Monday, September 28, 2020

What Reporting Requirements are there for a Pilot arrested for DUI?

For most folks a DUI can have very severe consequences, however if you are a pilot the ramifications can be devastating.  Top California DUI Lawyer Matthew Ruff has over 25 years defending airmen and commercial pilots on drunk driving charges and DMV suspensions stemming from a DWI arrest.  The arrest can be very worrisome and scary for a pilot due to the stress of the possibility of losing his or her job and career.  Matt understands this and fights the underlying driving under the influence charge in criminal court and at the CA Department of Motor Vehicles.  In order for Matthew to fight both cases effectively, he must be hired early in the case.  If a pilot waits too long to hire an attorney, he or she may prejudice the case and decrease the chances of saving their pilot’s license with the FAA.

Pilots are required to report the incident in a variety of ways.  There are three primary reporting obligations, and something the pilot will need to start in certain cases.

  1. A Pilot needs to report any administrative license sanction based on operation of motor vehicle (suspension, revocation, or other deprivation of driver’s license/driving privilege) within 60 days of date of ALS to Civil Aviation Security in Oklahoma City.  If ALS happens on arrest, that starts the clock, even if later stayed by court or licensing agency.
  2. The Pilot needs to report DUI conviction within 60 days of date of conviction to Civil Aviation Security in Oklahoma City.
  3. The Pilot needs to report the fact of a DUI arrest on AME exam (Airman’s Medical Exam), regardless of whether any thing happened after the DUI arrest (case rejected, diversion granted, no charges filed, tested under legal limit, blood tests returned .00 on everthing).


Each report is independent of other reporting obligations.


As a practical matter, once FAA (Civil Aviation Security in Oklahoma City or FAA Flight Surgeon/Medical) becomes aware of the DUI arrest, pilot clients typically go into FAA limbo where FAA lets pilot know FAA can’t “establish your eligibility to hold an airman medical certificate at this time” based on the answers to AME questions or reporting of ALS or conviction.  FAA will require a response to determine eligibility to fly.  If, and only if, it is a pilot’s first DUI in his or her lifetime, and airman submits to the chemical test, and chemical test results are below .15, airman’s AME examiner will be able to issue the airman’s medical certificate at time of AME exam so long as airman supplies all the information listed on the attachment to the AME physician.  As such, make sure you have this available.


If it is a pilot’s 2nd DUI in their lifetime, and/or if airman tested .15 or above, and/or if airman refused chemical test, airman will “need to submit complete copies of a current Substance Abuse Psychiatric evaluation performed by a Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) psychiatrist, in accordance with the psychiatric portion only of the enclosed specifications. Please note that the evaluation must address your complete alcohol related history of usage and all offenses, and should include copies of all testing performed with a final diagnosis. All materials provided to FAA must also be provided to and commented on by the HIMS psychiatrist.”  This psych evaluation isn’t quick, and if pilot has an ATP license (which requires an AME exam every six months), the pilot needs to start building his or her file and working on the psych evaluation to avoid a lapse in the license.

So what should a Pilot do if he or she has been arrested for DUI in California?  First, understand that your driver’s license will be suspended administratively unless immediate action is taken to stay the suspension through the DMV.  If you ignore the APS and your driving privileges are suspended that triggers a reporting requirement, even before you go to Court.  Call Matthew immediately so he can stop the suspension from going through. 

What about a charge reduced to a “wet reckless” ?  The short answer is a plea to any reduced charge other than DUI or driving above the per se level is going to put the pilot in a better position to defend their pilot’s license with the FAA.  However, even if the DWI is reduced, if the airman loses his or her drivers license at the CA DMV reporting is mandatory.  Therefore, an aggressive two-part strategy is essential in order to put the pilot in the best position to keep flying.

A DUI can be a life changing event for many commercial pilots.  California DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff has over 25 years defending driving under the influence cases for clients.  Matt can be reached on his cell at 310-686-1533.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

License Suspended for DUI? Here’s how to get it back.

Torrance DUI Attorney, Matthew Ruff

 In California if you are over 21 and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol with a .08 or more the DMV will seek to suspend your driving privileges for 4 months administratively, assuming you have no priors, not on probation and submitted to a chemical test at the request of a peace officer.

