Riverside and San Bernardino DUI Defense Attorney Manuel J. Barba understands what you are now going through with your DUI arrest.

When you get a DUI, it's normal to feel confused, ashamed, afraid, and angry.

But there’s hope. DUI cases are very defensible. You may not be aware that:

DUI Charges can be dismissed.

How you may be asking? Remember DUI is a crime based on opinion. The arresting officer formed an opinion that you did something wrong and that is why he stopped you. The arresting officer formed an opinion that you did not perform the Field Sobriety Tests correctly (they usually always do). The arresting officer formed an opinion that you were “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs. A crime lab technician formed the opinion that the chemical test was accurate and reliable. But these are all just opinions. An experienced DUI defense attorney can show that these opinions may not be accurate.

Field sobriety tests are rarely reliable.

Law enforcement officers use Field Sobriety Tests so that they can “form the opinion” that the driver did not perform the tests correctly, and therefore the driver is “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs. The problem is most Cops don’t administer Field Sobriety Tests correctly, therefore the Cop’s conclusions mean very little. Only an attorney that is an expert in Field Sobriety Tests can show that the Cop administered the tests incorrectly. Attorney Manuel J. Barba is a nationally recognized Standardized Field Sobriety Test Instructor and is an expert on field sobriety test evaluations.

Chemical tests are not always accurate.

The tests for alcohol, drugs, or medication are very complex and errors often occur.

It is not as simple as just blowing into a machine or having a blood or urine sample taken from a driver. The sciences behind breath testing, and blood or urine sample analysis are very complex; there are many factors that affect the accuracy and reliability of the alleged results. Many lawyers that pretend to defend people accused of DUI do not have the knowledge and expertise to successfully challenge the chemical test results - so they simply plead their clients guilty in court. Attorney Manuel J. Barba has been awarded the Forensic Lawyer-Scientist designation from the American Chemical Society - Chemistry and Law Division and is an expert in the sciences behind the chemical tests. With this knowledge he can evaluate and attack the accuracy and reliability of the alleged chemical test results.

Call now for free consultation. Financing available.

DUI Defense Attorney Manuel J. Barba provides you with expert DUI defense representation and fights hard to get you the best result. The Law Offices of Manuel J. Barba defends clients in all courts throughout Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial Counties, as well as parts of Orange and Los Angeles Counties. Attorney Barba has successfully defended thousands of DUI cases, resulting in DISMISSALS, CHARGES REDUCED, and found NOT GUILTY after a jury trial, along with NO SUSPENSION of driving privilege.

The Law Offices of Manuel J. Barba has a near perfect record of getting the DUI charge dismissed.

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“When I got arrested that evening it was bewildering to me because I hadn’t done anything wrong. As far as I know I was not intoxicated.”

“I was kind of wandering around in the dark not knowing which direction to go and Manuel Barba was the one to turn on the lights and showed me the right way.”

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“The police got me and I felt like no way. I never had not even a ticket for speeding.”

“That he was like my father with me. Protecting me. And helping me when no one does.”

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“I truly believe this can happen to anyone. I don’t know where I’d be without the help of Manuel Barba.”

"When we first take a case the most important thing that I want to find out is my client’s story of what happened. I want to find out who that person is because this is the person that we’re going to fight for, to represent them and make sure their rights are defended, and to force the government to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt." — Manuel J. Barba

DUI’s are a political crime. The goal is to convict people — even good people — that have probably never been arrested before in their life.

I have represented police officers, firemen, ambulance drivers, teachers, clients in almost every walk of life and these people are terrified now that they find themselves being under the weight of the government and the prosecutor who are trying to convict them of a crime. And that’s why I feel these people need my expertise to help them and defend them in these cases.

I’m attorney Manuel Barba. I practice DUI defense exclusively. I am a lawyer scientist designated by the American Chemical Society, Chemistry and Law Division. I’ve done a lot of training with regard to breath testing, DUI investigation, chemical testing, how blood is analyzed: so, the science behind the DUI - that’s where my expertise lies and that’s why I only do DUI defense.

I find it an honor to represent my clients who are the underdog in these cases because the government has a lot of power. So I become the buffer between the government and my client.

What Happens During a Typical DUI Investigation?

