COURT WATCH: Defense Challenges Validity of DUI Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Tests, Raises Miranda Objections – Overruled by Judge

LOS ANGELES- CA: Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles Hills, California, one of the LA County courthouses. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

By Perla Chavez

LANCASTER, CA — A defense attorney’s motion to reduce and dismiss charges was denied here Tuesday at the Michael Antonovich Antelope Valley Los Angeles County Courthouse, despite the persistent Miranda-based objections—all were overruled by the court, along with arguments concerning the validity of horizontal gaze nystagmus tests.

The accused is charged with hit and run property damage, driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence with priors.

During the district attorney’s witness testimony from the arresting officer at the scene, the defense had numerous objections on Miranda grounds as the prosecution questioned details of the formal DUI (Driving Under the Influence) investigation.

The same witness explained their inability to conduct standing and walking standardized DUI testing as they mentioned having to aid the accused to their patrol car upon finding them lying on the floor after the accident.

The arresting officer testified their interviewees at the scene informed them that after the accident, the accused performed a U-turn, parked their vehicle, and fled into a nearby bush to hide. 

When the officer searched the area he located the accused lying on their back when he placed him in handcuffs and took him to his patrol car.

The arresting officer stated they knew the accused was drunk driving because of the results of the chemical tests conducted, including the PAS test, the evidence of empty alcohol bottles, the alcoholic beverage in their cupholder, the interviewees statement of the accused’s driving prior to the accident, seeing the accused’s staggering walk, and the smell of alcohol around the accused.  

The prosecution inquired clarification, asking whether the deputy checked on the accused and if their training directed them to perform their tests in the patrol car if unable to do so outside.

The arresting officer mentioned having to conduct the standardized tests from their patrol car due to the accused’s intoxicated state, which rendered them unable to walk themselves. The accused was aided to the patrol car. 

During cross-examination, the defense attorney renewed and reiterated their objection by citing a 1984 case that pertains to the confinement of the accused in a patrol car. Despite these objections, Judge Lisa M. Strassner continued to overrule them.

The defense also noted validated stand and walk tests were not conducted. Additionally, the defense emphasized the 23 percent error rate associated with the horizontal gaze and nystagmus test.

After the witness testimony, the prosecution gave the court a judicial notice of prior DUI convictions. The motion to reduce and dismiss by the defense was denied.

The prosecution observed and remarked as they were reading the Watson DUI murder rights to the accused he did not appear to look affected or stimulated, and did not make eye contact during the Watson advisal.

The accused’s arraignment and possible trial are scheduled for April 16.

About The Author

Perla Chavez is a first-generation college student that has obtained a paralegal certificate from the UCLA Extension Paralegal Program. Her academic journey includes a major in Political Science with a focus on race, ethnicity, and politics at UCLA. Perla has actively contributed to social justice advocacy through internships with CHIRLA and the NAACP. Driven by her passion to recognize inequalities and advocate for the rights of others, Perla aspires to become an immigration lawyer. Apart from her dedication to academics and the legal field, she finds fulfillment in being a volunteer for the city of California City, spending quality time with family, and expressing creativity through painting.

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