Our Ventura County drunk driving lawyers fight to get our clients’ DUI charges dismissed while saving their driving privileges. The Ventura County DUI process and penalties are harsher than in other California counties. To help you make sense of it, below our DUI defense lawyers will explain the following:
- 1. What happens in a Ventura DUI arrest?
- 2. What is the criminal case like?
- 3. What is the DMV hearing?
- 4. Can the charge get reduced or dismissed?
- 5. What is the penalty for DUI in Ventura County?
- 6. Where is Ventura County DUI School?
- 7. Who is Ventura County DUI attorney John Murray?
1. What happens in a Ventura DUI arrest?
After the traffic stop, the officers will generally ask suspects to blow twice into a handheld breathalyzer called a PAS (Preliminary Alcohol Screening) breath test device. A blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher is illegal. The officer may also ask the suspect to perform field sobriety tests. If the officers believe the suspect is under the influence of alcohol (or drugs), they will arrest him/her for DUI.
Most suspects get taken to a local police station or to the Ventura County Jail Pre-Trial Detention Facility, located at 800 S Victoria Ave, Ventura, CA 93009. The phone number is (805) 654-3335.
For a felony drunk driving, DUI with injury, or other serious case, the suspect will be detained and brought to court within two business days unless bail is posted. Otherwise, most DUI suspects get released automatically within 24 hours of arrest (without having to post Ventura County bail).
Following a Ventura County DUI arrest, the police will give defendants two papers: One is a citation to appear in court at a future date. And the second is a pink temporary license that expires in 30 days. The defendant or his/her Ventura County criminal defense attorney must contact the California DMV within 10 days of the arrest to request a hearing. If not, the defendant will lose his/her driving privileges at the end of the 30 days.
2. What is the criminal case like?
The first court hearing for a Ventura County DUI charge is an arraignment in either of the following courthouses:
Hall of Justice
800 South Victoria Avenue
Ventura, California 93009
East County Courthouse
3855-F Alamo Street
Simi Valley, California 93063
People who hire a Ventura County DUI lawyer can usually stay home and let the attorney appear on their behalf.
The judge will ask the defendant or the attorney to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty to the drunk driving charge. If the plea is not guilty, the DUI case will be set for a jury trial.
The sentence gets more severe depending on the defendant’s BAC. The higher the BAC, the more jail time or work release. Defendants who do not accept the D.A.’s offer in the arraignment court face a higher penalty if the case is set for trial.
Defendants who choose trial will be assigned a particular courtroom. Each defendant has a speedy trial right, meaning the trial must begin by a certain date. If the D.A. is not ready to proceed by that date – or no courtroom is available to accommodate the case – it may get dismissed altogether before a trial even starts.
3. What is the DMV hearing?
DUI defendants or their lawyers must contact the California DMV within ten days of the arrest to request a hearing. Defendants should also request a stay of suspension so they can keep their license until after the hearing judge renders a decision. The hearing will eventually take place in the Oxnard Driver Safety Office.
A Ventura County DUI defense attorney can represent DUI defendants in both the criminal case as well as at the DMV hearing. Defendants may or may not be asked to attend. The attorney can use the hearing to subpoena and obtain valuable evidence in the case. The attorney can even call the arresting officer as a witness and question the police officer about mistakes and problems in the case.
Therefore, defense attorneys can use the DMV hearing not only as a chance to save the defendant’s driver’s license. Attorneys can also use the hearing to collect and generate valuable evidence that increases the chances of beating the DUI case in criminal court.
After the Ventura County DMV hearing takes place, the hearing officer will take the matter under advisement and later issue a written determination. This can take from one to 30 days. If the hearing officer finds in the defendant’s favor, the defendant keeps his/her license. If the hearing officer finds against the defendant, the license goes into suspension several days after he/she receives written notice.
Note that defendants who get convicted of DUI in criminal court will always get their driver’s license suspended, even if they win the DMV hearing. The criminal case and DMV case are two separate proceedings.
Following the passage of California Senate Bill 1046, DUI defendants may be able to drive on a suspended license as long as they install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a predetermined period of time.
