Halloween DUI Driving Under the Influence in Ventura County

by Jennifer Zide - Attorney

November 1st, 2013

As we venture out in Ventura County this Halloween, whether as a werewolf drinking pina coladas at Trader Vics (his hair SO perfect), a singing princess warding off zombie attack, or a practically pristine Snow White, we can all find ourselves in a precarious position – one drink too many or a ghoulish crowd can turn even the most sugar-coated scene into something spooky. Common scenarios you might unintentionally find yourselves in this Halloween: ( 1 ) overdose on “mini” candy bars since they are not “real” candy impairs your judgment, leading to yet more risky business and lapses in judgment, such as talking to tall, dark and handsome fanged strangers or holding an unknown, extremely hyper ghoul’s purse (later subject to search) while she does the time warp again; ( 2 ) tiny princess costume and/or tutu that would only fit a min pin (that’s miniature pinscher to those not in the know) gets impossibly mini as the night progresses, attracting more attention to your candy-impaired state, while impossibly high heels make you look like you are weaving and unsteady on your feet; ( 3 ) hanging out with the “wrong” crowd of ghouls downtown, drinking not fully understood brightly colored potions, rushing to get home before midnight, your coach turns back into a pumpkin, a.k.a. you are stopped by law enforcement; ( 4 ) in case you are having a real bad night,you accidentally mistake the real officer for someone in an officer costume,resist his attempts to arrest you and/or search your “goodie bag” without probable cause, and, following best princess etiquette, inform him politely that he is “not a very nice officer”. Yes, the night could have gone better but the worst part of it is that you, an inoffensive soul who was only one small step away from wearing an angel costume tonight, are now under arrest. This Halloween, even an innocent ghoul could get herself into a lot of trouble.

 

SO… what do you do when you don’t get home before midnight?

 

Even an innocent ghoul could be mistakenly arrested for driving under the influence. For example, many of the common symptoms that officers are trained to look for when they first interact with you – odor of alcohol, red watery eyes, slurred speech – are not clear evidence of impairment. Even if you have an odor of alcohol on your breath, it does not mean that you are at .08% or higher blood alcohol content or that your ability to drive is impaired. Similarly, red watery eyes may strongly suggest a very tired ghoul, not an alcohol-infused one. And frankly, any red-eyed devil in a blue dress could look a bit blurry over Denny’s pancakes at 3 a.m.. It is possible that the use of jedi mind tricks, in which you assure the officer that he doesn’t need to see your identification and that you are not doing anything wrong, may not always work. This may be especially true, depending on your costume. In that case, you must resort to your criminal defense attorney to make that same point, while wielding reasonable doubt like a light saber (blasters are far too clumsy). Much of the evidence that officers are trained to collect in their investigation is open to one of two reasonable interpretations – one that points to guilt and the other to innocence. This is called “circumstantial evidence”. Your criminal defense attorney will bring to life the innocent explanations like a fairy godmother brings sparkling possibility to our apparent everyday, delve into areas of reasonable doubt like Indiana Jones digging for the Ark of the Covenant, and be there for you like a five-year-old keeping watch over his bag of good chocolate (not the “filler”, which is a cheat and a lie, but that’s a whole other discussion).

 

There are likely other areas of reasonable doubt in any good ghoul’s case. A ghoul rushing home before the witching hour may be speeding,but is that a “driving pattern” that suggests impairment in the same way as weaving? When it comes to confronting the blood alcohol test result, clients often see the numbers as an impending tide of zombies piling up on the other side of a collapsing fence. However, the final outcome is not yet determined. Under what circumstances was the sample obtained? Did the officer follow all proper procedures that are in place in an attempt to insure a reliable test result?Are there any issues of sample contamination? Are there any reasons to believe that the test result shown may be open to question? All these are important questions to explore and so uncover, under it all, the truth. The truth is there, like that one Snickers hidden at the bottom of a trick or treat plastic pumpkin even though all you can see is a hundred bazooka or those rolls that pretend to be tootsie rolls.  

 

Drinking pattern issues may also be lurking in your Driving Under the Influence case this Halloween. In a common Halloween scenario, officers will stop a client very soon after leaving an apparent drinking establishment. In that case, if the client was drinking right up until the time he left, there may be a question as to whether his blood alcohol content at the time of driving was, in fact, at .08% blood alcohol content. This could be the case even when a client’s test result taken, for example, fifteen to twenty minutes after the time of observed driving, is above a .08% blood alcohol content. With the help of your criminal defense attorney, who understands that ghouls are sometimes not all that ghoulish after all, only misunderstood based on first appearances, you can toss water on that evil witch of a case and watch it melt. As Cinderella reminds us, even if you only get one dance, you lose a really cute shoe, your ride turns into a pumpkin, you don’t get home before midnight,and you’re pretty sure you’ll never see that hot prince again… there is always –out there somewhere – a happy ending. That’s what criminal defense attorneys are for. Bibidi-Bobidi-Boo.