You Do Not Have to Be Drunk to Be Arrested for DUI
November 16, 2009

The phrase “drunk driving” is a misnomer. You do not have to be “drunk” to be deemed “under the influence” or “impaired” for purposes of a DUI arrest, prosecution and conviction.

“Impaired” Driving

The relevant inquiry is whether your ability to drive was “impaired” such that you were not as cautious or alert as a non-drinking person would have been in similar circumstances. Proving and disproving this requires a thorough analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding the stop of your vehicle and subsequent DUI investigation.

The Process

First, the arresting officer will allege that something about your driving pattern or vehicle condition led him to lawfully stop your car. An actual vehicle code violation is most commonly cited, but NOT required to justify a stop. The legal standard required for a lawful stop is “reasonable suspicion.”

Next, the arresting officer will go on to further allege that you displayed the common “objective symptoms” of intoxication (odor of alcohol, slurred speech, red eyes, flushed face, etc). These objective symptoms can later be used at trial to help establish intoxication versus sobriety.

Finally, the officer will detail in his police report whether you passed or failed the roadside coordination tests (field sobriety tests).

BAC Is Always Considered

The concentration of alcohol in your blood or breath will be considered. Depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the judge and jury may be permitted to infer that you were “under the influence at the time of driving.” This is accomplished by the testimony of the state’s expert witness of concentration of alcohol in the blood.

However, this scientific evidence of your BAC is not absolutely necessary to convict you. Individuals who have refused to submit to any chemical blood or breath test for alcohol concentration have been convicted of DUI solely on the basis of the testimony of police officers as to the defendant’s erratic or unlawful driving behavior.

To successfully defend against DUI charges you must hire an experienced California DUI defense attorney who understands your rights in the context of California DUI Laws.

If you or someone you love has been accused of a driving under the influence in California, it is important to promptly contact the experienced Southern California criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today at (877) 466-5245 for a consultation of your case. We can help you.

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