Law enforcement departments claim their officers are trained in how to spot drivers who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These officers testify in court, based on their experience and training, to help convict drivers of DUIs. However, officers misidentify impaired drivers all the time. A man in Solano County was arrested for a DUI despite a blood test only showing traces of caffeine in his system.
On August 5, 2015, Joseph Schwab was pulled over by an officer from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The officer, in an unmarked vehicle, told Schwab that he had cut her off and was driving erratically. Schwab submitted to a chemical breath test which showed a blood alcohol level of 0.00%. Despite the lack of alcohol in his system, the 36-year-old was placed under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Officers booked Schwab into county jail and took a blood sample for chemical analysis to determine if the driver had any drugs in his system. The test came back negative for THC, methamphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and other drugs. A second sample was sent to a laboratory in Pennsylvania for an additional screening. However, the only chemical that tested positive in his blood was for a trace amount of caffeine, consistent with anyone who had a cup or two of coffee during the day.
A year and a half later, Schwab was about to go to trial on charges of DUI and reckless driving, despite having no evidence of any drugs or alcohol in his system at the time. The Solano County district attorney was going forward with misdemeanor DUI charges. Schwab's attorney said she had never seen anything like it before.
According to prosecutors, Schwab was to be charged based on their belief that he was under the influence of some other drug, despite the lack of evidence after two blood tests and a chemical breath test. “No one believed me,” said Schwab. “I want the charges to be dismissed and my name to be cleared.”
Finally, the district attorney's office said they were planning to drop the DUI charges against Schwab. “After further consideration,” said a press release, “without a confirmatory test of the specific drug in the defendant's system that impaired his ability to drive, we do not believe we can prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The DA's office did not offer any apology to Schwab, who had this unspecified DUI charge hanging over his head for more than 16 months. They still claimed it was “highly likely that the defendant was under the influence of a drug,” even after the multiple chemical tests came back clean.
If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, contact an experienced DUI attorney. At the Gorelick Law Offices, attorney Lynn Gorelick has dedicated her legal career to defending people in the East Bay. For over 30 years, she has personally handled hundreds of cases involving people arrested drunk for driving offenses. If you have been arrested here in the East Bay, there is still time to keep a conviction off your record. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands that you don't have to plead guilty just because you were arrested