Saturday, February 2, 2008

California DUI Prosecuting Attorneys have a book to train how to deal with DUI Defenses

California DUI lawyers should know there is a California DUI Prosecuting Attorneys' book out there on how to anticipate California DUI attorneys' defenses. Here it is:

Targeting Hardcore Impaired Drivers
American Prosecutors Research Institute
99 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 510
Alexandria,VA 22314
www.ndaa-apri.org

This document was produced thanks to a charitable contribution from the Anheuser-
Busch Foundation in St. Louis, Missouri. Its support in assisting local prosecutors’ fight
against impaired driving is greatly acknowledged. This information is offered for educational
purposes only and is not legal advice. Points of view or opinions expressed in this
document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position
of the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, the National District Attorneys Association, or the
American Prosecutors Research Institute.
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
iii
1 Introduction:The Art of Anticipating Defenses
3 Defenses in Impaired Driving Cases4 Pre-trial Tactics
4 Invalid Stop Defenses
8 Invalid Arrest Defenses
11 5th Amendment—Miranda Defenses
13 Common Trial Tactics
13 Attacking the Investigation
13 Attacking Observations of Driving
14 Attacking Observations During Personal
Contact
17 Attacking the Field Sobriety Tests
18 Attacking Breath Testing Instruments &
Their Results
21 Attacking Officer’s Finding of Impairment
22 Other Resources Available
23 Conclusions
Illustrations on pages 1, 3, 7 & 16.
Bruce Plante, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist & Past
President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists
I N T R O D U C T I O N: TH E A R T O F
A N T I C I PAT I N G D E F E N S E S
1
“The criminal trial today is…a kind of show-jumping contest in which the rider
for the prosecution must clear every obstacle to succeed.”
—Robert Mark, Commissioner, London Metropolitan Police.
The Washington Post, November 1971
Many prosecutors
may bristle at an
analogy which
reduces the criminal
justice system to a
steeplechase, but this
analogy speaks an
obvious truth.To successfully
prosecute
hard core impaired
drivers, prosecutors
must clear statutory
and constitutional
hurdles. Prosecutors
must demonstrate
that every element of
the crime has been established beyond a reasonable doubt and that none
of the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated.
Impaired driving is a crime that cuts across all socio-economic lines, and
a conviction for a multiple offense DUI has severe consequences. Many
impaired driving defendants have resources to support a vigorous
defense. Across the country, defense attorneys have risen to meet the
challenge and serve their clients. For a prosecutor, nothing is better than
encountering the best attorneys from the defense bar. But, anticipating
defenses is generally an art form learned through experience—often
painfully.Yet, there is a similarity of facts and constitutional issues in
impaired driving cases that makes the job less painful.
This publication serves as a guide to the most common defenses in
impaired driving cases, drawing on the expertise and experience of Herb
Tanner, the 2003 Prosecutor Fellow with the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA). Currently working for the Prosecuting
Attorneys Association of Michigan, Herb was formerly the Chief Deputy
Prosecuting Attorney for Montcalm County, Michigan, and before that
he worked as a criminal defense attorney. As the NHTSA Prosecutor
Fellow, Herb has traveled the country teaching and speaking on impaired
driving issues. He also teaches regularly at the Ernest F. Hollings National
Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina.
For their thoughtful review, insight and comments, APRI is grateful to
Kimberly A. Fogarty of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association,
Jeff Kwiatkowski, Chief Assistant Solicitor General of Gwinnett County,
Georgia and Tom Kimball of the Tennessee District Attorney Generals
Conference. APRI also thanks Bruce Plante, nationally syndicated cartoonist
and out-going president of the Association of American Editorial
Cartoonists for his illustrations.
For other impaired driving defenses, be sure to check our other APRI
Special Topics publications, including Crash Reconstruction Basics for
Prosecutors,The Admissibility of Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Evidence and
Alcohol Toxicology for Prosecutors. These and other publications are available
online at www.ndaa-apri.org click on NTLC—Traffic Law.
Suppose you’ve been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness that
requires complex surgery. Now suppose that you have your choice of
surgeons: one who has years of experience and a high success rate, and
the other who is fresh out of medical school.
Add to that the urgency of the situation
–the surgeon you choose will have little
or no time to study and prepare for
your surgery. It’s a no brainer, right?
But in many prosecutors’ offices a similar
decision is made for impaired driving
cases, and the new guy is chosen
every time.
The facts of life are that many offices assign the newest prosecutors to
the impaired driving cases, even though these cases can be among the
most complex and challenging cases on the docket. Few other cases
present the prosecutor with a more complex and wordy statute, a greater
likelihood of technical, scientific evidence, or the very real likelihood of
expert defense testimony.
