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Palm Desert Lawyer Exposes Technology’s Effect On Dui's

Dale Gribow Dec. 11, 2014

Last week’s discussion of technology and accident cases led to several calls asking if it has affected DUI matters too. The discussion herein addresses the DUI technology advances from chemical testing to sentencing.

DUI, or “Drunk Driving” as it is usually called, is among the most commonly charged criminal offense in the greater Palm Springs community. Locally we have more DUI deaths per capita, than anywhere else in California. Drunk Driving is a charge that can have the most devastating effects on an individual’s life. Not only are there court punishments but many jobs and careers are lost or devastated by a criminal DUI conviction.

DUI’s are the one charge that can, and do, occur with normally “non-criminal” law abiding citizens who have never been arrested before and will probably never come in contact with law enforcement again. They are shocked to find a “stacked deck” where technology considers them guilty if they are .08 or more… until they prove themselves innocent.

Technology has come a long way when it comes to DUI’s. As a young lawyer, .15 was considered under the influence and the DA’s experts would testify that anyone .15 or over was “deuced” or under the influence. The DUI vehicle code violation has always ended in a 2 and thus the deuce term. Initially called a 502, 23102 and currently a 23152. Then a driver with a .15 reading was not under the influence. Ironically most of the cases I see today are less than a .15 but over a .08. They would not have been arrested in “the day”.

Technology then lowered the bar and .10 became the standard before it was reduced to the “gold standard” of .08. There is currently a national movement to lower it to .05. A driver previously had a choice of blood, breath or urine. The FBI determined that urine was not accurate, however the state courts continued to use the urine test until the state courts accepted the technology and disallowed urine. Yet there were tens of thousands of convictions from urine tests.

After a plea or conviction the Indio Court imposes JAIL on a first offense DUI so technology developed an ankle bracelet to track a defendant in their home. The newest version can even detected if the wearer had consumed any alcohol. The Ignition Interlock was developed for more serious cases so that the driver has to blow into a device for the car to start.

Social media created more challenges. The DA’s office saves a lot of time and money by going on line to find the names and information on defendant’s friends they can question if necessary. Law enforcement can observe Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin posts where the driver boasts about his drinking the night of the arrest and other incriminating statements that make it easier to get a conviction.

Body cameras and dash camera technology show what really happened. Drivers that thought they passed all the tests are often surprised when they see how poorly they did on field sobriety tests and how they look. Of course the opposite is true when the driver looks and acts sober and not under the influence.

One of the biggest technological advances is the computer. Previously the arresting officer or DA had to look through records that were handwritten or typed up to determine if this was the first DUI or if the driver was on probation for anything else…thus increasing the severity of the sentence. Most Americans do not understand the multiple names given to Hispanics or mid easterners. In the past it allowed them to have numerous DUI’s under the different configurations of their name.

With today’s technology it is more important than ever before to NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. Take a taxi…it is a lot cheaper than calling me.

If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760-565-0533.