A DUI investigation begins when a police officer comes in contact with a citizen. Cops are trained to watch for unusual driving behaviors suggesting intoxication by alcohol, marijuana, drugs, or prescription medication. For instance, a DUI driver may drive erratically, may weave between lanes, may straddle driving lanes, may make wrong turns, may fail to properly stop, or may fail to use turn signals. By observing various clues, an officer may come to the conclusion that a driver violated a vehicle code section and that the driver may be showing signs of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, a drug, marijuana, or prescription medication.

If the officer believes that a driver has violated the law and shows signs of DUI, there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred and will now attempt to stop the driver by maneuvering behind the suspected DUI driver and turning on the patrol car’s red-blue lights. The officer will give the stop command and require the driver to pull over to the side of the road.

Once the stop command is given, the officer looks for a few key signals:

  1. Does the driver fail to notice the red-blue lights or does the driver respond immediately and pull to the side of the road?
  2. Does the driver brake or change lanes erratically or does the driver make safe lane changes?
  3. Does the driver fail to use turn signals or does the driver use turn signals safely?
  4. Does the driver pull to the right and hit the curb or does the driver come to a safe stop without hitting the curb?

These factors reveal to the officer whether there is a reasonable suspicion that a driver may be driving under the influence.

An expert DUI defense lawyer can analyze the officer’s initial observations when defending a client that has been arrested for DUI. Often times there is a video recording, also referred to as a Dashcam video, showing how the driver performed before, during, and after the red-blue lights were activated. These are all important factors in defending a person arrested for DUI.

What Does the Officer Look for?

Once the suspected DUI driver brings his/her car to a complete stop, the officer is trained to approach the car using caution, as officer safety is always the priority. At night the officer may flood the driver’s car interior with light by pointing the patrol car’s spot lights at the driver’s car. The purpose is to see what’s happening inside the car, and in essence to blind the driver and the car’s other occupants so that they cannot see the officer’s approach. It should be noted, however, that this does not happen during all enforcement stops.

The officer walks up to the car and may knock on the driver’s window if it hasn’t been rolled down already. The officer will usually ask questions such as:

  1. Where are you coming from?
  2. Where are you going to?
  3. Have you had any alcohol to drink?

The officer will also ask for the driver’s registration documents, proof of insurance, and driver license. The officer may even tell the driver why he/she stopped the driver, but not always.

During this “personal contact” segment of the DUI investigation, the officer is trained to observe and gather evidence about the suspected driver: the sights, the smells, and the sounds. The officer documents the following during initial contact:

  1. The sights: an open container, empty beer cans, a pipe used to smoke marijuana or some other drug paraphernalia.
  2. The sounds: driver’s slurs speech while speaking, disrespectful or abusive language while the driver appears agitated.
  3. The smells: odor of an alcoholic beverage or marijuana.

The officer will usually ask the driver to step out of the vehicle and will study the driver’s movement carefully while exiting the vehicle and walking to the curb:

  1. Does the driver lose balance while getting out of the car?
  2. Does the driver lean against the car or touch the car with one hand to maintain balance?
  3. Does the driver walk in an unsteady manner to the sidewalk?

Most patrol cars are equipped with video cameras that record how the driver behaves during the exit sequence. This is important evidence that can be used in defending a driver that has been arrested for DUI in Riverside or San Bernardino.

An expert DUI defense lawyer should analyze the officer’s observations during the personal contact and exit sequence. It’s not always what the officer writes in the arrest report that is most important; often times it’s what the officer failed to include in the arrest report that can suggest that the driver was not under the influence.

Field Sobriety Tests

The next segment of the DUI investigation is the administration of field sobriety tests. These tests are essentially roadside gymnastics that an officer asks a driver to perform to see if the driver is under the influence. These tests can consist of following the officer’s finger with the eyes only; walking a number of heel to toe steps with arms at the sides while counting steps out loud; and lifting one leg off the ground about six inches while counting to thirty out loud.

All tests have one thing in common: the tests DO NOT tell if a person is under the influence. After the officer asks the driver to get out of the car, the officer will ask the driver a series of pre-field sobriety test questions as part of the DUI investigation.

