Beat the Rap for Drunk Driving in California
The highlights of the ‘2014 annual report of the California DUI management information system’ included a decrease in DUI arrest rates of 6.1%, 8% and 4.1% in 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. Once you’ve been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the case moves quickly and expenses start mounting almost immediately.
If you want to successfully avoid being convicted and the detrimental impact it can have on your future, you should be aware of the strategies you can implement to get out of the charge. Everything from the circumstances of the arrest to the surrounding areas at the place of the arrest can potentially swing the case in your favor. Try to commit every detail of the arrest to your memory, so you have the best chance of getting off without a conviction.
Here are 5 Reasons You Might Beat the Rap-Officers Must Follow the Law Too-
Any DUI checkpoint must conform to certain operational procedures. These include overseeing by a supervising officer, a predetermined methodology for stopping cars and public advertisement of the roadblock.
Before a police officer can stop you, administer a DUI test, and detain or arrest you, there needs to be probable cause. The circumstances of your arrest or detention could play to your advantage-
- Unless the officer had reasonable belief or cause to administer the test, any evidence collected can be dismissed as obtained through an illegal procedure
- Without the evidence, the case could either be thrown out of court altogether, or result in a reduced sentence
- Contrary to popular belief, an officer does not have to read you your Miranda rights at the time of arrest, but you have to be informed of your rights before a custodial interrogation is conducted
- Commonly stated symptoms and signs that could be explained by circumstantial and medical conditions include- watery or bloodshot eyes, flushed face, slurring speech, unsteady gait or stance, alcoholic odor of your breath, and many more
The Instruments May be Faulty-
DUI breath testing is the most commonly administered test for blood alcohol content (BAC). If you refuse the breathalyzer test and field sobriety tests, you may have to undergo a blood test or even a urine test. Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations is very specific in the requirements for the DUI testing equipment and procedures.
The result of the DUI test might be inaccurate due to a number of reasons-
- Instruments might not be functioning correctly
- The DUI testing equipment might not be calibrated as per the code
- The officer might not be administering the breathalyzer test correctly or there could be an error while taking and storing the blood or urine sample.
- Environmental factors could have affected the result, like interference from radio waves emitted by patrol cars, cell phones, microwaves, even fluorescent lights can affect breathalyzers.
California Breath Testing for DUI is Not Absolute-
The breath test administered doesn’t directly measure the alcohol content of your blood, rather it relies on the amount of alcohol in your breath,. The instruments used for DUI testing cannot differentiate between the ethyl alcohol in alcoholic beverages and isopropyl alcohol which the human body can self-produce.
The test is susceptible to inaccuracy caused by a variety of environmental factors, which might give you an advantage that could swing the verdict in your favor-
- Dental work you’ve had could have trapped bits of food, which might have been soaked in alcohol
- If you burped or regurgitated, alcohol might have traveled back up the esophagus and increased the breath-alcohol level
- Heartburn and acid reflux could have interfered with the BAC registered on the instrument
- Medical conditions like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and diabetes can trick a breathalyzer and result in higher-than-actual results
- If you’re on a low-carb and high-protein diet like the Atkins, your body could produce ketones. The body converts them to isopropyl alcohol, and eliminates them through urine and breathe, which could affect the readings.
- Alcohol takes up to three hours to be absorbed and the law is concerned with you BAC while you were driving, and not when you took the test. If you were driving soon after you’d had your last drink, your BAC was still ‘on-the-rise’, and the results might not reflect the levels while you were actually driving. This applies to both a breathalyzer and a blood test.
Field Sobriety Tests (FST) Can be Even More Inaccurate-
In case the breathalyzer test cannot be administered, the next test is usually a field sobriety test. This can include a variety of different exercises, but there are three ‘standardized’ DUI FSTs. The walk and turn test, the one-leg stand test and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
Even the most reliable of these tests, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, is only about 77% accurate for determining a persons sobriety level. Other than one in every four people being incorrectly assessed as under the influence, all the tests can be affected by a variety of factors-
- Inaccuracies caused by physical or mental impairments can affect the result of the test. These can include injuries, illnesses, problems with the inner ear and many others
- Age and physical fitness can add to the inaccuracy of the test. If you’re over 60 years of age or more than 50 pounds overweight, you could fail the test, even if you’re completely sober
- Officers are supposed to refrain from moving, so they don’t distract you while you’re performing the test. If they walk around or cause your attention to be diverted, the results may be invalidated and unacceptable
- If the test is affected by environmental factors like improper lighting, rough or uneven ground, distractions from lights and people, unfavorable weather, and more, the test results might not be acceptable as evidence
Even the Most Accurate Tests aren’t Foolproof-
The blood test for BAC is considered the most accurate of the tests for DUI, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be challenged. Even experts agree the DUI chemical testing procedures have an error rate, however small it is. Other than that, the tests must be carried out in a very specific manner, or else an attorney can challenge the results-
- The samples have to be collected and stored properly, otherwise they may get contaminated
- Fermentation of the blood samples can alter blood alcohol levels
- The samples must be collected by trained technicians. If not, the result of the test can be challenged the BAC could be excluded as evidence
- California DUI defense attorneys could challenge a BAC between 0.08% and 0.10%, since the tests can be inaccurate upto 0.02%
There are a multitude of factors to consider before you decide to plead guilty for a DUI charge, and knowledge is power when it comes to fighting the charges. Consult your DUI attorney and discuss the circumstances of your arrest and tests, so you can avoid being unnecessarily convicted if there are any inconsistencies or errors.