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What Happens During a Typical DUI Investigation?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding | Dec 27, 2019

People don't seem to realize and unfortunately fall prey to every night on the streets of Los Angeles and across California that law enforcement is out in force. This is especially true during the holidays and the weekends to catch those individuals drinking alcohol and driving their vehicles. So, you should be aware that it usually happens if busted for a DUI.

They are specially trained to identify people who are driving erratically, swerving, getting involved in accidents, and otherwise.  As soon as they pull the vehicle over, they will start their investigation. They're going to start asking questions.  They're going to smell the person's breath.  They're going to ask that individual if they've had any alcohol to drink, and if the individual says they've had any alcohol whatsoever, they're going to pull them out of the car.

They're going to conduct field sobriety tests specifically designed to determine if somebody is under the influence of alcohol to the degree that they cannot safely operate a motor vehicle.

That's the standard.  They're looking to see if the person is safe?  Can they pass a specific test?  And the reality is you do not have to be drunk to get a DUI.  You don't have to be falling.  You don't have to be double or triple the legal limit.

If your blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater and the police, through their subjective observations of you, believe that you're not passing the tests that they're putting you through, you're going to be arrested for DUI.

DUI Blood or Breath Test

They're going to take your blood or take your breath, and if you don't cooperate, they'll give you a refusal, and then you'll lose your driver's license for a year with no restrictions.

What Happens During a Typical California DUI Investigation?

Then they're going to take you to the station.  They're going to observe you.  That's one thing people don't realize when you're talking about a DUI investigation. What if the police's observations are some of the main things that the prosecutors rely on when they file a criminal case against a specific individual. The police are going to watch how you're driving.

They will look to see how you're acting when you exit your vehicle.  Are you staggering?  In other words, how are you walking?  Does your breath smell like alcohol?  Are your pupils dilated? That's why they're putting the flashlight in your eyes and making you watch a pencil or a finger, and they're making your eyes go back and forth to see if you have smooth pursuit, to see if your pupils are bouncing.

So, the investigation starts even before they pull over, but mainly during the pullover, and they're going to ask you a bunch of questions to see if they can trip you up. This is another indication that somebody is intoxicated and can't safely operate a motor vehicle.

So, when you're thinking about an investigation, realize it starts when they get behind your vehicle or come upon your car if it's stopped on the side of the road or you become involved in an accident.

DUI Involving Accident

That's another thing.  People are involved in an accident. Whether the accident is their fault, they don't realize that the California Highway Patrol comes swooping up.  They're not looking to help you in the accident.

They're looking to see if they've got some DUI drivers.  You're going to notice that they're going to come right up on you and ask if you've had anything to drink.  They're going to smell your breath.  They're going to try to figure out how the accident occurred and whether or not you're at fault, whether or not your using alcohol.

I can't tell you how many of my clients have been arrested, and the accidents they were involved in were not their fault.  The CHP or police department that's involved doesn't care about that.

They're looking to see if you're driving under the influence, and they'll arrest everybody involved in the accident if they determine they're driving under the influence of alcohol. So, when you're talking about an investigation related to a DUI, you're talking about the police trying to put together a case by looking at your driving, looking at how you perform on the field sobriety tests, asking you questions.  That's another part of their investigation.

Police Will Ask a Series of Questions Related to DUI

They're going to be asking you how many drinks you had, what type of alcohol were you drinking, where you were, how much you had to eat.  They're going to get your height. They're going to get your weight because they're setting things up for a future potential trial, and their expert to be able to use the data they're collecting to prove that you were driving under the influence of alcohol. You could not safely operate a motor vehicle.

That's why they're getting all that information because what ends up happening is, if they don't get that information when the DUI attorney cross-examines them, they're going to bring up the fact that you don't even know how much that person had to eat.

You don't know when their last drink was.  You don't know what they were drinking.  You don't know how much they were drinking.  You don't know what their blood alcohol level was when they were driving. That's the most important thing because you have a blood alcohol level two hours or an hour later, that doesn't give you what the blood alcohol level was at the time of driving, and that's the crucial inquiry during the investigation.

That's the crucial thing they will have to look at if they want to get somebody for a DUI.  That's why the police are grabbing all that information, and people don't even realize it as they're handing the info over instead of utilizing their rights to remain silent.

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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