Orange County DUI Evidence
Law enforcement gathers DUI evidence in the field as they determine whether there will be a DUI arrest. It is vital to have a well-informed drunk driving defense attorney to lead you through a daunting DUI trail and DMV hearing. At Coffey & Coffey, we are knowledgeable in the methods and test used to collect DUI evidence. We have the experience to protect your rights through this process.
There are several methods law enforcement uses to gather DUI evidence. They are described below.
The first thing that catches an officer’s eye is the moving vehicle. They notice how you are driving and begin to follow. They are looking for driving signs that would indicate intoxication. These signs may include unsafe lane changes, erratic driving, weaving, lane straddling, and unsafe turning.
The second thing the officer notices is the personal appearance and behavior of the driver. An officer will be looking for signs of intoxication as they approach the vehicle. Some of the signs they will be looking for include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, flushed face, smell of alcohol on the breath. Additionally, the officer will pay close attention to any physical actions that may suggest intoxication. These may include having difficulty getting out of the car, fumbling with your wallet, difficultly following directions, swaying, falling down, holding onto the care for support, disheveled appearance, and urinated on one’s self.
Both of these are evidence the officer will include in their written report. These first two items are so common with driving under the influence suspects, that the officer may include them in their written report even if they did not actually witness them.
Field Sobriety Test:
The officer may administer a field sobriety test, also known as an FST. This is a physical agility test used to assist the officer in deciding about a driver’s intoxication. This is an optional test and the driver does not have to submit to taking a FST. However, the law enforcement officer is not required to tell you this at this point in their investigation. There is no legal ramification for refusing to take a field sobriety test. The results of a field sobriety test are also written into the officer’s report.
Preliminary Alcohol Screen Test:
There is a preliminary alcohol screen test (PAS), which is used by law enforcement to give an indication of a driver’s blood alcohol level. It is a small handheld device used by an officer to help them with the decision to make an arrest or not. The officer administers a PAS test at the time someone is pulled over for suspected drunk driving. You have the right to refuse to take a PAS test if you are over 21, however, the officer may not have been required to inform you that it is not a mandatory test. It is possible someone would submit to both the PAS test and a chemical test. There is no legal ramification for refusing to take a PAS test unless you are under the age of 21, then you must submit to the test.
In Orange County, as well as all of California, chemical tests refer to breath or blood tests. If no blood or breath samples are available, then a urinalysis can be used. In addition, a urinalysis can be used if the driver has a medical condition such as hemophilia or a heart condition requiring an anticoagulant and is under the direction of a licensed physician. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, your license will be suspended. This test is mandatory for all licensed drivers whether over or under 21. In California, motorists are required to submit to a chemical test under the implied consent law if they are arrested for driving under the influence.
Your Incriminating Statements:
Lastly, the officer may gather evidence from what you say. When originally pulled over, the officer is conducting an investigation to determine if there will be an arrest. Therefore, the officer is allowed to ask incriminating questions and they can be used in court. Since no arrest has occurred, there is no violation of your Miranda rights. Once an arrest has been made, anything incriminating you say may not be used in court. Additionally, refusing to take a chemical (blood or breath) test can be used in court as incriminating evidence, implying awareness of your guilt.