Some things that you should look out for if you have a DUI pending in Los Angeles County and you're looking for ways to try to fight it are some of the mistakes that the police make in these DUI stops.
Lack of Probable Cause To Make Traffic Stop
First of all, they can't just stop somebody for any reason. Just because it's late at night – it's a Friday or Saturday night – that's not a green light to stop somebody. If it can be proved that they stopped somebody for no reason – just because they thought they might have been drunk because it's late at night – then the whole case will get thrown out.
The stop will be illegal. The breath/blood result will be thrown out. Any statements that they make will be thrown out. Any observations by the police will be thrown out.
So, the bottom line is the first mistake that they make is just stopping somebody for no reason. Unfortunately, the police know that. They know if they stop somebody for no reason and the defense can prove that, the case is going to get dismissed.
So what do they do? They come up with a reason every single time, and they can come up with all sorts of different reasons. Maybe you didn't signal. You were swerving. That's the best one – that you were swerving. You're always swerving.
I mean, how do you refute some of these things? It's going to be your word against the police and if it turns out that your blood alcohol level was over a .07, obviously most of the time a judge or a jury is going to believe the police.
Now, some good things have been happening though with DUI laws as far as some of the common issues and mistakes that the police make, and that is, a lot of the police vehicles are now equipped with dash cams, so if the dash cam is on and it catches what happened and it doesn't show you swerving or not signaling, that's it, you got them.
Another thing that's happening is body cams. A lot of the police officers in Los Angeles County are wearing body cams, so that's another way to catch them. If they don't indicate when they talk to you on the body cam that the reason they stopped you was because you didn't signal, for example.
Unfortunately, both of these things are subject to manipulation – both the body cam and the dash cam – are subject to manipulation. So, I'm seeing dash cams – all of a sudden they don't pick up the stop or the dash cam is somehow pointed somewhere else when the person is doing the field sobriety test – so you can't really judge how well they did it.
The body cam is looking at the steering wheel so you can't see the stop. There're all sorts of tricks that they're using because they realize these are ways to win cases and they don't always tell the truth.
Incorrect Chemical Testing
Another common police mistake that I'm now seeing more and more on these drug/marijuana DUI stops is, the police are having the people do alcohol-related tests. That doesn't test for marijuana or drugs.
So, that's another way to attack them. You say, wait a minute, if you really thought the guys was intoxicated, he couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle – why are you having him do the wrong test?
Have a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) come out to the scene or bring him to the station to the DRE and let the DRE talk to them, look at them and conduct some tests that might relate to being intoxicated because of marijuana or intoxicated by some sort of other drug.
So, that's another mistake that they make. They're using the wrong test. That's an area where you can really get them, especially when your client blows zeros on the breath machine. Why are you having him walk the line if he's blowing zeros? He doesn't have any alcohol in his system.
So, it's unfortunately that the police write the report after so they can put things together. They're not going to say, we did the field sobriety test and he past them. They just don't even mention it sometimes in the report. So, that's another mistake to look for.
Police Don't Understand DUI Refusal Law
Another mistake that I see in DUI cases in Los Angeles all the time is that the police don't understand the refusal law. The bottom line is, driving is a privilege and not a right. So, if the police think you're intoxicated and they ask you to take one of the tests – the blood test or the breath test – for purposes of detecting a DUI, you need to take one of the tests.
If you don't, it's a refusal. However, there are certain rules related to refusals. Here's where the mistake comes in. You have to tell the person once they say whatever they say that you're considering a refusal for a DUI, you have to say, okay, if you don't take the test you're going to lose your driver's license for a year and they have to read them a form and then write down exactly what they say under penalty of perjury.
A lot of times, the police are not doing that so that's another common mistake that they make. They don't tell the person they're going to lose their driver's license for a year. If you can prove that either by way of a witness, body cam evidence or whatever, then they have a big problem because now they have no breath test, no blood test and they're relying on the refusal to get the person for the case which works, assuming that the refusal is done the right way. So, that's another common mistake that the police make all the time.
Police Don't Determine Time of Driving
Another common mistake that I see is that you have to be driving in order to have a DUI in Los Angeles County. A lot of times when the police come upon somebody, they're out of the car. They're walking somewhere. They're pulled over on the side of the freeway.
The big mistake they can make, and I've won cases on it, is what if they don't ask the person when they stopped there. Then how could you ever be able to figure out when the person was driving the car unless you have a witness or the police can claim without seeing anything before, which is they drove by that freeway twenty minutes ago and the person wasn't stopped there.
So, again, they always have some sort of a trick to try to get out of it. But, that's another common mistake the police make in DUI cases in LA county. They don't pinpoint when the driving is. There's no way for their expert to extrapolate backwards to be able to say what the person's blood alcohol level was for purposes of a DUI at the time of the driving if they don't know when the driving was. That's another crucial mistake that can be made.
There's all sort of different mistakes that can be made and a lot of it spins on the facts of the case. So, if you have a DUI in LA county and you're looking for mistakes police may have made, give me a call. We'll sit down and go over everything and I'll give you an honest run-down of what I think of your DUI case.