Houman Fakhimi

Thanksgiving DUI Arrests in Santa Ana Coming as Holiday Season Approaches

As we approach the winter holiday season, police will begin increasing their patrols throughout Orange County as they seek to nail as many people as possible for drunken driving charges.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, law enforcement made 743 DUI arrests between December 17 and January 3 last year in Orange County. There were 390 people arrested for DUI in San Bernardino County and more than 1,900 in Los Angeles County.

That's a large number of people charged with DUI in Orange County and the surrounding areas. In many cases, Fullerton DUI defense lawyers have seen, police simply didn't have a lot of evidence.

They were instructed to increase patrols and conduct DUI checkpoints in order to place as many people in handcuffs as they could. But arrest numbers and conviction numbers are two different things. Once police make arrests, they rarely boast what percentage of those cases end in a conviction for that charge. That's because many do not.

Once such case came out of Santa Barbara, where a newspaper journalist faced a DUI charge, but had it dropped after a judge ruled that police didn't have probable cause to make the stop in the first place.

Probable cause is a law enforcement term that is the standard for officers nationwide. Probable cause means that officers must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred before making an arrest. This is true for DUI cases, drug cases or murder investigations. Regardless of the severity of the allegation, police must have a reason for making an allegation.

In DUI cases or other traffic charges, police must have a reason for making a stop of a vehicle. This can be based on speeding, swerving, running a red light or stop sign or causing an accident.

In the Santa Barbara case, the man stopped at a green light and stayed there for 3 to 5 seconds, the officer stated, before the officer swung by and flashed a light in his car. He looked at the car, looked down and then drove, before the officer made the stop.

After being asked to take a breath test, he blew a 0.09, over the state's 0.08 legal blood alcohol level limit. But his lawyer was able to show the judge that in other states, judges have dismissed DUI charges in cases where a person stayed at a green light for as long as 60 seconds. That was enough to lead to a dismissal of the DUI charge, with the judge saying that any evidence discovered after the traffic stop should be tossed out.

That's what typically happens in cases where police have been found to not have probable cause. Even if the evidence they found shows guilt and proves the person should be convicted, the fact that they obtained the information improperly comes back to haunt them. If the evidence is tossed out, the case goes away, too.

As this holiday season approaches, drive safe and smart. If you are charged with DUI in Orange County, call an experienced DUI lawyer who can help you get through this difficult time.

Contact the Houman Fakhimi trial attorney at (714) 705-6701 as soon as possible if you are charged with a crime. Protecting your rights and setting up an aggressive defense at the beginning stages is critical in defending against criminal charges.