Assuming you have not been convicted in Court for VC23152 or VC23153, once the suspension goes into effect you can get reinstated with a restricted license, here are the options available to you:

Option 1.  Get reinstated immediately with the installation of an IID. This is a device mounted in your vehicle that requires you to produce an alcohol free breath blow in order to start the car.  This option allows for full non commercial driving privileges that allow you to drive anywhere you want anytime you want as long as you have the IID.  This restriction runs for 4 months, after that you can get the IID removed and have your full license reinstated.  You will need to also enroll in an approved alcohol program (AB541 at a minimum), obtain the proof of IID installation DL920, provide proof of financial responsibility by way of an SR22, then visit a local DMV office (appointment recommended) and pay the mandatory reinstatement fee of $125.

Option 2.  Apply for an employment/treatment program restricted non-commercial license.  This license allows you to drive only to and from and during course of employment and to and from the DUI classes.  The benefit of this restriction is that is does not require an ignition interlock (IID).  The restriction runs for 5 months and requires a 30 day hard suspension where you cant drive at all.  After the 30 days you can apply for the restriction as long as you get enrolled in an approved DUI program (AB541 minimum), obtain proof of financial responsibility (SR22), and visit a DMV office to pay the $125 reinstatement fee.  This restriction lasts for 5 months after which time you can get your full license back.

It must be understood that both of the options above assume you have NOT been convicted in Court of DUI or DUI with injury.  If you have been convicted in Court or believe you will be convicted in Court you May have similar options but the period of the restrictions run for a longer period of time.

If you choose not to take advantage of any of the restriction options you can simply ride out the 4 month suspension and get reinstated thereafter once you have obtained an SR22 and paid the reissue fee of 125.00.

Note:  If you have a commercial license you must downgrade to a non-commercial license as your commercial driving privileges will be disqualified for a period of one year.  Also, if you have any other holds such as FTA, child support or negligent operator suspensions then the above restriction options may not be available to you.

If you have any questions call Top California DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff for a consultation direct on his cell phone at 310-686-1533.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Getting Your License Back After A DUI Arrest With a Prior

How To Get A Restricted License After A DUI

This article will provide information about how to get your license reinstated after a DUI suspension.  This article is intended for people who have multiple DUI convictions on the record if the DMV suspended your driving privilege based on an APS suspension also known as .08 or more you are eligible to obtain a restricted license immediately with the installation of an IID. With this restriction you can drive any time anywhere as long as the vehicle you are driving is equipped with an ignition interlock device (IID).  You will have this restriction for up to one year.  To apply for this restricted license must do the following:
  1.    Provide proof of enrollment in a suitable DUI program. This program is called the SB38 program.  The program is for a period of 18 months.
  2.    Provide proof of insurance. This is referred to as an SR 22 document that must be filed directly from your insurance provider to the DMV.
  3.    Provide proof of in ignition interlock device, this is done using a DL 924 The IID provider will typically file this directly with the DMV however you may need to present it to the DMV along with your other paperwork. 
  4.   You must pay a reissue fee of $125, to the DMV.  Lastly, you must have no other holds or suspensions on your driving privileges for child support or any failure to appear.

Once you have satisfied the above requirements you should visit the DMV office, and appointment is recommended. Assuming all of the above have been satisfied you will receive a hard license from the DMV that is very similar to the license you had before your arrest. It is important to understand that this restricted drivers license applies only to the APS  suspension.

Monday, May 18, 2020

California DMV During COVID-19 Pandemic

DUI AB541 and SB-38 Program Enrollment & Counseling
According to DMV sources, DUI program locations are enrolling and scheduling counseling. California is allowing in-person or Telehealth (video) for those following COVID-19 guidelines. AA attendance is taking place online through different web based providers.  It is advisable to check with the classes in your area to determine whether they are participating in the virtual attendance scenario and research and find out which DUI programs in the areas can provide these services. 

California DMV has reopened select field offices to assist customers with transactions for in-person visits, such as DL-920 form (proof of IID installations).

The following 25 field offices a re now open Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the exception of opening at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays.

