California DUI Stops

What is a DUI Stop?

Before you can be arrested for DUI in California, you must first be stopped by police. If the officer suspects that you are driving impaired, they will investigate. Police officers are trained to look for the warning signs of alcohol or drug intoxication. If they notice that you have slurred speech, red eyes or are omitting an odor that smells of drugs or alcohol, they will investigate.

You are protected by the US Constitution from “unreasonable searches and seizures”. In order for a police officer to stop your vehicle, they must have what is referred to as reasonable and articulable cause to pull you over. This means that the officer must observe some traffic violation or error you have made in order to stop you. If you are leaving a nightclub late at night, an officer cannot simply pull you over to check you for impairment because they serve alcohol at the club. The other way a police stop can happen is by sobriety checkpoint. California police can set up random checkpoints where they can check licenses of drivers as they pass and also evaluate them for signs of DUI.

What Happens at a DUI Stop?

Once police stop your vehicle whether by pulling you over or stopping you at a checkpoint, they will speak to you about whatever law you broke or perform a routine license check. As they are doing this, officers are trained to spot signs of intoxication. If they suspect that you are intoxicated, you will likely be asked to perform several tests. If you fail any of these tests, you can be arrested on suspicion of DUI. It is important to note that all of these tests can be declined without penalty. If you fail a test, the results will be used against you in court as evidence of your intoxication. These tests include:

  • Field Sobriety Tests: Field Sobriety tests or FSTs are physical tests that are designed to evaluate your motor functions to see if you are impaired. There are three types of standard tests that are recognized by The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). They are:   
    • The horizontal gaze nystagmus test (HGN) – This test is the most scientific of the three. It involves an officer to place a flashlight in your line of sight and evaluate your eyes for nystagmus. Nystagmus is an involuntary eye twitch that is common when a person is impaired.
    • The walk and turn test – This test requires a you to walk in a straight line heel to toe without using your arms to balance yourself.
    • The one leg stand test – This test requires you to stand on one leg without wobbling or using your legs to balance yourself.
  • Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS): The PAS is a device that police in California use to estimate the blood alcohol levels of suspects. It is not as accurate as a breath test performed at the police station, so it is not covered under implied consent. Failing a PAS test, however, can still be used to prove that you were intoxicated.

Illegal Stops as a DUI Defense

One of the defense options an attorney can use is to look at how the traffic stop that led to your arrest occurred. If your lawyer can question whether the stop was legal, they can weaken the case against you.  If the police officer did not have a valid reason to stop you or if the checkpoint did not follow proper protocol, it could be ruled as unlawful. You can also argue to have charges dropped if you believe that you were profiled in any way or that the police officer made an error during the arrest. Police officers must inform you of your rights at various times and if they fail to do this, it could prevent you from being charged or facing certain penalties such as police failure to inform suspects of implied consent laws will not be subject to license suspension due to refusals.

Unlawful Stop Lawyers in California

We understand the fear and confusion that surrounds a DUI charge. That is why we are here to give you a free consultation and explain what a lawyer can do for you. Our attorneys believe in fighting hard to beat the charges our clients face and we will use our vast knowledge of California DUI law to find the best defense for your case. What sets our firm apart from other defense firms is our commitment to fighting for you. We will go over your case thoroughly and look for any areas that an error may have been made. If you were stopped by police without a reasonable cause, we will fight to get your charges dropped. Call us today and speak with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer right now.

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Floyd, Skeren & Kelly, LLP is a criminal defense law firm serving Southern California. We represent clients who have been charged with DUI and other crimes that are looking for aggressive defense lawyers who can help them fight the charges they face. For more information, contact our firm today.