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California DUI News

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Revenue Shortages Cause Policy Changes In DUI Prosecutions

Revenue shortages continue to plague California’s judicial system—a phenomena bringing both good news and bad news to those facing DUI charges for allegedly driving under the influence. The good news for individuals accused of violating California Vehicle Code sections 23152(a) (driving under the influence) and 23152(b) (driving with a .08 percent or higher alcohol content), is that many District Attorney offices have been forced to cut back on salaried prosecutors, relying instead on inexperienced volunteers from civil firms looking for ... Read More »

Are Asthmatics Criminally Punished for Inability to Provide a Breath Sample?

Almost all states now have increased penalties for refusing to submit to blood-alcohol testing, usually involving added jail time and/or longer license suspensions. A few states even make refusing a separate and distinct crime. A large percentage of those charged with “refusing” are innocent. One of the most common refusals is the failure to breathe hard enough to produce a breath sample. The various breath machines all require the suspect to breath through a narrow breath tube hard enough to ... Read More »

Dealing With the Impossible California DMV

Today I want to give you an example of just how frustrating and difficult it can be to deal with the California State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and why you really want to have a Board Certified DUI defense attorney representing you on drunk driving case. Motorists who are cited and prosecuted for driving under the influence of alcohol in California face consequences with both the California DMV and the Court system. The DMV takes an administrative action to ... Read More »

Breathalyzers and the “Mouth Alcohol” Problem

One of the most common causes of falsely high breathalyzer readings is the existence of mouth alcohol. The breathalyzer’s internal computer is making a major assumption when it captures a breath sample and then analyzes it for blood alcohol concentration (BAC): It assumes that the alcohol in the breath sample came from alveolar air — that is, air exhaled from deep within the lungs. Since we are trying to measure how much alcohol is in the blood, rather than in the breath, the ... Read More »

False Breathalyzer Readings From Diabetes or Dieting

It is a little-known fact that breathalyzers do not measure alcohol: they actually measure the presence of a molecular group in chemical compounds. Ethyl alcohol (aka ethanol) contains the group, and so when the machine detects its presence (or, more accurately, infrared energy is absorbed by it), it simply assumes that the detected compound must be ethyl alcohol, otherwise it may lead to a false breathalyzer reading. Problem: there are thousands of compounds containing this molecular group — of which ... Read More »

Court Declares Multiple DUI Offenders Eligible For Early IID-Restricted Licenses

California residents convicted of a second or third drunk driving offense, or alcohol-related reckless driving (commonly referred to as a “wet reckless”), may now obtain early reinstatement of their driving privilege with installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) regardless of the date of their violation or conviction. In a published decision issued by the First District Court of Appeal in Matteo v. California State Department of Motor Vehicles (First District Court of Appeal in California, Division 3 – Case ... Read More »

Why Do Some Cops Always Report Identical Symptoms?

As any experienced DUI attorney knows, many police officers are considerably less than honest in their written DUI reports and in their testimony. One of the practices where this is most readily apparent is the tendency to “observe” exactly the same “symptoms” in every person the officer arrests for drunk driving. With Officer Smith, for example, the suspect fumbles with his wallet when getting his driver’s license, leans against the car for support, and misses “Q” in the alphabet recitation ... Read More »

Anyone Can Be Arrested On Suspicion Of Driving Under The Influence

As Steve Oberman from Tennessee recently noted (see his blog entry of August 10, 2012), anyone can be arrested for suspected DUI.  Recently in California, a priest was stopped without probable cause while driving his mother home from a family dinner. Stopped in a DUI Checkpoint, the Reverend Salvatore Cordileone (archbishop-elect of San Francisco) was arrested in San Diego after blowing into a breath-alcohol detection device that reportedly showed a result over the .08 percent or higher statutory limit. Rev. ... Read More »

How “Expert” Are Cops at Detecting Alcohol Impairment?

The drunk driving case rests heavily upon the subjective opinions of the arresting officer — the abilities of that officer to correctly assess DUI symptoms of intoxication: observations of driving, personal symptoms (slurred speech, flushed face, etc.), answers to questions, performance on field sobriety tests. It is his DUI report (and his opinion in that report) which will largely determine what, if any, criminal charges will be filed by the prosecutor; his decision which will or will not result in ... Read More »

Attacking Breath Test To Disprove Both Impairment And Per Se Charges In California Drunk Driving Prosecutions

California Vehicle Code § 23610 specifies that in a prosecution for driving under the influence, it shall be presumed that the person was “under the influence” if their blood alcohol level was .08 percent or more at the time of driving. However, mandatory presumptions of this nature are unconstitutional in criminal cases, and thus jurors are instead instructed that they may infer the defendant was under the influence if they find he or she had a .08 percent or higher ... Read More »