No Driving Defense Strategy in a California DUI Case
This has to do when it relates to a DUI of the defendant arguing that you do not know when I was driving the vehicle or you don't even know whether I was, in fact, driving the vehicle.
Having done thousands of DUI cases over the last twenty-five years, not surprisingly, I've had a number of cases where the police could not prove that my client was actually driving the car.
For example, I had one case in Ventura county where my client crashed into a pole, got out of the car and left.
The police come on the road and see the car crash there. They keep going up the road figuring the person must have went on foot since they're not there, sure enough, they've got my client coming back from the gas station where they made a phone call because they didn't have their cell phone on them to get a tow truck out there.
One big thing though that the police did not do is, they did not get the information to be able to claim they knew when the driving was.
In other words, usually they get it from the defendant, so they're going to ask the defendant, when did you crash into this pole right here? Now they get a time.
Now, when their expert gets that blood or that breath result, they're going to be able to say, okay, at 10:00 p.m., this is when the blood was taken from the defendant, or this is when the breath sample was taken from the defendant.
My understanding is the person was driving at 9:00 p.m., and so I'm able to take that reading from the 10:00 p.m., and I'm able to extrapolate backwards and figure out what the blood alcohol level would be an hour before that, and they've got all kinds of ratios that they use.
Chemical Tests To Speculate When Someone Was Driving
They have all kinds of science that they try to use in order to be able to substantiate that and usually they're pretty successful. Even though the defense is going to say that's voodoo science.
There's no way they can tell, and they're really doing a lot of speculating because they don't know how quickly this particular defendant absorbs alcohol and there's a whole bunch of different challenges that can be made.
But, the bottom line is, if the police can't pinpoint when the person crashed into the pole in my example, then they have to dismiss the case and that's exactly what happened.
They could not get from my client when he crashed his car into that pole. In fact, the client did not even admit that he was the one who crashed the car into the pole, so they didn't have that information.
They had no other witnesses to be able to put them near that pole and crash of the car into the pole, so they had to dismiss that case. In Ventura county, if you know anything about it, it's a very tough jurisdiction.
They do not like to dismiss cases. Especially DUI's, but they had to in that case because they could not prove when the person was driving.
Using Witness To Determine Someone Was Driving Vehicle
Another example that illustrates this driving defense is I had a client who pulled into a drive-thru drunk, hit the drive-thru sign and drove around the parking lot, then eventually parked his car, and then came into the restaurant because the drive-thru wasn't working, ordered some food. Somebody called the police.
They came and they ended up arresting him. So, when the police got there his car was parked in the parking lot, so he had the argument that he wasn't driving; you didn't see me driving so how can you arrest me for a DUI.
Well, unfortunately for him, there was a patron inside the parking lot that saw him driving the car a half-hour earlier, saw him crash into the sign and saw him park his car in the spot. It was about two in the morning. There was nobody else there.
So, now they've got the argument to be able to substantiate that he was driving the car. There's no one else there. How else did he get there? The car's registered to him and they have eyewitness watching him drive the car.
Successfully Using a No Driving DUI Defense
So, you start to get a feel for when this driving defense can be utilized. I've had numerous cases where I've been able to successfully utilize it and then I've had other cases where we can't successfully utilize it.
Most of the time the thing that messes us up is the defendant. The police come up. They're nervous.
They ask you, you're here on the side of the freeway. You're the one that drove it here, right? Yeah. And when did you stop here? Oh, about ten minutes ago. It's game over.
Now you're going to lose because they've got the information they need in order to establish when you were driving and now they just need the blood or breath result and they can put their case together. They'll do the field sobriety test..
If you've got a case that's one of those close-calls whether they can prove that you were driving or not, there's all kinds of them.
Sometimes people are parked with the keys in the ignition. Sometimes they're blocking the road.
There's a whole slew of different angles that can be taken and try to win these DUI cases. It's not easy but it can be done under the right factual scenario.
If you think you sit in one of these scenarios, pick up the phone. Make the call. We'll sit down. We'll go through it. I'll use my experience to do everything I can to help you.