Articles Posted in DUI Field Sobriety Tests

Officers of the California Highway Patrol working out of the Napa County area office made 8 DUI arrests last weekend.

Officers reported that they arrested three drivers for drunk driving after traffic accidents. Occupants of two of the vehicles suffered injuries.

California drivers face an estimated $10,000.00 expense for a first DUI and a conviction for DUI with injury, where someone other than the driver was injured, results in a one year driver license suspension. Court fines and costs can be more than $2,000.00 and drivers must also pay for attendance at a driving under the influence program and increased insurance premiums.
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The Marin County Avoid the 13 DUI task force made 24 arrests for drunk driving from May 24 to May 27, 2013. The holiday driving under the influence enforcement included one sobriety checkpoint, a DUI saturation patrol and routine police patrols focusing on impaired driving.

Overall officers arrested 12 more drivers for driving under the influence this Memorial Day Weekend than they did over the same holiday in 2012. The Avoid the 13 plans on conducting another DUI deterring effort throughout Marin County over the Fourth of July Holiday.

A conviction for a drunk driving offense in California can result in severe costs to the driver including fines, attorney fees, increased insurance costs and the mandatory attendance at a drunk driving program. Drivers in Marin County usually receive 3 years of informal probation on a first offense conviction.
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A Petaluma man arrested in September 2012 for DUI has his case dismissed after his attorney, John Stanko, convinces the District Attorney that their evidence was insufficient to support a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

The driver was stopped on Northbound Highway 101 in Novato for speeding. After being administered field sobriety tests the Novato Police Officer placed the driver under arrest for drunk driving. The driver submitted a breath alcohol tests with results of .08 and .06 % by volume.

The legal blood alcohol limit in California is .08%. That is, it is illegal for a person to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more. In this matter, the driver’s blood alcohol level could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have been greater than .08% at the time of driving. The breath tests were conducted sometime after the Novato Police observed the driving and breath testing is subject to great variation, margin of error and assumptions. Based on those factors it could be that the actual breath results would have a range from a .04 to a .10 and any blood alcohol level at the time of driving would be unknown and based on assumptions.

The driver had suffered two prior DUI convictions in the last ten years and was facing a between 120 days and 1 year in county jail if convicted of a third offense.
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The San Rafael Police Department reports that Marin County Police agencies made three drunk driving arrests during a county-wide DUI crackdown on Thanksgiving eve.

Marin law enforcement agencies ran a DUI saturation patrol from 6 p.m. and to 3 a.m. on November 21, 2012 and made 28 vehicle stops. Police officers conducted four field sobriety tests and three drivers were arrested. Police officers in San Rafael and Tiburon made the arrests.

A DUI in California is punished as a violation of Vehicle Code section 23140, 23152 or 23153. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest, the blood alcohol level and the driver’s prior record the punishment can range from 0 days to 1 year in county jail. A first offender over 21 years of age in Marin County will get probation with mandatory fines and attendance at a DUI program if convicted.
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The California Office of Traffic Safety has granted The Novato Police Department $120,000 for a year-long traffic enforcement program focusing on drunk driving patrols, red-light violations traffic citations.

The Novato Police will use the grant money to pay for LIDAR speed-detection devices, DUI saturation patrols and to enforce traffic regulations at certain problem intersections. LIDAR devices are taking the place of or supplementing radar devices in many jurisdictions in Marin County and throughout California. LIDAR uses a laser beam to detect the speed of moving vehicles. Marin County police agencies believe that LIDAR is more accurate than radar. The use of LIDAR is subject to the same officer training requirements and speed trap laws as the use of radar. In many instances if the citing officer cannot show that the use of LIDAR is justified based on a valid traffic and engineering survey a speeding ticket issued based on the use of LIDAR will be dismissed.

