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Santa Monica Criminal and DUI Attorney

Top Santa Monica DUI Attorney

Top Tier Criminal Defense Lawyer

☎️ Call Matt Direct at 310-527-4100

Matthew can help if you have been arrested in Santa Monica for DUI, public intoxication, Domestic Violence, shoplifting, or any other criminal offense. Matt is a local lawyer so he can appear for you in Court if you do not live in the area and are just visiting here or on vacation. Santa Monica is a bustling tourist destination that has a well funded police force and enforces its criminal laws with vigor and determination. Known throughout the region as the "Master of DUI Defense", Matthew has over 25 years experience defending good people arrested and charged with any number of Penal Code or Vehicle Code violations in the city. Matt is a member of the National College of DUI Defense and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. 5 Star Rated on Social Media ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.


For a limited time, Matthew is offering a free case evaluation for any new DUI case in Santa Monica when you mention you found us on Google. The evaluation will include a discussion about your rights and possible defenses, the most common mistakes cops make when arresting someone for DWI and the DMV Hearing aspect of the case.

Matthew Has the Highest Success Rate!

Matthew was retained by a client arrested after he was stopped on Lincoln Boulevard for unsafe speed and unsafe lane change. The officers detected an odor of marijuana from inside the vehicle and saw an open container of cannabis and other prescription bottles inside the car. He was asked to exit the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests which the officer claimed he failed. The driver was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, he submitted to a blood test and was given a Court date to appear in LAX Court for arraignment. The blood test showed positive for marijuana (THC). The client looked up DUI Attorneys in Santa Monica on Google and found Matthew. Once hired, Matt filed a discovery request seeking all the evidence in the case, including comprehensive lab records showing the testing of his client's blood. Matt was able to show the blood results for THC reflected mere metabolites or "carboxy THC" which essentially meant the driver merely used marijuana within the last couple of days, not that he was actually impaired. Matt met with the prosecutor and negotiated a DISMISSAL OF THE DUI CHARGES in Court and the case was resolved.

Just last month Matt successfully negotiated reduced charges in a very aggravated driving under the influence case that originated near Dockweiler Beach. the facts are as follows: Officers were in a marked patrol vehicle, stopped at a redlight at the intersection of Maple and Pacific Coast Highway when a Dodge Charger suddenly swerved into their lane of travel, then nearly struck the raised concrete median. The officers pulled the car over and immediately saw an open can of "truly" hard seltzer in the cupholder. The driver had an odor of alcohol on his breath, slurred speech and bloodshot/watery eyes. The driver admitted to just leaving a bar near the beach and was asked to perform a series of field sobriety tests which he performed poorly. The driver was arrested and took a breath test showing. .24 and .25 BAC, over 3 times the California legal limit. The District Attorney charged him with DUI, Driving above .08, Driving above .20, Open Container of Alcohol and Reckless Driving. Matt got involved and was able to settle the case with a DISMISSAL OF THE OPEN CONTAINER CHARGE, DISMISSAL OF THE HIGH BAC .20 ALLEGATION and DISMISSAL OF THE DUI CHARGE.

On September 15, 2023 Matt was able to get speed enhancement charges and High BAC (.20 or more) Allegations dismissed in a drunk driving case. The facts are as follows: CHP Officers were traveling on the freeway when they observed a vehicle approaching their location at a high rate of speed. The officers activated the rear radar on their cruiser and obtained a reading of 109 mph. Once the vehicle passed them, identified as a Black Dodge Charger, they activated the red and blue emergency lights and siren. The vehicle exited the freeway and stopped in a parking lot. The patrolmen made a driver side approach and advised the driver of the reason for the stop. They smelled the odor of alcohol and conducted a preliminary eye examination (HGN). The driver exited the car and a series of field sobriety tests were administered. The officers opined the FST performance was consistent with someone being under the influence of alcohol and the driver was arrested. A breath test later showed a blood alcohol concentration of .22 %, nearly three times the limit in California. The District Attorney charged the driver with VC 23152, DUI aand driving above the legal limit, a speed enhancement and a .20 or greater Special Allegation. The DA offer was 60 days jail. Matt fought the case and was able to get the DUI Speed Enhancement Dismissed along with the .20 BAC Allegation, resulting in NO JAIL and a 3 month AB541 class. This disposition saved the client from a mandatory 10 month suspension from DMV and the mandatory 60 days jail a 100 plus speed enhancement carries. In some cases it is not possible to get all charges dismissed due to the overwhelming evidence of guilt, however, in these cases Matt strives to eliminate the most serious elements and avoid the consequences of jail and long term suspension of your driving privileges.

