What Are the Legal Defenses to a DUI Charge

According to the drug-free coalition Drugfree.org, at least 40 percent of the breathalyzer machines that were used in conjunction with DUI arrests were not working properly as of October 2011. This is a significant number of defective devices, considering the potential probative value that the results of these machines render. In addition to questioning the authenticity of breathalyzer results, there are several other ways that a suspect can defend against a DUI charge.

Attack the Initial Stop

Police cannot stop everyone on the roadway. They must follow specific guidelines that maintain potential suspects’ constitutional rights. A police officer must have a reasonable and articulable set of facts before he can legally stop a person whom he suspects of violating a traffic law or other type of legislation. Even if the driver is swerving, he is not violating the law unless he crosses into other lanes of traffic. A suspect can also argue that a police officer had a private vendetta against him, or he can argue that police corruption or misconduct was the reason for the initial stop. Even if the police officer did have reasonable suspicion to stop the suspect, he might have lacked probable cause to arrest him, which is a higher standard than the one required for police officers to stop a suspect in a motor vehicle. Additionally, if the suspect was in police custody, he is supposed to be read his Miranda rights. If he was not read these rights and he provided an incriminating statement to the police, his statement and any related evidence of his statement can be thrown out of court.

Attack the Test and Test Results

No field sobriety test is 100 percent effective. In fact, sober, healthy adults fail walking and standing tests 30 percent of the time. Other factors may affect a person’s ability to pass a field sobriety test, such as their weight, medical conditions, age or balance. Furthermore, many officers lack proper training in conducting these field sobriety tests. They may administer an inappropriate test that is not included as part of the police department’s handbook. Police officers are expected to administer the tests in a particular manner to increase the validity of the test results. If they fail to execute these tests properly, the results of the field sobriety test can be thrown out, and any evidence that was acquired due to the belief of the accuracy of this test can also be declared inadmissible by the judge.

Give an Alternative Explanation

Other factors may explain the results of driving behavior or test results. The driver may have been ill or tired. The driver may have consumed certain foods or drinks that give a false positive. Even nail polish can interfere with breath tests. A person who was involved in an accident may have begun drinking after the accident occurred to calm his nerves. A DUI lawyer is familiar with the various defenses for DUI charges and should be consulted to protect the freedom of the defendant.