A Lesson for All Would-Be Southern California DUI Drivers: From a 13-Year-Old Girl

No one disputes that driving DUI in Los Angeles is dangerous – and that conscientious people should do everything in their power to prevent friends and relatives under the influence from getting behind the wheel. But a rare story out of Islip, New York drives home this point in emotionally compelling fashion. The story involves a 13-year-old girl who called 911 after her mom insisted on driving DUI in spite of having her and her 10-year-old brother as passengers.mom-dui.jpg

CNN reported that the 13-year-old daughter of Jamie Hicks called 911 last Sunday, while her mom was weaving on I-84 near Connecticut. The New York State Police pulled Ms. Hicks over and arrested her after she failed a field sobriety test. Her BAC level tested at 0.18% – more than twice the legal limit for Southern California DUI. According to CNN, Ms. Hicks will appear in court on August 17th to face an array of charges, including charges of endangering minors.

It obviously took guts for the young woman to call the police — she clearly did not want to see her mother put behind bars — but perhaps her act averted disaster.

Moving to another important general lesson, let’s talk again about Southern California Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) – what they are, how they have bearing (or not) on cases, and what you should do if you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence in Pasadena — hopefully not with young children in your car.

Field Sobriety Tests are mental and physical exams given by police officers. A common mental test involves saying the alphabet backwards. Physical exams include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which is essentially a pupil reaction time test. DUI individuals tend to have slower reaction times. Balancing tests include: walk the line, one leg stand, finger to the nose and rhomberg (where you tilt your head backwards and count from 1 to 30).

In theory, Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) should do a pretty good job determining who is DUI in Pasadena and who is not. But in practice, the tests can be extremely problematic. First of all, drivers pulled over under suspicion of DUI tend to be nervous, jittery, uncomfortable, nauseous, and otherwise out of sorts. Their behavior (e.g. stumbling and fumbling) may have nothing to do with whether or not they are under the influence and everything to do with their natural disposition or their feelings of fear. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has suggested that all but three of the FSTs that police officers typically use – the horizontal gaze nystagmus, one leg stand, and walk and turn tests – really don’t show a correlation between impairment due to alcohol and performance.

For example, someone who is DUI may have a fantastic memory and may be able recite the alphabet backwards by rote even with a BAC of 0.20.

If you have been pulled over for Southern California DUI, you likely need a smart and experienced attorney in your corner to investigate the arrest and help you come up with a strategy to deal with the charges. Sometimes that strategy may involve trying to get the charges excused completely. Other times, it might involve trying to plea bargain down the charges so you will face a lesser offense and reduced punishment.

For help right now with your case, contact attorney Michael Kraut of the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers. Attorney Kraut is one of Southern California’s leading Los Angeles DUI lawyers. He has a track record of success, lots of experiences with jury trials, and a deep familiarity with local prosecutors (he actually worked as a criminal prosecutor himself for over 14 years).

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Pasadena or you are under investigation for driving under the influence in Southern California, please contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut for 24/7 assistance by phone at (323) 464-6453 or toll free at (888) 334-6344 or online.

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