Law Firm of Aaron Bortel

It Is Advisable to Retain an Attorney Experienced in DUI Defense in Marin County to Represent You at the DMV Hearing

By hiring a DUI lawyer who knows what they’re doing, sometimes we can help prevent that suspension, or reduce the length of the license suspension if we cannot. Only very few DUI lawyers who operate in Marin County are able to do that. Many of them don’t go that far in helping their clients. It’s unfortunate, but as a practice that is experienced in DUI defense in Marin, we’ll be able to help you with that.

The Marin County Court Appearance Procedure for DUI Charges

What used to happen in Marin is the opposite of San Francisco. They’ve gone the opposite way. In Marin, everything used to go through one department and then if a case was going to be a suppression motion or a trial that the case would get sent out to another courtroom. That was what we call a master calendar.

Now, what happens is on a first offense, almost every DUI that’s a misdemeanor will go under Department N, as in Nancy. In Department N, someone will be assigned to a different department right away for their next court appearance.

Now, there are 5 departments in Marin that your case can get sent to and there are 5 different judges. Those are typically in Departments J, G, F, D or K. every once in a while, those could switch around.

Some of those appearances will be set for 9:00 and some would be set for 8:30 in the morning. Your case would go there and in between that first court appearance in Department N and your appearance in the next courtroom, your attorney would be able to talk with the DAs office, have a conference or request discovery to get additional information that they need to fight your case.

The case is supposed to stay in that same department throughout the entirety until it’s finished. Sometimes, they’ll switch it around, which isn’t a big deal.

For example, a couple of weeks ago, I was in front of one judge and we had a suppression motion. He just had a very full calendar so we were sent over to another judge to do the motion. Then we will go back to that original judge for the next court appearance.

Is a DUI More Difficult to Defend in Marin County? A DUI Charge in Marin County Will Not Receive a Plea Offer to a Reduced Charge

One area where Marin is different than every other county in the San Francisco Bay area has to do with the offers that they give on DUI cases. More importantly is the offers that they do not give. In Marin County, if you get arrested for a DUI, alcohol, they will not offer a reduced charge.

They will not offer a wet reckless or a dry reckless, which are things that are possible in every other county depending on the case. But if the case involves alcohol, they just don’t reduce the charges. They never have, they’ve always had that same procedure.

Aaron Bortel

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If You Are Facing a DUI Charge in Marin County, Don’t Be Misled by an Attorney Who Claims to Be Able to Reduce the Charge

What you want your attorney to try and do is try and get the case dismissed. The ways to do that are through a suppression motion, through negotiation, or by going to trial. A lot of times, attorneys will mislead people. I’ve seen it a lot in Marin County, where someone will come in with a .17 or a .18 blood alcohol level. This happens quite often when you have big companies where they’re farming out cases to the attorneys who will operate in Marin County. A Southern California company might do this.

They’ll have people on the phone saying, “We can get you a wet reckless or a dry reckless or try and negotiate that.” Or even with a lower blood alcohol level, they might try and say that. It’s not true. It can’t happen. That’s misleading and you have to watch out for that.

Again, what we can do is try and get the case dismissed or do a motion to try and get the evidence against you suppressed or take the case to trial.

An Experienced Attorney Will Perform a Thorough Investigation of Your DUI Case to Uncover Any Information That Could Lead to a Dismissal

What I can do for my clients is an honest assessment of the case. In a Marin DUI case, first I do all my investigation and gather all my evidence. This includes obtaining information on the breath machines, getting the chromatographs and the history on a blood test, and obtaining audio and video tapes of the driving and the field sobriety tests when it exists. What I can try and do with that is determine if we can win the case. If we can’t, I’m able to keep prolong the amount of time my client can continue to drive.

I’m usually able to keep the client driving by continuing the DMV hearing for discovery purposes or for things that we still need to get. It may take 3 or 4 months, sometimes more. But I can keep my client driving.

Once we are able to figure out where our case is going, at that point, something might happen to the license if we can’t have the charge dismissed or win a motion or win at trial. I’ve had many different cases where my client has kept driving for many months. Often, that can mean keeping a job, being able to drive children to school during the school year.

There are some strategies that can keep a client driving for a long period of time. If there is going to be any suspension or any restriction, the client has more time to prepare for that eventuality. It’s very hard to go right into a suspension and try and figure out how you’re going to rearrange your schedule.

How you’re going to get to work, how you’re going to drive your children to school, how you’re going to meet with clients—how you’re going to do a lot of different things if you don’t have a license. That’s something that I can do to help people.

Other Counties in California Will Reduce a DUI to a Charge of Wet Reckless

Interviewer: You’ve mentioned wet reckless and dry reckless. Can you explain that?

Aaron: A wet reckless, and again, this is not an offer you will receive in Marin County for a case that involves alcohol. Marin County has actually recently started considering and in some cases offering a wet reckless for a marijuana DUI. Basically what that means is that someone is impaired driving; it’s not necessarily being at over a .08 though.

A wet reckless carries a shorter fine and sometimes a shorter probation. It has a shorter what we call hang time, which is how much time you face if you violate your probation.

Aaron Bortel

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A Wet Reckless Carries Less Fines and Penalties than Does a DUI

On a regular DUI, it’s usually 3-year probation. In some counties, they’ll do as much as the 6 years, such as in Napa County. On a lot of cases, that is what they impose for a first offense. But, if you were to violate your probation by say getting another DUI while you’re on probation or getting in trouble for something else, for the DUI they can give you up to 6 months in jail.

You have a hearing in front of a judge, not a jury, to determine if your probation was violated. On a wet reckless, the hang time is 3 months, so 90 days and the same penalties apply with a dry reckless. The most they can give you is 3 months in jail if you violated your probation.

The fine is less and the attendance at the DUI class is a 12 hour course instead of 3 months. There are issues there where you might still need to do the 3 month course, depending on how the DMV came out. But if there’s no alcohol involved or we won the DMV case, you would be looking at most likely only having to do the 12 hour DUI course.

Other areas where a wet reckless is better than a DUI would be the DMV hearing and you get a wet reckless, you do not need to get an SR22, which is additional high risk insurance policy. This is a policy that you would need to get in addition to your regular policy. That can, depending on the types of cars in your record, potentially save thousands of dollars for people.

The wet reckless charge also looks better on a criminal record. It is a crime, it is a misdemeanor, as is a dry reckless, but it still looks a lot better. If it has a shorter probation imposed then we can apply for an expungement in a shorter period of time.

A Dry Reckless Is Not an Alcohol-Related Offense

A dry reckless has the same hang time of 3 month. It’s not an alcohol-related driving offense. A DUI or a wet reckless would prevent you in most cases from getting into Canada, a dry reckless should not because there’s no alcohol involved.

Also, a dry reckless will not do anything for DMV purposes other than you get 2 points. A dry reckless sometimes has a lower fine. A dry reckless and a wet reckless will usually result in no jail time.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

Get your questions answered - Call Us 24/7 For a FREE Case Evaluation (415) 523-7878

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