Articles Posted in Impairment

When you have been arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence, it is important to understand that you have not yet been found guilty. You cannot be found guilty unless you enter a plea of guilty, or a jury finds you guilty. In order for a jury to find you guilty, they must find that you committee the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to do this, they must demonstrate that you are guilty of two elements:

  1. You were operating a vehicle; AND
  2. You were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

When you have been arrested on the suspicion of driving under the influence, you are only being charged with the potential of having committed an offense. This does not mean you are convicted. Before you can be convicted, the government must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, only then can you be found guilty of the offense.

The prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. For a person to be found guilty of driving under the influence, they must be guilty of two elements; they must be found to be driving, and driving while impaired.

When a person has consumed alcohol and are driving, the Court has a guideline which they can follow to determine impairment. The government has found that if a person has a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, they are reasonably impaired enough to the point where their driving may be impacted.

California Vehicle Code §23152(a) explicitly states that it is unlawful for a person for a person to be under the influence of any alcohol or drug, or the combined influence, to drive a vehicle.

Many clients mistakenly believe that because they have had nothing to drink, they cannot be arrested on suspicion of DUI. However, that is definitely not the case. Any substance that causes a person to be impaired and not in complete control of their senses, will be harmful to their driving skills and could possibly be determined to be a DUI.

When a person is pulled over for suspicion of DUI, whether it is due to alcohol or other substances, the officers must have probable cause. It could be anything from the subjective weaving in and out of lanes, to the objective missing license plate or expired registration. The probable cause element is standard for any DUI case regardless of whether it is alcohol or drug related.

It is the officer’s job to gather evidence for a DUI case from the moment a person is stopped on the suspicion of being under the influence. They administer Blood Alcohol screening tests and prepare a report outlining observations that led to the belief of intoxication. The blood or breath test is entered into evidence, as is the officer’s report. The officer’s report is circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence means that it is evidence gathered through observation, questioning and the general educated analysis of the officer. It is evidence, that when combined together, leads to a conclusion.

Officer’s write many reports a day, and tend to overlap a lot of information. An experienced California DUI attorney reads thousands of reports and can explain to a client the terms that are routinely included in all driving under the influence reports, and discuss if they pertain if at all to the specific case.

Certain boilerplate terms such as, red watery eyes, slurred speech, smell of alcohol emanating from the driver and the car, fumbling or having trouble presenting license are included in all police reports. These terms are a stereotype of drivers who are impaired and are included in every police report to strengthen the government’s case against a person.

If you are stopped driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may be charged with a DUI. If convicted, your final sentence will depend on several factors, the specific facts of your case and any arguments presented in your defense.

If you are arrested for driving under the influence of prescription drugs, your potential sentence may be on the lower end of the spectrum depending on additional circumstances of your arrest. For example, one of our clients was pulled over for driving under the influence, but had 0 blood alcohol content, but was on prescribed anti-depressants. He was charged with driving under the influence only, with no enhancements or additional charges.

In contrast, if you are pulled over for driving under the influence of illegal drugs: Methamphetamines, Marijuana or Cocaine, you could not only be charged with an enhanced DUI, but may be charged for multiple California offenses.

There is nothing illegal about drinking alcohol. There or is also nothing illegal about drinking alcohol and driving. It is only against the law to drive a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08% or more.

The state of California created this law under section 23152 of the vehicle code. This law has a number of different sections which make it illegal to drive a motor vehicle under certain circumstances. 23152 (a) V.C. prohibits any person to drive a car when their driving ability is impaired by either alcohol or drugs or the combination. 23152 (b) V.C. prohibits driving by those people who have a blood-alcohol level of .08% or more.

When I asked my clients how much they have had to drink, the most common response is with a number. For example, clients will tell me they had a couple of drinks, a few glasses of champagne etc. Our average client speaks of their drinks like they were all the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. This oversimplification, is what commonly gets my clients in trouble. Although, counting and keeping track of what one has to drink is important, what you are drinking is just, and maybe more important than just the number.

Many of our clients are curious to know if a marijuana conviction would affect their car insurance.sGenerally, a marijuana conviction will only affect your car insurance if you were arrested while driving under the influence. If you are arrested for possession, then it is not likely that your car insurance rates will go up.

Any arrest that involves driving or a violation of the law while driving will result in your auto insurance rates being increased. Driving while under the possession of marijuana is a more difficult case to prove, because there is no set standard or test to determine whether someone is under the influence or not. Additionally, if you are arrested for a DUI, you are not the one responsible for notifying the DMV, the arresting officer will do it.

If you are arrested for being in possession of any type of drugs including marijuana, this may affect other aspects of your life, such as obtaining a loan, applying for jobs or higher education, but the DMV will not be concerned with it. Additionally, if you are arrested for being in possession, there may be several defenses available to you.

Police officers are always right… wrong! At Hoffman and Associates, our law firm has successfully defended thousands of driving under the influence cases. One of our effective strategies is to attack and challenge the credibility of the officers observations, statements and conclusions being used against our clients.

You may be unlucky enough to have been stopped by the police for allegedly committing a vehicle code violation, but it is not necessarily true. The main thrust of an officer’s education at the Academy is how to build a case against suspected violators. Officers are taught from the beginning that they must always justify and build a case.

One of the major areas of challenging the officers observations is to point out to the prosecutor, judge or jury, that although the officer will testify from the witness stand, or by the statements in police reports, that his credibility must be established like any other witness, despite the fact that he is a police officer.

Over twenty years ago the legal determination of when a person was found to be drunk in excess of the legal amount was based on impairment. That however, is not the case anymore. Modern DUI law uses an objective amount of Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) to determine when a person is excessively drunk and in violation of the law.

Too often the mistake that many people make is to assume that they are not impaired and are able to drive after having a few drinks. This is the first decisions that leads to a DUI arrest and in many cases a conviction.

If a person was found to be unable to walk a straight line, or bring themselves to focus, they would be arrested for a potential DUI conviction. Now the law has changed and is based on a model that relies on a presumptive number. Through the use of a sobriety test, authorities will conclude if you are in violation of DUI law if your BAC is .08% or over. There is no requirement of impairment. Furthermore, prosecution has no duty to prove that you were impaired, only that your BAC was over .08%.

The officer’s observations in the police reports that he completes after an arrest, are the basis for determining the relative strength or weakness of the state of California’s case against you.

In a driving under the influence arrest, the first critical element to evaluate is whether the officers had probable cause to stop you. In a DUI case, the more vehicle code violationssthe officers cite in their report create a stronger case for the prosecution. Vehicle code violations such as technical violations, like no license plates, or a tail light out although valid probable cause, create a weaker case for the prosecution.

Vehicle code violations like weaving, lane Straddling, or driving on the wrong side of the street, create a stronger case for the prosecution since they add a link for the prosecutor to build a case of a impaired driving.