DUI in Monterey County

Attorney Tom Nash – Monterey’s DUI Guy

DUI in Monterey County

Monterey County is a great place to live, work and visit. From the majestic beauty of Big Sur, to the sands of Carmel Beach, the golf capital of the world, Pebble Beach, Monterey and its scenic Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row to the vast agricultural fields of Salinas, the natural beauty is in comparable.

Monterey County has police forces in all its cities, the Sheriffs Department in the unincorporated county areas and California Highway Patrol on its many highways from scenic Coast Route 1, to its main freeway 101. All these agencies are constantly on the lookout for DUI drivers.

Monterey — Salinas Courts are tough on those convicted of DUI and give higher fines, longer probation and harsher sentences than most other counties in California.

If You Are Stopped in Monterey County

DUI Investigation

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have identified many driving behaviors as possible identifiers of DUI driving: making wide turns, weaving, etc. (but not, interestingly, speeding). A cop may pull you over for any of these whether or not you’ve been drinking. Obviously the police are interested in what anybody is doing driving late at night or in the early a.m. when the bars close. You may be pulled over for what is called a “pretext stop” and have a cop alleged that you didn’t dim your headlights or that your license plate lamp doesn’t properly illuminate your plate.

It is very important to know that you have the complete right not to participate in the initial investigation by the police officer (unless you are on probation for a previous DUI and have been ordered by the court to do so) you do not have to answer any of the police questions, where you are coming from, whether you’ve had a drink, etc. and merely produce your license, registration and insurance.

The police will most often not tell you that you are not required to perform any of their so-called “field sobriety tests (FST).” Most of the tests of physical coordination and “divided attention” that they want to subject you to are not even approved NHTSA tests and have no corollary with your ability to drive safely or whether you are impaired.

You also do not have to take the breath test that they give as part of the FSTs. Police are required to give you an “admonition” advising you that this test is voluntary, but most seldom do.

If You Are Arrested and Charged

DUI/DWI Arrest and Charge

If you have been stopped, arrested for and charged with drunk driving in Monterey County, the first thing that happens is that an arresting officer takes your driver’s license from you and gives you a pink piece of paper, often called a temporary driver’s license, but it is actually an administrative per se notice of suspension.

Such actions are conducted under the “stop and snatch” license law — in order to protect your driving privileges you or an attorney must request an administrative per se hearing from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Driver Safety Division within ten (10) days of arrest. If this is not done, your license will go into an automatic suspension 30 days after the arrest and it will be extremely difficult to regain your driving privileges without attending a DMV-approved driving program, which is expensive and time-consuming.

DUI Investigation

If the officer forms the opinion that you have been driving under the influence, you will generally be transported to a station or a hospital to take a breath or blood test. If you refuse to take these evidentiary tests, you may be charged with a “refusal” which could result in the loss of your driver’s license for one year on a first DUI offense and longer if you have prior DUI convictions or prior refusals listed with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). With this suspension, the enhancement of penalties in the courts as well as an action by the DMV apply.

At the Jail

At the jail, you may be released on your own recognizance if it is a first offense and you have a valid California license. If not, bail is set and you must call a bail bondsman to obtain release from custody. After release, it is imperative to contact a qualified DUI defense attorney who can assess the particulars of your individual case, advise you regarding the implications of the criminal case and help protect your license from an automatic DMV action (license suspension).

DUI warning: You have only 10 days from the date of your DUI arrest to contact the DMV Driver Safety Division to request an administrative per se hearing. Otherwise your driver’s license will automatically be suspended 30 days after your arrest. Monterey’s DUI guy, Tom Nash, is happy to help you in obtaining a hearing or to instruct you on how to obtain one for yourself.

It is important to get an experienced DUI defense lawyer. In California, even state bar certified criminal defense specialists often do not know the intricacies of California DUI law. The California state bar does not have a designation specifically for a DUI defense specialist. Make sure you obtain an attorney with extensive DUI trial experience.

Attorney Tom Nash is a contributor to the California Drunk Driving Law by Kuwach, Burglin and Simons, and is widely known as the DUI guy in Monterey because of his over 30 years of focus on DUI defense and his extensive DUI trial experience. Contact the Law Offices of Thomas Vinson Nash today for a free initial consultation.

Note: If your case cannot be won, there are numerous sentencing alternatives — sometimes community service may be substituted for a jail sentence. Monterey County also supplies a home confinement program whereby someone may be put under house arrest and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet as an alternative to jail. In the case of second offense and multiple DUI offenses, the court may also require the installation of an ignition interlock Breathalyzer in the defendant’s motor vehicle.