California DUI

Driving Symptoms

Once again, the object is not necessarily to deny that any traffic violations took place, but that:

  1. The symptoms witnessed were not enough to justifiably accuse the defendant as intoxicated - even when analyzed all together, the infractions were not enough to justify an arrest or to detain the defendant (if this detention came after the officer heard the defendant speak, smelt his breath, etc).
  2. The symptoms were not enough to demonstrate danger to other individuals on the road or, in other words, drunk driving.

Defendant’s Failure to Pull Over
Keep in mind that the object is not to disclaim any infractions, but to provide a sensible reason for their occurrence. The officer may have witnessed the defendant’s failure to pull over after he/she turned on the siren or red flashing lights. It is not unusual for someone to not notice the lights behind him or her, especially during the day, and thus is not always a symptom of inebriation. The driver could have also reasoned that the lights were meant for another person on the road. Coincidently, that is not an unusual response from someone who assumes they have not done anything to violate the law. The client may have misunderstood the lights to mean there was an emergency (also as with an ambulance or a fire truck) and attempted to get out of the vehicle’s path. In the defendant’s urgency to get into another lane, the officer could have easily mistaken the action as “weaving.” As for the noise of the siren, the defense can easily appoint this to an ever-increasing problem for police, fire fighters, and ambulance drivers. Due to air conditioning and car stereo systems, drivers are often oblivious to any noise outside of their cars. This especially happens if the windows are up or the speakers are mounted on the doors (next to the driver).

Manner of Pulling Over
Another subject the officer may testify with is the angle at which the defendant pulled over. Pulling the car off at a bad angle to the curb can cause a danger to the traffic around the car. The officer may claim this is evidence of poor judgment and coordination that an intoxicated driver may have. However, “black-and-white-fever” may suggest grounds for the action once again. It is common, almost expected, that drivers pulled over because of sirens and flashing lights will be flustered and a little disoriented. Completely sober drivers have experienced a bit of adrenaline and rise in blood pressure and caused accidents in the past. Should the officer attempt to deny this, the jurors may begin to suspect his/her entire testimony. Again, many of the jurors have experienced this occurrence in their own lives and know the feeling of anxiety that can occur.

The questions asked by the defense should not only concern what the officer witnessed but what the officer did not witness as well. An experienced council can be beneficial to this part of the case. Questions asked can be:

  • Did the officer observe the defendant alternate between accelerating and slowing down? Is this a symptom of drunk driving?
  • Did the defendant swerve off of the shoulder of the road?
  • Did the defendant fail to stop for any red lights?
  • Did the defendant get in the way of traffic by driving too slowly?
  • Did the defendant force oncoming traffic to swerve out of his/her path?

Things that the officer did not witness can be just as helpful as those that he/she did see.

The prosecution will use driving symptoms as evidence against the defendant. It is the goal of the defense to suggest logical reasons for the client’s actions. Sufficient reasons will allow the jury to relate to the situations rather than directly attack the officer’s word.

<< Previous | Page 3 of 3 | Next >>

California DUI