​​California Criminal Defense Attorneys

(310) 817-5899

Law Office of

​David Dastrup


DUI Defense

Traffic-Crimes Defense

Criminal Defense

In Summary, DUI Arrest Stages:


A DUI arrest involves a stop, detention, arrest, and chemical test. However, if the police violate the driver's 4th Amendment rights, a DUI dismissal may result. 

If an officer pulls over a driver without reasonable suspicion, e.g., does not observe traffic violations, that violates the driver's 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure.

Once stopped, the officer looks for signs of driving, e.g., alcohol odor. However, if the officer does not have reasonable suspicion of a DUI, the driver cannot be detained for a DUI investigation.

If detained, a driver is asked to do field sobriety tests (FSTs). FSTs usually start with the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test (moving a pen back and forth to look for distinctive eye movement), followed by the walk-and-turn test and other FSTs. In addition, the driver will be asked to do a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test (PAS), a breathalyzer to check blood alcohol level (BAC).

If arrested on probable cause, "implied consent" law requires the driver to submit to a breath test or blood draw. BAC is .08% or greater may result in a license suspension with restricted license options. However, refusal to submit to a post-arrest test can result in a one-year driver's license suspension for a first-time DUI arrest.

The driver's attorney will fight the suspension at the California DMV and Los Angeles Superior Court, including for police violations of the 4th Amendment.

In more detail, DUI Arrest Stages:

A DUI stop by the police has several stages in Los Angeles or Orange California. The police will stop, detain, and arrest a driver suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. If the police violate the driver's constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment, the evidence obtained will be suppressed. This could lead to a dismissal of the DUI. 

The Stop:

A DUI stop generally starts when an officer observes a vehicle moving erratically or violating a traffic law, such as speeding, weaving, driving too slowly, or making an illegal turn. Without observing unsafe driving, the police will not have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed. Stopping something without reasonable suspicion violates the 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures. 

Detention & Field Sobriety Tests:

Once the vehicle is stopped, the officer will engage with the driver to see if there are signs of intoxication, such as bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, or slurred speech. If the Los Angeles Police officer suspects the driver may be under the influence, the driver is asked to perform field sobriety tests "FST.” The officer then gives specific instructions for each FST. Detailed notes are taken of each mistake. 

Here are a few examples of FSTs:
The horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test is where the officer observes the eyes of the driver while moving a finger or pen back and forth to look for distinctive eye movement.
In the walk-and-turn test, the driver takes nine steps in a straight line, heel-to-toe, then turns on one foot and returns similarly.
The one-leg stand test, where the driver stands with one foot six inches off the ground.

Finally, a Preliminary Alcohol Screening Test "PAS" is given. The LA Sheriff's Deputy or LAPD Officer will ask the driver to breathe into a breathalyzer to determine if the blood alcohol is .08% or higher. 


If the officer concludes there is probable cause to believe the driver is impaired, they will make an arrest. The 4th Amendment requires that an arrest be based on probable cause, meaning that the facts and circumstances within the officer's knowledge are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe that the driver was under the influence of alcohol while driving. 

Post-Arrest Procedures:

The driver is handcuffed, placed in the back of the police car, and transported to the police station. The police usually do not read Miranda rights for a DUI because they have gathered all the necessary evidence except for the chemical test. Once at the station, the officer will conduct a chemical test to measure the suspect's blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

A chemical test is required by law. To explain, in California, under the "implied consent" law, anyone with a driver’s license already consented to a chemical test if arrested for a DUI. The choices are usually another breath test or a blood draw. A driver may refuse the chemical test, resulting in a one-year license suspension for the first offense. The officer must read the "chemical test admonition" explaining the consequences before administering the breath or blood test. 


After the chemical test, the suspect may be put in a jail cell. The police may release the suspect at the scene to another driver, if not taken to the station. But more often, they are held in jail either until sober or for several hours, sometimes days until a court hearing. For a first offense without injury, the suspect is usually released on their own recognizance after signing a promise to appear in court. 
Court: After being released, the suspect will have a future court date to face the charges. A DUI is a criminal case, subject to jail or prison, depending on the severity. In virtually all situations, the court will require the defendant to have an attorney at the hearing. 


Within 10 days of being arrested for a DUI, the DMV must be contacted to demand an APS hearing. If not, then a suspension is automatic after 30 days. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be familiar with how to fight an APS suspension and all of the restricted license options.