Motion to Suppress Evidence in a California DUI Case
Whenever you’re trying to suppress evidence in a DUI case, what you’re really trying to do is win the case. In other words, you’re trying to make the argument, for example, that the police illegally stopped the vehicle that your client was driving and therefore, anything that they obtained after that shouldn’t be able to be used against the client. A motion to suppress is described under California Penal Code 1538.5.
How Does a Motion to Suppress Work?
For example, the client fails a sobriety test. They shouldn’t have been allowed to do the field sobriety test on them because they didn’t have the right to stop them in the first place.
Any breath result that they were able to obtain from the client should also be suppressed. Any observations that they saw should also be suppressed. There’s a whole slew of different things that the police are able to gather and use against a criminal defendant in a DUI case.
What you’re trying to do is file a motion to suppress in that DUI case to prevent the police from using those things. If the judge grants your motion and says, I agree. The stop was illegal for example, then the prosecutor won’t be able to use the blood result, the breath result and any field sobriety results and therefore, they will be forced to dismiss the case because they won’t have any evidence to use.
Examples of Motion to Suppress in a DUI Case
So, that’s one angle to use. That is that the police illegally stopped somebody. Another angle to argue is that the police illegally arrested somebody and that’s going to occur when the police come up on somebody and pull them over and stop their vehicle and then they arrest them.
You can make the argument as the defense attorney that they did not have the right to arrest that person. They didn’t have probable cause to arrest that person, and therefore, all of their actions after that and all the information that they’re able to gather related to the DUI arrest must be suppressed and can’t be used against the defendant. This is another angle you can use in a DUI to try to win the case.
Sometimes it’s a very effective angle because the police are just arresting people for no reason and then asking questions later which is not the right thing to do. This is not the country we live in.
Los Angeles, California is not the location to be doing illegal arrests and making illegal stops. So, you have to be very careful in exactly what you do if you’re law enforcement, otherwise you can lose the entire case.
Another angle that we try to suppress is by trying to suppress somebody’s statement. Sometimes people misinterpret the Miranda Law as it relates to DUI’s. The bottom line is, the police can ask as many questions as they want.
Miranda Rights and Suppression of Defendant’s Statements
They can take as many statements that they want, but if they put the person into custody and they start asking them direct questions about their DUI case or what would be the functional equivalent of direct questions then they’ve got to read them the Miranda rights.
If they don’t do that the solution is that the person’s statement will be suppressed and can’t be used against them. Now, a lot of time I DUI cases, even if you can suppress the person’s statement because the police arrested them and asked them direct questions without reading their Miranda rights, there’s still other evidence available to be used besides the statement.
In other words, whether or not a person says they had alcohol to drink or they feel drunk or that they were driving a vehicle for example, are not necessarily as that important as the person’s blood alcohol level.
So, if the police pull somebody over driving a car in an erratic manner, their blood alcohol is double or triple the legal limit, the fact that they made a statement that they were drinking really doesn’t mean anything anyway. That’s not the main evidence that the police were going to use against the person.
So, when you’re thinking about suppressing evidence whether it’s to stop a statement or a search, which is another angle. Sometimes the police will search and find things that they use against the person illegally, you’ve got to also look at what other evidence might be available to the police that they lawfully obtained.
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