If you are arrested with driving under the influence in Orange County, you can be charged in two manners:
1) Violation of the “common law” drinking and driving laws, and/or
2) Violation of the “per se” laws
Common law drunk driving is concerned with whether the driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs, and is unable to operate their car with the same caution as a sober person because they have consumed alcohol or drugs. With this charge, your blood alcohol level does not matter. You can be convicted just by being found to be impaired.
Violation of the per se charge does not depend upon the person being affected by alcohol or drugs, but instead, the per se charge relates to the blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) as being above the legal limit, now .08 percent in all 50 states.
If you are charged with violating the “per se” law, relating to a specific legislated level of .08 percent, then chemical testing is a primary consideration. Chemical testing of the blood, breath or urine to determine BAC is the crux of the case and your level of impairment is irrelevant. The prosecution’s forensic alcohol experts in most states will offer an opinion that all individuals are impaired once they are above a certain BAC.
Some experts believe that alcohol level to be .10 percent, some .08 percent, and the most conservative will opine that all people are under the influence for Orange County DUI at a .05 percent BAC. Therefore, it is vital that an Orange County DUI Defense Attorney be able to successfully address these issues and consult with independent alcohol experts well ahead of trial.
Even if you have blood alcohol results that are at, or above the legal limit, there are still many challenges to the validity of blood, breath and urine tests in drunk driving cases; results are not always determinative of your guilt. The prosecution still has the burden to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An Orange County DUI defense lawyer will need to be well-versed in the various attacks on breath testing, on blood testing, and on urine testing for alcohol and drugs.
Chemical testing in Orange County drunk driving cases or DUI drug arrests involves the testing of bodily fluids – blood, breath, or urine. In most states, when someone is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, he or she has a right to take either a breath or a blood test. (In some states, the arresting officer selects which test the subject will take.) If the police suspect someone of driving under the influence of drugs, the chemical test choices will usually include blood or urine. Generally, there is no right to a urine test in Orange County DUI cases relating to alcohol because urine testing has been determined to be too unreliable to withstand courtroom challenges.
Even if chemical testing may be accurate to determine blood or breath alcohol content (BAC) at the time of testing, it is NOT conclusive evidence of BAC at the time of driving. The law does not state that it is illegal to be above the legal limit while in a police station; the crime is driving under the influence, or driving above the legal limit, not having a BAC above the legal limit at a later time. Because alcohol levels change over time, this is a critical point that an experienced DUI attorney can use in successfully defending your case.
Additionally, an experienced Orange County DUI attorney can challenge the validity of the testing itself. Contrary to what the police and prosecution would have your believe, chemical testing for alcohol (DUI) or drugs (DUI drugs or driving under the influence of drugs) is not always accurate. There are challenges to roadside breath tests (also known as PAS or PBT tests), stationhouse breath tests, forensic blood tests, and forensic urine tests.
Testing in DUI drugs cases provides even more areas to challenge in court than testing for alcohol levels in an Orange County drunk driving case. Drug tests look for metabolites in the blood or urine, and not the drug itself. There are no “per se” limits in drug cases, and because of the time in which many drugs stay in the system, it is incredibly difficult to demonstrate that a person was impaired at the time of driving.
Although many drivers accused of drinking and driving may believe that a chemical test result with a BAC over .08 percent means a sure conviction, that’s not necessarily the case. The only certainty of a conviction is if you plead guilty. It is imperative to consult with an Orange County criminal defense attorney with experience fighting DUI cases. A skilled OC drunk driving attorney can challenge the results of blood, breath, or urine tests, and plan a strategy to fight a drunk driving case.