Fresno Drunk Driving Defense Invokes New Constitutional Law to Protect DUI Clients
Sep 07, 2016
Drunk Driving defense stays apace of the law to protect your rights. A recent case turned the world of DUI defenses upside down. It is common knowledge that an individual suspected of being under the influence while driving must submit to a breathalyzer, blood, or urine test after reading the States' statutory implied consent notice. The failure to comply has always been revocation of their driver's license for a period up to one year.
Recent rulings having focused on the implied consent statute's impact on whether the accused acted freely and voluntarily. When the threat of losing a driver's license hangs like Damocles' sword over the head of a DUI defendant, some state courts understand why individuals willing forego their privacy rights assured under the fourth amendment. A driver's license is central in most people's lives, enabling them to obtain employment and to fulfill the necessary obligations of their daily lives. The change in the courts' perspective views the threat of losing driving privileges as coercion, violating the constitutional requirement that consent is free and voluntary.
Depending on the state, the results may vary as many states continue to hold that the implied consent laws remain valid. In either case, the courts have adopted a 'totality of the circumstances' to determine whether a defendant freely and voluntarily consented. As with all laws, DUI statutes are highly fact sensitive.
Earlier cases arising in the 1990's looked at DUI cases and whether there was interference by state actors (police) that frustrated a defendant's voluntary submission to test. One such case, analyzing the impact of police frustrating defendant's efforts to protect their rights is Lau, 896 P.2d at 828.
This is not a California case, but it is a case that arose in Alaska and Montana and other states later adopted. This point is important. Many laws shared by states are not necessarily accepted by other states. Checking with a lawyer in your state is vital to discovering your rights.
Important in California is whether it is the first DUI offense, or if the defendant has more than one DUI. The consequences are very significant both financially and, more importantly, to one's freedom. Generally charged as a misdemeanor, the fourth or more DUI offense risks a felony charge. That puts a defendant at risk of losing more than a year of their precious liberty.
Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.