When it comes to DUI’s, I’ve been practicing in twenty-five years and I’ve seen the various tests that are being used in order 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 in order to test somebody’s blood alcohol content.
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 really need your blood alcohol by breath or blood or even urine.
They can just look at your results on the field sobriety tests which, of course, are very subjective tests and 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 a number of 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 really 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 the way that you were driving when you were either pulled over or some people get into an accident.
Obviously, 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, if you smell like alcohol and you’re acting like somebody who is intoxicated, the police could certainly 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 just have some sort of a reading.
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 what 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 that they took was contaminated if you have the evidence available to do that, and there are other things – depending on when they take the blood in relation to the driving – that 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.
We want to know for purposes of a DUI in LA County what was the blood alcohol level at the time of driving. They’re going to have to use an expert to attempt to extrapolate backwards 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 result was one hour, two hours, three hours later.
So, the bottom line is the blood is the most accurate. As far as breath tests go, there is some accuracy there, but those tests can be impacted. If the machine that’s being used to test the breath is not working properly – and 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 taken, then we’ve got an argument that the machine wasn’t working right and whatever your BAC was is not accurate.
Also, I think it is commonly agreed among experts in the DUI field, that the machine that are used to test your breath at the police stations across LA County have an error rate of .02. So, basically 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 the blood test or the test at the station. In fact, they’ve had all kinds of problems with that PAS Device test and you didn’t even used to be able to say what the reading was on that in court in order 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 own expert to attack that test and really 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 obviously, 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 years. I have angles all the time. Sometimes people are not even driving their vehicle come upon them. There are all sorts of things that can go wrong for the Police Department when it comes to 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 you’re the right result.