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Charges for driving under the influence are unlike many other criminal charges because the investigating officer can apprehend an individual on reasonable suspicion that they have been driving while legally impaired. Officers must have arrest warrants for most apprehensions that are not associated with operating a motorized vehicle on a public highway. There are specific procedures that police officers must follow when conducting an investigation regarding a subject they suspect of intoxicated driving. All evidence collected must be acquired within the limits set forth in the U.S. Constitution regarding search and seizure, including seizure of illegal drugs that may be possessed by the suspect. Drug possession provides the reasonable suspicion necessary to investigate or arrest. Evidence used in a DUI case no longer is limited to alcohol, as the state of California is serious about prosecuting all impaired driving charges. This is true regardless of the implied chemical. Even individuals who have valid medical prescriptions for controlled substances receive DUI charges because the authority to possess the drug does not include the authority to drive under the influence of the drug. Just as in an alcohol-related DUI charge, the evidence is central to the prosecution and a Los Angeles DUI attorney can inspect all evidence for admissibility while crafting a defense.
Alcohol DUI Evidence
The primary difference in DUI cases involving alcohol is the breathalyzer analysis. This gives the state a discreet number that can be used to prosecute the defendant if they read .08 blood alcohol concentration or above. The charge is also based on the testimony of the arresting officers, as many times multiple patrol units come in support. Police officers are trained in being aware of suspect activity at the time of an arrest, often failing in following proper procedure regarding the legal rights of the suspected intoxicated driver. Every component of an arrest is potential evidence that can be dismissed when it is improperly seized.
Non-alcohol DUI Evidence
Many times officers stop an individual who appears to be acting erratic but is not under the influence of alcohol. Finding probable cause can be difficult in these cases when a suspected driver is questioned because the breathalyzer test is unreasonable and does not apply. But, the field sobriety test is still used in non-alcohol DUI investigations for the officer to determine general intoxication or behavior consistent with a specific drug. Because there is no tangible evidence other than a potential blood test evaluation, the testimony of the officer who conducted the field sobriety test will be central to the charge. Any evidence that supports the intoxication charge must be seized according to proper warrant requirements. There are established rules for accessing valid prosecution evidence and an experienced Los Angeles DUI attorney can move for dismissal or suppression of problematic evidence.
Blood Sample Evidence
A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has changed the method in which blood samples are seized by police officers. Suspected drunk drivers can only be ordered to provide blood samples under implied consent doctrine by issuance of a warrant from a judge of jurisdiction before the test is performed. Most DUI arrests occur at night or on weekends, which can be a difficult time for an officer to request a warrant from a judge. How the test was conducted is also significant in adjudicating the case. Ordered or requested blood tests must be administered by a certified lab technician and meet all rules of proper transfer to protect against evidence contamination. In addition, all mechanical measurement equipment used must be inspected on schedule and calibrated for proper efficiency just as with any breath analysis device.