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Is it Possible to be Extradited for a DUI?
Each state handles charges for driving under the influence. However, leaving a state after being charged with a DUI does not necessarily mean you will escape prosecution. This is because sometimes states can extradite you for DUI charges. Extradition is the process by which a person is arrested in one state to face charges in another. This can become a costly process and for this reason, most state court systems only pursue extradition proceedings in cases involving felony charges. It is important to note however, that there are some cases where individuals can be extradited on misdemeanor charges.
DUI Charges and Extradition in California
As aforementioned, felony charges are generally when states pursue extradition. While most DUI charges are commonly treated as misdemeanors, some DUI offenses in California are prosecuted as felonies. The court can use felony DUI charges to prosecute you if you committed at least four DUIs within a span of 10 years, the DUI accident you caused resulted in serious bodily harm, and/or if the DUI accident resulted in a death. Likewise, if you have received a felony DUI charge in the past, your new DUI will also be charged in California as a felony. Either of these alternatives could easily cause you to be extradited by the state to face charges.
You can still face serious consequences even if you are not extradited to face prosecution for a DUI in California. Even if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, your life will still be affected. In particular, California initiates an automatic license suspension when you are arrested for DUI that goes into effect within 30 days of your arrest. This still occurs even if your DUI case is dismissed by a judge. The only way to possibly stop this is by requesting a hearing within 10 days of your arrest. In the event that you fail to respond to the notice of the hearing, the California DMV will suspend your license for a minimum of four months and does not only apply in California, but across state lines.
If you fail to appear in court to address a DUI charge, a bench warrant for your arrest can be issued by the court. This has no statute of limitations so any return trip to California will come with the knowledge that every police officer will be able to identify you as a wanted individual and will likely arrest you immediately.
If you are aware of an outstanding DUI in California, it would be wise to seek legal counsel as opposed to waiting it out. Contacting a DUI attorney will place you in a much better position in regards to handling your pending charge. An experienced attorney can possibly negotiate for an alternative penalty that allows you to stay in your home state instead of returning to California to serve a jail sentence.
Chelsea Annmarie Stiles, 27, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter in a DUI crash that left an elderly man dead in 2019 in San Luis Obispo, California. This week, District Attorney Dan Dow announced that Stiles has been sentenced to serve 15 years and eight months in state prison.
In December 2020, the San Louis Obispo County jury convicted Stiles of numerous offenses. However, after several days of deliberation, the jury was initially unable to reach an unanimous verdict on the most serious charge—murder. Stiles was convicted of the following felonies: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence of a drug causing death, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon using an automobile, fleeing the scene of a vehicle collision causing injury, child abuse, and a misdemeanor possession of cocaine.
The deadly crash sequence occurred on December 1, 2019 at approximately 6:00 p.m. on Highway 227. According to investigative reports, Stiles, while under the influence of cocaine, seemingly lost control of her vehicle and rear-ended an automobile carrying a family of four at over 70 miles per hour, disabling the vehicle as a result. Moments later, Stiles inexplicably drove into the opposite lane and struck a 77-year-old San Luis Obispo man identified as Terry Tilton head on at 68 miles per hour. Unfortunately, the impact of collision was severe and killed Tilton instantly. Stiles’s 18-month old daughter and her two dogs were also in her vehicle at the time of both collisions.
Stiles suffered from moderate injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment along with her young daughter who thankfully only sustained minor injuries.
During trial, court testimonies suggested that prior to the deadly crash, Stiles cut her daughter’s scheduled visitation with the father short. The father told investigators that Stiles’ strangely aggressive behavior lead him to believe that she was under the influence of drugs.
A CHP officer Trevor Ashton testified that Stiles was generally incoherent as she was being transported into the ambulance. At the hospital, Stiles admitted to intentionally crashing her vehicle into the two cars she hit but gave no explanation as to why.
Whether a driver faces DUI charges in California or any other state, there is one potential consequence that is likely to be of concern to the person: incarceration. There is good reason for such concern: even a few days spent in jail can lead to a reduction in income or job loss. Not only this, but any time that a parent spends away from their child or that a spouse spends away from their partner can cause emotional hardship. All of this is on top of the harm to one’s reputation that might result from serving time for a DUI conviction.
First-Time DUIs Do Not Usually Lead to Jail Time
A person is unlikely to face jail time for their first DUI conviction. While the maximum sentence for a first-time DUI includes six months in jail, this outcome is not likely in many cases. Most first-time DUI offers include a period of three years of informal probation, approximately $2,000 in fines and fees, a 3-month DUI program, the MADD VIP program, and restitution if there was a collision.
