Drunk Driving Case Defense

Jerry L. Steering, Esq. before 9th Cir. Court of Appeals, Pasadena, CA

The Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering, has been a litigating DUI cases in Irvine since 1984. As a young lawyer Mr. Steering used to try two DUI cases per day in Clarke County, Georgia, State Court (Hon. Grady C. Pittard, Jr.). That’s right, two per day.

In California is takes quite a bit longer than one-half of one day to try a DUI case; especially if one actually has a defense to it.

Sometimes Mr. Steering has had rather exotic DUI cases, that even manifested into civil settlements.

In Jane Doe v. City of Irvine, et al., the City of Irvine paid Jane Doe $400,000.00 for her sexual battery by an Irvine Police Department police officer. “Jane Doe”(true name protected) was a dancer at Captain Cream’s; a former Lake Forest, California topless bar. Captain Cream’s was located close to the Irvine / Lake Forest border, and the officer would stalk dancer “Jane Doe” when she left work for the evening. He followed her from Captain Cream’s all the way to Laguna Canyon Road in Laguna Beach, California; a road that is very dark and without street lighting and well outside of the Irvine city limits. See, Illegally Park-ed, OC Weekly, February 8, 2007.

The officer stopped Jane Doe’s car and gave her a breath-alcohol test, that resulted in a reading of 0.06 % blood alcohol; 0.02% below the 0.08% per se limit in California. Notwithstanding Jane Doe being below the 0.08% per se limit the officer threatened Jane Doe with arrest for DUI if she didn’t perform a manual sexual act with him; something she was made to do.

Laguna Beach Police Department Dispatcher

When she had done the dirty act and was left alone by the officer, Jane Doe raced home and called “911” on her cellphone. She was given the Laguna Beach Police Department “911” dispatcher. She told the dispatcher that she was just sexually assaulted by an Irvine Police Department police officer in Laguna Beach on the Canyon Road. The dispatcher said that as the assault involved an Irvine Police Department police officer that Laguna Beach PD could not do anything for her and that she would have to call the Irvine Police Department about her sex assault claim and complain to them (that discussion was recorded).

The City of Irvine ended-up paying $400,000.00 to Jane Doe on that claim and the officer was criminally prosecuted, but acquitted. See, Ex-officer acquitted of assaulting exotic dancer, Los Angeles Tmes, February 3, 2007. 

In Kieswetter, et al. v. City of Laguna Beach, et al., United States District Court (Santa Ana), three separate women who were arrested for DUI by Laguna Beach PD complained that the 20 year old young man in a full Laguna Beach Police Department police officer uniform had jumped into the back seat of the patrol car that they were being transported to jail and sexually molested them. See, An Unsettling Settlement in Laguna Harassment Case, Los Angeles Times, June 28, 1992. Mr. Steering obtained a $92,500.00 settlement in that case.

DRUNK DRIVING CASES – GENERALLY.

If you have been arrested for Drunk Driving in California, you probably received a documents entitled: “AGE 21 AND OLDER – PAGE 3, ADMINISTRATIVE PER SE SUSPENSION/REVOCATION ORDER AND TEMPORARY DRIVER LICENSE.” That document states, among other things, that:

“YOU HAVE 10 DAYS FROM RECEIPT OF THIS NOTICE TO REQUEST A HEARING TO SHOW THAT THE SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION IS NOT JUSTIFIED. The suspension or revocation will not be stayed (delayed) unless you request a hearing within 10 days from the issue date of this order and DMV cannot provide a hearing before the effective date of the suspension or revocation and make a determination.”

Accordingly, someone (you or your lawyer) needs to make a request for the DMV hearing within 10 days of your arrest for DUI based on alcohol impairment, or your driver license will be suspended; regardless of whether you are guilty of DUI or not. We can do this for you, and usually obtain the police reports in your case quickly; before you can get them from the court. We can also handle the DMV hearing for you, as well as your DUI criminal case.

Jerry L. Steering has been litigating drunk driving cases in California and in Georgia, since 1984. Until the early 1980′s drunk driving was not considered that serious of a crime; unless some got seriously injured or killed. DUI cases are so common, that the Presiding Judge of the Orange County, California, Superior Court, was arrested for Drunk Driving several years ago, and was found to have a 0.22% blood alcohol content (after his car took-out a light pole); that’s almost three times the legal limit of 0.08% in California.

In the 1960′s, the “legal limit” to drive, was a blood-alcohol content of 0.15% by weight. In the 1970′s, With the advent of the nationwide organization “Mother’s Against Drunk Driving“, Judges and the politicians started taking DUI cases a lot more seriously; with an accompanying increase in the severity of sentences for DUI offenders. The “MADD” mothers would send monitors to the various courtrooms in their jurisdictions that handle the DUI cases, and would literally write-down the disposition of each DUI case (i.e the blood-alcohol conduct that the defendant had, and the sentence that he got.) This made the judges more inclined to hand-out longer and harsher sentences for DUI offenders. In the 1980′s, however, almost no one would get jail time for a first DUI offense, and the maximum that most DUI convicts would get for a second DUI, was 96 hours; the then statutory minimum.

The Reagan Administration used the bully pullpit to force a reduction of varying state blood-alcohol limits for driving, to a national uniform 0.08%blood-alcohol limit by weight; the limit that we all have today, save youths or commercial drivers. In 1990, California reduced the driving blood-alcohol limit to 0.08% by weight. In the 2000′s criminal sentences for DUI offenders dramatically increased; especially for repeat offenders. So, for example, in Orange County, California, sentences for a second time DUI offender with a 0.15% blood-alcohol levels, increased from a usual ten days in jail, to sixty to ninety days in jail. Third time DUI offenders are typically sentenced to six months to a year in the Orange County Jail, and fourth time DUI offenders can be convicted of a felony, and can be sentenced to state prison.

WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU DUI – ALCOHOL CASES.

Usually, the most that a DUI / Drunk Driving criminal defense lawyer can do for you in these cases, is to get a better plea agreement for you than you would have gotten yourself. Moreover, you just don’t want to be the person dealing with the District Attorney’s Office. They feel uncomfortable speaking with you, as they don’t want to be witnesses in their own case (and usually can’t be), and that just might happen if you represent yourself and make admissions or confessions to the Deputy District Attorney.

However, there are occasions where errors by the arresting officer can result in your Drunk Driving case being settled for a lesser charge (i.e. Cal. Vehicle Code 23103 (reckless driving) or 23103.5 (reckless driving, alcohol related; “a Wet Reckless”), or being dismissed outright; such as when the officer didn’t have sufficient legal grounds to have made a traffic stop (the evidence of the officer’s observations of you, and your blood-alcohol test results, would then be considered “the fruit of the poisonous tree“; not admissible against the motorist at trial; essentially guaranteeing either a dismissal or verdict in the motorist’s favor.) Your lawyer may even get you an acquittal at trial; especially when you’re actually innocent. In close blood-alcohol cases (i.e. 0.08% breath test), you may also be able to show that at the time that you were driving, that your blood-alcohol was lower, and that it was on the rise (absorption over time into the blood) at the time that you took your test. Moreover, breath-tests are only an estimate of your actual blood-alcohol. Over the years, experiments were done to compare the ratio of alcohol found in a person’s blood, compared to the amount of alcohol found in deep-lung air. The scientists came-up with an average ratio in the average person; that ratio being 2,280 more alcohol found in 1cc. of blood than in 1cc. of deep-lung air. Some persons tested as high as a 1:1300blood to breath alcohol ration, and some tested as low as a 1:3000 ratio. Therefore, the law enforcement community settled on breath machines, that collect 1 cc. of deep-lung air from a DUI suspect, multiply that amount of alcohol (that is ethyl alcohol) by 2,100, and come-up with an estimated amount of alcohol in that person’s blood.

There are physicians and other experts that can testify on this for a person prosecuted for DUI who took a breath test only. DUI criminal defendants can even have their own blood to breath alcohol levels tested, to prove their innocence.

Thus, there are ways to win DUI alcohol cases, but in most cases, that is not the expected outcome. Jerry L. Steering is an expert in Fourth Amendment search and seizure law, and his experience in litigating search and seizure issues may be a great benefit to you to prevail in your DUI case. His science background (i.e. B.S. Biology / Chemistry) is also helpful in this area.

WHAT WE CAN DO FOR YOU NON-ALCOHOL DUI CASES.

MODERN DUI PROSECUTIONS; PRESCRIPTION DRUG AND MARIJUANA DUI CASES

More and more these days, person are being prosecuted for driving under the influence of prescription medications; some of which don’t even make the person feel impaired. For example, the DUI case drug of the past few years is Ambien; a commonly prescribed sleeping pill. Ambien is often the drug found in the system of persons who took the sleeping pill at the appropriate time (bed time), got an adequate amount of sleep, but exhibited poor driving in the morning. These people didn’t feel groggy, and didn’t know that there was anything wrong with their driving.

Moreover, these days, marijuana is more and more being the predicate drug for DUI prosecutions. However, there is no scientific study that shows driving impairment from driving while high on pot, and, in fact, there are recently studies that suggest that motorists on pot actually drive safer than they would have otherwise. Moreover, a recent report by the British government sponsored studies on the issue, admit that there is no particular amount of the active pot chemicals ingested that is indicative of pot impairment, and that pot impairment is difficult to detect and to quantify. With the right lawyer, DUI pot cases should be winnable; at least more so than DUI alcohol cases.

If we can answer any of your questions, or if you’d like to discuss The Law Offices Of Jerry L. Steering representing you in a DUI case, please feel free to call for a free phone consultation.

Best of luck,

Jerry L. Steering

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The Law Offices of Jerry L. Steering services the following Orange County Cities, Towns & Census Designated Places.

Incorporated Places have an asterisk (*).

Aliso Viejo* Anaheim* AtwoodBalboa Balboa Island Barber City Brea* Buena Park* Canyon Acres Capistrano Beach CarltonCerro Villa Heights Costa Mesa* Coto De Caza Cypress* Dana Point* Des Moines Dove Canyon El Modena El Toro Foothill Ranch Fountain Valley* Fullerton* Garden Grove* Hansen Huntington Beach* Huntington Harbour Irvine* La Habra* La Jolla La Palma* Ladera Ranch Laguna Beach* Laguna Hills* Laguna Niguel* Laguna Woods* Lake Forest* Las Flores Lido Isle Los Alamitos* Midway CityMission Viejo* Moody Newport Beach* Newport Coast Newport Heights North Tustin Ocean ViewOlive Orange* Placentia* Portola Hills Rancho Santa Margarita* Rancho Trabuco Robinson RanchRossmoor San Clemente* San Joaquin Hills San Juan Capistrano* Santa Ana* Seal Beach* Smeltzer South AnaheimSouth Laguna South Santa AnaStanton* Sunny Hills Sunset Beach Surfside Trabuco Highlands Tustin* Villa Park* West Anaheim Westminster*