The red and blue flashes and alarming siren of a cop car caught you by surprise on your way home from spending time with friends. Now you are facing a DUI charge, but you are still trying to process how the traffic stop unfolded. Especially since you were certain you sobered up and could drive.
Preparing to fight your charge can be intimidating, considering that first-time DUI offenders in California can face hefty fines, jail time and driver’s license suspension. But, as you prepare for your court date you can consider the following mistakes police officers often make at DUI stops:
- No reasonable suspicion: The police officer needs to have a reason they decided to pull you over in the first place. Just because you were driving on the same road as many local bars, doesn’t give law enforcement free will to pull anyone over, unless it is a lawful DUI checkpoint. The officer can pull you over because they noticed you changed lanes without using your blinker or saw you didn’t have your headlights on. The point is there should be a reason or reasonable suspicion.
- Faulty FSTs: Police officers can improperly administer field sobriety tests or FSTs. For example, the standardized walk-and-turn test should only require you to take nine steps — no more, no less. So, if you took a few shaky steps out of nervousness and the police didn’t let you finish the test, this isn’t an accurate portrayal of your ability to perform the test. Not to mention, there are several health conditions that can affect your ability to take FSTs that an officer could mistake for impaired behavior, like balance problems.
- Inaccurate breathalyzer: After failing a series of FSTs, the police officer will probably have you take a breathalyzer test. But if you blew 0.08%, then there is no way to fight the reading, right? There is actually a plethora of breathalyzer administration errors that can arise. This can include misleading instructions for blowing into the device, improper calibration of the device or police radio interference.
This is just a sampling of mishaps that could apply to your case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you strategize a defense that makes the most sense for you.