If you've recently been charged with a DUI, you may feel as though your options are limited, particularly if you failed a number of tests. In some situations, defendants are adamant that they weren't intoxicated; they just don't know how to prove it. With the right attorney on your side, and under the right conditions, there are a number of situations in which your DUI charge can be thrown out. Here's what you need to know about how the law can work in your favor.
Field Sobriety Tests
These are commonly used to determine whether or not someone is intoxicated. Examples of tests include reciting the alphabet, the one-leg stand, following a moving object, eye jerking, and the walk-and-turn, among others.
The problem with field sobriety tests is that they aren't always accurate. There could be reasons other than intoxication why you may not pass a field sobriety test, and they include conditions that cause nystagmus or vertigo, being overweight, wearing unstable footwear, bad footing due to extreme weather conditions, or simply suffering from poor coordination. If any of these apply to you, it could work in your favor.
If you don't pass a field sobriety test, the officer's next step is to test your BAC (blood alcohol content) with a breathalyzer. While this piece of equipment is generally deemed to be more accurate than a field test, there are situations in which the results could be flawed, and they include the following.
- Device failure—this can happen when the breathalyzer is not maintained properly, isn't calibrated, or simply produces readings that fluctuate.
- Incorrect use—there is a right way and a wrong way to blow into a breathalyzer. And if you use it incorrectly, it can definitely skew your results. For instance, your BAC may have read 15.7% higher if you were holding your breath for a period of time before blowing. Also, you don't have to blow hard, like many officers try to encourage. For most breathalyzers, you only need to blow for seven uninterrupted seconds.
- Other medications—if you use other medications or over-the-counter products that contain alcohol, like mouthwash or cough syrup, this can lead to false results.
- Health Conditions—some health conditions can create high levels of acetone in the body, and this can cause the breathalyzer to give a false positive. Those with diabetes, asthma, acid reflux, congenital lung disease, and even defendants on a low-carb diet or who work as professional painters could have a chance at beating their DUI if they used a breathalyzer.
By law, the police must have a valid reason for pulling you over or a reasonable suspicion that you have performed a criminal act. Some of these reasons include speeding, following motorists too closely, weaving on the road, driving too slowly, running a red light, or having a burned-out headlight. Even if the officer can prove that you were intoxicated, it won't matter if the stop was not legal.
Many states use DUI checkpoints to randomly catch motorists driving under the influence. These checkpoints are highly controversial and aren't even allowed in a handful of states. But where they are allowed, there are sets of protocols and procedures that must be followed in order for the checkpoint to be legal.
- Police officers must be easily identified.
- All cars and drivers that come through should be treated in the same, uniform way.
- Adequate lighting and warning signs and signals should be used for safety reasons.
- Only supervisory personnel within the police department can make the decision as to where the DUI checkpoint will be held.
- Your constitutional rights should never be violated at these road stops. They can't search your car without probable cause.
If these procedures are not followed, the stop itself can be ruled illegal, and that will help your case.
There are other arguments your DUI attorney might be able to use in order to beat your DUI charge. Sometimes officers fail to Mirandize an arrestee. You might have been coerced to give consent to a search or test, or you simply could be the victim of racial profiling. Hiring an attorney that is knowledgeable on DUI laws is important when you want to win your case.