license plate lights, missing front license plates, tinted windows, cracked windows, trailer hitches and bike racks blocking rear license plates, balding tires causing lost traction, and after-market exhaust and sound systems.
Alcohol Abuse or Addiction; Self-Help
If your alcohol level was higher (greater than .15%), or if this is your second or third DUI, or other aggravating allegations are present such as a collision, child endangerment (children in the car), hit and run, refusal to give a chemical test, younger age of the offender, uncharged prior incidents, distant priors (outside 10 years), very recent prior DUI conviction or probation violations, etc., then an experienced Napa DUI lawyer will often explain that the court is likely to be concerned with public safety, and the judge may very well consider ordering a number of restrictions on your liberty at the very first court hearing and for the duration of such a case, such as ordering no-alcohol use or possession, waiver of search rights to enforce a no-alcohol order, active probation department supervision (including random drug and alcohol testing), an alcohol monitoring leg device, a breathalyzer in your vehicle, etc.
In such cases, to begin addressing issues or to head off continuing problems, a Napa DUI attorney may very well advise you to consider attending Alcoholics Anonymous ("AA") meetings as well as an additional layer of rehab, in order to try to soften the court's reaction to initial charges, particularly if there are no substantial defenses in this case.
Often, Napa County courts will reward voluntary pre-sentence self-help in DUI cases because it demonstrates personal awareness and responsibility, and a lower likelihood of re-offending. Rewards can include less, or no pre-trial orders or supervision, or at the end of a case, credits for jail time, lower fines, or relief from other common sentencing orders. One meeting per day or at least four or more per week, and perhaps additional out-patient counseling may be very impressive to a Napa County judge. You can find AA and NA locations in Napa County by clicking here: Local AA Meetings, and then select the Napa County link. Likewise, you can find Narcotics Anonymous ("NA") meetings by clicking here: Local NA Meetings, and then select the Napa County link. Discuss your individual circumstances with your Napa DUI attorney.
Napa DUI Lawyer Tip: There are many different kinds of AA and NA meetings in Napa County, so don't be discouraged if your first meeting doesn't seem to fit your personality, issues or situation. Some say that the trick to initial success in AA is to find the meetings that you can best relate to, with respect to (1) the type of meeting and the way it's run: some meetings are closed (alcoholics only) and others are open (newcomers and visitors welcome), some meetings focus exclusively on the "Big BooK" 12-step AA fundamentals, some have speakers or share stories, others are conducted as more informal, open, roundtable discussions, some are more or less religious, etc.; and (2) the type of people who attend: some meetings restrict attendance by age (seniors or youth), gender, or sexual orientation, some meetings allow children, or disallow smoking, etc.
Napa DUI lawyers often recommend that first-timers try several different meeting locations and times. Whether self-initiated or court ordered, attendance proof is important to help your Napa County DUI attorney at an opportune moment in court; click here to print out an Self-Help Attendance Sheet and keep a record of each meeting attended, signed by the meeting leader. If you decide to attend meetings, then you should consider sending your Napa DUI lawyer copies of these partially completed AA attendance sheets on a weekly basis to ensure that they are not lost or stolen, and so that your Napa DUI lawyer will have them at the right time (always keep the originals).
Specialty Meetings for Professionals. There are sobriety groups for many professions, which may be found online with a simple internet search, offering especially relevant peer counselling and support from colleagues who share the same pressures and situations. See, for example, International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous, International Lawyers in Alcoholics Anonymous (and locally, The Other Bar), and Birds of a Feather International (pilots).
Employee Assistance Programs. Many unions and larger companies offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP programs), where participation may offer the same career-specific support network, and also where early participation in a recovery program offered by an employer may tend to soften that employer's response to an employee's DUI arrest or later conviction.
Obviously, the best way to avoid the fear and stress of a DUI arrest, is to avoid drinking and driving altogether. However, if you are facing a DUI in Napa County, the best Napa County DUI lawyers will tell you that a first DUI is not a catastrophe for most people. Honestly, a first DUI typically carries far lighter penalties and consequences in Napa County than multiple DUI convictions. A smart, resourceful and compassionate Napa DUI attorney like Ryan can carefully guide a DUI offender through even the toughest cases.
