Defense Makes Strong Points in DUI Motion to Dismiss, but Judge Sets Matter for Trial Despite Officer Mistakes

By S. Priana Aquino

FRESNO, CA – A man here Friday seemed to make some strong points in his pre-trial hearing for a driving under the influence charge when the judge agreed there were deficiencies in the arresting officer’s reporting, but the court denied the man’s motion to suppress, and the matter is going to trial in Fresno County Superior Court.

*Note the Vanguard does not usually identify those accused of non-felonies.

Police Officer Victor Perez testified that on May 31, 2021, he saw a dark green Ford Ranger driving at high speed at an intersection in Fresno County.

Perez stated the vehicle, which he alleged the accused was driving, was traveling much faster than the traffic with it, and faster than the posted speed limit of 45 miles-per-hour.

Perez also informed the court the taillights of the vehicle “were not bright red as regulated.” Perez also testified that the defendant had hit their brakes multiple times, and he couldn’t see their taillight turning red as it should, in violation of the law.

In response to seeing these multiple code violations, Officer Perez said he tried to get behind the vehicle, but the driver swerved into the center median and continued to drive into a parking lot. Perez testified that the driver did not use his blinker to turn into the parking lot, which was also another code violation.

After the driver pulled up halfway into a parking stall, Perez said he conducted a traffic stop to investigate a possible driving under the influence violation

The defense asked if the officer had clocked the vehicle’s speed on radar. “You didn’t make an estimation of what that high rate was?” asked the defense. Perez responded no.

The defense also pointed out that the median lane the driver had gone into was the correct lane for turning left into the parking lot, and that he had immediately turned left after entering the middle lane.

“You’re trained to write police reports, correct?” asked the defense. “You’re trained to write full reports, accurate reports, include every relevant detail?” Perez answered yes to all of the defense’s questions.

“But you did not include in your report that (the driver) did not use his turn signal,” stated the defense. “You didn’t find that to be relevant?” Perez also responded, yes.

The defense argued the California code never specified that lights needed to be on during the day, and that since Perez conducted his DUI investigation during light hours, this would mean it is not a violation.

The defense also stated that Perez made a vague estimation about the speed at which the accused was driving, especially since he was unable to get a speed reading on radar.

“Without anything further, there is no constant evidence that (the accused) was driving faster than the speed limit., and there is no other testimony that states (the accused) was creating any more danger due to the speed,” argued the defense.

To this, the prosecution noted “if an officer has any suspicion based on the totality of the circumstances that any violation occurs even if the officer was mistaken, reasonable suspicion is an objective determination based on the facts that are available.”

The defense further argued that, though Perez testified that he usually included all details in his report, he did fail to include things in his report.

Upon consideration, Judge William Terrence ruled he found the witness officer credible, and that the swerving was a fact omitted from the officer’s report.

Judge Terrence also explained that he had reviewed the code section and it did not appear there was a violation of the code relating to taillights.

But Judge Terrence announced he would deny the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence in this case.

The DUI trial is set for April 5.

About The Author

S. Priana Aquino is a rising Senior at the University of San Francisco, majoring in Business with minors in Legal Studies and Public Service & Community Engagement. Upon graduation, she hopes to attend law school and continue her work in uplifting and advocating for communities of color.

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