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Los Angeles DUI and the NHTSA

  • May 25, 2017

    Drunk driving is a problem in Los Angeles and in the entire United States. Alcohol plays a role in a large percentage of traffic crashes. Sadly, drinking and driving claims too many lives each year.

    The United States government spends a lot of time and resources trying to tackle this problem. They study drunk driving issues, and they work on how to reduce incidents of DUI. They work on ways to make the roads and vehicular travel safer as a matter of public interest.

    The primary organization that studies drunk driving traffic matters is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The organization studies traffic statistics and issues guidelines for best practices for traffic safety. States and even individual law enforcement departments can take these practices and implement them in their work.

    NHTSA is an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. They study all kinds of traffic issues, and drunk driving is one of their main focus groups. The organization investigates speed limits, speed enforcement, drunk driving, drugged driving and road safety among a host of other goals and topics of interest.

    After its inception in the 1970s, public pressure from organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) helped NHTSA focus its efforts on traffic fatalities. They turned their attention to DUIs and drunk driving in an effort to lower drunk driving deaths nationwide. They study drunk driving matters and issue appropriate recommendations.

    It’s NHTSA that developed standardized field sobriety testing. Field sobriety tests are the tests that law enforcement asks you to perform at the side of the road during a drunk driving investigation. NHTSA examined these tests scientifically. What they found is that there are three tests that can predict whether a person is over the legal limit. The tests must be performed according to guidelines for them to be an accurate predictor of a person’s intoxication.

    The tests that are accurate predictors of intoxication are the walk and turn test, the horizontal gaze nsystagmus and the one leg test. These three tests when used together can accurately predict whether a person is over the legal limit in approximately seventy-seven percent of cases. Other tests such as a tracing test, the ABCs or asking a person if Mickey Mouse is a dog or a cat have no basis in science when it comes to predicting a person’s intoxication. If a law enforcement officer gives sobriety tests that are not standardized, your Los Angeles DUI attorney should question them on the stand as to why they did not use sound investigative practices in your case.

    NHTSA compiles traffic statistics in addition to recommendations. These statistics and recommendations have been integral in creating the drunk driving laws that we have today. It was NHTSA that pressured Congress to incentive states to lower their drunk driving levels from .10 to .08.

    NHTSA is also at the forefront of studying ignition interlock devices as a method to prevent drunk driving offenses. An ignition interlock device prevents a person from starting a vehicle while they have alcohol in their system. This may be an option for courts as they explore the most effective options for drunk drivers who are placed on probation.

    If you’re facing a drunk driving charge, it’s important to work with an experienced DUI attorney on the case. Your attorney can help investigate whether the police agency that investigated your case used NHTSA’s best practices to conduct the investigation. If they didn’t, the result may be dismissal of your charges. Contact your DUI attorney as soon as possible so that they can begin conducting an investigation of your case.

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