Even so, some defense attorneys will occasionally use variations of a
number of traditional defense tactics when trying DUI cases. Knowing
these tactics, and being able to quickly respond to them, gives the prosecutor
the advantage.
Rule of Thumb: If you only have five minutes to prepare, go over
the police report with the arresting officer. Is it reasonable to
believe people will mislead to avoid jail time? Of course it is, so
take time to spot untruths. Figure out what the defendant will say.
Preparation is key.
Pre-Trial Tactics
Invalid Stop Defenses
As the great Japanese swordsman Musashi said:“Pressing Down the
Pillow means not letting your opponent’s head up. In the Way of Martial
Arts combat, it is wrong to let your opponent lead you around or push
you into a defensive position. Above all you want to move him around
freely.” While the defense attorney may not be a student of Musashi, he
may follow this advice and strike quickly and decisively. For the defense
attorney, the plan is simple: no stop, no case.
CLAIM:The stop is invalid because there is no reasonable and articulable
suspicion.
RESPONSE:Your response is fact-driven and relatively simple. All that
is needed to make a valid stop is a reasonable suspicion. If, looking at the
totality of the circumstances, an officer can establish that a fair-minded
person in similar circumstances would suspect some violation was afoot,
the stop is valid.
Remember: In Delaware v. Prouse, 440 U.S. 648, 99 S. Ct. 1391, 59
L. Ed.2d 660 (1979), the Supreme Court held that an officer
must have reasonable and articulable suspicion of a violation of
the law or that a driver is otherwise subject to seizure (as a fugitive,
for example) before the officer can stop and detain a driver.
CLAIM:The stop was pretextual.The officer was on a fishing expedition
and merely stopped someone at random in hopes of catching an
impaired driver.
RESPONSE:The real challenge here is whether there was reasonable
and articulable suspicion of a traffic violation to justify the stop.The officer
must be able to articulate what caused him to stop the driver in the
first place.
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4 AM E R I CAN P ROSECUTORS RE S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E
CLAIM:The stop is invalid because the officer’s detention of the driver
exceeded the reasonable amount of time for the purpose of the stop. For
example, was it reasonable to keep the defendant at roadside for 30 minutes
and subject him to field sobriety tests, all for a burned-out tail light?
RESPONSE: Officers often stop a driver for a minor traffic violation
and then develop a suspicion that the driver is impaired during that initial,
brief detention. Keep in mind that the officer’s detention can only
last as long as is reasonably necessary to resolve the purpose of the stop. If
the detention continues for more than a brief period of time, the officer
must establish reasonable suspicion for continued detention. Here again,
the observations that led the officer to believe the driver is impaired must
be reasonable and articulable. During encounters with suspects, reasonable
and articulable suspicion is not a static property, but something that
may continually rise to higher levels based on the totality of the facts.
Prosecutors must skillfully conduct direct examination of the officers,
building upon the events to demonstrate the rising level of proof that the
officer encountered during the stop.
PRACTICE TIP: When the defendant challenges an officer’s continued
detention of a driver stopped for a minor traffic violation,
stress the following types of observations:
• Responding inappropriately to the emergency equipment, such as
failing to pull over immediately;
• Parking incorrectly;
• Physical observations (odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, slurred
speech, etc.);
• Open containers or drug paraphernalia;
• Evidence that the driver vomited, urinated or defecated on himself;
• Inability to produce a license and registration although in the
defendant’s wallet;
• Inappropriate responses to questions;
• Admission of drinking or drug use;
• Inappropriate demeanor, e.g., excessively belligerent or abusive to
the officer.
D E F E N S E S I N I M PA I R E D D R I V I N G C A S E S
5
All of these behaviors and observations contribute to the rising
levels of reasonable suspicion, allowing officers to continue their
investigations.
CLAIM:The officer’s stop of the driver for suspicion of impairment is
based on all the wrong observations.
RESPONSE:When the officer stops a driver because he suspects the
driver is impaired, the officer should be prepared for challenges to those
observations.What the defendant is really challenging is whether the
officer had reason to suspect that the driving he witnessed was due to
alcohol impairment.This argument gets to the crux of DUI prosecutions.
The challenges are behaviorally based because the driving behaviors
known to be indicators of impairment are sometimes quite nuanced.
When the motion to suppress is denied, many of these same arguments
will be repeated for the jury (see section on Common Trial Tactics).
Practice Tips: NHTSA has published more than 20 specific driving
behaviors that indicate possible impairment. Officers are trained
to look for them, and you should be trained to spot them in the
report.These are the clues that give the officer reasonable suspicion,
together with all the other facts, to stop and investigate.
Some of the more common indicators of impairment are:
• Weaving within one’s own lane;
• Driving significantly slower than the posted speed limit;
• Stopping for an excessive time at a stop sign without an apparent
reason;
• Failing to continue to drive when a light turns green;
• Following too closely;
• Making wide turns or cutting a turn too sharply.