Matt was recently hired by a client arrested in Los Angeles County after he was observed speeding and nearly crashing into the center divider. The officer detected an odor of alcohol and slurred speech, among other signs of alcohol impairment. The driver was asked to exit the vehicle and he was unsteady and failed all FST exercises. He was given a PAS test for alcohol and it showed a .20 BAC, he was arrested for VC 23152 and the officer requested a evidentiary breath or blood chemical test as required by California law, he refused to submit to any tests and his license was confiscated and he was issued a DMV notice (pink form). Upon release he looked up "Best DUI Attorney" on his phone and found Matthew. Once hired, Matt stopped the pending DMV suspension and got a formal hearing. He requested the body-cam video of the stop and arrest and was able to show the officer falsely stated crucial facts in her report and that the client's rights were violated. He argued the DMV could not suspend his client's license based on such flimsy evidence, the DMV hearing officer agreed and they agreed to SET ASIDE THE DUI REFUSAL SUSPENSION and return his client's license.

Matt was contacted by a client living out of the area who was informed he had a warrant for his arrest out of LAX Court for an incident in Santa Monica California. The client was charged with assault and public intoxication after an incident that took place at the Fairmont Hotel some time earlier. Matt was able to get the warrant recalled immediately and obtained the reports of the case. After a review it was clear an issue existed which allowed Matt to file a motion to dismiss the case. After Matt announced his intentions regarding the motion, the City Prosecutor agreed to DISMISS ALL CHARGES.

Matthew was retained by a client who lived in Greece and was visiting here on vacation. The client was arrested after being stopped for a vehicle code violation in his rental car. Matt went to Court for the client and was able to negotiate a DISMISSAL of the DUI charges.

Matthew was contacted by the sister of a client arrested in the South Bay near the beach for pubic intoxication and vandalism. The client had been out drinking and consumed far too much. He was arrested after the police found him following a 911 call where someone had reported a person smashed out a windshield on a Tesla. The caller was able to identify the client and he was booked into jail. The client also had a security clearance and worked in the local Aerospace industry. Matthew got the case and reached out to the prosecutor. Matthew was able to negotiate a resolution that got ALL CHARGES DISMISSED!.

Recently he was hired by a client here on a business trip who was arrested for drunk driving in Santa Monica. The client was found slumped over his steering wheel passed out. The police booked him for DWI and the attorney went to court for him and negotiated a dismissal of the charges.

Matt was hired by a client after he received a letter informing him he had a warrant of arrest. The allegation was that he stole items from a famous shoe store in Santa Monica almost a year earlier. Apparently, witnesses and store video captured him taking an expensive pair of shoes, at the time he was going through chemical dependency issues and did not remember anything. Matt contacted the City Prosecutors and negotiated a DISMISSAL after restitution was paid.

Matt's client was stopped by the LAPD after spending the day at Santa Monica Pier with his family who were in town from Hawaii. The officer detected an odor of alcohol on the client's breath and asked him to exit his car. Upon exiting the client stumbled and had trouble walking (according to the officer). The officer reported slurred speech, bloodshot watery eyes and lack of dexterity. He was asked to submit to FST exercises but refused. He refused all chemical tests. He was arrested and charged with DUI and Refusing to take a test. Matt took the case to Court and argued the evidence was insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The case was heard in LAX Courthouse, Dept. 71. After a vigorous cross examination of the police officers, the Judge agreed with Matthew and threw out the charges by granting Matt's request for directed verdict and was ACQUITTED ON ALL DUI CHARGES AT TRIAL.

Matthew was retained to represent a client visiting here from Illinois who was arrested and charged with a DUI in Santa Monica. The accused was found passed out in his car. He blew twice the legal limit on the Breathalyzer. Matt presented very detailed evidence that the client was not driving in spite of the officer's belief otherwise. In Court the DA dismissed all DUI charges against the client.

Question of the day: I was arrested in Santa Monica for DUI, why have I been given a Court date in LAX, Airport Court? All criminal charges are prosecuted in airport court because Santa Monica Court does not handle criminal matters, only civil and traffic. LAX Court only does criminal cases. With regard to the DMV aspect of the case, that proceeding takes place in the El Segundo Driver Safety office on North Sepulveda. There the hearing will be held to determine whether California will suspend your privilege to drive..

Situated on the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica boasts some of the most visited beaches and tourist spots in Southern California. The city is located at the crossroads of Pacific Coast Highway and California Interstate 10. Santa Monica is bordered by Malibu and Venice and is adjacent to the LAX Airport. The area is popular for conventions with great hotels such as Fairmont Miramar, Loews Beach Hotel and Bergamot station. Those visiting the pier, Venice and similar areas some times encounter problems with the police due to an over indulgence of alcohol and problems associated with having too much fun and/or over zealous cops. When this happens those individuals need a local criminal defense lawyer in the Santa Monica area to assist them in going to Court and getting out of trouble. Attorney Matthew J. Ruff has been helping people arrested in Santa Monica and adjacent communities for nearly 20 years. All arrests originating in Santa Monica eventually find their way to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, LAX Division located at 11701 South La Cienega Blvd off the 405 freeway near the LAX airport.


