Los Angeles DUI and Law Enforcement Errors
Law enforcement officers receive extensive training in handling driving under the influence investigations and arrests. The efforts of organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”) have led to an increased emphasis on enforcement of DUI laws and law enforcement agencies throughout California ensure that officers receive necessary DUI training. However, police officers can make mistakes during the DUI investigation or arrest process. In some cases, these mistakes can lead to a DUI charge being dismissed or significantly reduced.
Mistakes can occur at all stages of the DUI process. Sometimes the mistake will be harmless but in other cases a law enforcement error can be fatal to the prosecution.
Most DUI cases begin after a driver has been pulled over by the police. In order for a police officer to pull a vehicle over, he or she must have reasonable cause to believe that the driver has violated the law. The law violated does not have to be related to impaired driving and can be any traffic infraction or equipment violation. An officer cannot simply stop a vehicle if there is no reasonable or probable cause. Law enforcement agencies increasingly equip their patrol vehicles with dash cams that record all traffic stops. The defendant in a DUI case can obtain a copy of this recording in order to determine whether or not the stop was valid. The defendant can challenge the validity of the traffic stop by filing a motion to suppress pursuant to California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. If granted, all resulting DUI evidence would be deemed inadmissible and the prosecutor would likely dismiss the case.
During the investigation phase of a DUI stop, the officer will typically ask the driver to engage in a series of field sobriety tests designed to determine whether or not a driver is impaired. When conducting the tests, the officer is expected to follow strict guidelines established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) who developed many of the tests used. If the officer did not properly conduct the test, there may be grounds to challenge the results of the test and the conclusion that the driver was under the influence.
Once a driver has been arrested on suspicion of DUI, he or she will be given the option of taking either a breath or blood test. The testing process is strictly controlled by Title 17 guidelines and any deviation from these guidelines may invalidate subsequent test results.
If the driver selects the blood test, the test must be conducted by a medical professional and follow specific testing guidelines pertaining to how the blood sample is taken, stored and tested. Frequent mistakes include using an alcohol based agent to clean the site of the blood draw, not using a sufficient amount of preservative to store the blood sample and failing to keep an accurate chain of custody report for the blood sample.
If the driver chooses to take a breath test on a Breathalyzer device, the testing officer is also required to follow strict guidelines under Title 17. The test subject must be observed for 15 minutes to make sure that he or she does not eat, drink, smoke, burp or regurgitate. If required procedure has not been followed, there would be grounds to challenge the admissibility of the breath test results.
If you have been arrested for DUI, it is critical that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles DUI Attorney Michael Kraut understands how to identify errors in DUI cases and ensure that his clients receive the most comprehensive defense possible.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI and law enforcement errors, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.