While any of these behaviors might not be a traffic violation, in combination
with other facts it can justify a stop.The response remains the
same, however.The stop is justified if, based on the totality of the circumstances,
the officer had a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the
driving behaviors he saw were due to alcohol impairment.
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6 AM E R I CAN P ROSECUTORS RE S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E
CLAIM:The officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant
because the officer relied on a citizen’s tip.The prosecutor has made
no showing of the reliability of the citizen’s tip or the caller’s basis of
knowledge.
RESPONSE: How you respond to this challenge depends on what kind
of citizen tip it was. A citizen’s tip that is truly anonymous may require
the officer to corroborate the caller’s information. A tip that describes the
driver’s location, the make and model of the car, the license plate number,
and the specific driving behaviors may require less corroboration
from the officer. Also, urge officers to call dispatch and determine the
name of the caller. An anonymous tipster may later become a powerful
prosecution witness.
Practice Tip:Widespread
use of mobile phones
makes it easy for citizens
to alert law enforcement
officers to suspected
impaired drivers. A true
citizen’s tip can be
defined as an identifiable
caller who is not of the
criminal element, e.g., a
mailman who reports an impaired driver while delivering mail, a
fast-food, drive-thru server who suspects a customer at the window
is driving drunk, or a metro bus driver calling in someone
who appears to be intoxicated, etc.
Remember that police have relied on true citizen tips for centuries,
and keep in mind that the law makes a distinction between
true citizen information and information that comes from people
of the criminal element. Many defense attorneys argue that true
citizen tips should be held to the higher level of scrutiny required
of informants from the criminal milieu in determining probable
cause in issuing search warrants, e.g., basis of knowledge, reliability,
corroboration, etc. First, they are arguing for a level of scrutiny
D E F E N S E S I N I M PA I R E D D R I V I N G C A S E S
7
used in a probable cause analysis—not a reasonable and articulable
suspicion analysis. And secondly, courts have held that “when an
average citizen tenders information to the police, the police
should be permitted to assume they are dealing with a credible
person in the absence of special circumstances suggesting that
such may not be the case.” 2 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure
Section 3.4(a), at 209-11 (3d ed. 1996).“[T]he skepticism and
careful scrutiny usually found in cases involving informants, sometimes
anonymous, from the criminal milieu, is appropriately
relaxed if the informant is an identified victim or ordinary citizen
witness.”U.S. v. Patane, 304 F. 3d 1013 (U.S. 2003).
Invalid Arrest Defenses
CLAIM:The officer did not have probable cause to make an arrest.
RESPONSE:The major difference between challenges to the arrest and
challenges to the stop is where on the continuum of proof the justification
lies.Whereas a stop is justified by a reasonable suspicion, officers
must have greater proof to arrest; they must have probable cause.This
doesn’t mean that all the evidence used to justify the stop now becomes
irrelevant. On the contrary, that evidence, along with everything else that
the officer developed during the course of his contact with the defendant,
is relevant to the court’s determination of probable cause.
Skillful defense attorneys often concede the officer had a basis for the
stop, but then they mount a full attack on probable cause for arrest.Their
strategy is based on the fact that at a motion hearing the judge would
not hear any proof after the decision to make an arrest was made –i.e.,
the judge would never hear the results of the blood, breath or urine tests.
Blood Alcohol Content tests are typically administered after the decision
to make an arrest.Therefore, no arrest, no test.
PROBABLE CAUSE: The courts have defined probable cause as the
point when the facts and circumstances within the officer’s
knowledge and of which he has reasonably trustworthy information
are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution in
believing that a crime has been or is being committed.
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8 AM E R I CAN P ROSECUTORS RE S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E
Like reasonable suspicion, probable cause is based on the totality of circumstances:
all the facts known and the reasonable inferences that can be
drawn from them.
CLAIM:The officer’s observations were wrong; there are alternative
explanations for what the officer saw. For example, the defendant may
claim that his eyes where red and watery because he worked a double
shift and was tired (see section on Common Trial Tactics).
RESPONSE:At this stage, whether there are alternative explanations for
the officers observation doesn’t matter, as long as the officer’s observations
can fairly be characterized as signs of impairment. Also, police are
not required to eliminate all other possible explanations for the behavior.
CLAIM:The officer did not have probable cause to make the arrest
based on his administration of the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests
(SFSTs), and the results of the blood alcohol tests should be suppressed.
RESPONSE:The attack will be on how the officers developed probable
cause and, in particular, on the SFSTs.The officer is typically cross examined
from an SFST manual published by NHTSA. NHTSA has produced
a CD-ROM of all SFSTs, their validation studies and digital video clips
suitable for demonstrative purposes. Copies are available from APRI’s
National Traffic Law Center or from NHTSA at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
CLAIM:The officer administered non-standardized field sobriety tests.