California DMV Offices that are open during the COVID-19 Pandemic:

Arleta | Bakersfield | Carmichael | Concord | Fontana | Fresno | Fullerton | Glendale | Inglewood | Lancaster | Los Angeles | Modesto | Montebello | Oakland | Claremont | Palm Desert | Redding | Salinas | San Diego Normal | San Francisco | San Joe DLPC | Santa Ana | Santa Rosa | Stockton | Yuba

During the COVID-19 pandemic, California Department of Motor Vehicles is encouraging customers to use online services, virtual services, and other service channels to complete transactions, including driver license and vehicle registration renewals. 

DMV employees are instructed to maintain physical distancing while serving customers in a DMV field office. DMV staff may direct customers to online services and other available options for transactions that do not require an office visit, New appointments are not currently available. Employees in the remainder of DMV's 170 public offices will provide services through the Virtual Field Office, The DMV plans to open these offices in phases during the coming weeks. 

More information on office openings will be provided on the California DMV website.

If there is no DMV office open in your clients' area, they also may email a scanned copy or picture of their proof of ignition interlock (DL-920) after the install to their provider. Many companies will then fax it to the mandatory action unit (MAU). 

Drivers may still need to contact MAU 
at 916-657-6525 regarding any fees owed.
P.O. Box 242890
MS - J233-MAU
Sacramento, CA 94290-0001

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

How To Get Your License Back After A DUI

As if the arrest for DUI was bad enough, the frustration in dealing with the DMV in order to get your license reinstated can be even more traumatic.  Remember, the police officer probably took your physical license from you at the time of arrest and you were issued a "temporary license" that you have been driving on since your release.  That temporary license did not have your photo and many entities will not accept it as a valid form of ID.

This article is written to provide critical information necessary for a person to get their official photo license returned following a driving under the influence resolution in Court.  Shortly following the Court resolution you will receive a letter from the DMV titled “Order of Suspension”.  Here is the step by step process to follow to get your drivers license reinstated:

  1. Get enrolled in the appropriate DUI school, you may need to get a DMV printout (sometimes referred to as an H6) and take that to the school you select so they can determine the type of program you will need to attend.  Make sure they file the correct form with the DMV, they will sometimes give you the official form which you can file yourself, but you are paying them a fee so they should do it for you.  You generally just need to get enrolled in order to qualify for the reinstatement, however the school will tell you what is required for the proof of enrollment to be filed.
  2. Make sure you have an SR-22 filed with the DMV.  An SR22 is nothing more than an official proof that you have the minimum required proof of insurance mandated by the DMV.  You cannot simply send in the little card you got from the insurance company, that will not be sufficient.  The proof must be sent in by the insurance company in order to comply with CA law.
  3. Assuming you do not have any prior convictions, decide which option works better for you: Option 1 is to wait out the full 6 months and don’t drive.  Option 2 is to get an Ignition Interlock installed in your vehicle, an IID requires you blow into it and have no alcohol for the car to start. The DMV will check to verify the ownership of any vehicles registered to you or any person at the home in which you reside and have access to.  If you do not own any vehicles, use any vehicle or have access to any car at the residence there is a waiver which you can fill you and send to the DMV.  Once installed you can drive ANYWHERE you want but must have it for 6 months. Option 3 is get a RESTRICTED license that allows you to drive only to work and school for a period of one year with no IID.
  4. You must pay re-issue fees to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.  This fee  ranges from $140 to $240 dollars and must be submitted in order to receive your original license.
  5. Ensure you have no outstanding tickets or "holds" on your license such as tickets you never paid, failures to appear and any outstanding child support payments.
  6. Lastly, you should be advised a DUI conviction results in 2 points on your DMV record.  If the driving under the influence case involved an accident this could add an additional point.  You are allowed 3 points in 12 months.  However, if you have more than one additional point on your record the Department will suspend you a different way called a negligent operator.  If you receive notice of this you should consult a lawyer immediately as a separate hearing can be requested to challenge the action and possibly avoid the suspension. 
Finally, make sure the administrative hearing process is finalized.  This means if you have a pending APS license suspension hearing scheduled, contact your attorney or the DMV directly to resolve this proceeding.   This article is applicable to first time offenders only and will generally not apply to those who have had a prior DUI within the last 10 years, a prior administrative alcohol suspension either as an adult or minor or are facing a refusal suspension for failure to submit to or complete a breath or blood test at the request of a police officer.  Other complications can be presented if the person seeking reinstatement is an out of state resident or is unable to comply with the departmental directives due to military involvement.  In these cases you should contact a California DUI Attorney for guidance.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Can A Search Warrant For Blood in a DUI Be Challenged?