There are a number of reasons the officer asks these questions:

  1. First, the officer is gathering evidence about the driver.
  2. Second, the officer is trying to determine if the driver is physically impaired, such as a cast or brace, that might affect a driver’s ability to perform field sobriety tests.
  3. Third, the officer is gathering incriminating statements as to whether the driver drank alcohol, smoked marijuana, ingested drugs, or took prescription medications before driving the car.
  4. Fourth, by asking these questions, this gives the officer the opportunity to see if the driver is showing mental impairment: could alcohol, marijuana, drugs, or prescription medication be affecting comprehension, speech, eye contact, or facial expressions? In other words, did the driver understand the question that was asked? Did the driver answer each question appropriately? And could the officer make sense of each of the driver’s answers?

It should be noted that a driver – as does every citizen - has a Fifth Amendment right under the United States Constitution to remain silent and not answer any of the officer’s questions. As an attorney, I advise all clients that they should never answer any questions without having a lawyer of their choice present.

Field sobriety tests are pseudo-scientific at best, but more importantly the tests are unnatural movements that few persons can perform to the satisfaction of an investigating officer. The intent of these tests is for the driver to fail. No driver is obligated to perform these tests; they are completely voluntary. Few cops, unfortunately, will tell a driver that they are voluntary. Instead, an officer gives instructions like, “I’d like you to do follow my finger,” and the driver cooperates hoping to avoid being arrested. In truth, the officer will arrest the driver anyway.

As an attorney, I advise all clients that they should never agree to perform any field sobriety tests since they are completely voluntary.

Seldom does an officer record the field sobriety test on camera. If the case goes to trial, the officer will testify that the driver failed the tests without any documented proof. The bottom line is that these field sobriety tests are extremely subjective and the officer’s interpretation of the driver’s performance will seem more convincing. Therefore, if a driver elects not to perform the tests, the officer can never declare that the driver failed the tests.

Another problem is that most officers fail to administer Field Sobriety Tests correctly, therefore the Cop’s conclusions become even more subjective.

Only an attorney that is an expert in Field Sobriety Tests can show that the Cop administered the tests incorrectly. Attorney Manuel J. Barba is a nationally recognized Standardized Field Sobriety Test Instructor and is an expert on field sobriety test evaluations.

Whether a driver performs field sobriety tests or not, the officer will very likely arrest the driver anyway, as that is how they are trained.

Preliminary Alcohol Screen (PAS) Breath Test - Another Field Sobriety Test

Another field sobriety test that an officer may ask a driver to perform is the Preliminary Alcohol Screen Breath (PAS) Device, which is a hand held device used to detect alcohol in a driver’s breath.

The PAS breath test is a voluntary test, and officers are required by law to advise a driver that it is a voluntary test and that the driver has a right to refuse the test.  Unfortunately, many officers won’t tell the driver it is a voluntary test. In fact, some officers will lie and tell a driver that they must blow into the PAS breath device. 

NOTE: If a driver is UNDER 21 years of age, that driver must blow into the PAS breath test if requested by an officer.  If the underage driver refuses, the DMV will suspend the driver license for a year.

Also Note: If a driver is on probation for a previous DUI conviction, California law requires the driver to submit to the PAS breath test.  If the driver refuses to blow into the PAS breath test, and they are on probation for a previous DUI, the Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend the driver license for a year or more.

As an attorney, I always advise clients to never blow into a PAS breath device UNLESS they are under the age 21, or they are currently on probation for a prior DUI conviction.

Although the implied consent law requires that a driver arrested for DUI must submit to a “chemical test” to measure the alcohol concentration in the driver’s blood, the PAS breath device is not one of the evidential chemical tests.

The PAS device is a “preliminary” breath alcohol screening device designed to determine the presence and amount of alcohol in a driver’s breath.  It is considered another field sobriety test.  If a driver agrees to take the PAS breath test, the driver will still have to take an evidential test after being arrested (breath or blood test).

In theory, an officer uses the PAS breath device results to determine if a driver will be arrested for DUI.  However, PAS breath devices do not always give accurate results. If a driver agrees to blow into the PAS breath device, the driver is helping the officer gather more evidence that will be used against him in court.

In reality, if a driver elects to exercise his right to refuse to submit to the PAS breath device, an officer will likely arrest the driver anyway.  

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