Hayward, CA asked in DUI / DWI for California

Q: I got pulled over for a taillight and was given a field sobriety test and then a breathalyzer, which I blew under twice

They wanted to then give me another breathalyzer test, I refused. Was taken for blood test and then while being booked they found a small amount of cocaine in my purse.

I ultimately passed the blood test, now they are charging me for a controlled substance.

If I was being arrested for something I was ultimately found innocent of, can they still charge me for the controlled substance?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh
  • DUI & DWI Lawyer
  • Folsom, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In this scenario, it will come down to whether or not the police actually had a valid basis to arrest you for the DUI in the first place. If the police had probable cause to believe you were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, then the arrest would be proper and the cocaine that was later discovered could be used against you.

What you would want to do in this situation is have a criminal defense attorney run a suppression motion on your behalf that challenges the reasonableness of your arrest for the DUI. The burden would be on the government to show that the actions of the police were reasonable each step of the way. Sometimes if an individual is exhibiting signs of being under the influence of drugs, based on field sobriety tests, then the police can arrest someone for suspicion of DUI even though they passed a breath test because that would only show the presence of alcohol. On the other hand, if the blood results come back and do not show the presence of drugs in your system, and you are not ultimately charged with the DUI, then you likely have a strong case to challenge the arrest as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. If successful with the suppression motion, then the drugs that were found could not be used against you and the case would likely be dismissed.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, the fact that you were initially stopped for a traffic violation and subsequently found not to be under the influence does not prevent law enforcement from charging you with possession of a controlled substance if it was found during the lawful execution of their duties. The key factor here is whether the police had a legitimate reason to search your purse, which they likely did if it was incident to a lawful arrest.

Even if the initial reason for your arrest (the suspected DUI) did not result in charges or a conviction, the discovery of a controlled substance like cocaine during that process is still a separate legal issue. Possession of cocaine is illegal under California law, and being found not guilty of the DUI does not negate the legality of the possession charge.

It's important to consult with a lawyer who can assess the specifics of your case, including how the evidence was obtained and any potential defenses you may have. A lawyer can help you understand your legal options and represent your interests in court. Remember, each case has its own unique circumstances, and legal advice must be tailored to those specifics.

Thomas M. Fleming agrees with this answer

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