I got a Not Guilty verdict on a DUI case in Van Nuys yesterday. The jury trial lasted over one week and was an important verdict for my client as a conviction would have caused major problems for him professionally.
The case involved a stop at a sobriety checkpoint. The investigating officer claimed that my client had failed to stop when required to do so and that he had appeared confused, presenting a credit card when the officer asked for his license. My client was required to perform field sobriety tests and according to the officer, showed symptoms of impairment including bad balance and an inability to follow instructions. My client then gave a breath test with a reading of .00 indicating no measureable quantity of alcohol in his system even though he had admitted to drinking one beer.
However, my client also admitted to taking medication including cymbalta, lamictal and adderall. The officer, who was qualified as a drug recognition expert, then had my client perform a second battery of tests and a DRE evaluation. At the end of this contact, the officer determined that my client was under the influence of a CNS depressant and a urine sample was taken. The urine sample tested positive for amphetamines (present in adderall) and was later re-tested for cymbalta and lamictal with both drugs found to be present in the urine sample.
The defendant was offered an "exhibition of speed" in pre-trial negotiations, but stuck to his conviction that he was not guilty and rejected the offer.
At the jury trial, I was able to discredit the officer's DRE qualifications and pointed out all of the instructions that the defendant followed successfully during field sobriety tests. It was not in dispute that the defendant had taken the three drugs complained of, but his Psychiatrist testified that he had not observed any impairment or side effects and that the defendant had been taking this medication under his supervision for five years.