Variations on the theme include:
• These tests are inadmissible because they are not scientifically validated.
• The standard battery of tests were administered but not in strict
accordance with NHTSA guidelines and is therefore inadmissible.
• The officer never received formal SFST training on how to administer
the tests in accordance to NHTSA guidelines.The officer testified
that he learned them from other patrolmen; therefore, all the tests
given are inadmissible.
RESPONSE: Courts have long held that even lay people can detect and
express an opinion about impairment.The effects of alcohol on a per-
D E F E N S E S I N I M PA I R E D D R I V I N G C A S E S
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son’s physical appearance and behavior are common knowledge and easily
observable. Some of these familiar signs include lack of balance, poor
coordination, exaggerated movements, poor motor skills, slurred speech
and inability to follow directions.
Field sobriety tests merely allow the officer to make observations about
these signs of impairment.There are a number of field sobriety tests that
officers administer other than the SFSTs. Although these tests have not
been subject to the same rigorous examination as the SFSTs, they are still
useful in assisting the officer in determining impairment.This is where
an officer’s life experience and field experience become crucial.The fact
that the tests are non-standardized or administered differently than
NHTSA prescribes goes to the weight of the evidence rather than its admissibility.
(See Attacking Field Sobriety Tests on page 17).
CLAIM:The officer did not have probable cause for arrest because the
defendant refused all SFSTs and chemical tests.
RESPONSE: Hard core impaired drivers often will refuse blood tests
when the consequences of refusal are not as harsh as the penalties for
another DUI conviction. In those cases, developing probable cause is
more difficult, and the officer’s observations of other indicators of
impairment gain in importance.
PRACTICE TIP: In jurisdictions where a preliminary breath test can
be used to establish probable cause, there are likely to be administrative
rules governing how the test is given. A challenge to the test
based on the officer’s failure to follow the rules in the field, e.g.,
the officer did not observe the driver for the required time before
giving the test, could mean the results are suppressed, and probable
cause will be judged solely on the officer’s remaining observations.
CLAIM:After investigating the wreck, the officer arrested the defendant
for a DUI that occurred outside his presence.
RESPONSE:A number of states have statutes that prohibit officers from
making arrests for misdemeanors that did not occur in their presence.
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10 AM E R I CAN P ROSECUTORS RE S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E
Generally, there are exceptions to the statute for crimes such as domestic
violence and shoplifting. Some states have exceptions for DUIs, allowing
arrests to be made within a certain time limit. Know your state’s statute, the
exceptions and case law surrounding the arrests. Experienced officers will
often make a felony arrest of a defendant who left the scene and fill out an
arrest warrant for the misdemeanor when booking the defendant into jail.
5th Amendment—Miranda Defenses
CLAIM:The SFSTs are not admissible because the defendant was not
free to leave the scene during the investigation.Therefore, under Miranda
guidelines, the defendant was in custody.
RESPONSE: In most states, the typical DUI traffic stop is considered
non-custodial, even if the driver is briefly detained. If the SFSTs are
given during that brief, non-custodial detention, Miranda does not apply.
Remember that for Miranda to apply, the defendant must be i) in custody,
ii) under interrogation, iii) by a police officer. Obviously in traffic stops, drivers
are not free to leave, but the U.S. Supreme Court passed a bright line
rule in Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 U.S. 420, 104 S. Ct. 3138, 82 L. Ed.2d
317 (1984).The Court held that suspects on the roadside were not considered
in custody for Miranda purposes until arrested by the officer or
when the handcuffs go on the suspect.
Perhaps your jurisdiction doesn’t follow Berkemer or hasn’t ruled on the
specific issue based on how your courts interpret your state’s constitutional
protections. If so, the defendant will try to push back the point of
custody to the earliest time in the stop, subjecting everything that follows
to Miranda. Remember that even if your court rules the defendant
was in custody early in the stop, Miranda covers only verbal expression
and is a protection designed to ensure voluntary and knowing confessions
by suspects.
Practice Tip: For a small minority of judges, Miranda is often scrutinized
under the “focus of the investigation” standard, and the
facts are often reviewed on a standard of when the officer knew
he was going to make an arrest. Bring the law to court and be
D E F E N S E S I N I M PA I R E D D R I V I N G C A S E S
11
ready to demonstrate the correct legal analysis, and if that fails,
build your record for appeal.
CLAIM:The SFSTs are not admissible because they are testimonial in
nature.The defendant incriminated himself with the SFSTs without the
benefit of a Miranda warning.
