Recently, Torrance DUI Lawyer Matthew Ruff represented a young man on an underage DUI charge in a South Bay Court. The client was stopped at a DUI checkpoint and subsequently arrested and booked for an under age 21 DUI. He was given a Court date and released after spending the night in jail. His parents, residents of Rancho Palos Verdes, hired Matthew to defend their son and try to avoid a permanent record which would haunt the young man for at least 10 years.
The breath test that was given using the portable device (PAS) as well as the evidentiary test given on the “table top” machine at the station were all above California’s legal limit for an under age 21 driver. A total of 4 separate breath sample were taken. In addition, the officer observed an odor of an alcoholic beverage on the breath and an “unsteady gait”. Field sobriety tests were administered and, according to the arresting officer, the defendant did not perform them satisfactorily. The young man was charged with VC 23140, his license was confiscated, an APS order suspending his driving privilege by the DMV was served on him and he was released on a signed promise to appear.
With regard to the chemical test evidence, the attorney argued at trial that there was insufficient testimony that the machine used to test the client’s breath was in good working order. The Court agreed. Under California law the prosecution has the burden of proof and must establish that the breath testing device either complied with the regulatory requirements set forth by the CA Department of Health, or present testimony that the test was administered by someone with proper training and that the device was working properly at the time it was given to the subject. The law does not allow a Court to speculate about the reliability of the test if the proper objections are made. In this case, the scientific standards were not shown to have been followed, as pointed out by the attorney and therefore the Judge found the accused not guilty on February 6, 2013.
When a young person is arrested or detained for a drinking and driving offense, cited and given a future Court date many parents believe that there is little that can be done to help the individual due to the state’s “zero tolerance” policy on alcohol and under 21 drivers. However, that is far from the case. Many cases can be successfully defended, resulting in a possibility of no conviction or drivers license suspension. An experienced attorney is crucial to a favorable outcome, the laws are complex and daunting and the average lay person is at a huge disadvantage when dealing with the DMV and criminal courts. Because the law requires that the offense stay on the person’s record for 10 years if convicted, it is well worth the time and effort to consult a lawyer prior to simply pleading “no contest” or giving up your right to an administrative hearing.