Your Napa Driving Under the Influence Case
More than 600 people per year get arrested in Napa for driving under the influence, so you are not alone in the anxiety you are experiencing.
As a local Napa criminal defense attorney with nearly 30 years of handling DUI defense in the Napa Valley exclusively, I can offer you expert guidance and advocacy in the Napa Courts to help you through the process.
Here is what you can expect for your Napa case:
In most instances you will have been given a citation by the officer with a date to appear in Court. Sometimes in cases of collisions or blood tests, the Napa cops will issue a citation with a date to be determined, or not issue a citation at all. In these cases, it is important that you or your attorney follow up with that agency to determine if a case has been filed. Otherwise, you may get arrested on a warrant you never knew about.
If you did receive paperwork from the officer, you will have a pink document with a DMV logo in the upper left corner entitled "Administrative Per Se Suspension and Temporary Driver's License." It is very important that you read the information under the section "Hearing Information" and act to request a hearing within 10 days of your arrest! (When you come see me, I can do this for you). If you do not transmit this request to the DMV within 10 days of your arrest, your license will be suspended, and there is nothing I or anyone else can do to prevent it!
Your first court date is called an "arraignment." It will be held at 8:30am in Department "D" at the Napa Criminal Courthouse, 1111 Third Street, Napa, before Commissioner Young. I can appear without you on that date. Your case will be set for a pretrial conference on a future date at 9:30am in the same courtroom.
There may be multiple court dates as I negotiate the best plea offer for your case, and prepare the case for trial. There may be pretrial motions to suppress evidence, contest speedy trial violations, retest evidence, obtain further discovery, or others. Thorough case preparation takes time, and cases (like wine) tend to improve with age. (This is one reason it is preferable to have a local attorney who spends every day in the Napa Courts.) You need not personally appear at any of these court dates.
Once all of our pretrial work is completed, if you are not satisfied with the plea offers made by the prosecution or the court, we will set the case for trial.
Wednesday afternoon before the week of trial we will have the Readiness Conference. This is the first court appearance requiring your personal attendance. It is not unusual for the best offer to be obtained on this late date, as the prosecution sees the defense case develop.
A DUI trial is usually completed in 2 days, unless there are several defense witnesses. At the trial, the prosecution will generally present the arresting officer, any additional officer who performed the field sobriety tests, and an expert witness from the Department of Justice as foundation for the chemical test. The defense need not present any evidence at all; or we may elect to have witnesses to the driving (or lack of driving), the amount and time of consumption of alcohol, an expert witness to refute the DOJ expert, and other evidence to support our defense. The jury will usually finish their deliberations on the third day.
The Constitution does not permit a defendant to be penalized for exercising his or her right to trial. The penalty for conviction after trial should be the same as the standard disposition in Napa for that DUI offense.