RESPONSE:This argument applies only to non-standardized tests like
reciting the alphabet or counting backwards, which are not part of the
SFSTs. Most jurisdictions that have ruled on this issue have found that
the physical portions of the SFSTs are non-testimonial. Remember that
for Miranda purposes the suspect is still not in custody, so even the verbal
portions should be allowed.Two states, Oregon and Florida, have found
that the verbal portion of field sobriety tests are testimonial and cannot
be given absent Miranda.
CLAIM:The defendant’s response to the invitation to take a blood,
breath or urine test occurred after arrest and violates Miranda.Those
statements should be suppressed.
RESPONSE:Typically, officers will place defendants under arrest and
read them the implied consent form for a blood alcohol test in the cruiser
or in the booking area of the jail. Often, defendants’ statements are
extremely incriminating.Yes, the defendant is in custody, but Miranda
does not apply because the defendant was not subject to interrogation by
the officer.
In most states, officers are required by law to read the implied consent
statute to suspects and note their response.This is not interrogation;
rather, the officer is fulfilling a statutory duty.Anything a defendant
chooses to say in response to the request to take a breath test is admissible.
(Be sure to check the law in your jurisdiction; a minority of states
interpret their constitutions to have heightened protections.)
Spontaneous admissions and statements against interest are usually admissible.
But, if the officer asks questions after reading the implied consent
statute without a Miranda waiver from the suspect, those statements will
be suppressed.
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12 AM E R I CAN P ROSECUTORS RE S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E
Common Trial Tactics
How any case is defended is unique to each case and each defense
lawyer.To say that there are “common” tactics only means that there are
certain recurring themes, and you should be prepared for them.
Attacking the Investigation
In many DUI cases, the best defense is to attack the investigation in
some way.These defenses tend to fall into a few broad and often overlapping
variations:
1. Alternative explanations for the officer’s observations;
2. Attacks on the officer’s observations;
3. Alternative explanations for the blood alcohol concentration
(BAC);
4. Attacks on the BAC.
Many of the arguments try to exploit the difference between what the
jurors think they know and what really goes on in the field. For example,
many people believe that the SFSTs are extraordinarily hard to do
and designed to generate a failure. How many in the general public
believe that one standard field sobriety test is to say the alphabet backwards?
Practice Tip: Defendants profit from the empathy that jurors may
have for them. Many people have driven after a few drinks and
truly believe that they were not impaired. If the prosecutor
doesn’t do it for them, jurors will define what it means
to be impaired. And, their definition may be favorable to the
defendant, if only because jurors are reluctant to admit that they
may have driven while impaired and broken the law.
Attacking Observations of Driving
It makes sense that the defense will attack the officer’s observations.
Many acquittals have been achieved by the defense convincing a juror
that his client’s driving was not that bad or attributable to something
other than the drinks he had on the way home.
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CLAIMS:
WEAVING INSIDE THE LANE, SHARP OR WIDE TURNS: It is not illegal to stay
within the painted lines, is it? There are many reasons for corrections of
steering, like poor alignment? Lighting a cigarette? Putting in a CD? The
crown of the road? It is not illegal to turn wide when there is no opposing
traffic or hazard, is it?
SPEEDING OR GOING SLOWLY: Many people speed, don’t they? Did you
suspect each of them of drunk driving? Have you ever been lost?
BLACK ANDWHITE FEVER: You testified to “bad driving,” but you were in
a marked patrol car, correct? No reason why the defendant couldn’t have
seen you in the rearview mirror? And if he did, he probably kept his
attention on you a great deal? If he glances up to the mirror, he could
swerve within his lane or even out of it, couldn’t he? His speed could
drift a little? And if you followed him for a mile, you would see every
swerve? But, you never saw him drive once without your patrol car in
his mirror, did you?
THE NHTSA CLUES: There are more than 20 different clues you are
taught to look for, aren’t there? That’s virtually every possible driving
behavior, isn’t it? One of the clues is wide turns? And one is sharp or
abrupt turns? Those are opposites, so no matter what the driver does he’s
looking like he’s drunk?
RESPONSE:Watching an officer struggle to answer these questions on
the stand is difficult; however, keep in mind that the defense attorney is
not trying to raise doubt about what the officer saw in the field. Indeed,
the tacit assertion of these questions is that the client really did weave.
The defense wants the jury to believe that there might be another explanation
for what the officer saw and that any driving behavior short of
staying absolutely straight in one’s lane is a DUI clue.
Attacking Observations During Personal Contact
CLAIMS:
Odor of Alcohol: Alcohol really doesn’t smell, does it? The flavoring does?
It’s impossible to tell how much of any drink someone had by the smell,
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14 AM E R I CAN P ROSECUTORS RE S E A R C H I N S T I T U T E
isn’t it? Some drinks with a low alcohol content, like red wine, can leave
the breath smelling strong with just a few sips? Other very high proof
liquors smell hardly at all, don’t they? You can’t tell when they drank
from the smell, can you?
