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How Do You Win Your DUI Case?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Nov 30, 2011

Winning a DUI typically would mean that you are found entirely not guilty of the charge or that your attorney convinces the prosecutor not to file the case or dismiss an issue that's already been filed.

As you might guess, this is not an easy thing to accomplish, but it has been done and will continue to be done time and time again. It typically boils down to some sort of an angle to upend the prosecutor's case. In other words, when it comes to a DUI in Los Angeles, the prosecutors — who are typically the Los Angeles City Attorneys, but sometimes the District Attorneys — need to prove certain things to obtain a conviction for a DUI.

Proving The Elements Of The DUI Crime

Once a DUI attorney sees that the prosecutors are going to be able to prove the elements they need to prove for the DUI, at that point, they're going to try to negotiate with them and get the best possible resolution for their client. Then they'll talk to their client about it and decide how to handle the case best.

Suppose, on the other hand, there appears to be a problem with their ability to prove the case. In that case, the defense attorney will attempt to use that to get a dismissal or some lesser charge, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes it looks like there might be a problem, but it's not 100% clear that there is a problem.

For example, sometimes they stop people and give a specific reason, and then the client says that's not true. So, now the question becomes, if they're pulling somebody over for no reason — like let's say for example — they're waiting outside a club or a bar at 2:00 a.m. when they close, they're just getting people when they come out of the bar. They're allowed to wait outside the bar.

They're just not allowed to pull people over just because they came out of the bar. They're going to have to have some reason that criminal activity is afoot.

Was The DUI Traffic Stop Unlawful?

If the person is staggering drunk out of the bar and they get in a car and drive away, that obviously would be a good reason to pull them over to protect the public and safety. So, in that scenario where they're pulling somebody over illegally, but we have to prove that, we're going to try to get some things to prove it.

For example, if the vehicle that the police are driving is equipped with video, the video may capture what the client is saying, which is that they didn't do anything wrong. All they did was come out of a bar and get pulled over. So, we'll try to get that video to prove the defense's case.

Unfortunately, the police know that the defense will often try to get video, so they don't turn those videos on until their car or motorcycle is in a position where they cannot capture the illegal pullover.

In other words, if they're turning it on after the car has been pulled over, then obviously, we're not going to be able to capture the driving immediately before they pull over.

Like when they claim that you didn't change lanes or were weaving or swerving, we would love to see that video to see if it's true because if it's not true, we can point out that they didn't pull this person over. After all, they were weaving. Look at their car. It's driving fine in the middle of the lane.

Were You Driving The Vehicle When Observed By Police?

So, that's one area where you can win a case — if they illegally stop you or pull you over. Another area that I see come up a lot in DUI cases in Los Angeles that's a way to win the DUI case is, the person wasn't driving when the police came upon them. That happens all the time.

Somebody's car breaks down on the freeway. They get into some accident, and when the police come along, the person's outside their vehicle, so two issues can win the case.

Issue number one is, can they prove that you were even driving? Of course, again, they know this is a potential problem for them, so they're going to start asking you, or your passenger, if you have one or other witnesses in the area, who was driving that car? Also, they're going to ask you point-blank if you drove that car, and if you say yeah, I drove the car, then they've got that box checked as far as not being able to lose the case.

When Were You Driving The Car?

The next question will be as far as driving goes in DUI's in Los Angeles and trying to get a win from that angle is, when were you driving the car? That's important because at some point — unless you refuse to take the test, which makes it a lot easier for them — they're going to get your blood or breath and have a reading which is likely going to be a .08 or greater.

Then the question becomes if you were a .08 or greater at one time, what were you at the time of driving. So, their expert will have to try to extrapolate backward to say, if they were a .09 at this time, then they would have been a .08 at this time, and they're going to have to explain their reasoning. But if they don't have that piece of the formula to say when you were driving, then that's another angle to win your DUI case.

Proving You Could Not Safely Operate a Motor Vehicle

I would say the final angle — and listen, we could come up with all kinds of different scenarios — but just the absolute general angle when it comes to winning a DUI case is, the critical thing that the prosecutors have to prove is that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle. So, if you can show that you could safely use a motor vehicle at the time of driving, you can win your DUI case.

So, how do they prove that you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle? They're going to prove it by the police's observations, but the field sobriety tests and by how you were driving and also what your blood alcohol level was.

So, if your blood alcohol level was a .08, it's presumed that you could not safely operate a motor vehicle, so you have to try to rebut that presumption. A perfect example was, you blew a .08, you get arrested for a DUI, and then at the trial, you call an expert that says that the machine they used to test your breath has a .02 error rate, so there's a chance you could have been a .06 which would be below the legal limit.

But they also have California Vehicle Code Section 23152(a), which says you had alcohol in your system and couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle, so the prosecutors can try to rely on that to get you for the DUI. Under that circumstance, they're going to be looking at how you were driving, were you swerving, did you get in an accident.

They're also going to be looking at how you did on those field sobriety tests. Did you fail them? How were you walking when you got out of your car? Did they observe erratic, crazy, unsafe driving? These are going to be the issues considered when it comes to determining whether you could safely operate a motor vehicle and whether you can win your DUI in LA.

If you want more information about your specific case — your specific DUI in Los Angeles — call my office. Set up a free face-to-face consultation with me, and I will put my twenty-five years of experience to work for you.

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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