Driving Under the Influence: NOT GUILTY
The client was driving home from a bar with her husband. The client was the designated driver, and the bar was located about one mile from the couple’s house. The police had parked outside the bar and were watching for anyone who left and then got in the car to drive. The police followed the vehicle, and even though no traffic violation occurred, the police decided to pull the car over. Despite no traffic violation having taken place, the officers stated in their reports that the client had run a stop sign.
The police pulled the car over directly in front of the school where the client worked. Once the police were made aware of this, they refused to move across the street to conduct the rest of the investigation. The client was forced to do the field sobriety tests (FSTs) on the slanted sidewalk right in front of the school. The officer’s body-worn camera captured the investigation, and it showed the client was nearly perfect on the FSTs.
Despite this, the officer wrote down that she failed. Under vehicle code 23152 (a), the officer then told the client she was under arrest, and he demanded a breath or blood sample. The client was then thrown in the back of the police car. The back of the police car was covered with the blood of a prior detainee. The arresting officer had forgotten to inspect his vehicle. When the client got out of the police car, she had another person’s blood all over her dress and body. The police did not mention this in the reports.
Once Mr. Griffin was retained, he immediately issued DMV subpoenas to the officers. One reason to force an officer to testify at the DMV is that they do not have a prosecutor protecting them during a DMV hearing, and they generally do not understand the purpose of certain questions. The testimony at the DMV hearing is under oath, and it was recorded. This recorded testimony can then be used in trial or at a suppression hearing in court. That was exactly what took place in this case. Mr. Griffin was able to lock the officers into damaging testimony that he would later use in court.
Once the jury trial started, the prosecutor was unaware of how many traps Mr. Griffin had already laid, and the prosecutor and officers stepped in nearly every one of them. First, the officer testified at trial that he knew nothing about the blood incident, but then Mr. Griffin confronted him with his DMV testimony, where he described the blood incident in great detail and remarked that he felt really bad about it. This came off as a clear lie to the jury.
Second, the officer was confronted with his testimony and the body-worn camera that showed the client passing the FSTs. Mr. Griffin broke down each and every portion of the police report, where the officer marked the client off for a mistake. The cross-examination showed conclusively that the officer embellished in his report to make the client look guilty.
Finally, the officer attempted to testify that the 15-minute observation period was followed. Unfortunately for the officer, Mr. Griffin had already locked him into a very specific timeline at the DMV hearing. Mr. Griffin was then able to show that the officer’s trial testimony was completely different than his testimony at the DMV hearing. The jury was left with one reasonable explanation: The officer did not comply with the 15-minute observation period and attempted to hide that fact from the jury.
Even though the client’s BAC was .10, the jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY. The client was able to keep her job, and the arresting officer ended up being reprimanded for his action investigating the case and at trial.