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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

No-refusal policies becoming more prevalent in DUI testing

Drivers have a difficult choice to make when they are asked to submit to a Breathalyzer test after being pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. If the driver elects to take the test and has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, it is likely that he will be charged with a DUI. However, all states have implemented implied consent laws to penalize those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when asked to do so. Therefore, if a driver refuses to submit to a breath test, he will be subjected to an automatic suspension of his driver’s license.

Despite these consequences, a 2003 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that many people who do not submit to tests end up avoiding harsh penalties. The study also revealed that implied consent laws don’t have a major impact on reducing breath test refusals.

Because of these breath test refusals, more and more law enforcement officials are enacting “no-refusal” policies with regards to DUI testing. With these policies, officers in many jurisdictions may attempt to get a warrant to secure a blood draw or a breath test from the driver. Obtaining a paper warrant would take a few hours, giving the driver time to sober up before taking the test. Nowadays, officers can have an electronic warrant sent to their phones to avoid this time delay.

A driver who refuses a court-ordered blood alcohol test via warrant may be facing contempt charges that are more serious than just a license suspension. Drivers can still refuse a BAC test with a no-refusal policy in place, but they cannot legally refuse a search warrant for such a test. These serious consequences make it less likely for a driver to refuse a test.

No-refusal policies are not supported by everyone. Drivers are protected under law against unreasonable search and seizure. The American Civil Liberties Union finds that these no-refusal policies violate these rights. For blood draws in particular, medical privacy becomes an issue as well. However, as of right now, a majority of states have a legal authority to implement no-refusal initiatives. This is something to be aware of if you are ever pulled over for a possible DUI.

Reasonable suspicion and probable cause may lead to a DUI arrest

We often hear that in order for an officer to stop a motorist on the roadway, he must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. This means that at the time of the stop, the officer believes that the driver was doing something illegal, even if they end up being wrong. With DUI stops, typically the officer will observe the driver behaving recklessly on the road. For example, an officer may pull over someone who is switching lanes frequently, making illegal turns or braking unnecessarily. Even a burned-out brake light, which has nothing to do with drunk driving, can be enough for an officer to stop a driver.

With that reasonable suspicion, the officer is permitted to detain the driver for a brief period of time in order to conduct an initial investigation. If the officer suspects that the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol even after the inspection, the officer will typically administer a blood alcohol test to measure the blood alcohol level of the driver. The test most commonly used is a breath test. An officer may also ask the driver to submit to a field sobriety test.

While reasonable suspicion is enough for a brief stop and investigation, in order to make an arrest, there must be probable cause. Probable cause means that the officer has enough evidence to show that the driver has most likely committed a crime. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. For a DUI arrest, the officer will typically have evidence in the form of test results. In a number of DUI cases, the results of the field sobriety test or BAC test indicate that the driver was drunk at the time of the stop. These results, however, can be inaccurate if the test was not properly calibrated or administered effectively.

Without reasonable suspicion for the initial stop and probable cause for the arrest, a DUI case against a driver could be dropped altogether.

NFL star Aldon Smith arrested under suspicion of California DUI

Star athletes are getting in trouble with the law more and more frequently in recent months. The San Francisco 49ers recently released Aldon Smith after his latest run in with the law. The star defensive end was arrested in California earlier this month on charges of driving under the influence, vandalism and hit-and-run.

Smith allegedly was arrested after he damaged a parked car while parking his own vehicle. He allegedly caused additional damage with his door while exiting the car. According to an SCPD press release, Smith reportedly left the area without reporting the accident or leaving his identifying information. When he returned to the parking area, he was contacted by officers. The officers determined that he was displaying symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol. Smith was then required to submit to a field sobriety test administered by officers on the scene.

Smith was booked into a nearby jail and bail was set at $26,000. Smith left jail a day later. Upon his release, he stated that there was no DUI and that justice will be served.

Smith has been in trouble with the law before. He was arrested on suspicion of DUI in January 2012 and September 2013. He also served a nine-game suspension in 2014 for violating the NFL’s substance abuse and personal conduct policies.

Being charged with a DUI does not necessarily mean that you will be found guilty. Officers on the scene can make a lot of mistakes when it comes to administering Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests. These mistakes can lead to dropped or reduced charges.

Former NFL star arrested on suspicion of DUI

A possible California DUI conviction can be overwhelming, especially when it is not your first time dealing with DUI charges. A retired NFL star is now facing his second DUI after a car accident earlier this summer. Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb, was driving near Phoenix when he rear-ended another vehicle. No injuries were reported in the accident.One officer who responded to the scene said that McNabb exhibited signs of drunk driving, including bloodshot eyes and slurred speech. McNabb was arrested on suspicion of DUI.Lab tests show that McNabb’s blood alcohol level was .17, which is over twice the legal limit. In video of the incident, McNabb told the officer that he was driving home from a nearby sports bar at the time, but that he had not been drinking. He reported that he was sick and been taking cough medicine.McNabb was cited and released from the police station. Because McNabb’s blood alcohol level was above .15, he may be facing an extreme DUI that could result in more serious consequences. He previously pled guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge in 2013 and was jailed for one day. As a result of that charge, he was ordered to pay a fine and entered an outpatient treatment program.

Whether you are being charged with a felony DUI or a misdemeanor, you may be facing a number of consequences. Fines, outpatient treatment programs, license suspension and jail time are just some of the things that could be in your future. You may be able to limit these consequences with a solid defense strategy in place.

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