The California Highway Patrol has primary responsibility for dealing with traffic-related matters on freeways and roads. They are also known as the CHP, and they probably, by far, arrest the most people for DUI's in Los Angeles County more than any other law enforcement agency.
The main reason for this – and I've been doing this for twenty-five years, so I've seen the arrest by the sheriffs, LAPD, and the CHP – but the main reason is that their primary task is to get people for DUI's. They get them for other traffic-related offenses, but they're out looking, especially on the weekends, for people who are driving intoxicated on the highway.
CHP and DUI Sobriety Checkpoints
These guys are specially trained to deal with DUI cases and set up checkpoints. What I think, having done this for a long time and talked to a lot of my clients related to their DUI arrest by the CHP, is that in the wee hours of the night, they're just pulling people over randomly, especially on the weekends because they figure there's a high percentage of people who are drinking and driving and they're going to catch them.
Now, are they allowed to do that? Of course not. You can't just pull people over for no reason. Do they do it anyway? Of course, they do. The key is that they need to develop a reason for the pullover.
Unfortunately, for the average driver, the reasons are easy to come up with. All they have to do is say that you're serving, and they can pull you over. Now there are a few tiny ticklers in there that have helped the DUI defense world. A lot of the CHP vehicles are equipped with dashcam videos.
So, if they're going to start lying about the reason for the pullover, if you can catch their lie on their dashcam video, that's one way to challenge them.
Field Sobriety Tests and Dash Cam Video
Another example is during the Field Sobriety Test in a DUI; if their car's dashcam is pointed there and you're doing all of the Field Sobriety Tests correctly, that's another way to catch them that they're not telling the truth.
These guys know that, and a lot of times, they're pointing their cars in different directions, so they don't catch the Field Sobriety Test, or somehow their dashcam doesn't go on until after the stop. So, there are ways to get them. When I say get them, I mean to show that they're not telling the truth that you were driving in an unsafe manner.
So, realize that they are specially trained to get people for DUI's. These guys get awards every year for getting the most DUI arrests in the Los Angeles area. When they go through their academy, they emphasize and focus on teaching them how to detect people who are driving under the influence of alcohol.
Specifically Trained to use DUI Breath Machine
They train on how to use the Intoxilyzer 3000, the breath machine they use to check the alcohol level, the PAZ device is the preliminary alcohol screening device. So they're trained on all that stuff, and their primary goal is to catch people for DUI's out on our highways.
The bottom line, as far as the CHP goes in DUI's, they're the worst enemy of a criminal defense attorney and somebody who's been caught for a DUI because once they get you and write up a police report, they're going to try to get that conviction.
I've seen them with what I call pencil-whip you to death, where they say a bunch of stuff about you, all with the aim for trying to get you for the DUI. So, I ask many of my clients how they think they did on the Field Sobriety Test. They tell me, oh, I passed them.
But, the answer is if you got arrested and cited for a DUI, you failed the test because they can't say you passed the test – meaning you can safely operate a motor vehicle – because that's what those tests are designed to check for – and arrest you.
They can't do that, so if they arrested you, that means they're going to claim you failed the test. So, assume if you got arrested for DUI by the CHP, they're going to say that you failed the test, and they're going to write that police report up in such a way so they can try to get that conviction for the DUI in whatever Los Angeles court you are sent to.