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Los Angeles DUI Investigations

The most important part of a DUI process is the investigation. During an investigation, police officers accumulate evidence that shows the driver committed a DUI offense. The outcome of a DUI investigation will affect the sentence laid out to the driver. Let us review the stages involved in a DUI investigation.

The Driver is Pulled Over

A DUI investigation begins once the driver is stopped for violating traffic laws. The law requires that an officer have reasonable suspicion of a violation of the law before pulling over a vehicle. In most cases, the explanation for stopping a vehicle is an observed traffic violation like an equipment violation, failing to maintain one’s lane in traffic, and speeding.

Inspection and Interrogation

After the driver has stopped their vehicle, the police officer will head to their window to speak with them. During the conversation with the driver, the officer will be keen on signs that point towards the driver’s impairment. These include watery or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, or an odor of alcohol. The officer will ask the driver how much alcohol they have consumed. The interrogation is a central part of the investigation. Any observations that the officer makes and any admissions by the driver will be used as proof in a DUI trial.

Field Sobriety Tests

If the police officer has reason to believe that the driver has had one too many drinks, they shall ask them to step out of the car and engage them in a few field sobriety tests. The law does not require that a driver oblige to a field sobriety test. However, if the driver agrees to a field sobriety test, the officer will engage them in a few tests such as balancing on one leg, the horizontal gaze test, the Rhomberg test, finger to the nose test, among many other test meant to measure the driver’s ability to observe instructions, dexterity, and co-ordination. The officer will finally draw their conclusions regarding the driver’s performance on the tests. These observations are recorded in an incident report.

Advanced Sobriety Tests

If the officer’s observations are inconclusive, they may perform advanced tests on the driver. However, like the field sobriety tests, drivers are not obligated to submit to these tests. The exception to this rule is when a driver is below 21 years or is on probation for committing a DUI offense. When a driver does agree to the advanced tests, the officer will require them to give them a breath sample on their preliminary alcohol sensor. This is a portable breathalyzer that gives a reading of a driver’s blood alcohol concentration.

If the officer finds a driver to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they will summon a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to the scene for further evaluation of the driver. DRE officers have specialized training in detecting drug intoxication and are usually called to help in cases where a driver is stopped based on a DUI suspicion.

An Arrest

The final phase of a DUI investigation begins with the arrest of the driver. After being arrested, the driver will be taken to a holding cell or to the hospital to undergo chemical testing. At this stage, the driver will be asked to choose between a blood or breath sample. The post-arrest chemical sobriety tests are mandatory. Drivers who fail to oblige to these tests are likely to face a one year driver’s license suspension and may be charged with a DUI on the basis of their refusal to submit to a chemical test.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is crucial that you hire a Los Angeles DUI attorney to represent your interests. With an attorney, there is a chance you will beat the DUI charges, get a reduced sentence, or go home scot-free.

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