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Arresting Officer

In California Driving Under the Influence (DUI), or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) criminal trial, both the defense and the prosecution produce witnesses that support their theory of the case. The prosecution usually begins by calling the police officer who arrested the driver for a DUI or DWI.

The prosecutor leads the officer through the evidence of the DUI arrest step by step. The officer typically begins by testifying about the accused motorist's driving patterns. This is how the police officer establishes that there was probable cause to make an arrest. The officer may testify that the defendant was weaving between lanes, driving too slowly, or driving without headlights, etc.

Next, the prosecution will have the officer recall the traffic stop. The officer will describe the defendant's response to the request to pull over, and the initial observations made by the officer when they spoke. These observations may include an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, or any other symptoms of intoxication.

The officer also will testify about the driver's performance on a field sobriety test. These tests are designed to be failed, and the officer will typically recall only the things that the driver did poorly, and omit anything the driver did well. An experienced California DUI defense lawyer will use cross-examination to bring out aspects of the test on which the driver performed well.

Next, the arresting officer will testify about the breath or chemical tests that were performed. The officer will discuss the procedure used and the chain of custody of any sample (blood or urine, because breath samples cannot be retained) that were taken from the defendant. Finally, the officer will testify about the breath test or chemical test results as evidence of the driver's blood alcohol level (BAC).

Finally, the officer will testify about the DUI arrest. He or she will discuss the basis for the arrest - usually by saying it was based on the "totality of the evidence" - and any statements made by the defendant.

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Once the prosecution completes direct examination, the defense lawyer begins cross-examination. California DUI defense lawyer will use this opportunity to begin dismantling the prosecuto's case. Cross-examination in a criminal DUI case is really a chance for the defense lawyer to testify - the attorney delivers the questions in a manner which forces the witness to answer "yes" or "no". This allows the defense attorney to testify to what he or she wants the jury to hear.

Along with jury selection, cross-examination of the arresting officer is the most critical part of the California DUI trial for the defense. Scoring points with the prosecution's star witness is an effective strategy to win over the jury. In the minds of jurors, most witnesses are going to agree with the side that called them to testify. If the witness agrees with the opposing side, the jury really pays attention.

California DUI defense attorney will use cross-examination of the arresting officer to bring out things that the defendant did correctly when he was pulled over and arrested. For example, police officer may have written in the DUI arrest report that the defendant was weaving and ran a stop sign, but will neglect to mention that the driver signaled when pulling over.

The officer will always mention details like red, watery eyes and slurred speech, but will never testify voluntarily that the driver acted in any manner consistent with a sober person. Cross-examination of the arresting officer is when defense attorney can bring out positive information to support the defendant's case and discredit the officer.

Cross-examination of the arresting officer is a pivotal point in a California DUI trial, which it is why it is critical to have a California criminal defense attorney experienced in driving under the influence cases at the defendant's side.

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