DUI Accident Investigation - California DUI Law and Legal Information
California drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) cases involving accident, injury, or death require a specialized defense strategy. A California DUI defense lawyer who specializes in DUI accidents must use an independent accident investigator to investigate the specifics of the accident and unearth evidence which may have been overlooked by the police accident investigator and which may be favorable to the person accused of DUI. This must be done in an effort to prevent a serious felony DUI conviction or in an effort to reduce a felony DUI to a lesser misdemeanor DUI conviction.
Notably, thousands of accidents occur throughout the California every day. Most are caused by the failure of people, motor vehicles, or the roadway environment to behave or react as expected. Some occur because of faulty highway or roadway design. Others are caused by poor signage or lighting. However, if the accident occurs after the motorist has consumed an alcoholic beverage, the California Highway Patrol or local police officer will usually conclude the accident was caused by the fact that the driver had been driving under the influence (DUI) or diving with a blood or breath alcohol level at or above the legal limit (DUI).
Accident investigations are intended to determine how and why accidents occur. However, the California Highway Patrol or local police officers have varying degrees of training and experience in accident investigation and may have a conscious, unconscious or institutionalized bias. By using the information gained through an independent accident investigation, and exposing the weaknesses and possible bias of a California Highway Patrol or police accident investigation following a DUI arrest, it is possible to secure a better result in a DUI case involving an accident or an injury. In fact, the law is clear that if the accident could not have been avoided, then drinking prior to the accident or even driving under the influence or with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit cannot be said to be a legal cause of the collision.
It's essential for the lawyer and the accident investigator to examine the accident scene and the vehicles involved as quickly as possible because skid marks and other crucial evidence will disappear soon after the accident occurred. An experienced accident investigator will take photographs of the vehicles and the accident scene and preserve any evidence that may helpful in defending the person arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). (In fact, in the most serious DUI accidents involving serious injury or death, it is advisable to retain the involved vehicles themselves.) Detailed measurements of the accident scene and of the physical evidence also will help reconstruct the circumstances of the collision involving a DUI arrest.
Most accident scenes will include preimpact and post impact skid, scuff and gauging of the roadway. Skid marks at accident scenes are especially telling because they show whether drivers reacted to imminent danger or were unaware of the impending accident. Skid marks are also an essential component in determining the speed and direction of the cars involved in the accident.
Photographs are sometimes taken by law enforcement officers at these DUI accident scenes, but these typically depict only the areas which will point to the culpability of the driver arrested for driving under the influence or driving with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit. The vehicles themselves will contain valuable clues as to speed, direction of travel and even whether the drivers had their headlights on at the time of the collision. Notably, if the California Highway Patrol or police accident investigator does a poor investigation and no follow up investigation is done, critical evidence which may be favorable to the person charged with driving under the influence will be forever lost.
Police reports and diagrams may reveal points of impact and other key factors. Scuff marks on vehicles also can reveal a great deal of information about the dynamics of the collision. However, police reports may tell only one side or an incomplete version of the events leading to a DUI arrest.
The importance of independent accident investigator when defending a DUI case involving accident, injury or death cannot be overstated. Police and prosecutors will gather every shred of evidence that points to the DUI defendant's guilt. A California DUI criminal defense attorney with experience defending DUI cases involving accidents will use an experienced accident investigator to uncover evidence that aids in a driver's defense. Moreover, lawyers who specialize in DUI defense at the highest level seek to counter such claims made by the District Attorney prosecuting a DUI case.
Surprisingly, the eyewitness testimony of any witness at a DUI accident scene is the most unreliable. Unfortunately, it is usually the most damning evidence against the driver arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) or driving with a blood alcohol level at or above the legal limit. These statements must be examined for their corroborative value and will be weighed against the physical evidence. Notably, the physical evidence canít and wonít lie.