4. Can the charge get reduced or dismissed?
Unlike other California prosecuting agencies, the Ventura County District Attorney does not plea bargain DUI cases down to wet reckless, dry reckless, or other lesser offenses. From a defendant‘s point of view, this policy can be seen as good and bad.
The lack of Ventura County plea bargaining is bad in that defendants lose the chance to get the charges reduced. But the policy is good in that Ventura prosecutors are sometimes willing to dismiss a DUI case altogether if the state evidence has any weaknesses.
A good Ventura County DUI defense attorney will therefore scrutinize every aspect of the case. Invariably attorneys find problems in the evidence that can be used to the defendant’s advantage when negotiating with the prosecutor. If negotiations fail, attorneys can draw on this preparation and take the case to jury trial. If the jury returns a not guilty verdict, the case is dismissed.
5. What is the penalty for DUI in Ventura County?
Ventura County is known for being particularly harsh when it comes to DUI sentencing. Even for a first time DUI, defendants receive jail time (or work release) and unusually steep fines. Specifically, punishment for a first offense Ventura DUI includes:
- A minimum of 48 hours in Ventura County Jail or five days of work release – If the judge imposes jail, the defendant generally must surrender within a month of the DUI sentencing date. If the person lives outside of Ventura County, he/she may be able to serve jail in his/her hometown.
- A three-month Ventura County DUI School.
- Three years of probation – The Ventura County Probation Department is located in Room A of the Hall of Justice. Defendants must enroll within five days of DUI sentencing. Even in misdemeanor DUI cases, the probation is considered formal probation. However, most of the reporting is done through written forms as opposed to live meetings with a probation officer.
- Fines & penalties of approximately $3,000.
- A six-month driver’s license suspension, though drivers should be able to continue driving without restrictions if they agree to get an ignition interlock device installed.
On a second-time Ventura DUI, the court imposes sentencing of five years probation, 30 days of Ventura County Jail or work furlough, and an 18-month DUI school. Under the work furlough program, defendants spend nights in the Ventura County Jail and are released during the day to attend work. The program allows inmates to keep their jobs while serving out their jail sentences. On a third offense, the jail sentence is a minimum 120 days.
Note that work release may be denied if the person’s BAC comes back 0.15% or greater, or the person causes an accident in which someone is injured. If work release is granted, the person must go to Room 205 of the Ventura Hall of Justice and enroll within five days of the DUI sentencing. The County will charge a $148 enrollment fee and a daily administrative fee of $36.
6. Where is Ventura County DUI School?
Ventura County operates its own DUI schools with locations in Ventura, Fillmore, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, and Simi Valley:
828 W. Ventura Street Ste. 250
1911 Williams Dr
Simi Valley DUI
3150 E. Los Angeles Ave.
Simi Valley, California
Thousand Oaks DUI
125 W. Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Thousand Oaks, California
5850 Thille Street, Ventura,
California, United States
A person convicted of driving under the influence in Ventura County must contact the Alcohol Coordinator at (805) 981-9210 within five days of sentencing to enroll. Depending on the number of prior DUI convictions, BAC level, and other facts, Ventura County DUI school can last from three months to 18 months and can cost from $780 to nearly $2500.
Defendants who live in another county or state may be able to attend a local California DUI alcohol school or a comparable out-of-state program. These arrangements must be made with the Ventura Alcohol Coordinator and with the court ahead of time.
7. Who is Ventura DUI attorney John Murray?
Ventura County criminal defense attorney John Murray was born and raised here, and he knows how the system works. DUI lawyer John Murray has secured several not guilty verdicts and dismissals in even the most difficult cases. And he has helped countless clients save their driver’s licenses and thus their livelihoods.
Our Ventura County DUI lawyers have years of experience defending clients against misdemeanor DUI, California felony DUI, DUI with injury, and vehicular manslaughter cases. We also represent clients at DMV hearings to contest driver’s license suspensions.
We serve clients throughout northern, central, and southern California, including Los Angeles County, Santa Barbara County, Camarillo, Westlake Village, Santa Clara, and more. We also practice personal injury in addition to criminal and DUI law.