All misdemeanor offenses are heard in the LAX Courthouse. These cases are prosecuted by the Santa Monica City Attorney. The first appearance before the Judge is called an arraignment and it is at this time either a not guilty (sometimes called an innocent plea) or a guilty or no contest plea is entered. It is vital to have an attorney's advice before any plea is made. Some seemingly innocuous criminal charges such as drunk in public, shoplifting, petty theft, possession of marijuana and similar criminal charges have long term consequences that can come back to haunt individuals many years after the case is adjudicated. For example, a possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in a vehicle (VC23222) ticket can often be disposed of for a fine, however a conviction results in points on a DMV record and substantially higher insurance and potential employment ramifications. Similarly, a shoplifting ticket (PC484) can often be resolved by a mere fine in Court but a conviction will stay on your record forever as a crime of dishonesty. 

Out of state residents who visit the area sometimes are cited or arrested for DUI (VC23152), drunk driving, DWI, or driving under the influence in the Santa Monica area and do not understand their rights and options regarding the case. California law does allow a local attorney to appear in Court on behalf of a client in most of these cases. The benefit of retaining a lawyer to defend a alcohol related charge is tremendous. First of all, a DMV hearing is mandatory in all DUI incidents in order to avoid a license suspension. As a local Santa Monica DUI Lawyer, Matthew Ruff can file the necessary applications for a DMV hearing in order to keep the arrest off your motor vehicle record in your home state. Furthermore, as is often the case, he can make all necessary appearances in the LAX Superior Court and negotiate with the prosecutor and Judge to hopefully eliminate a DUI conviction.

In one noteworthy case, Matthew was called by a resident of the Casa Del Mar hotel in Santa Monica. The caller was involved in an altercation with a significant other which evolved to a 911 call being made. The police came out, interviewed both involved parties and made an arrest. Problem was that the client was visiting here from out of the country and could not easily return for the initial court date. Matthew stepped in and arranged to handle the appearances "977", a local nickname used by judges and attorneys which means the lawyer is appearing for the client which did not require a plane flight and physical appearance by the defendant. 

Underage defendants face particularly difficult challenges. A simple ticket for drinking alcohol in public may seem not to be a serious matter, however a conviction could mean a one year drivers license suspension by the California Department of motor Vehicles. As is the case with public intoxication, using fake or false identification, driving while intoxicated, and possession of alcoholic beverages and marijuana or even a joint. Santa Monica Police unfortunately target tourists and out of town visitors, many of whom are under 21 and in college or the military. One typical scenario is when law enforcement observes large groups of young people walking along the beach or pier and they stop to check IDs and whether alcohol is present, this encounter invariably results in tickets being issued or an arrest being made. In this situation, a Santa Monica Criminal Defense Attorney can intervene and resolve outstanding violations.


Our office gets many phone calls from family members seeking information about how to help a loved one in jail in Santa Monica. Our attorney can take immediate steps to arrange release of individuals incarcerated awaiting their first appearance before a magistrate. We can file motions for bail reduction or negotiate a "own recognizance" release which does not require the posting of a bail bond. If you have received a call from a friend or loved one in custody, give Santa Monica criminal attorney Matthew Ruff a call for a free straight talk consultation on what action needs to be taken now. 

Among the countless favorable dispositions obtained by Santa Monica Defense Attorney Matthew Ruff, the lawyer got theft charges dropped in a case that involved over $450 in merchandise allegedly stolen from a retailer in a local mall. The client was obviously concerned about the ramifications that would result from her being convicted of the charge. Matthew fought the case with the prosecutor and worked out a deal that resulted in a dismissal of all charges with nothing showing on her record. More recently, Matthew got petty theft charges (PC484) dismissed for a client arrested at a national retailer. The accused was initially facing commercial burglary charges because the arresting officer insinuated the client entered the store with the intent to shoplift. The entire case was dismissed based on negotiations with the prosecution. 

Another recent case involved a client arrested at the Sephora store at the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The client was charged with shoplifting approximately $300 worth of merchandise. The major concern for her was that she was not a US citizen and traveled frequently as she lived outside the United States and could not make her Court appearance in the Santa Monica Court. She hired Matthew over the phone and he went to Court for her and arranged for all charges to be dismissed so that nothing showed up on her record when traveling through the airport coming back into the country. 

DUI is also a very common charge that is brought against visitors to Santa Monica with its popular bars, restaurants and night clubs. An example of a recent case that attorney Ruff has defended is one where a client was arrested after leaving a bar. The client was detained after a citizen reported a possible DUI driver. The evidence showed a blood alcohol level of .19%. A friend referred her to Matthew Ruff and he went to Court and worked out a dismissal of both the VC 23152a and 23152b charges, instead, Matt got the case busted down to a drunk in public which will not show up on any DMV record and did not require any DUI school.

