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What Evidence Are The Police Looking For In A Drunk Driving Accident?

In an accident involving drunk driving, the police are looking for evidence of the driver being impaired by drugs or alcohol (or by the combination of alcohol and drugs) or being at or over a blood alcohol level of 0.08 when driving. So, they need to pin down who the driver was. They are trained to respond to these accidents and get people to say what they need them to say by being very helpful, caring and using compassion (at least in the beginning). We would hope that any officer would behave this way when aiding the scene of an accident and getting information from people.

The police will ask who the driver was and then find ways to confirm who the driver was, like looking to see if the driver’s seat is adjusted for someone of a certain height, determining who has the keys on their person and finding out whose name is on the car insurance. They will try to find out who was sitting where in the car by talking to the people who were in the car, talking to witnesses and confirming the information they receive with the recording of the 911 call (if there was one).

Then they will do impairment testing and run someone through field sobriety tests. These are tests that are basically designed to make people fail, and no one should ever do these. Someone who does do these tests will usually give an officer more reasons to arrest them or more proof that they are impaired. If someone’s been in an accident, very often there is a concussion involved, especially if the airbags deployed or the car rolled over. Performing the balancing tests is tough enough under the best circumstances, let alone after a serious car accident. However, they are designed for people to fail, because no one has ever practiced them or been given the rules or instructions on these tests. Only the officers know what they’re looking for, and who takes a test without knowing what they’re getting tested on?

People do these tests because the officers tell them that they have to; they’re not telling them that they have the option to refuse. Every once in a while they do, but it’s rare. They’re trained not to tell people that they have the option not to do these tests. With the impairment, they’re running people through tests and making observations, such as the odor of an alcoholic beverage, red or watery eyes and unsteady gates. These are boxes that they’re just checking off. What they write down for the results of these field sobriety tests are what people did wrong, rather than what people did right. So, it’s all designed to help get a conviction.

The last test that someone has to do is usually the preliminary alcohol screening test in order for the police to determine whether or not they are over the limit. If they blow under a 0.08, usually they will not be arrested for DUI. However, I dealt with someone a few weeks ago who was arrested for DUI even though he blew under the limit on the preliminary alcohol screening test. It looks like the DA will not file charges on it and the DMV will be dismissing the case. However, since the officer did arrest him, this person had to go to jail and there were a lot of expenses for that. It was just a horrible thing to have to go through. If someone is under the limit, the officer should let them go, but oftentimes they don’t. This is because they think they can get them on an impairment charge. While it’s troubling, it’s something that we just have to deal with.

If someone blows into that machine and they’re at or over the limit, they’re going to get arrested for DUI and be given the admonition, which says that they have a choice of a breath or a blood test. They are supposed to be told what happens if they don’t comply and that their license will be suspended. There is a whole laundry list of things that an officer is supposed to read to someone in this situation. Once they’ve chosen a test, then they’re given that chemical test and the officer is going to get a result if they do a breath test there. If the person chooses a blood test, they’re not going to know the results for days or weeks, sometimes more. But that’s what the officers are looking for when they are gathering evidence to help convict someone of a DUI.

For more information on Evidence In A Drunk Driving Accident, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.

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Aaron Bortel
With 30 years of specialized experience in DUI defense, Attorney Aaron Bortel is a dedicated advocate for those facing DUI charges in the Bay Area. Committed to helping clients avoid jail, save their driver’s licenses and jobs, and prevent permanent criminal records, he combines deep legal expertise with genuine care for his client's welfare. Trust in a lawyer who not only defends but truly supports you through challenging times.

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