Drivers convicted of their first DUI and whose cases involving aggravating factors are more likely to face jail time. Such factors can include:
· Causing injuries
· Excessive speeding
· Reckless driving
· Driving on a suspended license
· Having a blood- or breath-alcohol concentration that is significantly higher than the legal limit.
Thus, drivers convicted of their first DUI may need not worry about having to serve jail time. Instead, they will likely placed on a period of informal probation. If there are aggravating factors involved, however, then the driver faces a greater risk of incarceration
Once a person is convicted of a subsequent DUI in California within a 10 year period, courts are required to sentence the person to some period of incarceration. Under these circumstances, it becomes even more important to challenge the prosecution’s case. There are several areas where the prosecutor’s case may be vulnerable:
· Lack of evidence of essential elements: The prosecution must be able to prove that the defendant was driving a vehicle. If there are no witnesses who saw the person driving and there is little circumstantial evidence suggesting the person drove a vehicle, the prosecutor may not be able to win their case.
· Suppressed breath or blood test results: If law enforcement officers did not follow the proper steps in collecting, preserving, and testing a person’s breath or blood sample, then a court may rule that any results obtained from testing of those samples are to be suppressed (kept out of court). Test results may also be suppressed if they were obtained in violation of the person’s constitutional rights. Without being able to present test results showing the driver’s blood or breath alcohol concentration, the prosecutor may lack the evidence they need to show the person was impaired at the time they were driving a vehicle.
· Inaccurate or inconclusive breath or blood test results: There are a number of reasons why a breath testing machine may not give an accurate result, especially if the driver has an underlying medical condition or follows a ketogenic diet. Similarly, a blood sample may not be suitable for testing if the individual who collected the sample did not follow the proper protocol in collecting, storing, or analyzing the sample.
· No evidence of prior convictions: If the prosecutor is alleging that a person charged with DUI has one or more prior convictions, then the prosecution must be prepared to present evidence of those prior convictions. An erroneous entry on a person’s driving history or criminal record that cannot be substantiated may mean the difference between a second DUI conviction and mandatory jail time and a first DUI conviction and informal probation.
Drivers Charged With A DUI Should Seek Legal Assistance
While a first-time DUI will most likely not lead to incarceration, there are no guarantees. Even a person’s first DUI conviction, when accompanied by a high BAC, a collision involving injury, and/or other aggravating factors, may result in a jail sentence. Motorists with subsequent convictions within a 10 year period will face incarceration. Therefore, any individual who is facing a California DUI charge and who is concerned about incarceration should speak with an experienced California DUI defense lawyer about their case as soon as possible.
Low-carb diets -such as the Atkins diet or the Ketogenic diet- have been around for decades. Nonetheless, this type of diet can cause problems for California drivers. It may cause a breath test provided by a California driver who was pulled over or arrested on suspicion of a DUI to falsely show the presence of alcohol – even if the driver had not consumed any alcohol that day.
Here’s how: A low-carb diet deprives the body of glucose, an important source of fuel for the body. In the absence of this source of fuel, the body turns to its fat for fuel. The process of turning fat into fuel produces ketones. When the body produces ketones and uses them for fuel, the body is in a state of ketosis. When the body is in a state of ketosis, ketones can be detected in that person’s breath. (This explains the bad breath that some report while on a low-carb diet). These ketones have a chemical composition similar to isopropyl alcohol. Many breathalyzer testing devices cannot distinguish between isopropyl alcohol molecules and ethyl alcohol molecules. As such, a breath testing machine used in a DUI investigation may falsely detect the presence of alcohol simply because the suspect is on a low-carb diet.
It is doubtful that the amount of ketones in anyone’s breath could be sufficient to result in a breath test result showing a blood alcohol concentration at or greater than the .08% legal limit without the person having had consumed some alcohol. However, a person who would have otherwise been below the .08% legal limit may end up with a breath test result at or greater than the legal limit if that person is in ketosis. For example, someone who is in ketosis and has a true blood alcohol concentration of .06% could potentially register at 0.08% or more.
California Vehicle Code 23612(a)(2)(A) allows drivers arrested for suspicion of a DUI to choose between submitting to a breath test or a blood test. Unless the chosen test is not available, the officer must perform the test selected by the driver. Drivers on a low-carb diet may want to avoid submitting to the breath test to avoid being stuck with a false positive result.
Any driver arrested for a DUI should immediately hire an attorney. If you are on a low-carb diet, it is crucial that you tell your attorney.
