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Common Police Errors In DUI Stops

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Sep 11, 2018

If you have a DUI pending in Los Angeles County and you're looking for ways to fight it, you should look out for some of the mistakes that the police make in these DUI stops.

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. 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 will 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 shifting. You're constantly 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, a judge or a jury is going to believe the police most of the time.

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 dashcam is on. 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. Many police officers in Los Angeles County wear body cams, so that's another way to catch them. If they don't indicate when they talk to you on the body cam, they stop you because you didn't signal.

Unfortunately, both of these things are subject to manipulation – both the body cam and the dashcam – are subject to manipulation. So, I see dashcams – suddenly, they don't pick up the stop, or the dashcam is somehow pointed somewhere else when the person is doing the field sobriety test – so you can't judge how well they did it.

The body cam looks 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 policy mistake that I see more and more during these drug/marijuana DUI stops is that the police have 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 thought the guy 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 other drug.

So, that's another mistake that they make. They're using the wrong test. That's an area where you can 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 unfortunate that the police write the report after putting things together. They're not going to say, we did the field sobriety test, and he passed them. They 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 in DUI cases in Los Angeles is that the police don't understand the refusal law. The bottom line is that driving is a privilege and not a right. So, if the police think you're intoxicated and ask you to take one of the tests – the blood test or the breath test – to detect a DUI, you need to take one of the tests.

If you don't, it's a refusal. However, there are specific rules related to denials. Here's where the mistake comes in. You have to tell the person once they say that you're considering a refusal for a DUI; you have to say, okay, if you don't take the test, you'll lose your driver's license for a year. They have to read them a form and then write down exactly what they say under penalty of perjury.

Often, the police are not doing that, so that's another common mistake. They don't tell the person they'll lose their driver's license for a year. If you can prove that either by way of a witness, body cam evidence, or whatever, they have a big problem because now they have no breath test, no blood test. They're relying on the refusal to get the person for the case, which works, assuming that the denial is made the right way. So, that's another common mistake that the police make.

Police Don't Determine Time of Driving.

Another common mistake is that you have to be driving to have a DUI in Los Angeles County. 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, is if they don't ask the person when they stopped there. Then how could you ever 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 went by that freeway twenty minutes ago, and the person wasn't stopped there.

So, again, they always have some 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 backward 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.

Different mistakes can be made, and a lot of them spin 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.

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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