Can A DUI Be Dismissed In CA?

Jan 05, Law Office of Conor Bell

DUIs are some of the most common crimes committed across California, and getting convicted can result in serious consequences. The outcomes of a DUI charge can range from fines to license suspension and sometimes prison time. For any DUI case, there is the possibility of dismissal. Knowing what can cause a DUI case to be dismissed is important for any court proceeding regarding these arrests.

What Can Cause A DUI To Be Dismissed?

Based on the overall case, the chance for dismissal of a DUI conviction is possible. The charges might be dropped once the judge considers the evidence. This typically happens when there is insufficient evidence, the arrest is illegal, or the evidence was improperly collected. When a DUI case is dropped, it is equivalent to a verdict of not guilty, and the offender is spared punishment. A record of the arrest will be made public, and the DMV still reserves the right to suspend the defendant’s driver’s license. This is not the same as demonstrating innocence. Even so, a DUI dismissal is far preferable to a guilty verdict or the majority of plea agreements. Some instances that can lead to a DUI dismissal include:

  • Improperly Collected Evidence. According to California’s implied consent law, drivers have the right to refuse any chemical testing for a DUI until after they are arrested. Officers will frequently try to coerce drivers into taking these tests before their arrest, creating a substantial burden of proof if driving under the influence. If the chemical evidence in a DUI case was collected before an arrest, and the officer forced the defendant to take the test, the results could be deemed improperly collected. Subsequently, this evidence can be thrown out.
  • No Probable Cause. No probable cause could imply that the arresting policeman lacked a valid justification to go forward with the arrest. Due to their “poor” driving practices, the defendant may have been arrested for driving under the influence when they were not. Most of the time, an officer cannot offer conclusive evidence of “poor” driving abilities because of how subjective the idea of “poor driving” tends to be. In some cases, this “poor” driving results from medical conditions or drowsiness, but ultimately not alcohol or narcotics.
  • Unlawful Police Stops. Similar to proving a lack of probable cause, illegally stopping drivers without enough evidence to warrant a DUI charge can result in these cases being dismissed. For example, if a police officer decides to pull over someone for leaving a bar and then driving, this is not a sufficient amount of evidence to warrant the stop. Regardless of whether or not the driver was drinking, the stop itself was illegal. Any evidence from that stop that supports a DUI arrest was not legally collected, which means it cannot be used for prosecution.

Getting a DUI dismissed is a tough legal battle, but it is possible. The methods for collecting evidence, as well as how long an officer views an individual that they suspect is under the influence, can all be used to discredit a DUI arrest. State law mandates that officers must observe the behavior of a person they suspect to be driving under the influence for a minimum of fifteen minutes before administering a breathalyzer test. Any evidence collected before this waiting period can be challenged by a defense lawyer for violating State law.

Can A DUI Be Expunged from A Criminal Record?

As soon as the probationary period is through, defendants can have their DUI convictions expunged. There is no delay. The conditions of their probation, such as paying penalties, attending DUI programs, and refraining from any further arrests, must have been adequately fulfilled. The conviction is still seen as a prior DUI for DMV reasons, even after expungement. Even though the initial DUI was expunged, any DUIs from then on out will be subsequent offenses.


Q: How often do DUI cases get dismissed in California?

A: Depending on the evidence from the arrest, the likelihood of a DUI case getting dismissed can vary. For example, suppose an officer pulls over a driver who was swerving in between lanes, then after following the proper arrest protocol concerning DUIs, they determine that the driver is under the influence. In this situation, the case is not likely to get dismissed. However, when the arrest protocol is not followed or the evidence for the conviction is shaky, the likelihood of dismissal is higher.

Q: How long does it take for a DUI not to be on your record in California?

A: In California, a conviction for DUI remains on the offender’s driving record for ten years following the arrest. During that period, it cannot be taken from the driving record. The conviction remains permanently on the defendant’s criminal record if it is not expunged. This covers both felony and misdemeanor charges.

Q: Is jail time mandatory for 1st DUI in California?

A: In California, the penalties for a first-time DUI conviction often include three years of probation, $390 in fines plus additional “penalty assessments” that add up to around $2000, and completion of a 30-hour alcohol education course that costs about $500. For felony DUI convictions or instances where the defendant’s driving caused physical harm to other people, the severity of the damages done will be reflected in the sentencing.

Q: How do I reinstate my license after a DUI in California?

A: After being found guilty of DUI in California, the accused can apply to have their license reinstated after facing a DUI-related suspension. A license reissue cost must be paid to the DMV, DUI school must be completed, and financial responsibility documentation must be submitted to the DMV. A defendant can regain access to a legal California driver’s license following the completion of their license moratorium period and any associated jail time.

Finding Legal Support for DUI Defense

Facing any criminal charges can be a stressful experience. The added penalties for DUI convictions on one’s ability to drive can worsen this stress. Finding suitable representation for a DUI defense begins with finding the right law firm. At the Law Office of Conor Bell, we can help. To schedule a consultation, visit our website and contact us today.