Houman Fakhimi

DUI Arrests in California to Climb on New Year's Eve

A Los Angeles official is contemplating a plea deal from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office, following an arrest last year, two days before New Year's Eve, for DUI and child endangerment.

The terms of the deal won't be made public unless the public works president agrees to the terms, although it's worth noting that both charges are misdemeanors.

San Bernardino DUI Defense Attorney Houman Fakhimi knows that New Year's Eve is a big night in terms of DUI fatalities, accidents and arrests.

The Orange County Register has reported in previous years that DUI arrests had risen steadily for a number of years in a row. Last year, statewide DUI arrests were at 438. The year before, there were 527. In Orange County, arrests were up 84 to 92. In Los Angeles County, there were 108 DUI arrests, much higher than the previous year high of 88.

These numbers do not include figures from other area law enforcement agencies - just the California Highway Patrol, which means the actual number of arrests is likely much higher.

One thing that may further increase the number of arrests this year is that many agencies are geared up to establish multiple DUI sobriety checkpoints and release swarms of officers in roving patrols on New Year's Eve.

In California, DUI penalties are spelled out in Vehicle Code Section 23152(a) VC. Under this statute, you are considered to be impaired when, as a result of consuming alcohol or drugs, you are no longer able to safely drive a motor vehicle with "ordinary prudence" under the same or similar circumstances.

Some of the observations that may be used to prove your guilt might be:

  • Water, red eyes
  • Speech that is slurred;
  • Smelling of alcohol;
  • Inability to walk steadily.

DUI defense lawyers know there may in fact be valid reasons for some of this behavior that doesn't involve intoxication. For example, if you are dressed up for a New Year's Eve party in heels that you don't normally wear, this could be an explanation for an officer's observation of an unsteady gait. Similarly, a speech impediment may be to blame for seemingly slurred speech.

Plus, at the end of the day, field sobriety tests aren't scientific. They rely primarily on officer observations, which are subject to error.

The other major piece of evidence you may have to contend with in a DUI case is the breathalyzer result. The across-the-board measure of intoxication is having a blood alcohol concentration higher than 0.08 percent. However, these machines are notoriously faulty, and proof of improper calibration has in fact led to hundreds of DUI cases across the country being dismissed.

Lastly, your attorney may be able to successfully challenge a DUI conviction on the basis of improper DUI checkpoint practices. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the legality of these operations - but only under the strictest of circumstances. If law enforcement agencies don't follow the exact letter of the law, you may have a good shot at having your case dismissed.

Of course, the best way to avoid a DUI is not to get behind the wheel after drinking. However, if you do find yourself in this situation, immediately contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Contact Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime in Orange County.