Worst Lunch Ever for Client Turns into Worst Case for Prosecution After Hung Jury in Los Angeles DUI Trial

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Adam Cohen, Managing Partner

We have all seen the glamour of the courtroom as depicted on television. However, television never depicts all the work that happens up to the trial, and the decision to even go to trial. In fact, less than 2% of all criminal cases in the nation go to trial. For the accused that do end up in trial, it is a stressful situation, full of uncertainty.

At Ticket Crushers, we diligently prepare matters as if the case were to go to trial. This certainly helps us achieve favorable resolutions, but we are ready when the call to trial comes as it did in Los Angeles County last month.

During an ordinary, traffic filled Los Angeles day, our client went home to have lunch. While driving through infamous LA traffic, our client made a legal left turn at an intersection with notoriously poor visibility. Suddenly, our client’s vehicle collided with another vehicle that was traveling at a high rate of speed, causing the speeding vehicle to spin out onto the sidewalk. That driver later complained of having bruised ribs.

Our client had pulled his car over to the side of the road, and police officers arrived shortly thereafter. Our client complied with the officers’ requests, and they immediately started a DUI investigation. The old adage that a picture is worth a 1000 words never rang more true in this specific case, as all of the interaction was captured on body worn camera. While testimony can sometimes be embellished or exaggerated, the jury had the opportunity to listen to the testifying officer’s words against their own bodycam.

As part of the investigation, our client was told to perform a series of field sobriety tests. These tests can include following the officer’s finger, walking and turning in a straight line or balancing on one foot. The officers use big fancy words in court like Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus to really say follow my finger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), these tests are excellent predictors of intoxication. What NHTSA does not tell you is that these tests are not nearly as accurate as they claim. In fact, even with the tests being administered exactly to standards, they are still highly inaccurate. Also, these tests are optional. While it may be difficult to say no to an officer, knowing your rights empowers you to make the best decisions for yourself.

During the trial, our Managing Partner, Adam Cohen, was able to cross examine the officer that administered the tests. Going frame by frame through the body cam footage, Mr. Cohen was able to compare the officers administration of the tests to the instructions in the NHTSA manual. Mr. Cohen was able to prove that during each test, the officer failed to administer them as required. In fact, he was able to point out that the officer didn’t even instruct the client appropriately!

After the completion of those tests, the officer offered the client the opportunity to blow into a preliminary alcohol screening device (PAS). As with the field sobriety tests, an individual does not have to submit to a PAS test (however, if you are subsequently arrested for suspicion of DUI, under the implied consent law, you must submit to a chemical breath test or blood test) In this case, our client refused to blow into the PAS. While it may appear that our client would come off as uncooperative, the strategy was to use his refusal to our advantage.

As seen on the bodycam, the officer made the following statement to the client: “I have one more test. And this test will determine if I let you get back in your car to drive home.” The officer made this statement right in front of his supervisor. And Mr. Cohen jumped on it. He asked the officer, “If my client failed the other sobriety tests, and those tests indicated he was drunk, why would you offer him the opportunity to drive home if he took one more test? Would you let someone you thought was drunk drive home?” The officer couldn’t answer the question directly. And just to seal his argument, Mr. Cohen asked the officer’s supervisor “If my client failed the tests, why didn’t you tell your junior officer that there was no way my client would drive home?” The supervising officer also didn’t have an answer.

The jury deliberated for two full days, which is uncommon in a DUI case. At the close of the deliberations, the jury informed the judge that they could not come to a decision and were deadlocked. Mr. Cohen was able to convince at least some of the jurors that his client was not guilty. The government knew that they did not want to take this case to trial again. Once the jury came back “hung,” they offered the client reduced charges in order to resolve the case. Although our client never got to have his lunch that day, at the end of the day, the client ended up without a DUI on his record!

If you are suspected of DUI, remember the following:
– You are not required to answer any of the officer’s questions.
– You are not required to complete the field sobriety roadside tests.
– You are not required to blow into the PAS Device.
– If you get arrested after refusing all of those requests, you must submit to a chemical breath or blood test. Failure to submit to the test could cause your license to get suspended for up to a year.

Our advice is to refuse all tests prior to getting arrested. And if you do get arrested, you should consent to a blood test in order to avoid the one year suspension. And then, call Ticket Crushers.

Ticket Crushers is California’s Top-Rated DUI & Traffic Defense Firm with Thousands of Cases Dismissed – Se Habla Español  – Call us now at 1-866-842-5384 for more information on DUIs in California.

Updated: 10/11/2023