Friday, December 26, 2014

Police Ramping Up DUI Checkpoints

The authorities in the South Bay and Torrance will be deploying DUI checkpoints this holiday season.  Remember, the police do not need to publicize the locations of these enforcement techniques but often do.  Reminder to always use a designated driver if you choose to drink over the Christmas break.  Cops will have no sympathy on those breaking the law by driving while impaired and the phrase "the life you save may be your own" will be reiterated over the next few days.  Be safe!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Refusing To Forget, What Constitutes A Refusal In California

The CA DMV imposes the harshest license consequences for those who refuse to submit to a chemical test after arrested for a DUI.  However, before the DMV may suspend a driver's license for failure to submit to a chemical test, the DMV must make four findings: (1) the officer had reasonable cause to believe the person was driving a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; (2) the person was arrested; (3) the person was told that if he or she refused to submit to, or did not complete, a chemical test his or her license would be suspended; and (4) the person refused to submit to, or did not complete, such a test.

"`The question whether a driver "refused" a test within the meaning of the statute is a question of fact. To comply with the law, a `driver should clearly and unambiguously manifest the consent required by the law. Consent which is not clear and unambiguous may be deemed a refusal.' In determining whether an arrested driver's conduct amounts to a refusal to submit to a test, the court looks not to the state of mind of the arrested driver, but to "the fair meaning to be given [the driver's] response to the demand he submit to a chemical test."

How Hematocrit Can Affect Breath Test Results In DUI Cases

In DUI cases numerous medical conditions can influence how blood alcohol testing is done accurately. One big problem when testing a person for a specfic alcohol concentration is to take into consideration Hematocrit levels. Hematocrit represents the fraction of whole blood composed of red cells and is correlated with the acqueous content of the blood, the higher the hematocrit, the lower the concentration of water in the blood and vice versa. In the simplest terms it is a ratio or a formula. In other words, it is a value expressed as a ratio of the solid components of blood (cellular material) to the liquid components of blood (water). In a normal healthy being it can vary the amount of alcohol contained in the blood.  

People with abnormally low hematocrit are sometimes called "Anemic".  Normal hematocrit levels are 45 % for men and 40 % for women.  Perhaps the best way to imagine the concept of hematocrit  in your mind is to compare the sample with a glass full of rocks vs. a glass filled with no rocks. Here is the problem when it is related to DUI chemical testing for ethanol in the blood: The higher the hematocrit equals more solids in the blood, therefore less water and consequently a higher alcohol concentration. A person with lower than normal hematocrit has less solids in their blood, more water and therefore a lower blood alcohol concentration.

What does all this mean as far as DUI defense? Well, studies have concluded that a person whose hematocrit levels are out of whack or not within normal paramaters can have a breath test result with a higher than actual blood alcohol level as much as 14%, more commonly in the range of 10-14 percent variation.