Even a new DUI arrest with prior convictions is more than often "do-able" in the sense of avoiding actual jail and getting your license back in a reasonable time frame. Following a first or multiple offense DUI arrest, a Napa DUI lawyer can usually help you avoid jail, and help you through the maze of bureaucratic requirements to get your license back, as well as help arrange fines and and other costs to be paid in very low monthly installments.
Know that you are not alone! According to one study, by age 23, almost one-third of Americans have been arrested for a crime other than a minor traffic violation. Another study says one in three adults have arrest or conviction records. Understand that even if you emerge from a Napa County DUI incident with an actual DUI conviction, most likely you will be able to expunge a Napa DUI conviction in two to three years, thereafter allowing you to legally omit any reference to it on most applications for private employment (see our Napa DUI Lawyer Expungement Discussion on this website).
You may find that your own DUI arrest is not as shocking as many others; click here to see Ryan's Wall of Fame and all kinds of famous (and not-so-famous but surprising) people arrested for alleged DUIs.
Once you have relaxed a bit, you can click on Ten Tips to Ease the Consequences of a DUI on this site for more details on how to get through this ordeal with the least amount of pain and inconvenience. You will continue to see why hiring a local Napa DUI lawyer like Ryan can be a tremendous help. This is precisely what local Napa County DUI attorneys do best.
In addition, a local Napa DUI attorney can appear for you in Napa County Superior Court or Napa traffic court and the Napa DMV so that you don't have to go, waste time, and be embarrassed, confused or stressed. This is true for everyone, including out-of-town tourists and visitors to Napa County for whom it would be even more inconvenient to handle yourself. Make no mistake, DUIs can be serious offenses for many people, but the best Napa DUI lawyers will get you out of it, or through it, with the least pain and aggravation.
A good Napa County DUI lawyer will tell you: never, ever blindly follow legal advice offered by Napa County law enforcement, or an employee at the Napa DMV, or at the drinking driver DUI program classes, or even friends and family. With respect to government employees, although sometimes well-intentioned public servants, still, police and other government workers are paid (and often rewarded with bonuses, promotions, medals and social media recognition) to arrest you, convict you, punish you, and move on to the next case.
Napa County police and DMV employees do not know you, nor do they have the motivation, skill or experience to help you identify subtle legal issues in a very complicated area of the law, or to give you practical and/or legal advice in your unique circumstances in order to make this situation easier for you. It is actually illegal for anyone to give you legal advice without a license to practice law, precisely because of the many rules and laws which can adversely or beneficially impact your individual DUI situation.
A police officer recently boasted to one of Ryan's clients that he has "never lost a DUI case." This is a rare admission by a local veteran police officer that he is absolutely not a neutral party in your case. It would be reasonable to conclude that cops may tend to have a sense of investment and pride in the outcome of their DUI arrests, their yearly totals, and visions of ceremonies, awards, promotions, pay raises and prestige. It is also important to understand and remember that your arresting and attending officers will testify against you. So then, why would you ask for, or listen to, or follow advice from someone whose motivations are completely opposite to your best interests? The only person whose sole and exclusive responsibility is to help you is your Napa County DUI attorney.
Click on Know Your Rights on this site for more discussion about civil rights abuses of all kinds, and about Napa County police, and thinking before you speak or act when confronted with the police. Given these realities, Napa DUI lawyers are always puzzled by anyone who seeks or follows casual legal advice from any official paid to bring you down, and undisputably lacks the necessary legal training and experience to identify and process all of the legal complexities in your unique case. Moreover, simple human nature dictates that their advice will more often be motivated by their own convenience, pride, and advancement, rather than the best interests of someone like you who they don't know and whom they are accusing of a crime.
Government Employees; Some Examples
Police & DMV. Often Napa County law enforcement officers will subtly lead you into conversation and admissions, or convince you to consent to investigatory interviews or searches, any of which may lead to criminal charges which would not have been possible if you had questioned or considered resisting such vague police statements as "I'm going to have to ask you to...," or "Here's what we're going to do...," or "I want you to...." Specifically in the context of Napa County DUI cases, you may find yourself manipulated into performing field sobriety tests (you are never required to perform any of those tests), or giving a breath test and declining the more accurate, re-testable, blood test, or a cop may subtly convince you not to exercise your right to get a blood test after you take the breath test in a DUI case. A blood test requires extra police time and effort; you follow his/her advice, the officer saves time, and your Napa DUI attorney loses an opportunity to win your case.