Disheveled clothing: Officer, you dressed appropriately for court today, didn’t
you? You wanted to show the court and jury the appropriate respect?
And my client, he dressed appropriately, too. But he looked different the
night you arrested him, didn’t he? Before that night, you had never seen
my client? You have no idea if he’s usually a sloppy dresser, do you?
Being a slob is not a crime, is it?
Blood-shot, watery eyes: There are many causes for blood-shot watery eyes,
aren’t there? Fatigue? Lack of sleep? Using the window defroster or
blower while wearing contacts? Seasonal allergies and other medical conditions?
You didn’t ask about those, did you?
Fumbled with wallet and documents: Have you ever been scared? Your body
reacted to that adrenaline dump, didn’t it? Your heart beat faster? Maybe
your hands shook?
RESPONSE:The first response to this line of attack is the officer still
on the scene. Did he ask about mechanical problems? If the driving
clues he saw could have been caused by bad alignment, he should ask
about it to exclude it.This is anticipating the lie! By asking the question
at roadside, the officer takes away from the defendant’s testimony that
the weaving was caused by poor alignment or some cause other than
impairment.
The next response is to remind the jury that the clues are just that
–clues.The driver’s behavior should be analyzed in the context of all the
other clues or evidence of impairment.The fact that weaving within
one’s lane is not illegal is completely irrelevant. It becomes relevant when
considered together with all the other observations and evidence of
impairment. Similarly, while the odor of alcohol, standing alone, may not
prove impairment, taken with all the other evidence, it makes sense that
we hear that the defendant smelled of alcohol.
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Finally, don’t forget at closing what the defense lawyer said and asked
during trial. Chances are there was no evidence that the observable driving
clues resulted from some other cause and the defense lawyer will not
argue the point.That allows you to point out to the jury that there is no
evidence of any of the alternative explanations.
SEVEN BLIND MICEA
CHINESE
PARABLE. One day
seven blind mice
were surprised to
find a strange Thing
by their pond.
“What is it?” they
cried. Red Mouse
said,“It’s a pillar.”
“No, it’s a snake!”
said Green Mouse.
“Can’t be,” said
Yellow Mouse. “It’s a spear.” “No, no,” said Purple Mouse. “It’s a
great cliff.”“Oooo, it’s a fan,” Orange Mouse cried. “What’s the big
deal,” said Blue Mouse. “It’s nothing but a rope.”Then, they all began
to argue.
Until White Mouse, the seventh mouse, went to the Thing. She
ran up one side and down the other. She ran across the top and
from end to end. “Ah,” said white mouse.“Now, I see.The Thing is
as sturdy as a pillar, supple as a snake, wide as a cliff, sharp as a spear,
breezy as a fan, stringy as a rope, but altogether the Thing is…an elephant!”
The other mice ran up one side and down the other,
across the Thing from end to end, and they agreed, too.
The Mouse Moral: Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom
comes from seeing the whole.
The same can be said about messy clothing or other personal contact
clues, like using the car for balance or stumbling when getting out of the
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car.Taken alone, they can be relatively innocuous and innocent, but it’s
unlikely that all of the clues observed by the officer can be explained by
anything other than the defendant was impaired.
PRACTICE TIP: Take great care in assessing cases in which the
police stop a female driver at night.These situations can be particularly
scary to women because they may be vulnerable.A
clever defense attorney may cite this fear to explain the officer’s
observations of suspected impaired driving
Attacking the Field Sobriety Tests
CLAIM: The officer failed to use approved SFSTs –i.e., he used non-standardized
tests. You’re aware that NHTSA has approved only three field sobriety
tests, aren’t you? The alphabet test you gave is not among them?
Having people guess the time is not one of the approved tests, is it?
RESPONSE: NHTSA has not “approved” any field sobriety tests.
NHTSA has sponsored validation studies and created curricula to train
officers in a standard procedure to make sure the three tests are conducted
the same way every time. In other words, NHTSA has certified
curriculum. NHTSA does not certify tests and officers.
Furthermore, the defense has not claimed that other field sobriety tests
are invalid. The other tests, such as reciting the alphabet, are still evidence
of impairment.The simple argument is that a sober person can
say the alphabet.
CLAIM: How can a person fail a test when he doesn’t know what’s tested? You
didn’t tell him that if he used his arms for balance he would fail the test,
did you? Is that fair? Isn’t that what the arms are for? Is it fair to judge
him on things you didn’t tell him about?
RESPONSE:The word “fail” in relation to a driver’s performance on
SFSTs carries more baggage than some airlines.The tests are not graded
and provide only clues of impairment.The officer is simply making
observations and noting those observations. A driver does not “fail” the
test when he uses his arms for balance. However, considered with the
totality of the evidence, using his arms is evidence of impairment, the
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same as failing to follow directions in the Walk & Turn, or putting a foot
down during the One-Leg Stand.
