After being arrested for a DUI refusal in Pasadena or the Los Angeles area, many clients have been told by their loved ones, other attorneys, and sometimes even law enforcement, that fighting a DUI refusal is pointless and it is impossible to win a DUI refusal allegation. This cannot be further from the truth. California law does impose upon every driver the requirement that if he or she is suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the driver must provide a breath or blood test when requested to do so by a police officer. This is called the “implied consent” law and is codified inVehicle Code section 23612. When a peace officer arrests you for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), and you fail or refuse to provide a breath or blood sample after being requested to do so, the prosecutor or DA will charge you with Vehicle Code section 23152(a), driving under the influence as well as a refusal allegation.
While it is true that DUI refusal cases pose challenges, there are defenses that can be raised!
DUI REFUSAL DEFENSES:
1. Officer Lacks Reasonable Suspicion to Stop the Driver or Lacks Probable Cause to Arrest
To legally pull over a motorist, the officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe the driver committed a traffic infraction or some other crime. A Pasadena DUI enforcement officer can pull over a driver for even the smallest violation, such as the license plate light being out, or the front windows being illegally tinted. Once detained, the officer is supposed to proceed with the traffic ticketing process. However, police officers typically write in their reports that they noticed objective symptoms of intoxication when they began conversing with the driver. This then provided reasonable suspicion to conduct a DUI investigation to determine if the driver was DUI.
As part of the DUI investigation, the officer will typically request the driver perform Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) and to breath into a preliminary alcohol screening device called a “PAS” for short. Also, when officers ask drivers how much they drank, when they drank and where they drank, most motorists freely divulge this information, unwittingly incriminating themselves. (This is why the safest course is never volunteer ANY information that you are not legally required to provide.) Based upon the driver’s own admissions, the officer’s observations and the field sobriety tests, the officer will determine if he has probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. At the time of your arrest or shortly thereafter, the officer is required to admonish you regarding implied consent. Sometimes the officer will read the admonishment verbatim from a card. Other times he will paraphrase. Essentially, the admonishment advises the driver that he or she is required by law to provide a breath or a blood test. The breath test is not the PAS, but is rather a chemical test conducted on a larger machine at the police station. A blood test can be preserved and retested later, so a driver must be given the option to do a breath or blood test.
If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over, or detain the individual initially, then all the evidence obtained after the stop would be suppressed as fruits of an illegal search and seizure. A motion to suppress can be filed and presented to the court under PC 1538.5. A judge would make a ruling as to whether the evidence gets suppressed. If the motion is won, the case will usually get dismissed because the District Attorney is left with insufficient evidence to prosecute their case.
2. The Driver Was Not Driving Under the Influence
A refusal DUI in Pasadena or Los Angeles requires the prosecutor to demonstrate that the driver actually was driving under the influence in violation of California VC 23152(a). If the prosecutor can’t prove that the driver was driving while impaired, then the defendant cannot be convicted of a DUI refusal.
3. Officer Gives Incomplete or Inaccurate Admonition
California DUI laws require law enforcement to give the driver an admonition in which the driver is told that they must provide a chemical test of their breath or blood, and if they refuse or fail to do so, they will face specific consequences. Such consequences must be explained to the driver, which include losing one’s license for at least one year, or two or three years, that the driver will be charged criminally for the refusal and that that the driver cannot speak to an attorney prior to deciding which test to take or prior to taking the chosen test. If the Pasadena peace officer failed to provide a complete admonition or it was not communicated clearly, or if confusion was created by the officer, then there is a strong defense that the defendant did not willfully fail or refuse to provide a chemical sample of his or her breath or blood.
4. Involuntary Driver Incapacitation Not Caused by Voluntary Intoxication.
If a driver is arrested in Pasadena or Los Angeles for a DUI, but is physically unable to understand the officer, and the physical incapacity is not the result of voluntary intoxication, then this could be a strong defense, because the defendant was not able to refuse or consent to the chemical test. Involuntary incapacitation can arise from a medical condition, a car accident, or from the involuntary ingestion of drugs (i.e., a person slips a drug into another’s drink without that person’s knowledge.). However, being so drunk that a defendant blacks out or becomes combative without intending to refuse a chemical test, is not a valid defense under California DUI law.
If you are facing a Pasadena DUI charge or DUI refusal charges, it is important you contact an experienced DUI lawyer as soon as possible. There are sensitive time limits regarding your right to request a DMV hearing to fight your DUI refusal. Having a good DUI lawyer can make the difference between losing your license for a mandatory minimum of one year (with no possible work or school restricted license options), and preserving your driving privileges. Pasadena DUI refusal lawyer Ann Gottesman is here to help you and protect your constitutional rights and driving privileges. Ann is well respected in the local Pasadena and Los Angeles courts and she has a stellar track record for helping her clients achieve the best possible results in each case.
Call Pasadena DUI lawyer Ann Gottesman and personally speak to her about your DUI or criminal case.
“I provide free consultations and will fight to protect your license, your freedom and your reputation. I know it is frightening and stressful going through an arrest and facing criminal charges. I am here to make this process as painless as possible. Call me any time, evening or weekends, for help with your DUI case.”