DUI Warrant Sweeps Demonstrate Danger of Ignoring Court Proceedings
Getting pulled over for a DUI, regardless of whether there is enough properly obtained evidence to convict you, can be an extremely stressful and upsetting situation to find oneself in. After all, a DUI conviction can result in stiff fines, a license suspension or revocation, public embarrassment from family, friends, and co-workers, and potential jail time. These consequences can become exponentially more severe if you’ve been convicted for a DUI in the past. As irrational as it may seem, with all of this hanging over your head, simply not showing up in court for your arraignment may seem to be a tempting option.
California Police Departments Conduct DUI Warrant Sweeps on a Regular Basis
In just the last few weeks, however, police departments across California have demonstrated the significant downsides of this avoidance strategy by conducting sweeps for outstanding DUI arrests. In Napa, police fanned out and arrested eight offenders who had failed to show up at DUI hearings or who had violated terms of their DUI probation. In Petaluma, police arrested six. In Fontana, police arrested thirteen individuals who were in violation of court orders. And in Eastvale, police arrested a whopping 28 individuals in actions related to DUI proceedings in just a single day. These are just a few examples, and police departments engage in these types of large-scale operations arresting individuals who fail to appear at DUI hearings on a regular basis all across the state.
Consequences of Failing to Appear for a DUI Hearing
When you are arrested for a DUI in California, you will be required to attend an arraignment where the district attorney will file civil charges against you. If you are not present at this hearing, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. This does not necessarily mean that the police are going to actively come looking for you, but if you do come in contact with a police officer, for example through a traffic stop for speeding, the police officer will be able to access the outstanding bench warrant and take you into custody. That said, simply doing your best to avoid the police will not protect you, as the frequent DUI sweeps conducted by California police described above can result in the police coming to find you, for example at your place of business, and arresting you for your failure to appear.
Failing to appear at a court date brings with it penalties which are on top of whatever penalties you are facing with the underlying DUI arrest. Failure to appear for a felony charge will be considered an additional felony charge, and a defendant found guilty of failing to appear can face up to a year in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, which are, again, in addition to any potential penalties imposed for the DUI. Even if you have an outstanding bench warrant for your arrest, judges have great discretion in how they choose to penalize a person for missing a hearing, and an experienced attorney can potentially persuade a judge to quash a bench warrant where the defendant has voluntarily appeared.
Work with an Experienced Ventura County DUI Attorney to Avoid Excess Penalties
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI in Ventura County, you may be in denial about the potential consequences that can result if you fail to appear at a hearing or other court proceeding. You may be hoping that the issue simply goes away on its own, or just unwilling to face the reality of your responsibility to handle matters in court. It is certainly the case that a DUI conviction can have long-term consequences for your criminal record and result in fines and other expenses, and the temptation may be to try to avoid dealing with these consequences altogether, but, as the above shows, doing this will only make the situation worse, not better. What can make your situation better is to work with a skilled criminal defense and DUI attorney who is familiar with the high burden the state needs to meet to convict you, and who knows the ins and outs of the Ventura court system from many years of successfully defending individuals in Ventura County.
For a free consultation on your DUI, contact a skilled and knowledgeable Oxnard DUI defense attorney at the Law Office of Paul Tyler, at 805-889-9000.