SAME OLD STORY
I cannot tell you how many times in my personal and professional life I have heard someone say that they are an excellent driver – even when under the influence of an intoxicating substance. These assertions usually are made when they are trying to be convinced to use a designated driver. These people may very well be excellent drivers when sober and very experienced at driving while impaired. They are making these assertions because they assume that if they appear to be driving according to traffic laws they will not get arrested for DUI. They don’t take into consideration that someone else’s poor driving can result in them being arrested for a DUI.
For instance, there is a recent phenomenon of adult skateboarders in California who are riding their boards on the freeway in rush hour traffic. This problem has become so prevalent that the California Highway Patrol has publicly complained about how dangerous this practice is. So, if a person is driving with a blood alcohol level above .08 and runs over a skateboarder on a freeway who unexpected skates in front of him, who do you think will suffer the criminal consequences in this scenario? Is it the adult skateboarder who violated the traffic laws, or is it the DUI driver who was driving within the speed limit and properly maintaining his lane? Well, if your answer is the illegal skateboarder you are 100% wrong!
There are several reasons why the DUI driver will be arrested instead of the illegal skateboarder. Firstly, the Federal Government subsidizes local police agencies’ DUI enforcement programs. The more DUI arrests the more money that these programs can receive. This gives the police a higher payday.
NOT AT FAULT
Another reason is that the DUI laws only require that law enforcement have a lawful basis to detain a driver. The lawful basis does not require that the officer witness the DUI driver violate a law. If a traffic officer is investigating a traffic accident involving a DUI driver the traffic officer can arrest the DUI driver even if that DUI driver did not cause the accident. So, the officer will arrest the DUI driver and possibly give the skateboarder a citation for violating a skateboarding code.
Can the DUI driver get arrested for felony DUI if the skateboarder was injured? That depends on the police officer. Felony DUI law requires the DUI driver to have caused the injury. Here, it can be argued that the unsafe skateboarding caused the injury. But, if it is successfully argued that the DUI driver would have been able to avoid hitting the skateboarder if he had not been DUI, then the DUI driver will be arrested for felony DUI and facing a potential strike under the California Three Strikes Law.
In conclusion, the lesson for the day is that a person can get arrested for a DUI even when that appears to be driving in accordance to the traffic laws.