At its surface, your DUI case might straightforward: An officer pulled you over, arrested you, and the prosecutor had evidence to charge you officially. In such a circumstance, you may believe that your only options are to either plead guilty or let the case run its course until a judge or jury finds you guilty.
But, it’s important to note that DUIs are complex and technical matters. A lot happens below the surface that can affect your case and may lead to a more favorable result than what you expected. In short, depending on the facts, a drunk driving case can be beat.
However, working toward a favorable outcome requires a thorough review of the entire situation, from the arrest to the official charges being filed. Often, this examination is most effectively conducted with the help of a seasoned attorney familiar with DUI laws, courtroom procedures, and legal precedent that can affect the present case.
In this blog, we’ll go over some of the possible defenses that can be raised in driving under the influence case that could result in a reduction or dismissal.
Defenses That May Be Raised to Beat a DUI Charge
At any point during a drunk driving matter, procedural or legal errors may occur that can taint the evidence law enforcement officials gather. In some cases, such evidence can be suppressed in court, meaning the prosecutor won’t be able to use it to support their allegations. In other cases, a skilled attorney can identify weaknesses and bring them up at trial, thereby casting reasonable doubt on the prosecutor’s arguments.
Defenses that may be raised include, but are not limited to:
- No reasonable suspicion for the stop: Many people might not be aware that police officers can’t just pull drivers over on a whim. They need a reason to initiate a traffic stop. In other words, they must be able to point to some concrete evidence that suggests a person broke the law. For instance, if an officer sees someone run a red light, they can lawfully pull the driver over. But if they saw a person start driving after leaving a bar and decided to pull them over in case they were drunk, the stop may be deemed unlawful and a violation of the driver’s rights. Any evidence obtained as part of an unlawful stop may not be admitted in court.
- No probable cause for the arrest: Just as they need a reason to pull someone over, police officers also need a reason to arrest a person. They must have evidence suggesting that the person was drunk driving. Typically, they gather this evidence by observing the driver’s behavior after initially approaching the vehicle or during field sobriety tests (FSTs). Without probable cause, the arrest may be considered unlawful.
- Other factors contributed to poor performance on FSTs: An officer may administer FSTs, such as a walk and turn test, to determine whether the driver is drunk and whether they have reason to arrest the person. And while these tests are supposed to measure intoxication objectively, other factors may affect how a person performs on them. For instance, if the individual is on uneven ground, they may lose their balance, which the officer, looking for a reason to make an arrest, will conclude that the person’s inability to complete the test successfully was due to alcohol in their system.
- Chemical test results were inaccurate: After an officer arrests someone on suspicion of driving under the influence, they may subject the driver to a blood or breath test to determine the alcohol level in their system. When the chemical tests are administered, the officer or technician must follow specific protocols to ensure that the analysis is completed correctly. If, for example, they fail to observe the driver for 20 minutes before administering the breath test or they fail to properly store the blood sample, results may be skewed. Additionally, even if the proper procedures were followed during the observation and collection phases, if the machines weren’t correctly maintained before the analysis, they may provide an inaccurate readout.
At Beckham Solis, Attorneys at Law, we have handled thousands of DUI cases, many of which have resulted in dismissals. Thus, we know that even when the situation seems hopeless, it may be possible to beat the charge.
We also recognize that each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits, and the defenses raised depend on each person’s specific circumstances. That is why when you turn to us, we will ask a series of pointed questions to learn everything we can about your situation and determine an effective course of action to take in your case.