Is There a Common Scenario in a DUI Arrest?
Interviewer: Is there a common story that you just keep hearing from your clients about the arrest?
A Minor Vehicle Infraction or Traffic Infraction, Such as Failing to Properly Stop at a Stop Sign Can Result in a Police Stop and Then into a DUI Investigation
Paul Geller: There are several things that I’ve heard and I’ve read from police officer reports. The police have stopped my clients first of all because the vehicle had tinted windows or an issue with the license plate as well as failure to properly stop at a stop sign. That is basically rolling over the limit line and into the crosswalk.
These issues, a lot of the time for me, tend to be red flags that the officers were looking for to begin a DUI investigation. Many times stops these are made in the middle of the night or early morning and clients themselves oftentimes are completely unaware an officer is nearby.
There Must Be Evidence of a Traffic Violation to Support the Legality of the Initial Police Stop
Another one that comes up quite frequently is weaving within a lane and or weaving outside of the lane. That’s an important one for attorneys because there needs to be some legal foundation for an officer to stop a driver for a traffic violation. The driver must have been involved in a traffic violation that led to the stop.
So ordering the video is oftentimes very fruitful in that you can see that there was no lawful basis for stopping the vehicle which could lead to the dismissal of the case, regardless of what the blood alcohol level was.
So seeing things like that can be very telling to especially the police officers being on a fishing expedition to find drivers in which to pull over. It’s not necessarily unlawful for drivers in California to have tinted windows on their front driver or passenger door.
When the Officer Indicates You Did Well on the Field Sobriety Test, the Police Report May Indicate Otherwise
Other common stories people arrested for DUI have include that they feel as though they passed the field sobriety test. What they don’t realize is that most police officers will simply tell them they did well on the test. However, they indicate in the police report otherwise; because then you would have police officers left and right making arrests without probable cause.
The Analysis of the Field Sobriety Test Performance Is Subjective
But many people need to understand is that the analysis of field sobriety tests is so subjective despite their training. Most of the time police officers don’t properly administer those tests once they leave the academy, which simply means they’re doing them wrong and I know because I read their reports.
A person does not necessarily have to do field sobriety tests. Of course, the police officer’s not going to tell them that but that’s a fact. They’re also not required to give a breath test in the field prior to arrest, unless they are under 21 or unless they are on probation for a DUI already. And police officers are supposed to tell the potential arrestee that that is the case but they rarely do. And unfortunately the court remedy is simply to tell the jury that while that they can make a determination as to whether or not the officer was being truthful or untruthful. But the fact remains that the breath test results typically will come in.
So people need to understand that if you have been drinking, obviously we want to have a safe society and you should consider taking a taxi. If you have had one or two drinks, which are not against the law in California, you don’t necessarily have to comply with a field sobriety test.