Not the best appeal of the DUI license suspension. But gives us an opportunity to chat about DUI’s.

A little past midnight and about 15 yards north of the Mexican border, Miguel Ponce of the Border Patrol sat in his parked cruiser. He was on the lookout for people cutting through the border fence and running to large vehicles, like minivans, that would take them away. After 17 years on the job, Ponce anticipated this tactic.

A black minivan drove into this restricted area, which was off limits to the general public; this commercial lot was limited to daytime tractor-trailers bound for Mexico and waiting to pass through the nearby port of passage between the nations. Cars entering this area by mistake and seeing a patrol car typically asked for directions. “They don’t normally just go in, do a U-turn and then take off.”

There was “a lot of ambient lighting” that made Ponce’s marked car “pretty visible.” The setting meant the minivan driver saw Ponce’s car. The minivan got about 20 yards from Ponce and then U-turned abruptly; its tires made a “squelch” sound. Ponce heard the driver rev his engine as the minivan “fled off” at a “high rate of speed” that was “definitely faster than what cars drive in that area normally.” Ponce decided to follow and to stop the minivan.

Driving the minivan was Steve Louis Elmore, who avoided eye contact and spoke with slurred speech. He smelled of alcohol. Elmore’s eyes were bloodshot and watery. It appeared he had urinated on himself.

Police warned Elmore his license would be suspended or revoked if he refused to take a chemical test for alcohol. Elmore refused.

Officials obtained a warrant for a blood draw showing Elmore’s alcohol level was more than twice the limit.

The Department of Motor Vehicles suspended Elmore’s driver’s license for one year because he refused to submit to a blood or breath test. (See Veh. Code, § 13353.) Elmore challenges this suspension with two arguments.

Elmore’s first argument is Ponce’s temporary investigative stop of him was illegal. This is incorrect. Ponce reasonably suspected the minivan was involved with illegal smuggling. Objective circumstances justified his decision to stop it and to investigate. Sighting and then fleeing police in a high crime area creates a reasonable suspicion that warrants a Terry stop. (Illinois v. Wardlow (2000) 528 U.S. 119, 124–125; see also Kansas v. Glover (2020) __ U.S. , [140 S.Ct. 1183, 1188]; People v. Silveria (2020) 10 Cal.5th 195, 236.)

Elmore’s second argument is police failed to read a particular sentence when admonishing him that his refusal to submit to chemical testing would result in a license suspension. We italicize the key words in the omitted sentence: “Refusal or failure to complete a test will also result in a fine and imprisonment if this arrest results in a conviction of driving under the influence.”

The Department is not seeking a fine or imprisonment. When police give an incomplete admonition about the consequences of refusing chemical testing, the law limits the permissible sanction to the extent of actual notice. (See Daly v. Department of Motor Vehicles (1986) 187 Cal.App.3d 257, 262.) This counts as “common sense.” (Id. at p. 259.)

Full case here: STEVE LOUIS ELMORE v. STEVE GORDON, as Director,

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
LAWSTACHE™ LAW FIRM | Criminal Defense and Business Law
(619) 357-6677

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