Anybody who knows anything about DUI as far as LA county and the courts go, and the highways know that the California Highway Patrol or CHP are the ones that make the most arrests for DUI cases across Los Angeles County.
There are awards given to CHP officers who can make the most arrests in one year. They are very connected with entities like Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other entities, and the more DUI arrests they get, the more prestige they get in their unit. They might even get more money.
I can't make that representation one way or the other. The bottom line is that the CHP is out on the highways to get people for DUIs. They are specially trained in how to operate the machines that are used to test for DUIs.
They are specially trained on blocking criminal defense attorneys and DUI attorneys from getting a case dismissed. So, they're going to try to get every piece of evidence they can protect against a DUI defendant so they can make sure that they're convicted.
They start right from the beginning of a DUI stop. They're going to say how you were driving. In their police report, they're going to talk about what your breath smelled like – whether you had a strong smell of alcohol or not. Whether your eyes were bloodshot or watery.
When you get out of a car, they always say you had an unsteady gait – meaning you're not steady on your feet. If they arrest you and send you into court for DUI, you can bet they're going to say you failed the field sobriety test. They're going to try every trick in the book to get you for a DUI.
They're going to ask you how many drinks you had. They're going to ask you where you're coming from. Where you're going, and basically, their primary job out on the road is to catch people for DUIs.
Driving on Suspended License and Traffic-Related Offenses
Yes, they catch people for other offenses, driving on a suspended license, traffic-related offices – but again, the CHP sees one of their main jobs is to catch DUI drivers. The reality is, they're not supposed to be pulling people over for no reason. They have to have some sort of probable cause that criminal activity is afoot to pull somebody over for a DUI or any other offense.
But, when it's late at night – it's the weekend, for example – and you're out on the road, the CHP is out there, and they're assuming that you've been drinking and driving and they're going to come up with any reason – swerving, speeding, not driving with your lights on – there's a whole host of things that they put in the police report to justify the pullover.
Then, of course, in the end, if your blood alcohol level is a .08 or greater, it just strengthens your case that you did something illegal because you were a DUI, so you must have done something illegal. That's the angle or the approach that these guys take; whether or fair not, whether it makes sense or not, it doesn't matter.
I have a lot of clients who get the police report. They read it once they hire me, and we come back and sit down and talk about it. They say what's in this police report is not valid. This is not exactly what happened. This is not exactly how I did on these field sobriety tests. This is not what I was doing. They're not justified in pulling me over.
The bottom line, though, is it becomes the police of CHP's word against your word. If they've got a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater, then that strengthens the prosecution's case, and it makes the CHP's work seem more reliable because your blood alcohol level is high.
You must have done some of the things that they said. So, really what you need to do when you're thinking about law enforcement officers and what they did is, we as a defense team working together on the case, we're going to have to figure out what evidence could be available to support some of the things that you're saying?
And some things have come out now that are available – dash cams on a lot of the CHP vehicles are available. Many police officers, not all of them, are wearing body cams – that's another thing that can be available.
Also, there are people out with cell phones. That's another thing that has caught a lot of CHP officers and other law enforcement officers lying about DUIs and what people are going because they catch them on video.
Los Angeles Police Department
The Los Angeles Police Department arrests people for DUIs all the time. In my experience, and I've done hundreds of cases over the last twenty-five years – in my experience, the LAPD is not as sophisticated as far as adequately doing the tests and knowing how to handle a DUI stop, a DUI arrest and be able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together so that when I come in afterward looking to try to get the case dismissed, it's much easier to have an angle in my experience when it comes to LAPD police reports than it does with a CHP officer police report.
So, those are the two main entities – the CHP and the Los Angeles Police Department that arrest people for DUIs in Los Angeles county. It is possible to get arrested by another law enforcement agency, but it seems very unlikely. So, those are who you will deal with when it comes to a DUI arrest in LA. That's the LAPD and the CHP.
You're going to want to get an attorney familiar with dealing with them and know how to defend DUI cases and the policies and practices of the CHP and the LAPD and what can be done to do damage control related to your DUI in Los Angeles.