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Palm Desert DUI Law Blog

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.

What types of breath test errors can impact a DUI case?

Law enforcement officials typically use blood alcohol tests to determine the blood alcohol concentration, or BAC level, of drivers suspected of driving under the influence. If a driver has a BAC above .08 percent, there is a “per se” legal presumption that the driver was intoxicated behind the wheel.

Breathalyzer tests are one of the most common ways to determine a driver’s BAC level in California. A Breathalyzer test requires the DUI suspect to blow into an instrument which registers the BAC level. Breathalyzer results are accepted in courts as evidence of a driver’s BAC level. However, breath test errors do occur fairly regularly.

In many cases, officers fail to properly administer blood alcohol tests, thereby skewing the results. The testing devices also must be in proper working order when the test is administered. If a Breathalyzer machine is poorly maintained or not calibrated properly, the results cannot be the basis of a presumption of intoxication.

California has its own set of laws in place to address calibration of Breathalyzers. Generally, all states require that a Breathalyzer device is on the list of acceptable devices and that it is regularly checked for accuracy. The person administering the test should be certified and trained in the use of the device and must administer the blood alcohol content tests in accordance with the training. For example, Breathalyzer tests require that the suspect does not eat, vomit, burp, regurgitate or smoke for a certain period of time before the administration of the test. The test must also capture two separate readings within .02 of each other.

If a defense attorney can show that the test was calibrated incorrectly or that the test was not administered according to state laws, the court may find the Breathalyzer results to be inadmissible as evidence. Prosecutors will then have to prove their case through other evidence, such as suspect behavior. Careful scrutiny of breath test errors gives DUI defendants a way to protect their legal rights.

California bill proposes new technology to drug test drivers

While many DWI charges occur as a result of driving under the influence of alcohol, many occur as a result of driving under the influence of drugs. In California, lawmakers are considering a proposal by California Assemblyman Tom Lackey: Assembly Bill 1356. This bill would allow law enforcement officers to use a new technology to determine whether someone is driving while impaired by drugs. It would also change California law to state that all drivers have automatically consented to the chemical testing of their blood or oral fluids.The DDS 2 Mobile Test System can supposedly detect drugs in the body with just a swab of saliva. Within minutes, the device can purportedly determine whether the driver is under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines or certain other illegal substances.Lawmakers have insisted that the test results from this device are not meant to be the final say as to whether someone is intoxicated. The results are intended as a screening tool to help officers make the tough call as to whether to arrest someone who was driving recklessly. However, there are still some concerns. According to some experts, there are inconsistencies regarding the scientific evidence supporting the accuracy of the test results.

While the test is about as sensitive as blood alcohol tests for detecting past use, it does not measure actual impairment. This means that drivers under the influence of medical marijuana may be at risk. As with blood alcohol content tests, the results of these tests could mean serious penalties for those accused of DUI. Thus, contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney is likely to be a top priority for someone subjected to testing.There are potential issues that lie ahead for the bill if it becomes a law, including lack of funding. Lackey has ideas on how to drum up the money needed, but he is focused on getting the bill passed first. The measure was voted on by three Assembly Public Safety Committee members in May, who voted 2-1 in favor of it. Since four members of the committee did not vote, though, the bill failed but was given reconsideration. The re-vote was not immediately rescheduled, so it remains to be seen how California drivers will be affected by this new technology.

Blood alcohol content is not the only evidence of DUI

When a California driver is pulled over under suspicion of driving under the influence, they may be asked to submit to a blood alcohol content test. One common misconception is that if the test shows the driver’s blood alcohol content is under the legal limit of .08, the driver will not be charged with a DUI. Unfortunately, many drivers with blood alcohol levels under .08 face DUI charges.

Drivers who are pulled over for suspected DUI will typically be asked to take a breath test to determine their blood alcohol concentration, or BAC. Under implied consent laws, drivers are required to submit to a chemical test when asked to do so. If they refuse, their driving privileges will be suspended automatically. If a driver takes the test and the results fall between .05 and .07, they may still be charged with a DUI if there is other evidence that you were impaired at the time of the accident.

