San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris announced she is creating an independent crime lab separate from the police department as a result of the recent problems surrounding the San Francisco crime lab. As you may recall, one of the crime lab technicians was alleged to have drug problems and used inventoried drugs personally while working at the crime lab. So far, about 550 drug cases have been dismissed. In DUI / Drunk Driving cases, both blood and on occasion urine tests are routinely analyzed and tested by law enforcement crime labs. In addition, technicians or chemists from these crime labs are routinely used to testify in court for the prosecution in DUI / Drunk Driving cases. Going forward, the San Francisco District Attorney's office will prepare guidelines in dealing with misconduct by law enforcement employees.
Tags: Drunk Driving Drunk Driving Arrests Breathalyzer
Britian's new DUI / Drunk Driving laws are changing to lower the legal limit to the equivilent of .05% alcohol level in a driver's blood or breath. Once an average man drinks 3 beers, he could most likely be a .05% or greater. An average women would need to drink even less to be at a .05% or greater. However, the new law may only asses points against a driver's license but not subject the driver to a DUI / Drunk Driving criminal prosecution. In another area, Britian is looking to make it illegal to drive with any illegal substance in a driver's system, even if the illegal substance does not cause the driver to be impaired.
Recently, I wrote about problems encountered by the San Francisco Crime lab which caused it to close down. Apparently, there are thousands of pages of documents sought by defense attorneys. In addition, the court inquired into how the District Attorney's Office looks into criminal and/or misconduct committed by law enforcement employees. The District Attorney's Office indicated it relied on law enforcement to provide the information. This position did not sit well with the court. The information sought by defense attorneys is necessary to determine if any evidence in pending cases as well as closed cases, including DUI / Drunk Driving cases, would come into question which could lead to further dismissals or reversal of convictions. In the meantime, prosecutors are collecting and maintaining records in case they will be needed later.
I was recently trying a DUI / Drunk Driving case in Torrance, California. During one of the breaks, I was speaking with one of the arresting officers. He indicated that in this bad economy, it seems more people are driving with expired license plates because they don't have the money to keep them current. Driving with expired license plates is a sufficient basis in which to stop a driver. Obviously, these types of stops can lead to more DUI / Drunk Driving investigations and arrests. It won't matter if the driver is otherwise not violating any other traffic laws. The stop and subesquent investigation and/or arrest and possible DUI / Drunk Driving conviction can be even more devistating.