CLAIM: SFSTs are subjective and insensitive. You are the only one who
decides when someone passes or fails, aren’t you? What is the definition
of “swaying?” How far does someone have to move?
RESPONSE: It is true that SFSTs don’t discriminate well between levels
of impairment, but they are designed to be insensitive so that the tests
identify only the most impaired. In fact, the insensitivity favors those
who are stopped.
It is also true that some of the SFSTs have subjective elements.That is
why the tests are standardized, systematic and fairly easy to score, so that
subjectivity is reduced. Also, to counter this argument, highlight the officer’s
experience and training.
CLAIM: SFSTs don’t test impairment. My client did well on some tasks,
didn’t he? So what does the test really test if he can do some and not the
others but still fail?
RESPONSE: Remind the jury at every opportunity that driving is the
complex integration of many different skills and faculties: the eyes, the
feet, the hands, the brain.We do most of that integration without ever
thinking about it. SFSTs mirror the divided attention skills necessary to
operate a car and examine whether the divided attention skills of the
defendant were impaired to a point to affect his driving ability.
These defense questions also open the door for questions during redirect
to the officer about why he does the SFSTs. He can explain SFSTs and
the concept of divided attention tasks, which test whether a person can
do two things at the same time—two tasks much simpler than driving. If
not, how can that person engage safely in the much more complex task
of driving?
Attacking Breath Test Instruments and Their Results
CLAIM: The officer didn’t follow the rules for administering the test. Officer,
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you’re supposed to watch my client for 15 minutes before giving him the
test? But you had to type his name and other information into the
machine before giving the test? You didn’t look at him while you typed,
did you? So you looked away and violated the rule, didn’t you?
RESPONSE:Virtually every state that uses some breath-testing instrument
has made administrative rules governing how to give the test and
maintain the machine.The first response to these attacks is to simply
know your state’s rules.
Second, remember that the rules exist to ensure the accuracy, and therefore,
the relevancy and admissibility of the test.When the defendant
makes challenges like this, the appropriate response is to ask how the
alleged violation affects the accuracy of the test.
For example, officers are often required to observe defendants for a prescribed
time period before a breath test.The defendant will argue that if
the officer looks away for even the briefest time, the test must be thrown
out because the officer violated the rules. Does that mean the test is inaccurate?
If so, is it because the defendant had something to eat or drink, or
he threw up while the officer looked away? Many of the new breath testing
machines have technology sophisticated enough to detect mouth alcohol,
including a quick shot of mouthwash. Of course, most breath tests are
given in the jail, where there isn’t anything to eat or drink on hand.The
waiting period ensures that nothing gets tested other than the defendant’s
BAC. Unless the defendant can show that there’s a reasonable chance that
he ate or drank something or regurgitated during the officer’s brief glance
away this momentary lapse is a violation in only the most technical sense.
CLAIM: Other substances can cause a positive result for alcohol: You’re aware,
aren’t you, that other things, like having diabetes, can cause the machine
to show that people are drunk when they’re not? Even white bread will
show that a person’s been drinking?
RESPONSE: It is often heard that everyday foods like white bread and
M&Ms will give a false reading, and officers must be able to testify that
nothing was in the defendant’s mouth before he took the test.
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CLAIM:The test is not accurate because the results can be affected by
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), in which stomach acid contains
alcohol and is brought into the mouth through the esophagus.This creates
an artificially high BAC reading.
RESPONSE: Studies have shown this is a myth.The epiglottis actually
closes when a person blows into the instrument, blocking stomach acid
from being released. Also, unless the defendant has GERD, these questions
are not even relevant. For more information, see www.gerd.com.
CLAIM: The test is inherently inaccurate. Someone tests the machine with a
solution that has a known alcohol content and keeps records of that? That
solution is supposed to be at .10, but the records show that solution sometimes
reads more or less than that? Therefore, the machine is inaccurate.
RESPONSE:There is no evidence that the instrument’s tests are inaccurate
when administered properly. In every state, the breath test instrument (or
any other testing instrument, for that matter) must be periodically tested for
accuracy and calibrated to return accurate results. Records of those tests will
often reveal that the instrument’s reading of known sample varies from that
known value. Usually that variance is quite small; for instance, a test sample
known to have a concentration of .10 may result in a reading of .101 or
.098.The defense argues that the results cannot be trusted because the
machine cannot even give an accurate reading on a known sample.
This can be a persuasive argument. It may be fruitless to argue to a jury
the concept of measurements within a scientific tolerance. It’s equally
challenging to talk in terms of statistically significant differences. Some
jurors may ignore the test results entirely once they learn about the variance
in known sample tests. It may be difficult to persuade them with
scientific chatter.