For example, Matthew obtained a complete dismissal of a driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) and felony drug possession (cocaine) in Santa Monica Court, Division 144 based on insufficiency of evidence. His client was facing possible deportation and loss of employment, the case result avoided these consequences. 

Also, Matthew Ruff got a DUI case dismissed for a UCLA student arrested for a second time drunk driving. This particular individual was referred to attorney Ruff by her mother who was genuinely concerned that her daughter would have to go to county jail for the violation. Even though the client was still on probation for her first DUI arrest, the client got no jail time and kept her drivers license from being suspended in Division 147 of the LAX Court that hears all Santa Monica DUI cases.

In a very serious drunk driving case, Santa Monica DUI Attorney Matthew Ruff saved a Dentist from a DUI conviction and long lasting consequences. The client was on vacation from Canada and spent the night in jail after being pulled over for weaving near PCH and the pier. The client never had to go to Court, Matthew made all appearances for him and ultimately negotiated a reduced charge and dismissal of the VC23152 DUI charges.

A client hired Matt after he was arrested for public intoxication after leaving a bar near the beach. He looked up Public Intoxication Attorneys in Santa Monica on his phone after he was released from jail and found Matthew. Matt went to Court for him and got the charges dismissed after talking to the prosecutor. The client never had to appear in Court.

Another recent success story in the LAX Court was for a client arrested in Santa Monica for robbery and assault. The incident arose out of a dispute in a parking garage. The client hired Matthew Ruff and he immediately met with the District Attorneys office to present the client's case. The D.A. rejected all charges, the Santa Monica city attorney also dropped all charges after Matthew got involved.

In a very recent criminal case Matthew was hired by a client who was accused of petty theft in the popular 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. The client was charged with Penal Code 484 and worried about losing her real estate license. Matthew met with the prosecutors and worked out a dismissal of all charges, resulting in no criminal conviction and a clean record for his client. 

A common type of criminal charge seen in Santa Monica is a PC 647f drunk in public, sometimes referred to as public intoxication. Attorney Matthew Ruff has a near 100 percent success rate in getting drunk in public charges dismissed in Santa Monica so that the offense will not appear on the individual's criminal record in California. Matthew has personally obtained dismissals of all public intoxication charges he defended in the last 10 years. 

Matthew Ruff has encountered many recurring questions concerning criminal cases over the last decade and a half. Can I go to jail for a DUI, Petty Theft, Drug Possession, Domestic Violence or Drinking in Public? Will I lose my drivers license following a drunk driving detention? Does the Santa Monica City Attorney seek prison for people driving on a suspended license?

Top 4 Ways To Get Criminal Charges Dismissed

1. Your Constitutional Rights Were Violated. In California, a criminal defense attorney can file what is called a PC 1538.5 Motion to challenge a search if the officers did not possess a warrant. In many cases the police will violate a person's 4th Amendment Rights by illegally searching their car or person. In these cases a lawyer can get into Court and get the case dismissed.

2. You Are Not Guilty! If you are innocent of the charges filed against you the case can be set for trial to force the Prosecution to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence fails to be persuasive enough to meet this high standard the attorney can make a motion called a Judgment of Acquittal and the client would be found not guilty by the Court.

3. Judicial Diversion. This is a relatively new way to get charges dismissed in Court. A motion is filed seeking to ask the Judge to grant a diversion of the case. The case would be continued to a future date and if all conditions are met the case would be dismissed. This method of attack is not available for driving under the influence (DUI) charges or Domestic Violence.

4. Your Miranda Rights Were Violated. If you were arrested for a crime and the officers subsequently obtained a confession or incriminating statements but failed to read you certain rights explaining you have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney before and during questiong, then the statements can be suppressed (thrown out) which can cause the case to be dismissed. Many police officers violate this rule and as a result a skilled criminal defense lawyer can file a motion in Court to get the charges dropped in certain circumstances.

How can DUI charges be dismissed? There are a number of ways a driving under the influence charge can be dismissed in Court. For example, if your rights were violated a motion can be filed to challenge the police officer's conduct and that could end with the charges being dropped. Also, there are dozens of ways to fight the breath or blood test in a DWI case. For instance, if the officer failed to follow the statutory requirements (Title 17) then your lawyer can argue the test is unreliable and request that it be thrown out. 

Call Santa Monica Criminal Defense Lawyer Matthew J. Ruff today at 310-527-4100, his office is a short 10 minutes from the Santa Monica LAX Court off the 405 freeway. The attorney can meet with you personally or you can arrange to have him represent you over the telephone

Contact Matthew J. Ruff Attorney at Law Today!

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