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Common Legal Defenses in a California DUI Case

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Aug 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

Those people who have been arrested for a DUI matter in Los Angeles County are typically looking for some way to get out of the case. It is obvious that no one wants to be charged and convicted of a DUI because of the various consequences that can manifest from such a conviction. The loss of your driver's license, time in jail and the stigma that comes along with a criminal conviction are simply not desirable to anyone.

There are defenses in DUI cases that are utilized across Los Angeles County by savvy DUI defense attorneys to either get cases dismissed or at least negotiate the best possible deal for the client. Not every defense applies in every case, so be wary when a DUI attorney starts spouting off defenses that do not apply to your factual scenario, in order to get you to sign on the dotted line and pay them your hard earned money.


It is not uncommon that by the time the police get to the scene of an accident or some other occurrence on the freeway or road, the person they ultimately arrest for a DUI is not driving when they arrive. It is definitely a defense to a DUI if the prosecutors can not prove if and when you where driving. However, as you might guess, there is more than one way to prove someone was driving.

Many times the police simply ask the person if and when they were driving and then note their answer in the police report. If the person admits to driving, then this would be good enough to meet this requirement.

Another way I see the police and prosecutors proving who was driving is by way of the witnesses at the scene identifying who the driver was. This is a good way to prove who was driving if the witnesses are credible and their story makes sense.

The last way I see the prosecutors proving that a DUI defendant was the driver of the subject car is through the circumstances surrounding the person's arrest. In other words, if they are the only person at the scene of an accident and their car is in the middle of the freeway with not passengers, then they were likely the person who drove the car there.

Then the next question will be, when did they drive the car there? In order for the expert to figure out what the person's blood alcohol level was at the time of driving, they need all of the times locked in.


If the police took your breath (which is the most common form of identifying what your blood alcohol level was) then the defense attorney should check to make sure that the machine that was used to read your blood alcohol level was properly calibrated and functioning properly.

There is an error rate of .02 percent in DUI cases, as they related to the breath machines used in police stations across California and if the defense can find a problem with the machine or the way the test was performed, then there is a solid angle at attack the prosecution's entire case.

If blood was drawn then there is an argument the sample was not taken properly or contaminated. The defense is entitled to do a blood split to have their own expert verify that the blood alcohol reading is really what is being represented and in order to check for contamination or any other issues that may be present to defend the case.

Urine is no longer one of the common tests that is used in DUI cases that occur in LA County. The only time I typically see the police using a urine test is to test a person they suspect of being under the influence of drugs.


If you really want to fight your DUI case, you are going to have to deal with the issue of whether you were actually safe to drive when you where pulled over by the police. Juries are not likely to find someone not guilty of a DUI unless they were safe to drive. Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a) makes it a misdemeanor crime to drive with alcohol in your system and not be able to safely drive a motor vehicle.

The type of things that the jury will evaluate are how you were driving at the time of the pull over. If you were weaving or driving in an unsafe manner, this is evidence that you were not safe. If, on the other hand, the police pulled you over for some stupid reason that has nothing to do with bad driving, then you will have the foundation of showing you were safe and therefore should not be convicted of a DUI.

Other things that the police will look at related to how you where talking (where you slurring your speech), how you were walking (did you stumble or stagger), whether your pupils bouncing when they shined their light in them and whether your breath smelled like alcohol.

Of course the most important tests for evaluating safety are the field sobriety tests, which are designed to specifically indicate if you were safe to drive a car.

All of the above tests and observations are subjective in nature and also subject to police manipulation. Hence, having a seasoned savvy DUI defense attorney is essential to achieving the best result possible in your DUI case.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding

What Makes Ronald Hedding Uniquely Qualified To Represent You? I've been practicing criminal defense for almost 30 years and have handled thousands of cases, including all types of state and federal sex crime cases. All consultations are discreet and confidential.


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