Drunk driving (DUI or DWI) cases are not always open and shut situations.Frequently, these criminal cases involve very technical and complex legal issues.Criminal law attorneys who specialize in DUI (driving under the influence) cases look for the following potential legal and scientific issues:
Did the police have “probable cause” to arrest the suspect for DUI (drunk driving or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs)?
Did the officer observe sufficient “objective symptoms” of intoxication to conduct a DUI (drunk driving) investigation?
Did the arresting officer properly administer the field sobriety tests (FST’s) or balance and coordination test to determine whether or not to arrest the suspect for drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI)?
Was any in-field breath test administered in the proper manner and was the machine used in proper working order?
Was an additional chemical test (blood or breath) conducted according to required procedures in the taking, handling and analysis of these samples?
Was the equipment used to analyze test samples in proper working order and maintained in accordance with regulations?
Were the test samples analyzed and the result reported according to state regulations, by a licensed laboratory, and in a scientifically approved manner?
Was the arrestee’s blood alcohol level rising or falling at the time of driving and at the time of the chemical test sample.
Were their any physiological reasons that would cause a false result on the breath machine (i.e.: GERD, residual mouth alcohol, heartburn, acid reflux disease, etc.)?
It is unlawful, in California, to drive a vehicle if your ability to be a safe and prudent driver is impaired by the use of alcohol, and/or drugs (even prescription medication). [VC§23152(a) sometimes erroneously referred to as “drunk driving”].The evidence used by the prosecution to prove this charge includes the manner in which the vehicle was driven, ones objective symptoms of intoxication, the performance on the field balance and coordination or field sobriety tests, and the results of the chemical test (breath or blood).A person is presumed to be “under the influence”(DUI) if their blood alcohol level is .08% or greater.This however is a rebuttal presumption and reasonable doubt may exist that one is in fact guilty.
Additionally, it is illegal to drive a vehicle, in California, if, at the time, your blood alcohol level is .08% or greater.Here, the only essential evidence, other than the reasons for stopping the motorist, is the result of the breath or blood test.
Many DUI or drunk driving cases are borderline situations subject to plea negotiations with the prosecution and resulting in dispositions for lesser offenses. Everyone arrested for drunk driving or DUI/DWI should consult with a criminal lawyer who specializes in drunk driving defense before entering a guilty or no-contest plea.Most attorneys who handle DUI (drunk driving cases) offer free initial consultations.
For a list of California drunk driving defense attorneys see California DUI Lawyers Association