DUI Defense Strategy: Tackling DUI Charges Head-on
The Best DUI Defense Strategies That Lawyers Commonly Employ
Being arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense. Some of the consequences of a DUI conviction include jail time, losing your license, and mandatory fines.
Still, while DUI offenses are taken very seriously, it is possible to beat such charges by working with a competent DUI lawyer.
A criminal defense lawyer specializing in DUI defense can help identify any issues in the arrest and prosecution of your case and devise a DUI defense strategy.
Categories of DUI Defenses
While it may seem that fighting DUI or DWI charge is a complicated matter, several legal defense strategies may be employed by your DUI defense attorney. The top DUI defense strategies that skilled DUI lawyers typically use fall into three categories.
- The defendant was not actually intoxicated.
- The driving was not impaired.
- The police officer that made the DUI arrest did not follow the set-out procedures.
The police officer will run a few tests on DUI arrest, including a blood test, a breath alcohol test using a breath test operator, and a sobriety test. Among these three, breath test results are usually considered the strongest pieces of evidence used for prosecution in a drunk driving case.
Specific Arguments Against DUI Charges
Specific arguments your DUI defense lawyer can give in court include the following:
- The Defendant Was not Actually Intoxicated
- Objective symptoms of intoxication do not equal a DUI
Challenging the use of intoxication symptoms as the basis of your arrest is usually an effective defense strategy. However, arresting officers routinely testify that you were under the influence by asserting that the DUI defendant was found to have:
- an unsteady gait
- watery, red eyes
- a strong odor of alcohol on your breath
- slurred speech, and
- a flushed face
Solid DUI affirmative defenses can explain the “innocent” explanations that could have led to those visible signs. For example, red and watery eyes could have been caused by allergies, a cold, fatigue, or eye irritation.
You got a falsely high Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) result due to mouth alcohol. “Mouth alcohol” contains trace amounts of alcohol that remain in the mucosal linings of the mouth, resulting in BAC being above the legal limit. It is created whenever someone consumes (or regurgitates) anything with alcohol in it, including mouthwash and breath spray.
This defense is often successful when the arresting officer fails to continuously observe the accused for 15 minutes, often nullifying the breathalyzer test. The 15-minute period ensures that you do not put anything containing alcohol into your mouth, including drinks, medicines like cough syrup, mouth spray, or mouthwash.
- Your BAC was on the rise.
If your BAC was rising when you were pulled over, the results of your breathalyzer test could be wrong. In DUI investigations, what matters is your alcohol content when you are driving. Hence your defense lawyer can argue that your blood alcohol test could have risen during a lengthy DUI investigation.
1. Bad driving is not the same as driving under the influence
The argument that poor or erratic driving does not mean you were driving under the influence is one of the most effective and popular defenses used. The prosecutor will argue that you were driving erratically and have the DUI arresting officer testify that the defendant was driving like someone intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. These are usually allegations of weaving within the lane or speeding most of the time.
2. You were mentally alert, and hence you could not have been DUI
The difference between mental and physical impairment is another valid defense that attorneys use in DUI cases. Officers routinely testify to assert that you displayed signs of impairment. However, they rarely argue that a defendant showed signs of mental impairment.
The Police Officer That Made the DUI Arrest Did not Follow the Set-out Procedures.
1. The arresting officer failed to follow the set-out procedures
The police officer needs to have reasonable suspicion and the probable cause when making the traffic stop, DUI investigation, or arrest. Police officers must follow set procedures to ensure that there is no misconduct. Some of these procedures include field sobriety tests and reading the defendant their Miranda rights when making an arrest. If any of these protections are broken, your defense attorney can ask for a suppression hearing to provide a pre-trial opportunity to:
- explore any holes in the state’s case and possibly convince the prosecutors to reduce or drop all charges
- and exclude any evidence that was improperly or illegally obtained
- 2. Arresting police officers cannot accurately measure impairment using Field Sobriety Tests
The prosecution heavily depends on field sobriety test results. If the evidence brought against you does not include field sobriety tests, you can fight the charges by disputing the allegation that you performed poorly on the tests.
Your DUI defense attorney can argue that balance and coordination challenges during the FSTs can be affected by a variety of issues, including your natural physical coordination, nerves, fatigue, clothing, and flat feet.
3. The officer failed to adhere to blood and breath testing regulations
Regulations stipulate how breath tests must be conducted and blood samples must be drawn. Blood and breath tests will be nullified if any of these stipulations are not met. Blood and breath alcohol testing requirements include:
- a 15 minute observation period by the police officer at the traffic stop
- proper collection, storage, and handling of the blood sample (may include aspects of the chain of custody)
- proper training of personnel conducting the DUI blood and DUI breath test
- regular maintenance and calibration of testing equipment, including the breath test machine
- proper administration of the breath tests
4. The police officer at the traffic stop failed to conduct a proper 15-minute observation period
The arresting police officer needs to watch and observe the defendant for 15 minutes before administering the breath test. Otherwise, the prosecution will fail to establish its case.
A DUI arrest does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted. There can be several reasons for high blood alcohol levels, including involuntary intoxication. Contact a qualified and skilled DUI lawyer immediately for your DUI case if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI offense.
How Do You Emotionally Survive a DUI Charge?
A DUI arrest, charge, or conviction can result in a surge of conflicting emotions.
Some of the steps to take to get through the motions after a DUI arrest and charge include:
- Accept your support System – Embrace your family and friends. Don’t push them away, and allow them to help you.
- Hire a good attorney – Working with an experienced and qualified DUI attorney will significantly improve your experience as they know how to make the right moves to help with your case.
- Get informed – Get a good education on DUI convictions, blood tests, and the case process. Consult your attorney, who has the experience and knowledge and will be able to ease your fears.
- Take it one step at a time – It is important to stay grounded and calm and focus on only one solution at a given time. Your lawyer will offer legal advice on the most appropriate strategy to adopt, depending on the circumstances of the case. It is critical to focus on one element and exhaust that strategy before trying another.
- Stay positive and avoid negative emotions and triggers – Try to remember that the experience is temporary and that you will ultimately get through it with actual physical control. If you start feeling waves of anger and guilt, just remember that it was a mistake and that you are working towards making things better. Avoid alcohol or drugs at all costs to avoid rising blood alcohol concentration. Alcohol and most drugs are natural depressants and can enhance negative emotions such as despair or sadness.
Contact our firm today to speak with a skilled DUI lawyer for an initial free consultation for more information on how a DUI charge or conviction can affect your mental health and wellness. We will also brief you about how we do the blood test defenses.
Fighting DUI Charges
You may feel anxious, frightened, and uncertain after being arrested or facing DUI charges. This is understandable because of the severe penalties involved.
Competent DUI defense attorneys at Scrofano law make use of the many defense strategies they have available to provide a robust defense to their clients.
For years, we have been providing excellent legal representation for our clients, many of whom have had their charges reduced or dropped altogether.
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