DUI Cases at the LAX "Airport" Courthouse

Lax courthouse

The Los Angeles International "LAX" Airport Courthouse presides over the majority of driving under the influence cases that originate in L.A.'s "Westside." This includes such areas as Santa Monica, Venice, El Segundo, Century City and Culver City.The Airport Courthouse is located, not surprisingly, right near LAX at

11701 South La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
(310) 727-6020

The Airport parking lot is reserved for jurors and employees.  Public parking is available at the Pacific Concourse parking lot.  Metered parking is also available on the streets immediately surrounding the courthouse.

If you've been arrested for DUI...and your case has been assigned to the LAX Courthouse...our seasoned Airport Courthouse DUI defense attorneys can help.  Because of our vast experience defending drunk driving cases, we have developed relationships with L.A.'s prosecutors, judges and courtroom staff that gives us an advantage when it comes to obtaining the most favorable results for our clients.

In this article, our California DUI defense attorneys1 address the following:

1. What to Expect At Your
LAX Airport Courthouse DUI Arraignment

1.1. Arraignment basics

1.2. LAX Airport Court arraignment offers

2. The DUI Pretrial Process at the
Airport Courthouse
3. Trials and Sentencing for DUIs at the
LAX Airport Courthouse

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

1. What to Expect At Your
LAX Airport Courthouse DUI Arraignment

Drunk driving arrests that occur in Los Angeles's "Westside" are prosecuted at the LAX Airport Courthouse.  The Airport Court houses three arraignment courtrooms.  Your arraignment is your first opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere, more commonly referred to as "no contest". It is, in fact, the first stage in the California criminal court process

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office staffs Department 140 (Room 311 on the 3rd floor).  This courtroom handles DUI arrests that take place in El Segundo, Culver City, Marina Del Rey and the other Westside cities that are independent of the city of Los Angeles.  Any felony DUI that takes place on the "Westside" is also arraigned in this courtroom.

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office staffs Department 141 (Room 302 on the 3rd floor).  This courtroom handles all misdemeanor DUI arrests that were made by the Los Angeles Police Department "LAPD" or any agency in the city of Los Angeles, and/or that take place in any of the "Westside" areas not assigned to Department 140.

The Santa Monica City Attorney staffs Department 147 and (Room 910 on the 9th floor). This courtroom handles all misdemeanor DUI cases stemming from arrests by the Santa Monica Police Department or that occurred in the city of Santa Monica.

When you are arraigned for a DUI at the LAX Airport Courthouse, the courtroom staff will play a video that details your Constitutional rights.  Two of the most important rights that pertain to your arraignment include

  1. your right to an attorney (which includes the right to have a Los Angeles Public Defender appointed to you if you cannot afford a private attorney), and
  2. the right to a speedy trial.

1.1. Arraignment basics

If, following your arrest, you were not released from jail, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department or other police agency will transport you to your arraignment.  If you hired an attorney while you were in custody, he/she will meet you in court.  But if you did not retain a lawyer...and you cannot afford to do so...you will be given the opportunity to speak with a Public Defender.  You can also choose to represent yourself, which is known as representing yourself "in pro per".

Defendants who are released from jail...either because they were released on their own recognizance, known as an "O.R. release" or because they
posted bail)...must either personally appear for their arraignment or (in misdemeanor cases) may do so through a private attorney.  If neither you nor an attorney shows up for the scheduled court date,  the judge will issue a California bench warrant for your arrest.

If...at the time of your arraignment...you are still on bail, your attorney can request that the judge either eliminate or, at the very least, reduce your bail.  This request triggers a bail hearing which, unfortunately, gives the prosecutor a chance to make a push for a higher bail.

1.2. LAX Airport Court arraignment offers

The defense attorney's goal is to get the charge reduced or dismissed, and to get penalties minimized. The prosecutors want to move their cases and get as many DUI convictions as possible.

As an incentive to resolve your case quickly, the DUI prosecutors at the LAX Airport Court would want you to believe that they offer their best "deals" during the arraignment.  While this may work great in theory, it's not always practical...nor is it always true.

LAX Airport Court DUI defense attorneys don't typically have much information at the time of the arraignment.  In fact, this is often their first opportunity to review the police reports, lab reports, and other related documents in the prosecutor's possession.  Once they begin investigating the case, they usually uncover facts or circumstances that strengthen their case.  And when a defense attorney has enough information to address the weaknesses in the prosecution's case, the DUI plea bargain negotiations usually tend to get better, not worse, for the person accused.