Another common example of bad advice is a Napa County police officer or Napa DMV counter clerk stating that you don't "need to" or "have to" get a DMV hearing and you should just "wait" until you receive a notice from DMV. A recent client related that when she called to ask for a hearing, the DMV employee stated "here's what you do: get an SR-22 and you'll get your license back!" Another client emailed Ryan that when she tried to get her DMV hearing set up within the first 10 days after arrest, "They told me that I would have to set up an appointment but I should wait until I go to court to figure out what to do with my license, so come back in 30 days to see if I can get a restricted license." Refer to Tip #3 Contact DMV for more examples of misleading statements from DMV employees.
A good Napa County DUI lawyer will explain to you that not only is this "advice" wholly and completely over-simplified, but in addition, if you don't successfully ask for a hearing and challenge the DMV administrative suspension, you will lose any possibility to take control of the process and you will lose the opportunity to delay, or protect yourself from, a driver license suspension. There is an entire process for protecting your right to drive against illegal police actions, or ill-informed government employees, and if you casually follow such advice, you will lose valuable rights that could have saved your driving privileges.
DUI Program Staff. Yet another common example is a Napa DUI program employee stating that you can't enroll in their mandated program until after a Napa County DUI court conviction or until after your separate Napa DMV case is resolved, or that you should enroll in their short program rather than the standard program required by the DMV to reissue your license. This is not correct; poorly conceived and inaccurate DUI program advice like this often causes someone without a good Napa County DUI lawyer to be suspended longer than required by law. Understand that cops and bureaucrats who are fond of quoting rules seldom see or care for the larger legal picture, or promoting your rights like a Napa DUI lawyer does on your behalf.
A DUI program "counselor" was overheard by one of Ryan's clients, saying, "DUI lawyers are a waste of money." Some police and bail companies are known to give unsolicited opinions like this as well. Obviously this client disagreed, calling Ryan after the DUI class to report the improper personal opinion voiced by county staff in a court-ordered DUI program. Just like with everything else in life, some people need help and some people don't want it, or can't afford it, but there are lots of important reasons to hire a lawyer when faced with a real DUI criminal case in Napa County superior court, and a driver license suspension at DMV. See Ryan's discussion of why to hire a Napa County DUI lawyer at Tip #2 Hire a Napa DUI Lawyer, and click to see many pages of sincere, grateful Testimonial Reviews on this site where DUI clients arrested in Napa County offer up a different experience than this counselor's general ignorance of lawyers would suggest. With the benefit of hindsight after hiring a Napa DUI lawyer, and after Napa County DUI cases were resolved by Ryan, former clients have generously stated they strongly disagree that hiring a DUI attorney was a waste, or anything but an enormous relief and lifesaver, well worth a reasonable fee. The client who called Ryan to relay the counselor's comment in class promised she was going to stand up in her last class and voice her confidence and gratitude for Ryan's advocacy on her behalf, and for his guidance navigating the intimidating, complicated, "drive you crazy" world of cops, bureaucrats, courts, and DMV.
That same DUI program was reported to have advised, "When you finish our 3-month DUI program, you can apply for your license back." This information is so bare and lacking in proper context, timing and procedures that it is fundamentally wrong in its simplicity, and someone who does not hire a Napa County DUI attorney, and just follows advice like this, is likely to suffer a driving suspension far longer than necessary. Click to see Ryan's comprehensive discussion on this site regarding Getting Your License Back.
Friends and Family
Unfortunately friends and family who obviously do care for you, still don't have the training or experience, and may be motivated by their own frustrating history without even being aware of it. You are well-advised to do your own research and come to your own conclusions before acting (or failing to act) to protect your sanity and your future. A caller recently stated to Ryan that "half my friends say I should just walk in and get it over with, and half say hire a lawyer, so I don't know what to do." Ryan's answer: a DUI lawyer can walk in for you, determine if there is anything to be done to lessen the consequences, and resolve a DUI case in the best possible way, with all of the critical explanations, directions, tips and tricks, so you don't have to try to do it yourself, risking mistakes, a poor result, and years of regret; if you can afford a reasonable fee, then why wouldn't you hire a good Napa DUI lawyer? Make decisions based on common sense, not the pessimism or disappointment of others.
If you want no-nonsense, accurate, thought-provoking advice on what to do after a DUI arrest, ask an experienced, local Napa DUI lawyer. Take advantage of free Napa County DUI lawyer consultations; it's one of the few times you truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain.