The Most Common Legal Defenses to DUI Charges
You are here: DUI > Common DUI Defenses
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is a serious offense that can result in significant penalties and even prison time. If you have been charged with DUI, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options for defending yourself against the charge.
While every case is different, there are some common defenses that people use when facing DUI charges. This article will provide an overview of these common legal defenses to help you understand what may be available to you if you face a DUI charge.
Unlawful Stop or Arrest / Officers Didn’t Follow Proper Protocol
The first defense to consider is whether the law enforcement officer had reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop, arrest or administer a field sobriety test. If there was no valid reason for the officer to take any of these steps, then your case could be dismissed based on this defense.
The protection from unlawful search and seizure is an important cornerstone of our justice system. It is possible for an experienced DUI lawyer to raise strong suspicions about why there was no justifiable reasoning for the officer’s actions.
For example, you weren’t driving erratically. You didn’t commit any traffic violations nor went through a sobriety or DUI checkpoint. But you were pulled over because you were driving a certain type of vehicle, or because you looked suspicious or out of place. A defense lawyer can challenge the officer’s actions in such cases.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) Aren’t Accurate
Another defense to consider is challenging the accuracy of field sobriety tests (FSTs). FSTs are often used to determine whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but they are not always reliable.
FSTs require the driver to perform a series of physical tasks, such as walking in a straight line, standing on one leg, or reciting the alphabet backwards. But these tests can be difficult for anyone to do correctly and accurately, regardless of sobriety level. In fact, according to a study, FSTs are only 65% to 77% reliable.
A defense lawyer may be able to successfully argue that the FSTs results were inaccurate and should not be used as evidence against you.
There are also many factors that can affect the accuracy of FSTs, such as age, weight, physical fitness level, and medical conditions. An experienced DUI attorney will be able to evaluate all these factors and develop a defense strategy that takes them into consideration.
The breathalyzer results are often used in court as the primary evidence in a DUI case. But just like the FSTs, breathalyzers can be inaccurate for many reasons.
For example, if the breathalyzer was not maintained or calibrated correctly, it can give inaccurate readings. Additionally, there are some medical conditions and factors that can affect a person’s breathalyzer results, such as certain types of food, dental work and mouthwash.
A skilled defense lawyer can use this evidence to challenge the accuracy of the breathalyzer results.
Too Much Time Passed Between Drinking and Driving / Rising BAC
It is possible for your attorney to argue that too much time passed between alleged drinking and driving for the blood alcohol content (BAC) reading to be accurate.
The amount of time between drinking and driving can be an important factor in breathalyzer accuracy. If too much time has passed between your alleged drinking and driving, it’s possible that your BAC was rising rather than decreasing at the time you were driving.
It’s not illegal to drink before driving. What’s illegal is being impaired at the time you drive.
When you drink, it takes about an hour for your BAC to reach peak levels (there are various factors affecting this so this varies) but what that means is you could have been driving within the state’s legal limit, but because the tests were administered too late, it recorded a high BAC.
An experienced DUI attorney can use this defense to challenge these results.
The Machine Used for Testing Wasn’t Properly Maintained or Calibrated
It is important that any machine used to test a driver’s BAC is maintained and calibrated correctly. If the machine was not properly maintained or calibrated, it could give inaccurate results. This can either be the portable handheld devices you’d see police officers use or evidential breath test machines.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provides guidelines on the approved list of devices as well as its maintenance and calibration requirements. A defense lawyer can use the results from the improperly maintained equipment to challenge these evidence in court and have them thrown out as evidence.
Miranda Rights Violation
If you were not read your Miranda rights before being arrested, it is possible to challenge the officer’s actions in court.
Miranda rights are a set of legal protections that guarantee an individual can remain silent or demand an attorney’s presence during questioning by law enforcement officials. According to the Supreme Court ruling in Miranda v. Arizona (1966), law enforcement officers must advise an individual of these rights before any questioning occurs.
If you were not read your Miranda rights, or they were not followed correctly during an interrogation, then the statements made by you are considered to be inadmissible as evidence. A skilled DUI attorney can use this information to successfully challenge the results of a DUI investigation.
Prescription Medication Affecting Your Driving and/or BAC
If you were taking prescription medication at the time of your arrest, this could have affected your driving as well as BAC levels. If so, it is possible to challenge these results in court with the help of a knowledgeable DUI attorney.
A skilled defense lawyer can use evidence such as medical records and expert testimony to show that the medication could have had an effect on your driving ability, leading to your DUI arrest.
It is also possible for a lawyer to argue that the medication you were taking could have affected your BAC levels at the time of testing, leading to an inaccurate result.
Medical Condition Present at the Time of Testing
It is possible for a defendant to argue that a medical condition such as diabetes, acid reflux or GERD was present at the time of testing and therefore affected the results.
Such medical conditions can lead to an increase in mouth alcohol content which could cause inaccurate breathalyzer readings.
Arrested and Charged with DUI?
Overall, the best defense against a DUI charge is an experienced DUI attorney who knows the law and how to challenge evidence in court. By carefully evaluating all the factors involved in your case, they can build a strong defense that challenges the accuracy of any tests administered and works towards a positive outcome for you.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, don’t face the charges alone. Contact a knowledgeable DUI lawyer like The Defenders to explore your options and build the strongest possible defense. Our team of experienced DUI attorneys will fight aggressively for your rights and provide you with the best possible outcome.
What The Defenders Can Do For You:
- Investigate your case to determine all facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged DUI
- Determine whether there was police error or misconduct, or you are being falsely accused
- Go over the strengths and weaknesses of your case with you to give you an idea of how your case will stand up in court
- Inform you of all the legal options available to you
- Offer guidance, support and sound legal advice
Call The Defenders today for a free case evaluation.