I see a lot of cases where the police are just hiding out at certain locations ready to snatch people up for DUI. The clients who come in actually say to me, I saw the police hiding. These guys came out of nowhere. They were waiting right near that bar. They were waiting right near that club, and once the bar or club emptied out, they pulled me over. I didn’t even do anything wrong. I barely had just gotten into my car.
So, the question becomes, can the police do that? Is that lawful? Is that legal in a DUI case in Los Angeles. The answer is, of course, they can hide. Of course, they can do that. Where the police can have problems and be subject to attack by a DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles is if they’re just pulling the people over for no reason.
It’s not a good enough reason to pull someone over just because they’re coming out of a bar. If you see the person staggering out of the bar and getting in a car and drive away, now we’re talking. Now you have some proof. They’re near a bar. They’re staggering as though they’re intoxicated and they’re getting in a car and driving. You can’t do that.
So, it really depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the issue of the police hiding and what they saw. It becomes an argument, and more and more, at least there are some weapons that defense attorneys have to try to challenge some of these stops because there are people with video out there.
The police actually have a lot of their cars equipped with video. Some of the LAPD officers have body cams on. If they have them turned on, you’re able to get the body cam as a DUI defense attorney and then use that evidence to try to prove that they’re not telling the truth. But yes, absolutely. They can hide all they want.
The latest thing that I’m seeing a lot of is that they’re hiding near liquor stores and pulling people over. They figure a guy’s going to get more liquor. Maybe he’s already intoxicated. So, they have places where they hide.
Another area that I see nabbing people – not necessarily for DUI’s – but for DUI-related offenses is they’ll wait at the courthouse. They have what’s called the H2O squad, where basically, they’re enforcing people who are driving on alcohol-suspended licenses.
They have a list of people going to court – Metro Count, Downtown LA, Van Nuys Court in the Valley, and the bottom line is they’re going to hide and wait outside the court.
They’re going to have a list of people – they’ll have a description and probably have a picture because the person was arrested for a DUI – and that person is not supposed to be driving, they’re going to see him get in a car and pull him over. People think they’re slick – they park like five blocks from the court, but these guys are all over the place.
So, the police hide all the time. They’re in the competitive business of ferreting out crime, and part of being able to ferret out crime, the police are allowed to do certain things in order to catch people.
Now, the issue becomes when they go too far. You can’t just hide and start pulling anybody over that you want. If the person’s attorney can prove that you’re doing that, then you’ll be in a position as the police, where that person is going to be able to challenge the stop, challenge the field sobriety test, challenge any statements that you make, challenge any observations that the police make from their illegal vantage point, and then they can get rid of the DUI case against the person.
So, if you have a case where the police are hiding somewhere, popping out and grabbing you, obviously you want to tell your DUI defense attorney about that, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the case is going to be dismissed.
We’re going to need to look at the circumstances of the case. That’s what I have you do. You come in, we talk about it. We then get the police report. Now we have that piece of the puzzle, and now we compare your version to the police’s version and then compare that to experience and common sense, and then you make a determination as to whether you’re going to fight the case or whether this is a case that should be negotiated through a plea bargain.