If you have been charged with a drunk driving offense in San Francisco, one of the first things you’ll likely want to know is which defenses you may use in court. Although it is always best to have an experienced, criminal defense drunk driving attorney in California defend you, it is also important that you understand your rights and which defenses are most commonly used in cases such as yours. Of course, every case differs slightly, so it’s best to speak with your lawyer to know which defenses are best for your particular situation.
Illegal Traffic Stop
Have you heard of “routine traffic stops?” A routine traffic stop occurs when an officer pulls over a driver whenever the driver violates a traffic law or her or his license plate shows up as belonging to someone who has a warrant out for her or his arrest. It is during these stops that many drivers get arrested for driving under the influence or other offenses. This term gets thrown around so much that most people do not know that there actually is no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Yes, officers are supposed to pull over potentially dangerous drivers, but the term implies that there is some protocol or uniformity to a routine traffic stop when that is not so.
You see, an officer may pull over some traffic-law violaters and not others. In some cases, you may not have broken any traffic law at all when an officer signalled for you to pull over and stop. If you believe that an officer violated your rights when she or he pulled you over, you can raise this defense in court. After all, an officer cannot use evidence that was illegally obtained from an unlawful traffic stop against you.
Lack Of Reasonable Suspicion
In order for an officer to conduct a routine traffic stop, she or he must have reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime. To show reasonable suspicion, an officer must point to specific facts that would give an average, reasonable person cause to believe that you have done something wrong. Typically, an officer will reference your car swerving, you speeding through traffic lights, you driving well below the speed limit, or other things to verify her or his reasonable suspicion.
However, there are countless reasons as to why any of these may have occurred that do not suggest intoxication by any means. For example, you may have been swerving because something on the road or in the sky distracted you, or something occurred inside your car, such as a toddler suddenly screaming, that caught you off guard. You may have been driving below the speed limit because you were lost, or you’re a cautious, first-time driver. Even if an officer cites to your bloodshot eyes or slurred speech as an indicator of you being intoxicated, your criminal defense attorney from San Francisco CA from Morales Law Firm can argue that your eyes were bloodshot from fatigue, crying, or medication. Likewise, slurred speech may be the result of a speech impediment.