Napa County Courthouse

Top Ten Tips > Fighting a DUI Arrest

1. Observed Driving

Driving is a key element of the Napa County prosecutor's and Napa DMV's DUI case against you. If the government cannot prove that you were driving beyond a reasonable doubt in the criminal court case (or at Napa DMV the administrative law burden of proof is easier for the government, often called "by a preponderance" or "more likely than not" or "by 51%"), then your case may be a winner. You should discuss your specific matter with a Napa DUI attorney.

Someone Else Drove

If someone else drove, not you, then this DUI defense is much stronger if you and the actual driver both stated at the time of initial contact with law enforcement that you were not the driver, and if the actual driver is still available to testify in your defense in a Napa County courtroom or at the Napa DMV. Note that this is not a new defense and the prosecutor will often fight hard against your Napa DUI lawyer because they know it is unlikely anyone else at the scene was tested for being over the DUI alcohol limit, so if they lose you then they lose the whole case.

Parked Cars at NightCircumstantial Evidence of Driving

Any good Napa County DUI attorney will tell you that even though it may be that no officer saw you driving, the Napa County District Attorney and the Napa DMV may introduce circumstantial evidence (as opposed to direct observation) of your driving, typically with facts such as you were found in the driver's seat, the vehicle is registered to you, the keys were in your pocket, the vehicle hood was warm to the touch, the seat was adjusted for your height, your own admission to driving, etc...

Although this was not always the law, it is true today that in California, circumstantial evidence of driving can support a DUI conviction and DMV suspension in the same way as direct evidence. Of course, if the police did not see you driving, but someone else did (for example, a roommate or relative, or someone who called 911 regarding "erratic driving"), then again, this type of evidence would support a DUI conviction and DMV suspension, although such witnesses would be subject to close scrutiny on cross examination if there is any doubt regarding the identity of a driver, or time of driving, as discussed below.

Substantial Time Lapse Between Driving And Stopped

If you drove but had been parked or stopped for a long time (more than a couple hours) before law enforcement arrived, then your Napa County DUI lawyer should explain to you that additional issues may come into play. (See for example "3-hour Presumption" discussion in Tip #7, below, where both the Napa County District Attorney and the Napa DMV must establish a time of driving, and more fundamentally, was it reasonable at the time for Napa County law enforcement to believe at the time of arrest that you were DUI when driving hours before?).


Any result portrayed was dependent on the facts of that case, and the results will differ if based on different facts.

Our DUI Lawyers

Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, Wine Country resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.



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