Unlike most defendants in a criminal case, someone charged with DUI does not have the same Constitutional rights or protections as most other criminal defendants. Appellate courts have continually made judicial decisions that limit a citizen’s rights both in DUI investigations and arrests. Furthermore, our State’s Legislature has also played an active role in modifying the rights of the accused drunk driver, as well as creating laws to help increase the conviction rate in DUI cases.
For example, DUI checkpoints are essentially a violation of a citizens’ Constitutional right to privacy. These checkpoints permit our law enforcement agencies to basically stop innocent people, for absolutely no reason at all. Even though studies have shown that officers have just as high a probability of locating drunk drivers by patrolling the streets, checkpoints are currently permitted and accepted as a beneficial practice for our community.
Another example is in regard to anonymous tipsters in DUI investigations. A person can be stopped and potentially investigated for DUI based solely on a 911 call, from someone giving an anonymous tip to the police. Even though the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides a defendant a right to confront their accuser, a DUI defendant does not have that right if their accuser was an anonymous tipster.
If an officer believes that someone is driving under the influence of drugs, a person can be convicted for a violation of California Vehicle Code §23152(e). Since there are no current guidelines as to what levels constitute “under the influence,” someone could potentially get a DUI conviction for having trace amounts of a drug in their system. Also, many drugs can stay in someone’s system, and not even impair their driving.
There are countless problems with the law that make it extremely difficult to defend a DUI case. Several are mentioned above, but there are way too many to list. What other criminal case are you not even permitted to have an independent analysis of the chemical evidence being used to prove your guilt? Breath tests in DUI investigations and arrests are still not being preserved for independent analysis. This is something that can easily be preserved, yet the highest Court has found that it is just fine for the police to destroy this crucial evidence immediately after the breathalyzer registers a reading.
With all of these obstacles facing a DUI defendant, it is critical to find representation that is adamant about justice! DUI cases are very technical, and very different from most other criminal cases. It is imperative to be represented by an attorney that understands what you’re up against, and knows how to challenge the police and prosecutors.