Now is the time to pose logical questions to the jury. Let’s say the instrument
did give an inaccurate reading. How inaccurate does the defendant
say the reading is? Does he really say he had no alcohol, and the reading
is entirely false? The only evidence is that the reading varied from the
known sample by what, .001?
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Let’s subtract .001 from his test results. Is that what the reading is? So,
he’s still over the legal limit.
Let’s be real fair and subtract twice that amount (or more if your case
will bear it). Is that the reading?
CLAIM: The test is gender biased. Is it not true that the machine will read
higher for a woman than a man if they both drink the same amount? If a
man and a woman are given the same amount of alcohol to drink, and
then given a breath test after the same period of time, the woman’s BAC
results will be higher, right? Therefore, the machine is biased against
women, isn’t it?
RESPONSE:This is an example of a fallacious conclusion built upon an
accurate premise. It is true in some cases, that a woman’s BAC will be higher
than a man’s after drinking the same amount of alcohol.The instrument
is accurately measuring that difference. On average,women have a higher
percentage of body fat than men. Fat cells do not contain a great deal of
water, and alcohol is completely water soluble.Therefore,women will not
metabolize alcohol like men, who have a higher percentage of body water.
(See APRI Special Topic Series, Alcohol Toxicology for Prosecutors.) The obvious
question is: just how inaccurate is the test? How much higher is its
reading for women? And, does that matter if the test provides an accurate
reading of her blood alcohol concentration? Use the same argument that
refutes the “inaccurate test of a known sample” defense.
More to the point, refocus the case on the real issue—impairment. If the
BAC is .08, the driver is legally deemed impaired. It doesn’t matter if the
BAC belongs to a man or a woman, the impairment is still there.The bias
is not in the instrument, but in the physiological differences between men
and women.
Attacking Officer’s Finding of Impairment
CLAIM:As a [friend / girlfriend / boyfriend / family member / family
minister, etc. ], I can testify that I did not think the defendant was impaired,
and if I thought he was, I would never have let my loved one leave the
[barbecue, reception, reunion, swimming pool, restaurant, bar, etc.].
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RESPONSE: Bringing in another person to dispute the officer’s ultimate
finding that the defendant was impaired is a popular tactic for defense
attorneys who wish to present the defendant’s version of the case to the
jury without having the defendant actually testify.
If the witness testifies that he did not think the defendant was impaired, he
opens the door to a line of questioning about what the defendant looks like
when he is impaired.Ask the witness how much it takes to get the defendant
impaired.Ask how the witness knows when the defendant is impaired.
This is a line of questioning where the answers can help you. If the witness
says he can tell by looking, so can the police or the citizens who saw
the defendant. If he says that the defendant slurs his speech or staggers or
has trouble driving, then that may confirm previous testimony by your
witnesses. If the witness testifies that the defendant was not impaired
because he was not passed out, then you can argue that the witness
defines impairment differently than the law does. Rather than discredit
this witness, you get farther by making him an unwitting witness for you.
Other Resources Available
For more help with common impaired driving defenses, be sure to check
out other publications in the APRI Special Topic Series, such as Crash
Reconstruction Basics for Prosecutors,The Admissibility of Horizontal Gaze
Nystagmus Evidence and Alcohol Toxicology for Prosecutors. These publications
and more are available online at www.ndaa-apri.org. Click on NTLC—
Traffic Law.
APRI’s National Traffic Law Center also provides research, training and
technical assistance on a wide range of topics related to the prosecution
of impaired driving cases. Brief banks and expert witness databanks are
available on both prosecution and defense witnesses. Contact NTLC at
703.549.4253 or trafficlaw@ndaa-apri.org.
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Conclusion
DUI prosecutions are among the most difficult criminal cases a prosecutor
can handle.They almost always involve technical testimony, scientific
testimony and juror empathy. Sometimes, too, they involve a dedicated,
experienced, skilled and knowledgeable defense counsel who has done
his or her homework on this and many other cases.The people we represent
deserve nothing less from us. Hopefully, this guidance will enable
you to present your case more skillfully and professionally.
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American Prosecutors Research Institute
99 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 510
Alexandria,Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 549-4253
Fax: (703) 836-3195
http://www.ndaa-apri.org

Here's another example of how California DUI attorneys are usually out-resourced on every case. Do the DUI Prosecutors typically respect folks' space, liberty, dignity? Abdication is apparently not the same as professional. This is a war started by new prohibitionists, and each side must gird his or her loins aggressively to fight it, or must get out of the way of those willing, able, and fiercely dedicated to do so. The Marquise of Queensbury rules do not limit the Hun in their depredations. The comprehensive training and financial resources that California DUI Prosecuting lawyers have available to win is remarkable.