Van Nuys DUI Defense
Many people charged with a DUI in Los Angeles expect that obtaining a copy of the police report and results of any blood or breath test is a simple and quick matter. This is not the case. There are rules of evidence that the police agency, the court and the DMV follow in determining what should be made available to a defendant and his or her attorney. Rules of discovery are governed by Penal Code Section 1054. This section states that the prosecuting agency should disclose to the defendant or his attorney a list of information including statements of witnesses and any other exculpatory evidence. However, it does not say when this material should be made available.
Generally, a copy of the arrest or police report and information about any blood or breath test results is made available at the first court appearance, called the arraignment. The arresting agency sends a copy of the report to the prosecuting agency which files the report with the court. The court copies the report for defense counsel.
However, the police report does not include all the information necessary to defend the case. It is also necessary to follow up with a written discovery request for calibration and maintenance logs for the breath machine, or a copy of the blood "run" and calibration records for the instrument used to analyze the blood sample. Often there is video or audio tape evidence that should be requested.
I received a letter from the City Prosecutor in Van Nuys today in response to my discovery request for the logs on the PAS and Breath Machines in my client's case. This is information we are entitled to. However, the letter indicated that the information would not be provided until a trial date is set. Why not give it to us now so that we can decide if we want to go to trial? The answer is simply that they expect most people to plead guilty and do not wish to expend time on cases that do not go to trial. The discovery rules do not help me to obtain the information now, so I guess I'll be setting all cases for trial in Van Nuys. If all Van Nuys DUI Lawyers did this, I think the policy would change fairly quickly.
Trying to navigate the legal system wihout an attorney is not sensible, yet I am often asked the question "Do I really need an attorney?" It's hard to know where to begin with that question sometimes, but even though I am a DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles, I would hire an attorney if I was arrested for a DUI.....just don't ask me who that would be.