Ever since the US Supreme Court announced that forcibly withdrawing blood from a drunk driver is illegal, police all over the State of California have been obtaining search warrants to draw blood in driving under the influence cases.  What I have seen though is many officers are not putting enough information in the warrant affidavits to satisfy the legal requirements of probable cause.  To understand what I am talking about, let’s go into what the law requires for the issuance of a search warrant.

In order for a warrant authorizing a search to be valid the officer seeking it must convince a judge that “probable cause” exists to believe the place or persons to be searched contain evidence of a crime.  Probable cause is generally defined a a “fair probability” that evidence may be found to support a crime.  Probable cause must be established with facts, not conclusions.  What many officers are doing is providing conclusionary statements in the affidavit such as the person was displaying “symptoms of intoxication” instead of articulating the actual observations to let the judge decide.

A “bare bones” affidavit contains nothing more than conclusive statements which lack the facts and circumstances from which a judge can independently determine probable cause. Most affidavits in DUI cases are pre-printed, check the box type forms and therefore officers get lazy in articulating sufficient facts.

As a general rule, a warrant that is issued on insufficient probable cause is subject to a motion to quash.  However, the District Attorney will try to save the warrant by arguing the officer acted in good faith on the judicially authorized warrant and therefore the evidence should not be suppressed.

In response to that argument Counsel should argue that good faith doesn’t apply when the facts show that no reasonable officer would have believed probable cause existed.  This is where the attorney should get into his training and establish he is taught to articulate his or her’s basis to believe probable cause existed, though facts not conclusions.

Torrance DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff has over 25 years experience fighting and winning suppression motions in drunk driving cases throughout California, including Redondo Beach, Los Angeles, Palos Verdes and Manhattan Beach CA.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Can Police Take Blood From an Unconscious DUI Suspect Without a Warrant?

Yes, according to the United States Supreme Court.  In the case of Mitchell vs. Wisconsin the Justices resolved a long standing issue as to whether law enforcement could perform a warrantless blood draw on a DUI suspect if they are unconscious and unable to give valid consent. 

 The facts of the case are not that uncommon:  Police received a report that Mitchell, who was under the influence of alcohol, climbed into a car and drove away. When found, Mitchell was wandering near a lake, stumbling and slurring his words. A preliminary field breath test revealed a BAC of 0.24% and Mitchell was arrested. On the way to the police station for a more reliable breath test, he lost consciousness and was taken to the hospital instead. His blood was drawn and reflected a BAC of 0.22%. After he was charged with drunk driving offenses, Mitchell moved to suppress the blood test results as obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The State relied on its implied consent law to justify the blood draw. The motion was denied and Mitchell's subsequent convictions were upheld in state court. The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. Held: Vacated and remanded. A blood draw is a search of the person. The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and generally requires that a warrant first be obtained. However, the exigent circumstances exception to the warrant requirement applies when the compelling need for official action renders a warrantless search reasonable. In drunk driving cases an exigency exists when (1) BAC evidence is dissipating and (2) some other factor creates pressing health, safety, or law enforcement needs which take priority over a warrant application. Both conditions are met when a drunk-driving suspect is unconscious because this creates a medical emergency requiring treatment and will usually involve the drawing of blood anyway. This could delay the application for a warrant which might distort the evidentiary value of a blood draw. There may be an unusual case where a defendant can show that his blood would not have been drawn if police had not been seeking BAC data, and that police could not have reasonably judged that a warrant application would interfere with other pressing duties. Because Mitchell did not have a chance to attempt to make this showing, the case was remanded for this purpose. ( Courtesy of CCAP).

This case will set the tone for state Courts in deciding whether implied consent laws allow for blood draws without a warrant under their individual state statutes.  In California the Supreme Court is currently deciding that issue in the Arredondo Case.