How the Police’s Failure to Give You an Admonition Can Help You in Your California DMV Case

Each case can present its own unique elements. Part of what can go into achieving a successful result is spotting those unique elements and using them to your advantage. Perhaps the police officer who encountered you did not do a proper job giving you a required admonition. Perhaps the officer did not even give you the admonition at all. All of these things can potentially be used to your benefit. An experienced San Francisco DMV attorney can advise and represent you in using your case’s facts to get your driving privileges back.

A case from Santa Clara County offers an example of how this can work. Police responded to a midnight single-vehicle accident. Once there, they found a badly damaged Porsche SUV and a driver exiting the vehicle who appeared to be “extremely unsteady on his feet.” The driver allegedly smelled like alcohol, had slurred speech, and seemed disoriented. The officer attempted to conduct a field sobriety test that involved asking the driver to follow the tip of his pen with his eyes, but the driver simply closed his eyes.

There are many good reasons to, as a driver whom the police potentially suspect of driving under the influence, refuse to participate in a field sobriety test. One of these reasons is that officers do not always perform the tests properly. An improperly conducted test can yield incorrectly skewed results. Once you participate, the officer can testify in court about his or her impression of your performance on the test.

The next step in the process is the preliminary alcohol screening. The driver refused to take this test either. When a driver refuses, the police officer is required to read an “admonition” that informs the driver of the potential consequences of refusing. The officer gave this driver the required admonition.

The driver furthermore told the officer that he would be refusing post-arrest chemical testing. The officer made a note of this declaration and planned to read the legally required admonition that informs drivers of the potential legal ramifications of refusing chemical testing, such as the loss of driving privileges.

The officer, though, never gave the admonition. As the process of arresting the driver and transporting him to jail transpired, the driver tried to escape his handcuffs, tried to kick out the rear window of the police vehicle, and began violently resisting the officers, who eventually put him in restraints. In all this flurry of activity, the officer never gave the driver the required admonition about refusing chemical testing.

These facts mattered because the DMV eventually suspended the driver’s driving privileges. The driver appealed that decision. He argued that all of his behavior was appropriately explainable:  he had acted disoriented and erratic because he hit his head in the crash, he had become claustrophobic in the back of the police vehicle, and the handcuffs were hurting his wrists.

The hearing officer concluded that the suspension should stand because the driver’s “unruly behavior” prevented the police from giving the chemical testing admonition. The Court of Appeal, however, ruled for the driver and ordered that the trial court restore the man’s driving privileges. The outcome was, in terms of the law, very straightforward. Even though the man’s unruly conduct was “totally unacceptable and created unnecessary risks for his own safety and that of the officers,” the law still required that the driver receive the chemical testing admonition. There is no exception in the law that says that the admonition is required unless the driver is behaving in an unruly fashion, in which case the officers may skip it. The admonition was required, and the officer didn’t give it, so the DMV could not suspend the driver’s license.

The skilled San Francisco DMV professionals at Uthman Law Office have been effectively helping our DMV clients for many years. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. Put our experience to work for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation to get the help you need.

More blog posts:

How a Lack of ‘Free and Voluntary’ Consent Can Help You Get Your Blood Test Results Thrown Out of Your California DUI Case, an Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, Feb. 27, 2018

The Risks You Take When You Handle Your DMV Driver’s License Suspension Case On Your Own Without a San Francisco Attorney, San Francisco Criminal Lawyer Blog, Feb. 16, 2018

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