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Those leaving AT&T Park this evening may find themselves getting stopped by the California Highway Patrol or the San Francisco Police Department for any number of reasons. The safest way to avoid it is to not drink and drive, but drinking and driving remains legal in California and it alone is not a basis to stop a motorist unless the he or she is observed drinking and driving at the same time!

If you get stopped and are ultimately arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, you may be able to get the evidence suppressed and the charges dropped if the police lacked sufficient probable cause to initially detain you.

911 reports – Sometimes police officers are notified by their dispatcher that somebody reported your vehicle as being driven by a drunk driver. That alone is not always enough to justify an enforcement stop, unless the police independently observe something wrong with your driving or the reporting party gives sufficient details about you, your vehicle, and the manner of driving.


Loss of Pilot and Medical Certificates By FAA For Failure To Disclose Prior DUI Arrest
Taylor v. Huerta , ___ F.3d ___, (D.C. Cir. 2013) – Docket No. 12-1140
WL 3762896

Taylor submitted an application for a medical certificate using the FAA's online system, MedXPress. One of the questions asked him about any prior arrests and he answered “no" despite a previous DUI arrest in California (which, ironically, did not even result in a conviction). The FAA discovered the prior arrest on a background check and opened an investigation as to why it was not disclosed. He said he did not read the question carefully, was unaware that prior arrests were now being asked instead of just prior convictions, and that he had just hit a button that put a “no" answer to a number of questions all at once. The answers were submitted under penalty of perjury.

The Court rejected the contention that the omission was inadvertent, holding that “[a] defense of deliberate inattention fails where the applicant is attesting to events about which he has actual knowledge." [cite]. It then slapped him with this rebuke:


People v. Vangelder (2013)
___ Cal.4 th ___ (Calif. Supreme Court – Docket No. S195423)

Expert testimony that properly working and approved breath-alcohol instruments do not sample breath samples as they are designed to, and thus do not produce reliable results, is irrelevant and inadmissible on the per se charge. The exclusion extends to physiological variability such as body and breath temperature, hematocrit level, gender, and breathing patterns.

The Court characterized expert witness Michael Hlastala’s proffered testimony as a “regulation-based argument" that improperly seeks to trump legislative determinations concerning alcohol limits in deep lung breath. It specifically declined to address whether the limitation applies to the impairment count (it would appear not to).


Partition Ratio Evidence Admissible To Defend Impairment Charge Even If Prosecution Only Introduces Breath-Alcohol Test Results To Prove The Per Se Offense
State v. Cooperman
Arizona Supreme Court – Docket No. CV–12–0319–PR

The Arizona Supreme Court holds that partition ratio variability evidence (either in the general population in the individual specifically) is relevant and admissible in prosecutions for driving while impaired even if the state elects to introduce breath test results only to prove the.08 or higher per se count. The decision cited and followed Supreme Court decisions from California and Vermont on this issue.

In affirming, the Arizona Supreme Court did not address an important aspect of the Court of Appeal’s decision below in State v. Cooperman (Ariz.Ct.App. 2012) 282 P.3d 446. The lower Court additionally held that physiological variability (e.g., breathing patterns, body and breath temperatures, hematocrit levels, gender, etc.) in the general population may be admitted to cast doubt on the reliability of breath-alcohol samples in defense against both the impairment and per se charges. The California Supreme Court noted this holding in Vangelder (see below) but declined to follow it on the per se count.


Blood Draws At Jail Facility By Non-Physician/Non-Nurse Found Reasonable
People v. Cuevas
___ Cal.App.4 th ___ (2013) (California First District Court of Appeal, Div. 1 – Docket No. A138062)
2013 WL 3963601

The Court reviewed seven consolidated cases involving DUI arrests where the subjects opted for blood testing under California’s implied consent law and six were done at a jail facility. The blood draws were each performed by a trained phlebotomist or blood technician. Police officers testified to observing the blood draw site being cleaned and a needle being used from a sealed package. No evidence of pain or discomfort was presented, and in five of the cases there was testimony that the area was bandaged following the blood draw.

The Court rejected defense contentions that the blood draws failed to meet the constitutional standard of reasonableness because police officers arguably lacked the medical training necessary to testify whether the blood draws were performed in a medically approved manner and were done in a jail facility rather than a hospital.

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