The National Highway Traffic Administration has found 20 symptoms that could indicate that a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These symptoms give law enforcement probable cause to stop a vehicle and possibly arrest the driver for a DUI. These symptoms may be used as evidence for the prosecution. If a driver makes a statement regarding how many drinks they consumed, that statement may be admissible as evidence. It is important to be aware of this and avoid answering any questions without first speaking to an attorney.

However, it is also important to note that breathalyzers are not always accurate. With the inaccuracies and drawbacks of the equipment, the results are often not enough to convict someone of DUI without other evidence. Proving the test was administered under less than ideal conditions could help a driver defend against DUI charges.

Breathalyzer tests commonly used to determine blood alcohol level

A number of drivers in Palm Desert have heard about the blood-alcohol tests they might face if pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. However, many are unclear as to what these tests actually measure and how they are conducted.

Blood-alcohol tests measure a DUI suspect’s blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, by using a suspect’s breath, blood, hair follicle, saliva or urine. In most circumstances, law enforcement officials will use breath analysis to determine a suspect’s BAC level. However, if there is a serious accident or a suspect has refused a breath test, a blood screening may be conducted at the police station.

There are various machines that can be used to analyze a DUI suspect’s breath and determine BAC. The latest breath analysis machines, or breathalyzers, will use infrared spectroscopic analysis to measure the alcohol content of exhaled vapor. A computer will take the data collected and give a BAC measurement that shows the level of alcohol in the bloodstream. The legal limit in California is .08 percent. Studies have shown that popular methods used to fool a breathalyzer test, such as ingesting mints or onions, do not actually work.

However, blood-alcohol test results are not always accurate. Breathalyzer results in particular have been shown to be less accurate than blood tests. Breathalyzer machines need to be properly maintained and calibrated before use, and failing to do so could result in an inaccurate reading. The test must also be administered according to a particular set of guidelines. If the proper steps were not taken, breath test results might be successfully challenged in court. A successful challenge could mean dropped charges for those suspected of a DUI and avoidance of harsh penalties.

How does boating under the influence work in California?

When you think about drinking and operating and vehicle, almost everyone will immediately picture someone driving a car after having too much to drink at a bar. However, there are many cases where an individual has a bit too much to drink while out on his or her boat. This can lead to a complicated charge known as boating under the influence, and in the state of California, this BUI charge can come as the result of numerous actions.

First and foremost, the traditional DUI limit pertains to BUIs. You can’t operate a vehicle if your blood alcohol content exceeds the 0.08 legal limit.

There are two other ways that an individual can receive a BUI. One way is if the individual is a minor. This boating rule is zero tolerance: if the minor has a blood alcohol level that meets or exceeds 0.01, they are in violation of the law. A minor isn’t even allowed to water ski if they have a BAC of 0.01.

The other way a person can receive a boating under the influence charge is if they are a commercial operator of a vessel. In this case, the individual’s blood alcohol level can’t exceed 0.04.

There are many penalties and consequences associated with a BUI charge, and there can be life-long consequences to such a charge. Anyone who is accused of such an offense, needs to consider their response, and they should consult with an experienced attorney to ensure their case is being handled properly.

The many flaws related to DUI tests

There are three types of tests that you probably think of when you hear “field sobriety test.” The first is your standard “do random acts” test. The second is a breath test. And the third is a blood test. Each of these tests are in the police’s arsenal for trying to determine whether a person is drunk or not. The police treat these tests as ironclad tests, when each one has its flaws and problems.

Take your “random tasks” field sobriety test. If you asked a sober person to walk in a straight line foot-over-foot, they would probably lose their balance at some point. In the context of a field sobriety test, a police officer could take this as a sign that you are drunk. But in reality, it is simply a hard task to perform unless you practice it. It is a ridiculous test that doesn’t necessarily prove if you are drunk or sober, and yet it is championed as such.

Then there is the breath test, or a Breathalyzer test. These tests have been criticized as lacking in precise accuracy, and there have also been challenges to breath test results when the police officer failed to follow the instructions for implementing a breath test as told by the device’s manufacturer.

The blood test can also be botched, but this usually only happens when a testing facility is negligent or a lab technician botches the test, either by tainting the evidence or improperly performing the test.

There’s no guarantee that the evidence against you is inadmissible due to any of these mistakes — but the police aren’t perfect.

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73-061 El Paseo, Suite 220