Spring 2017 Newsletter
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What Happens if the Police Don't Tell You What Your Rights Are When You're Arrested?
Television shows and movies have immortalized the warnings the police give to those accused of criminal conduct. Many of us can recite them by heart:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Where did this language come from? When are the police required to advise people of these rights? And what happens if the police fail to meet the requirements of the law?

The Origin of the Rights

The iteration of the rights above started with a case in Arizona involving a man accused of kidnap and rape, Ernesto Miranda. Miranda was extensively questioned by officers and eventually admitted to the crimes. He was never informed of his right to remain silent or his right to an attorney. The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that Miranda's confession was inadmissible because he had not been advised of these important rights. Because of this case, these rights are often called "Miranda warnings" or "Miranda rights."

When the Rights Must Be Provided

Miranda warnings must generally be provided before questioning a person who has been arrested or who is in police custody. However, there are exceptions. For example, the police need not give the warnings during a true emergency that threatens someone's personal safety. There are other exceptions, as well. If you have questions about whether Miranda warnings should have been given in a particular case, contact a licensed attorney in your state.

What if the Police Fail to Give the Miranda Warnings When Required?

Contrary to popular belief, a criminal case against a suspect is usually not thrown out even when the police fail to provide Miranda warnings. However, the confession given by the suspect cannot be used for most purposes in a trial. In addition, other evidence that the police found because of the tainted confession cannot generally be used against the accused.

If you or someone you love has questions about the impact of police mistakes on a criminal case, the experts at the Law Offices of Virginia Landry can help. We are experienced in representing persons charged crimes in and around Orange County, California. Call our office at 866.902.6880 or visit our website at www.duiqueen.com to get started.
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How Are Field Sobriety Tests Used in California DUI Cases?

Being stopped by the police when driving is something all of us want to avoid. Police have the authority to pull over drivers for many different reasons, such as speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, making an illegal turn, crossing the center line, not using a turn signal, and driving erratically. Drivers can even be stopped randomly at checkpoints to deter drunk driving.

When a police officer stops a driver, one of the first things he is assessing is whether that driver exhibits any signs of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is true regardless of the reason for the stop. It is just part of the normal routine of traffic stops. Obviously, the officer will be on higher alert if the stop is made because of erratic driving.

Police officers must be cautious in these situations because they only have the right to detain drivers for an amount of time necessary to resolve the reason for the stop, such as issuing a speeding ticket. To do any more than that, officers must have reasonable cause for their actions. Unreasonable detention is considered a violation of one's constitutional right to be free from false imprisonment.

When is a Field Sobriety Test Conducted?

When a police officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the officer may have the driver submit to field sobriety tests. The driver is not required to take these tests. The test results are part of the basis for the officer's determination of whether there is reasonable cause to arrest the driver for driving under the Influence (DUI).

When a field sobriety test is conducted, the police officer will instruct the driver to perform a series of agility tests that an impaired person would not be able to complete appropriately. The tests include the following:

* Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus;
* Walk and Turn; and
* One-Leg Stand.

The Horizontal Gaze test involves the officer having the driver follow the motion of the tip of a pen or finger and looking for the involuntary jerking of the eyes as they gaze toward the side. If the subject's eyes jerk at certain points when following the stimulus, the officer may infer alcohol or drug impairment. This test is considered to be the most reliable of the three field sobriety tests in assessing impairment.

The Walk and Turn demonstrates whether the driver can maintain their balance by walking heel to toe in a line, turning in a prescribed manner, and walking back to the starting point. The officer looks for several indicators of failure, including using arms to maintain balance, stopping to regain balance, and stepping off the line. Failing to follow the instructions, such as the number of steps to take, is also considered by the officer in the assessment.

The One-Leg Stand is similar to the Walk and Turn in that it tests the balance of the subject. The officer will be looking for whether the driver is unable to stand on one leg for the required amount of time, whether he or she sways, hops, or uses his or her arms to maintain balance.

After the Test

A police officer administering a field sobriety test has the responsibility of interpreting the driver's performance and then deciding whether there is probable cause to arrest the driver for DUI. In so doing, the officer must take into account factors other than alcohol or drug impairment that could cause the driver to perform the tests poorly.

For example, other medical conditions may cause a person to fail any or all three of the tests. Vision, weight, spinal, orthopedic, muscular, and nerve impairments are common examples of medical issues that can interfere with properly completing a field sobriety test. Weather and other distractions may also affect the driver's ability to complete the tests. The police officer must properly assess the entirety of the circumstances when deciding whether to make a DUI arrest.

If the officer concludes that the driver has failed any of the tests due to alcohol or drug impairment, the officer will make an arrest for DUI. The test results may also be considered with other information such as the odor of alcohol, or items found in the driver's possession. However, the presence of odor or other physical evidence is not necessary for the driver to be arrested.

Field sobriety tests are not foolproof evidence of driving under the influence. They are tools used by the police to evaluate a potential offender before deciding to deprive that person of their right to be free of unlawful detainment. There is a lot of room for error, especially when there is no other evidence to indicate guilt.

Hiring the right attorney may help you avoid a conviction for driving under the influence. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, our Orange County defense attorneys have experience helping people charged with DUI, and they will work to help you stay in the driver's seat. For more information about DUI proceedings, visit www.duiqueen.com. To set up a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys, call 866.902.6880 today.
A Note To Our Clients
  • To our current clients: Thank you for the opportunity to serve you during this difficult time.
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Virginia Landry

Virginia L. Landry received her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University in 1982. She then went on to pursue her law degree from Western State University, graduating in 1988. The following year, Ms. Landry opened her own Law Office. As a nationally recognized Board Certified DUI Defense Attorney Specialist, Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Virginia L. Landry, is able to practice law within all the California state courts and the Central District Court of the United States.


As a criminal defense lawyer with years of litigation and trial experience, Ms. Landry is fully prepared to handle criminal cases involving violent crimes, white collar crimes, theft crimes, sex crimes, juvenile crimes, drug crimes, weapons charges, and domestic violence. Attorney Landry has successfully represented clients facing a variety of complex misdemeanor and felony charges.

In addition to her current position as Regent for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD), Virginia serves on the Board of Directors for the California DUI Lawyers Association  as its Secretary. Virginia is one of only a handful of attorneys across the nation who is Board Certified in DUI Defense. She has also received her  certificate of instruction , successfully training participants in DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student and Instructor courses.


Virginia Landry served on two committees and was on the Orange County Bar Association's Board of Directors for three years, is a past President and current member of the West Orange County Bar Association, is currently a Sustaining Member for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers serving as Co-Chair of the DUI / DWI Committee. Other local bar associations include the North Orange County Bar Association, The Newport Harbor Bar Association, the South Harbor Bar Association, the Western State University Alumni Association and the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association.