"I got a DUI at the Border!" We hear that phrase at San Diego Defenders more than ever. Why? We are not sure except that it seems that the US Customs and CHP have become allies for DUI arrests whether it was statistical data or just plain common sense to know that people go to Mexico, ie TJ, Tijuana, Rosarito
Sadly, you do not have to answer these types of questions, but out of courtesy, you might find yourself answering without thinking of the consequences. The US Customs Officer will often detain you. US Customs in not trained in the area of Drug and alcohol impairment evaluations. That is, they don't know how to give FST's or Field Sobriety Tests. So the Customs officers "detain" you until a CHP officer can arrive to administer the FST's and ultimately arrest you.
So what issues do we, the San Diego DUI lawyers closest to the border handling the greatest number of the these border DUI arrests look for? First we want to see if you were even in the United States at the time of contact. There is a line and if you are not in the US, we may have a jurisdiction argument. Next, did the Customs or Border Patrol have reasonable cause to detain you? Even though you have a lesser expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment crossing an international border, you still have rights. Was there a prolonged detention in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The US Customs cannot hold you for an unreasonable amount of time waiting for the CHP to show up. You should have access to a restroom and water. We also check very closely the times in which you were stopped to the actual chemical test that is admissible in court. The hand held breathalizer is NOT admissible, it is NOT the test that counts. Was there a rising blood alcohol? That means, we may have an argument that your BAC was under a .08 when you were detained and then AFTER your body had an hour to absorb more alcohol, your BAC was exceeding the limit. Of course we always ask for the Customs reports and the CHP