Drivers who are pulled over and placed under arrest for driving under the influence will likely be required to submit to one or more chemical tests. These tests are designed to detect whether the driver has alcohol or drugs in their systems and in what quantity. The results of these chemical tests often form the backbone of a prosecutor’s case against a driver. For example, a chemical test showing a driver’ breath- or blood-alcohol concentration to be greater than .08 may be the central piece of evidence a prosecutor relies on in pursuing charges against a motorist.
Prosecutors and police officers alike want drivers and jurors to believe these chemical tests are “scientific” and “foolproof.” The truth about chemical testing in California, though, is more complicated.
Breath testing on a breathalyzer machine, such as the “Intoxilyzer,” is by far the most common chemical testing requested because the testing process itself is relatively quick to perform and because it does not require someone with medical knowledge or training to assist in collecting the sample. In a breath test, the driver blows into a tube connected to the testing machine. The machine collects a sample of the person’s breath and then analyzes that sample using infrared energy and approximates the person’s alcohol concentration.
This breathalyzer chemical test is not to be confused with the roadside breathalyzer, or “Preliminary Alcohol Screening” (PAS) test that officers use when they suspect a driver is intoxicated. In California, a chemical test is required, but only after a person has been lawfully arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. The roadside breathalyzer is not a “chemical test” in that it is not required, and considered a “field sobriety test,” which are optional.
A blood test is another chemical test that may be performed during a DUI investigation. Blood tests are often considered the most reliable of the three types of chemical tests. A blood sample is drawn from the driver and is then sealed and delivered to a laboratory. At that facility, a forensic scientist analyzes the blood sample using specialized equipment to determine the alcohol concentration in the person’s blood. Despite the testing and analysis occurring in a laboratory facility, there are still opportunities for errors to occur that might render the results unreliable. Samples of blood that are not packaged properly, that are drawn too long after officers see the driver operating their car, or that are tested using defective equipment may all provide inaccurate blood alcohol content results.
Urine tests are considered the least reliable of all of the chemical tests and are usually reserved for cases where the driver is suspected of being under the influence. The machines used to evaluate the urine of DUI suspects, for example, often confuses the chemical compounds of different drugs, cannot tell when the drugs were used, nor can it tell how intoxicated someone is. Fortunately, urine tests, by law, are not to be used in California as a chemical test unless both a breath test and a blood test are unavailable, which in most jurisdictions, is highly unlikely.
Which Chemical Test Should a California Driver Take?
According to California Vehicle Code 23612(a)(2)(A), drivers who are lawfully arrested on suspicion of having driven under the influence of alcohol are to be informed by the officer that the driver may choose whether to submit to a breath test or a blood test. The driver’s choice is to be honored unless the driver is unable to complete their chosen test. As stated above, only if both a breath test and a blood test are unavailable should a urine test be used.
Refusing to submit to any chemical test can have serious and negative consequences for a person’s driving privileges. Choosing to take a breath or a blood test should be made after considering the facts of the situation. While blood tests are generally more reliable, they may also be able to detect the presence of drugs in the driver’s system. Thus, if someone consumed any drugs but little or no alcohol, it may be better for them to request a breath test be performed. In addition, those laboratories who perform testing on a driver’s blood sample must preserve a sufficient amount of the sample so that the driver may obtain an independent analysis of the sample. This is known as a “blood split,” and the driver obtains the sample for independent testing through a court order.
Breath testing does not provide a driver with a sample that can be independently tested, but the problems associated with breath testing machines tend to be more significant and numerous. Thus, if a person believes they are close to or under the legal limit, a breath test result may be easier to challenge in court.
Chemical Testing is Not Dispositive in a California DUI Case
Even though law enforcement officers and prosecutors would have drivers believe otherwise, the results of a chemical test – whether a breath, blood, or urine test – are not beyond questioning. In fact, the quality of any chemical test result depends on a myriad of factors, including:
- Whether the sample was timely collected and collected in a safe and careful manner;
- Whether steps were taken to prevent contamination of the sample;
- Whether the sample was appropriately stored prior to testing;
- Whether the person analyzing the sample was adequately trained on the testing equipment and protocols;
- Whether the testing equipment was working properly or if there were unaddressed errors in the machinery’s code or parts
- Whether a proper observation period (if applicable) was observed to ensure the person did not belch, vomit, or put anything in their mouth before giving a breath sample
A California defense attorney with experience defending drivers from drunk driving charges can examine the facts of a particular DUI investigation and know how best to attack the chemical testing results. Samples that were collected after an unlawful arrest, that were not collected in accordance with protocols, or that were not appropriately analyzed may all be subject to suppression.