Examples of arraignment offers for DUIs at the LAX Airport Court are as follows:

    • A "standard first"...that is, a first-time DUI with no aggravating factors (discussed below)...consists of

    • A "standard second" consists of

      • between 36 months and 60 months of informal probation,
      • a minimum of 96 hours in a county jail,
      • fines ranging from $390-$1,000, plus court penalties
      • completion of an 18- or 30-month DUI school,
      • a two-year license suspension (which you may be able to convert to a restricted license after one-year), and
      • installation of an IID.
  • A "standard third" consists of

    • 60 months of informal probation,
    • a minimum of 120 days in a county jail,
    • fines between $390-$1,000, plus court penalties
    • completion of an 18- or 30-month DUI school
    • a three-year license suspension,
    • designation as a habitual traffic offender ("HTO"), and
    • installation of an IID.

Aggravating factors, such as

typically increase these DUI penalties.

Of course, these offers will vary, depending on your criminal history and the specific facts of your case.

When the offer seems like it may be a good one, your DUI defense attorney may ask to "continue" the case, which means that you would waive your right to a speedy trial so that he/she could do some further investigation while keeping the prosecutor's offer on the table.  Cases that do not resolve during arraignment advance to the pretrial process.

2. The DUI Pretrial Process at the
LAX Airport Courthouse

Once a case has moved beyond the arraignment, it advances into the
pretrial process. Drunk driving cases at the LAX Airport Courthouse remain in the arraignment courtroom throughout the pretrial process.

This phase of the court process is where the bulk of the plea bargaining will take place and where your DUI LAX Airport attorney will argue his/her pretrial motions.

When your lawyer files pretrial motions, he/she does so in an effort to have your charges either reduced or dismissed.  With respect to DUI cases at the LAX Airport Courthouse, the two most common pretrial motions are the Penal Code 1538.5 Motion to Suppress Evidence and the Pitchess Motion to identify whether the arresting officer has a prior history of misconduct.

If you are unable to settle the case during the pretrial process, your case proceeds to trial.

3. Trials and Sentencing for DUIs at the
LAX Airport Courthouse

DUI jury trials at the LAX Airport Courthouse typically last about three to four days, depending on the exact trial courtroom to which they are sent (∗some courtrooms only run trials in the morning or afternoon in order to handle other "post-conviction" sentencing and/or probation matters).

These types of trials are commonplace at this Court.  Because of this, prosecutors and their witnesses...who are usually

  1. the arresting officer, and
  2. a member of the L.A.P.D.'s Scientific Investigation Division ("SID") (a criminalist who will testify that your BAC and/or field sobriety test
    performance is consistent with someone who is under the influence)...

present their cases and testify in a very "rehearsed" fashion.  It's almost as if they're focusing on a generic defendant rather than on the facts of your particular case.

This is one of the reasons why having a DUI attorney who regularly appears in this court is so beneficial.  Our LAX Airport Court DUI defense lawyers know how the prosecutors think, what arguments they will rely on and the questions they will ask their witnesses.  As a result, we know the most effective ways to defend YOUR case while simultaneously attacking theirs.

Of course the goal of a jury trial is to secure a "not guilty" verdict and this a dismissal of the case. But even if you are convicted of driving under
the influence the good news is that judges who sentence defendants for DUI at the LAX Airport Courthouse will many times authorize alternative sentencing options.

"Alternative" sentencing allows a convicted defendant to serve his/her sentence at home (via electronic monitoring or house arrest) or in a private jail (such as the Pasadena City Jail or the Beverly Hills Jail) in lieu of being incarcerated with the general population at a county jail like the Los Angeles Twin Towers Jail).  This type of sentencing may also allow you to perform community labor like CALTRANS roadside work or community service instead of serving time in a jail.

This is yet another reason why having an attorney who has experience handling DUIs at the LAX Airport Courthouse is so important.   As LAX Airport DUI defense attorney John Murray2 explains, "Attorneys who routinely defend clients at this court know which judges will allow these types of alternative sentences and how to convince them that alternative sentencing is appropriate for their clients."

Call us for help...

For more information about DUI cases at the Los Angeles Airport Courthouse, or to discuss your case confidentially with one of our attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

Our California DUI law offices are located in and around Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


1Our California DUI defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

2LAX Airport DUI defense attorney John Murray represents clients at the LAX Airport Courthouse and throughout Orange County, including Newport Beach and Santa Ana.  He also represents DUI clients at local DMV driver safety offices to conduct their DMV hearings.


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