Top Ten Tips > First 48 Hours

1. Write a Detailed Narrative Account of the Incident.

Defenses rely on specific facts, but memory begins to fade immediately. A top Mendocino County DUI attorney will tell you that it is really, really important to immediately write down an honest account of what happened and include everything leading up to the initial encounter with Mendocino County law enforcement and during and after. Defenses are in the details, and also, later testimony is more credible in front of a Mendocino jury or the DMV hearing officer if you remember more than only the facts which establish a particular defense. The more details you remember, the better the chances of identifying defenses, appearing more credible, and winning a case in Mendocino County.

It is always best when discussing facts which could have adverse legal consequences that you maximize confidentiality. Write "confidential attorney-client communication" at the beginning of the narrative and send it to your Ukiah DUI lawyer during the first two weeks following the arrest.

laptopWho, what, where and when.

You can begin to see why this Tip for how to write your narrative is so extensive if you review Ten Tips to Fight a Mendocino County DUI, on this site and understand that we are trying to find the facts which establish one or more of the many ways to defend a DUI. So in your narrative of what happened, Mendocino County DUI attorneys want you to focus on the who, what, where, and when. Where had you been prior to driving, and where were you headed? Where were you before the driving which resulted in the police contact? What time did you arrive at the last location and what time did you leave before the police contact? Who were you with, who saw you leave? Always include how you remember each time or event: was it at last call? 10 minutes after closing time? Do you remember looking at your watch or car clock, or did someone remark on the time? Time stamp on a bar receipt? Credit card record? Cell phone record?

Include for your Mendocino County DUI lawyer your route of travel, and any recollection of traffic conditions in Mendocino County. When and where did you first see Mendocino County law enforcement, precisely when did you see red police lights or otherwise believe you were no longer free to leave, specific words exchanged, why were you pulled over, or if you were already stopped or parked prior to seeing the police, then why, and precisely when and where did you stop (include how you recall the time), whether it was a deserted or busy area? Who was with you before and during the arrest?

Finally, include seemingly irrelevant recollections such as your clothing, the weather, and how you were feeling that day; this kind of information may be useful for your Mendocino County DUI lawyer. Who was the arresting agency: Mendocino CHP, Mendocino County Sheriff, Ukiah or Willits police or another local agency? A "turn over" to CHP or other combination of Mendocino County police agencies?

Vehicle accidents.

If you were in an accident in Mendocino County, your Mendocino DUI attorney will want you to include in your narrative details such as location, who was at fault, who phoned for help, precisely what time of day or night did the accident happen (check and keep phone records and receipts), who arrived at the scene first, how long did it take for the first witness or police to show up, how many Mendocino County police or emergency agencies were finally present, did you see any injuries, was the accident scene rural or in town, deserted or were there people or cars passing by, did the police engage traffic diversion procedures, road blocks, etc.

Eating, drinking, medications.

Include for your Ukiah DUI lawyer a description of any medications you were taking and/or physical or mental conditions you may have. Include a description of your eating and drinking (including drinking while driving and/or especially drinking after driving), where, what, how much, and actual time of start and finish for each meal and for each drink, and/or medication, duration from time of last drink to time of driving to time of first Mendocino County police contact and from time of driving to time of blood and/or breath tests, location, estimated time, and results of each breath or blood test.

Field sobriety tests.

A good Ukiah DUI attorney will want you to include a description of each field sobriety test which you performed. These typically include the eye exam (follow a finger or pen with your eyes), walk and turn, and one leg stand (raise one foot 6 inches and count out loud). Others may include the modified Romberg balance test (feet together, head tilted back, close eyes, estimate 30 seconds), finger to nose with eyes closed, finger tapping, hand clapping, and reciting or writing the alphabet.

You may click on the following link and watch a video of actual field sobriety tests administered during properly conducted Mendocino DUI arrests, Videos of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, to refresh your memory and then write down these or others which you were asked to perform. Include what the Mendocino County law enforcement officer said to you before and after, whether the officer told you that you did not have to complete them, whether s/he demonstrated each test prior to asking you to perform them, and any variations between the video demonstrations and your actual experience. Include the pre-arrest breath testing (called a preliminary alcohol screening "PAS" test, which is typically considered the last field sobriety test, as contrasted with the post-arrest breath and/or blood tests which actually are the ones that "count" against you).

If drugs are part of this case (legal or illegal) then include dosages prior to the incident, any prescriptions or recommendations, and whether during or after the arrest the Mendocino County law enforcement officer took your pulse or other vitals and/or held a card to your face to measure pupil size or examined your body in any way.

Post-arrest breath and blood testing.

Include in your narrative what you were told by Mendocino County law enforcement at each stage of your encounter, and how you responded or reacted. Indicate precisely what the officer said regarding post-arrest breath and then blood and urine testing, and if you provided one or more breath tests, did the Mendocino County law enforcement officer inform you thereafter that you have a right to a blood test. State whether you ingested anything just before a breath test, such as alcohol, mouthwash/mints, chewing tobacco, smoking, food. Also include information if you suffered reflux, belching, or you were physically ill at the time of, or just before, a breath test.

Refusal cases.

Your Mendocino DUI attorney will tell you that DUI cases where you failed to provide any breath, blood or urine test after the arrest increases your penalty exposure with additional jail time, and at least one year of no driving whatsoever, regardless of hardship to you or others. Therefore it is critical that you recall and document for your Mendocino DUI lawyer the precise language used by the officer and your precise responses with respect to any discussion of your obligation to perform a chemical test after arrest, and the consequence of failing to provide a test.

Documents and evidence.

Include documents you were handed during or after the arrest (of course, keep copies of everything). Include a description of any physical evidence of recent alcohol consumption which may have been in your vehicle (especially if you drank after driving but prior to police contact) such as half-empty beer cans in the car, empty liquor bottles, receipts from stores or bars or restaurants, etc. If such evidence exists, make sure you preserve or retrieve it, or if it's already gone, then describe it in detail including names of anyone who may have seen such evidence.

Ask friends, bartenders, store clerks, and other witnesses now if you don't remember certain details. Their memories fade quickly too.

If you believe you have a substantial defense, then any good Mendocino County DUI lawyer whom you work with will want a full description of the details and the circumstances of the defense, and any witnesses, including their phone numbers. It is easier to get contact information to your Mendocino DUI attorney now rather than two months from now.


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, North Bay 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.


Dave Jake Schwartz