Los Angeles DUI Driving Conduct
In Los Angeles driving under the influence cases, a defendant’s driving conduct is often an extremely important part of the prosecutor’s case. While people charged with DUIs tend to focus on the chemical test results and performance on the field sobriety tests, experienced prosecutors understand that evidence of poor driving conduct can be very powerful when presented to a judge or jury.
The law requires that before an officer can pull over a vehicle, he or she must have reasonable cause to believe that the driver is in violation of the law. If the vehicle stop is ultimately determined to have been made without reasonable cause, the defendant may be able to have all evidence from the vehicle stop suppressed, which usually results in the case being dismissed.
Usually, the officer’s reason for pulling the defendant over will be an observed violation of the California Vehicle Code. In many cases, this unlawful driving conduct will also be used as evidence of the driver’s impairment. The following are examples of driving conduct that are often cited by police in DUI cases:
Speeding is often cited as a reason for pulling over a defendant. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) has conducted studies regarding the driving conduct most associated with impaired driving and has found that there is no real correlation between impairment and speeding.
Despite what the NHTSA study shows, prosecutors and judges are often troubled by DUI offenders who travel at reckless or dangerous speeds. In fact, under California Vehicle Code Section 23582 VC, someone who is driving in excess of 30 mph over the speed limit on the highway or 20 mph over the speed limit on any other public road and who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be charged with a speed enhancement. If the defendant is convicted of the speed enhancement, an additional 60 days in jail will be added to whatever sentence the defendant receives on the underlying DUI charge.
One of the most frequently mentioned types of driving conduct in DUI cases is weaving. Officers often describe vehicles travelling in a serpentine manner and failing to properly stay in one lane of traffic.
While weaving is driving conduct that many people associate with impaired driving, this conduct is not always a symptom of drunk driving and in many cases a person’s normal driving pattern is confused for weaving. When driving a vehicle, it is not unusual to make adjustments within one’s lane. Courts have found that even briefly crossing into another lane of traffic does not provide sufficient reasonable cause to execute a vehicle stop.
There are a number of mechanical issues that could also account for a driver’s apparent weaving, including bent tie rods, improper wheel alignment, underinflated tires, faulty steering or problems with the vehicle’s suspension.
Many law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, equip their vehicles with devices that record all traffic stops. These recordings can be critical in showing that a driver’s weaving was not as pronounced or flagrant as described in the incident reports.
3. Difficulty Pulling Over
In many DUI reports, officers will describe the driver either failing to pull over right away or pulling over in a very awkward manner, such as positioning the vehicle at an angle that juts out into traffic. An officer or prosecutor may view this as further evidence of a driver’s impairment.
However, the majority of drivers are not accustomed to being pulled over by police and when they are stopped they become very nervous. In many situations, a driver may not notice flashing lights behind them or sirens, especially during daylight hours or when the driver has his or her stereo up or air conditioning on full blast. A person’s nervousness can also cause them to pull over in awkward locations or angles.
If you have been cited for driving under the influence, it is very important that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney right away. Lawyer Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney who is highly respected as a skilled litigator and knows how to effectively fight DUI cases.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI driving conduct, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.