A charge under violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol) or violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher) may carry serious consequences for any California motorist. Of course, there are ways to fight these charges and avoid a DUI conviction.
Fighting a DUI charge requires the assertion of legal defenses that are focused on one of three facts or sets of facts:
- The motorist was not intoxicated,
- The motorist’s driving was not truly impaired, and/or
- the arresting officer(s) failed to follow proper legal procedures.
California motorists face not one, but two charges if accused of driving while intoxicated. Drivers who fail a blood alcohol test with a BAC of .08 or higher may be charged with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(a) (driving while under the influence of alcohol). This is a subjective standard that utilizes circumstantial evidence to infer intoxication and impairment.
Drivers who fail a blood alcohol test with a BAC of .08 or higher may be charged with violating California Vehicle Code § 23152(b) (driving with a BAC of .08 or higher). This is an objective standard that instantly measures a violation. If the test shows a BAC of .08 or higher, the motorist may be charged under this section of the statute. Note that even if a motorist is charged with both offenses, it only results in one DUI conviction.
Here is a summary of the three approaches to fighting California DUI charges.
*Erratic Driving and Behavior Does Not Equal Drunk Driving
The officer(s) on the scene who make the traffic stop must have observed some behavior that presented the officer(s) with either reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the stop. Research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that driving cues only predict that a driver is driving impaired 35 percent of the time. However, if more than one cue is observed, the percentage typically increases.
The prosecution will try to use the testimony of the arresting officer(s) to show that you engaged in a pattern of driving that is in correlation with someone who is intoxicated and impaired. an experienced criminal defense attorney can help elicit testimony that presents examples of how you observed the law and drove as a sober person would drive. In effect, the proof of your sobriety will be offered in court.
*The Arresting Officer(s) Failed to Follow Required Procedures
Motorists have important constitutional protections when stopped while driving and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. The arresting officer(s) must have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop or probable cause to make a DUI arrest. The arresting officer(s) must also read motorists their Miranda rights before any interrogation about driving under the influence of alcohol. Miranda warnings are not constitutional rights but safeguards against the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. In the absence of Miranda warnings, anything the arrestee says in response to custodial questioning may not be used for most evidentiary purposes at trial.
*Blood Tests, Breath Tests, and Field Sobriety Tests were Flawed
Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations regulates blood and breath tests conducted by law enforcement personnel. Requirements under Title 17 include a 15-minute observation period and the proper administration of the tests. They also include the proper handling, collection, and storage of any samples. If law enforcement fails to meet Title 17 requirements, it may result in a contaminated, unreliable, and tainted sample for the prosecution to rely upon for a conviction.
John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.