Los Angeles DUI and the LAPD
There are a number of different law enforcement agencies that are responsible for enforcing the driving under the influence laws in the Los Angeles area. In the City of Los Angeles, many DUI arrests are handled by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”). With nearly 10,000 sworn officers, the LAPD is the third largest municipal police department in the United States. The LAPD is responsible for providing law enforcement services within the Los Angeles city limits. LAPD patrol officers are responsible for a significant number of DUI arrests on any given night or weekend in the Los Angeles Area.
Generally, an LAPD officer will pull over drivers who are observed committing a traffic violation or other violation of the law on the city streets of Los Angeles. LAPD officers typically do not patrol the highways of Los Angeles and California Highway Patrol (“CHP”) officers generally are responsible for the majority of freeway-based arrests, even those occurring within Los Angeles city limits. However, nothing prevents an LAPD officer from pulling over a vehicle on the freeway or even outside of the Los Angeles city limits, if the officer has reasonable or probable cause to stop the driver. Because LAPD arrests generally occur on city streets, usually the reason for the arrest is a traffic violation such as running a stop sign or a red light, speeding or drifting over a lane demarcation. LAPD officers are especially vigilant once bars and clubs have closed and drivers may be heading home after a night of drinking in Hollywood, Venice, Downtown Los Angeles or any other popular area within the city.
The LAPD has embraced DUI checkpoints as a way to enforce the DUI laws. Checkpoint operations allow law enforcement officers to stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and briefly investigate the driver for signs of intoxication. Because checkpoints applies to all drivers, they are considered to be constitutional by the California Supreme Court as long as they adhere to certain predetermined criteria regarding notice to the public and are conducted in a neutral fashion.
Until recently, LAPD patrol vehicles were not equipped with dash cam video cameras to record traffic stops. While CHP and smaller cities have embraced this technology, the LAPD has been slow to add cameras to its vehicles. However, this is changing and an increasing number of LAPD vehicles now have cameras that record the defendant’s driving conduct and the officer’s DUI investigation. In addition, the LAPD has recently begun to equip officers with body cameras that record interactions with citizens. These body cameras are controversial and are still a very new development. The body camera can show a driver’s performance on the field sobriety tests and may provide evidence regarding a driver’s physical symptoms of intoxication.
The majority of DUI cases referred by the LAPD are prosecuted by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. These prosecutors handle misdemeanors within the City of Los Angeles. LAPD DUI cases are typically only heard at the Metropolitan, Airport, Van Nuys, San Fernando and Long Beach Courthouses, as these are the courts staffed by prosecutors from the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office. The one exception would be felony-level DUI cases, which would be prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and may be heard in a different Los Angeles County Superior Courthouse.
If you have been arrested by the LAPD for a DUI offense, it is imperative that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney right away. Los Angeles DUI Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience who has developed key relationships with LAPD senior staff during his years of service as a Deputy DA and is highly respected by officers within this agency.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI and the LAPD, 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.