Novato’s traffic ticket and DUI grant enforcement runs through September 30, 2013 and will include 10 DUI saturation patrols and 10 distracted-driving patrols. Novato Police Officers will also conduct 10 traffic enforcement actions aimed at red-light running and excessive speed.
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Last Friday the San Rafael Department deployed an eight officer strike team from 4p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, to look for Drunk Drivers. At the conclusion of their DUI saturation patrol, after making 30 traffic enforcement stops, San Rafael Police Officers made only one arrest for driving under the influence. However, nearly half, 14, of the drivers pulled over were given field sobriety tests. Officers issued an additional sixteen moving safety citations, three citations to unlicensed drivers and arrested one person on an outstanding warrant.

The driver arrested for DUI was stopped for a loud music violation and subsequently found to have an alleged blood alcohol concentration of .10%. In California the per se legal limit for drunk driving is .08% or greater. As such, it is illegal for any driver with a blood alcohol level of more than .079% to drive a motor vehicle. Further, drivers under the age of 21 and drivers on probation for driving under the influence are prohibited from driving with any alcohol in their blood.

Police officers in Marin County and throughout California are trained to detect impaired drivers pursuant to standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA). The first phase of DUI detection involves the Police Officer’s observations of the vehicle in motion. NHTSA lists 24 visual cues for DUI detection and among them would be inappropriate or unusual behavior. Arguably, driving with amplified or loud music could be considered inappropriate behavior and could provide cause for an officer to make a traffic stop.
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The San Rafael Police Department has announced that the Marin County Avoid the 13 DUI Task Force will be working overtime to prevent drunk driving on city streets throughout the county on May 5, Cinco de Mayo. At the same the California Highway Patrol will be conducting a DUI saturation on local freeways and in the unincorporated areas of Marin.

The Marin Avoid the 13 is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

DUI enforcement officers will be looking for signs of a drunk driving in order to effect a traffic stop and will conduct tests on suspected impaired drivers. Police officers will arrest those drivers whom they believe have had too much to drink.

The National Highway Safety Administration has approved a three test battery of standardized field sobriety tests for DUI investigations. Those three tests, horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the one leg stand, and the walk and turn test have been scientifically validated. However, CHP officers and local Marin County police officers often give additional non validated field sobriety tests to DUI suspects. Those non validated tests include the Rhomberg test, finger count, hand pat and the alphabet.

Drivers in California are under no obligation to submit to field sobriety testing. However, drivers under twenty-one years of age and drivers on probation for DUI, must submit to a preliminary alcohol screening device (PAS) if requested to do so. Further, all California drivers have given their implied consent to submit to chemical testing to determine their blood alcohol level if arrested for driving under the influence. Refusal to submit to a chemical test can enhance punishment if convicted of drunk driving and can result in a driver’s license revocation for one year on a first offense.
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Police in Petaluma, Sonoma County, stopped approximately 900 cars at multiple DUI checkpoints set up throughout that city on Saturday night. Of those 900 drivers only one was arrested for driving under the influence.

Police officers detained a total of twenty-four drivers for further questioning. One of those drivers was arrested for an outstanding DUI warrant and two drivers were arrested for d driving without a license.

Drunk driving checkpoints aimed at deterring people from driving impaired and driving while unlicensed, have become commonplace in recent years. Although these checkpoints amount to a warrantless intrusion and their effectiveness can be questioned, the courts have ruled that checkpoints are legal provided that the police follow guidelines including the giving of advance notice to motorists, the use of proper warning signs and lighting and a neutral based formula for stopping cars.

Additional DUI and driver’s license checkpoints are planned throughout the remainder of the year to raise awareness of impaired driving in Petaluma and Sonoma County.
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Thirty year old Clinton Hornsby of Novato was arrested last Sunday night after failing to stop at an intersection near Penngrove in Sonoma County. A CHP officer stopped Mr. Hornsby just after 9:00 p.m. after observing the stop sign violation.

After contacting Mr. Hornsby the CHP officer believed he was under the influence and conducted a DUI investigation including field sobriety tests. After concluding his investigation the officer arrested Mr. Hornsby for driving under the influence and a violation of probation. He has suffered two prior DUI convictions.

A third offense DUI carries a minimum of 120 days in county jail, a driver’s license revocation for three years and mandatory attendance at an eighteen month long DUI program. A third time offender may apply for a restricted driving privilege after six months provided they install and ignition interlock device on any vehicle they own or operate.
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