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DUI and Visual Clues

  • May 26, 2017

    Persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs exhibit some unusual behaviors that are evident to a keen eye. These substances have side effects that trigger certain behaviors, which are similar for almost all users. Hence, the officers look out for these distinct characteristics when assessing a driving under the influence situation. It is no different in Los Angeles. DUI cases mainly rely on a variety of visual signs that are observed by the enforcement officers at every stop and arrest process. They observe the driver’s conduct, his or her appearance, behavior and also how he or she performs on the various field sobriety tests offered. These visual clues are crucial to the case since they serve as evidence in many prosecutions involving DUI. Unfortunately, they are often subjective and are highly prone to bias. It hence exhibits a point of weakness that a DUI attorney can exploit to counter its inclusion in the prosecution.

    • Visual Clues and the Vehicle Stop

    Los Angeles is under the California law and also subject to the federal law. These laws state that an enforcement officer can only stop a vehicle if there is a reasonable or probable cause to believe that the driver has bent or broken the law. In our case, the reason is clear that the driver has to stop due to a traffic violation under the observation of the officer in the traffic stop. However, the stop could be instigated by some other reasons other than the driver’s impairment. Visual aids come in handy to support that the driver was under the influence. If he or she was straddling lanes or was stopped due to excessive weaving, this could be admissible in a court of law as evidence.

    Unlike in the past, law enforcement vehicles have video recording devices. They majorly assist in the capture of the defendant’s driving conduct. Previously, it was an impossibility to challenge the officer’s stand on the respondent’s driving conduct since there lacked backup evidence. The recordings can now be used in the challenge of an officer’s account against the defendant’s driving and also to counter the legitimacy of the stop in a motion to suppress it under California Penal Code Section 1538.5 PC. If so granted, the DUI evidence would be suppressed, and the prosecution has no choice but to dismiss the case.

    • Visual Aids and the Initial Encounter

    Once pulled over, it goes without saying that the officer will be looking for specific visual clues in association with alcohol or drug use. Bloodshot and watery eyes, the inability to maintain balance, and a flushed face are some of the clues the officer will be looking for. However, the driver’s defense may challenge these observations as they could be indicators of other conditions like fatigue or ailment. Moreover, it is upon the driver to act rational and calm with the knowledge that he or she is under the watch of an officer once pulled over. Body cameras have made it easier to record these observations and may be used as evidence. Also, the defense can acquire these recordings, which it can review and scrutinize for inconsistencies with the officer’s report.

    • Visual Clues and Field Sobriety Tests

    Drivers on suspicion of DUI are required to undertake a series of field sobriety tests. They are meant to measure the agility, balance, coordination, and ability to follow directions. These tests rely on the observation of the officer, and the driver’s performance is indicated in the incident report. Some of these tests like the horizontal gaze nystagmus are highly subjective to the advantage of the defendant since the skilled Los Angeles DUI attorney can challenge the report during cross-examination in court and create cracks regarding the accused.

    In the case of you or those close to you being arrested for DUI, it is advisable to contact the top-rated Los Angeles DUI attorneys immediately since they have comprehensive knowledge of DUI law and unique litigation skills.

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