When it comes to DUI's, I've been practicing for twenty-five years, and I've seen the various tests used to test somebody's blood. The tests that we think about are obviously, the breath machine and taking somebody's blood. Urine used to be a test that was available as well, but now the legislature has pretty much narrowed it down to either blood or breath to test somebody's blood alcohol content.
Blood, Breath, Field Sobriety Tests
But other tests that are available that are relevant to a Vehicle Code 23152a charge are the field sobriety test because they are supposed to judge whether somebody can safely operate a motor vehicle, so a lot of people don't realize that they don't need your blood alcohol by breath or blood or even urine.
They can look at your results on the field sobriety tests, which, of course, are very subjective. They can say that you smelled of alcohol and looked like you were intoxicated and then try to get you for a DUI that way, without trying to go after the .08 and using the VC 23152b, which says your blood alcohol level was a .08 or greater in Los Angeles, California.
So, there are several different ways to get you. If they're trying to get you by way of the VC 23152a section – which basically says you had alcohol in your system and you couldn't safely operate a motor vehicle – and does talk about whether your BAC was a .08 or greater.
In addition to the field sobriety test, they're going to look at the way that you're walking. They're going to look at the way that you're talking. They're going to look at how you were driving when you were either pulled over or some people got into an accident.
If you crash into somebody, there's an argument you can't safely operate a motor vehicle – then the next question is – can they prove that you had alcohol in your system.
There's a lot of ways to do that. Again, suppose you smell like alcohol, and you're acting like intoxicated somebody. In that case, the police could undoubtedly put those pieces of evidence in at a potential jury trial and then let the jury decide. Of course, it's best for them if they have some reading.
What Is The Best Way To Measure Blood?
In my opinion, and I think based on science, getting somebody's blood is the most accurate test of the tests that are available to law enforcement and prosecutors who deal with DUI cases in Los Angeles County.
If they can get your blood, then they can get pretty darn close to your blood alcohol level is and it kind of rules out a lot of arguments that you can argue when you take somebody's breath.
Of course, you could still argue that the sample they took was contaminated if you have the evidence available to do that. Depending on when they take the blood about the driving, other things could be an argument if they're waiting three to four hours to take somebody's blood; who cares that their blood alcohol level was three to four hours after the driving.
Blood Alcohol Level At Time of Driving
For a DUI in LA County, we want to know the blood alcohol level at the time of driving. They're going to have to use an expert to attempt to extrapolate backward from the point when they take the test – either by way of a breath test or a blood test – what was the result then, and now how do you go and say what the outcome was one hour, two hours, three hours later.
So, the bottom line is the blood is the most accurate. There is some accuracy there as far as breath tests go, but those tests can be impacted. If the machine used to test the breath is not working correctly, that happens all the time. It hasn't been calibrated the right way.
There's some issue with it. It's taken out of service close in time to when your breath was born, then we've got an argument that the machine wasn't working right and whatever your BAC was is not accurate.
Less Accurate Breath Test
Also, I think it is commonly agreed among experts in the DUI field that the machine used to test your breath at the police stations across LA County has an error rate of .02. So, that means if you blew a .08, you could have been a .08. You could have been a .90.
So, you're not going to have that exact accuracy. Obviously, the closer you are to the legal limit if they're trying to get you for Vehicle Code Section 23152b, the stronger argument you have when looking at everything from a totality of the circumstances that you were not driving under the influence, and therefore, should not be prosecuted.
So, I guess it would be fair to say that the second-best test for a DUI in Los Angeles County is the breath. Now, don't get the breath tests at the station confused with the breath test that's typically used out in the fields.
The Preliminary Alcohol Screening or PAS Device is not as accurate as of the blood test or the test at the station. They've had all kinds of problems with that PAS Device test, and you didn't even use to be able to say what the reading was on that in court to try to prove that somebody is a DUI.
Now the courts have given that some more credence. But the bottom line is that test is not accurate. The defense can always get their expert to attack that test and make it look bad and murky.
Depending on how high your blood alcohol level was, how many drinks you had, how you were walking, talking, driving – that's all going to be impacted in any DUI case that you get yourself involved with.
But, if you're stumbling around, crashing into things, and you're more than double the legal limit, it's going to be very difficult – despite what some attorneys who are trying to get your money say – it's going to be very difficult to get a case dismissed under those circumstances unless you have some other angle.
You know, I've been doing this twenty-five year. I have angles all the time. Sometimes people who are not even driving their vehicle come upon them. There are all sorts of things that can go wrong for the Police Department regarding these DUI cases in Los Angeles County.
Your best move is to get in front of a DUI defense attorney who knows what they're doing and can check every angle for you and get the correct result.