In California, driving under the influence (DUI) charges are relatively common. Those who have seemingly violated rules against chemical impairment at the wheel could face jail time, large fines, licensing penalties and possibly probation if they either plead guilty or get convicted in criminal court.
Many people arrested for DUI offenses in California feel shocked when police officers arrest them because they may be unfamiliar with how the state handles such charges. When do California prosecutors typically pursue DUI charges against an individual?
When there is compelling evidence
Police officers can often provide California prosecutors with a variety of different types of evidence after arresting someone for intoxication at the wheel. Often, there will be dashboard camera footage showing someone swerving or otherwise driving unsafely. There could also be body camera footage showing someone’s poor performance on a field sobriety test. Police officers often request a chemical test from someone who appears to be under the influence. If the test results indicate that someone is over the per se limit for their blood alcohol concentration (BAC), that chemical evidence will probably play an important role in the state’s case.
If the impaired driving arrest occurs after a crash, testimony from the other driver and details about the collision could also play a role in the criminal trial. Provided that officers either have evidence showing someone exceeded the per se limit given the type of license that they have or that they were clearly impaired while at the wheel, an arrest could very well lead to prosecution. Thankfully, someone facing charges can still potentially avoid a conviction.
How can people defend against such charges?
There are actually a number of different ways for those accused of a DUI offense to prevent a conviction. Sometimes, defense attorneys can challenge the legality of a traffic stop or the conduct of police officers at a sobriety checkpoint. Excluding certain evidence from the criminal trial is a common and potentially successful tactic.
Other people may present evidence that will raise questions about the accuracy or validity of the state’s claim that they drove while drunk. Medical records or even the maintenance records for the testing unit could help someone raise questions about the accuracy of the evidence and whether they actually violated California’s impaired driving laws.
Understanding when the state may prosecute someone for impairment at the wheel and how people respond may benefit those recently arrested on allegations of intoxicated driving. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to obtain this clarity.