On the eastern shore of the San Francisco Bay area, El Cerrito is a city in Contra Cost County with approximately 25,000 residents. El Cerrito was founded by refugees from the San Francisco earthquake of 1906, and incorporated in 1917. Although the city was initially known as “Rust,” thanks to Wilhelm Rust, the first postmaster, the residents changed the name prior to incorporation, choosing El Cerrito, which means “little hill.” El Cerrito covers only 3.7 square miles and has an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Wildcat Canyon Regional Park borders El Cerrito on the eastern side, and El Cerrito is within 500 feet of Berkeley on the southeast side.
If you are a resident of El Cerrito, you may have stopped in at Mel-O-Dee Cocktails after a long day at work. Mel-O-Dee is a neighborhood pub with affordable drinks and friendly locals. You can watch a game on any of the half-dozen televisions, and Karaoke Night is always fun. Perhaps the Blue Moon Saloon on San Pablo Avenue is more to your taste, with pinball machines, pool tables, a satellite jukebox and reasonably priced drinks. You may have stopped by the nearby Elevation 66 Brewing Company, which boasts a good selection of in-house and guest beers.
After an enjoyable evening with friends at any of these bars, you may have been dismayed to find yourself being pulled over on your way home and charged with a DUI. A police officer may have pulled you over by claiming you violated a traffic law, or you may have been caught in a DUI checkpoint on El Cerrito and San Pablo Avenue.
Either way, it is essential that you contact an experienced El Cerrito DUI attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected and that you have the best outcome possible.
What Is Probable Cause for a California DUI?
In order to arrest you for a California DUI, there must have been probable cause, or a “reasonable belief” that you were driving under the influence. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, which means an officer may not stop you for no reason, and, in fact, must provide “specific, articulable facts,” that a crime (DUI) was taking place prior to initiating the traffic stop.
However, this does not mean the officer must believe you were driving while intoxicated. The smallest traffic violation (a broken taillight, barely crossing the center line, etc.) will meet the standard, and so long as the officer can provide even the tiniest reason for stopping you, probable cause may have been satisfied.
The DUI “Investigation”
After stopping you, if the officer has any reason to believe you are driving while impaired he or she will probably detain you for a DUI “investigation.” Once again, in order to investigate whether you are, in fact, driving under the influence, there must be reasonable suspicion. Therefore, before this “investigation” can take place, the officer can ask you questions regarding where you’ve been, if you were drinking, what you were drinking and how much you drank.
You are under NO obligation to answer these questions. You must only provide your driver’s license, insurance and registration, and from that point on you can politely say you will only answer questions in the presence of your attorney.
The officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests, and you may be asked to submit to a preliminary alcohol screening device, which is a handheld breath test. You are not legally obligated to do either one. However, the officer can still prove probable cause. Whether you answer questions or not, if the officer observes an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, smells alcohol on your breath, determines you have flushed skin, watery or red eyes, or other symptoms of impairment, you may be arrested for DUI.
How Attorney Nabiel C. Ahmed Can Help
If your El Cerrito DUI attorney can show no probable cause existed for any stage of your DUI stop and arrest, your charges could be reduced or dismissed. If no probable cause existed, then any evidence obtained is subject to suppression—meaning it cannot be used against you. A knowledgeable El Cerrito DUI attorney will ensure your rights are fully protected every step of the way, so don’t wait to call our Oakland office for a free consultation.
If you are being detained, we offer jail interviews and consultations over the phone. In any case, give us a call at (510) 907-6600 or submit a simple online form to get in touch with the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed.