Yes, you read that right. If the breath test taken by the officer on the side of the road indicates you were legally intoxicated under California law, you still have options. Even though this breath test may provide a police officer with probable cause for your arrest, it does not mean that you face an automatic conviction for driving under the influence.
Each year in California, over 200,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence. While many people think of DUI as driving drunk, these charges can even be related to medications prescribed by a doctor. On May 29 in Florida, 14-time champion golfer Tiger Woods was arrested and jailed for four hours on suspicion of a DUI.
California residents may know that alcohol and marijuana are the two most commonly used substances for those who drive while impaired. However, substances such as heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs are all also being used by those who have been found impaired while in a vehicle. One viral video showed an Ohio man passed out in a van while it was in gear.
One person is dead and another suffered life-threatening injuries after a man, suspected of being intoxicated, lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a concrete bench on Feb. 6. The early morning accident took place on the outskirts of the Santa Maria city limit on Highway 135.
California motorists should be aware that there many tests besides the Breathalyzer that can used against them in court as proof that they were over the legal limit while they were operating a motor vehicle. Passing or failing the Breathalyzer test does not result in an automatic conviction or acquittal.
California residents may recall media stories from early 2016 about drunk driving charges against a New York woman being dismissed despite clear evidence that she was behind the wheel with a blood alcohol level of .40 percent. The case was widely reported because the woman suffered from a rare medical condition that essentially turned her body into a brewery. While the case provided fodder for the nation's late-night talk show hosts, auto-brewery syndrome is no laughing matter for those who suffer from the condition.
Drunk driving charges against a 36-year-old California man were dropped on Dec. 28 when a Solano County prosecutor admitted that she had no hope of winning the case. Police say that the man was weaving in and out of busy traffic and almost caused several accidents before they pulled his vehicle over in August 2015, and they suspected that he was under the influence of drugs when they saw several health supplements and powders in his car. However, subsequent blood tests discovered only caffeine in his system.
Drivers in California and across the country may be pleased to know that the drunk driving rate fell to its lowest point in 13 years in 2014. This is according to federal statistics from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The survey has been conducted since 2002 using the same methodology and is used as a measurement of drunk and drugged driving trends over time.
California Highway Patrol arrested Los Angeles Rams football player Troy Hill on suspicion of DUI after he was allegedly involved in a crash on the 101 Freeway on Nov. 19. The accident occurred shortly before 8 a.m. on the westbound side of the 101 Freeway near Haskell Avenue. Authorities say Hill swerved to the right side of the roadway and struck a big rig with his white Mercedes Benz.
Authorities in California and around the country have a seemingly comprehensive arsenal of laws, equipment and protocols in place for identifying and removing from the roadway those drivers who operate motor vehicles while under the influence of alcohol. As the legal use of marijuana becomes more widespread, however, states are finding that the methodology involved in determining whether a marijuana user is driving while impaired is not so clear-cut.