Winning Is Everything: 5 Ways To Successfully Challenge A DUI Charge

Apr 18, 2024

Every DUI case has its own set of variables and nuances. A person may have had one or two drinks too many and decided to drive themselves home instead of calling an Uber, while another person might have been pulled over for a minor traffic violation and wrongfully charged with a DUI.

Perhaps a driver is underage and, because they had a trace of alcohol in their system, is facing their first DUI arrest, while someone else is on their second or, even, third DUI charge. One person could have an ironclad defense, or the prosecutor could have the defendant dead to rights.

The truth is that no matter what the circumstance surrounding a DUI charge, every client deserves a strong defense and a lawyer who will fight tenaciously for their rights. Although this article will not cover every possible situation, it will offer some common defense strategies that may be able to assist you in handling your DUI charges.

Let’s start off by saying that the absolute best way to avoid getting a DUI is to simply not drink and drive. Seriously, it’s not worth it. Not only are you putting yourself in danger, but you’re also putting everyone else on the road at risk too.

Now, if you did happen to get pulled over and you were actually impaired while driving, take a moment to think about this: your arrest may have actually prevented a serious accident or even saved someone’s life. So in a way, it’s a silver lining in a not-so-great situation. And the fact that you’re able to legally fight for your rights? That’s a total win in itself. So hang in there, and let’s figure out how to defend yourself against these charges so that you can either avoid conviction or at least lessen the impact of it.

Charged With DUI? Now What?

A driving-under-the-influence (DUI) charge is a serious criminal offense that can set the tone for the rest of your life. If you have been charged with a DUI, the punishment can include penalty fees, a revoked license, higher insurance rates and, in the worst case scenario, prison time. The circumstances of your case will affect the severity of the punishments you are facing (for example, a first-time offense will be punished less severely than a third-time offense, or an offense that caused an injury and an accident will be punished more harshly than one that simply resulted in being pulled over). It is extremely important to understand what your DUI charge involves in the first place in order to build a suitable defense for your case!

Reasons To Hire A DUI Lawyer

Like in every criminal case, the prosecutor has the job of proving you were driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. To do this, the prosecutor will attempt to show that you were either under the influence of drugs or alcohol to the extent that your BAC was .08 or more or that you actually were so impaired that you most likely would not have been able to safely drive had you been stopped.

A DUI defense attorney will attack the evidence against you! A solid defense can mean:

  • the difference between a conviction and a not guilty verdict for DUI;
  • the difference between a revoked driver’s license for 12 months and a restored driver’s license;
  • the difference between thousands of dollars in fines versus a few hundred dollars in fines;
  • the difference between being sentenced to time in jail and a few days of community service;
  • the difference between keeping or losing your job;
  • the difference between being able to live a normal life or carrying around a lifetime criminal record.

A skilled DUI lawyer can make all the difference by explaining your charges and drafting a defense to reduce or drop them. Your attorney will immediately work to expose prosecution weaknesses to build a defense. Breathalyzers, blood, field sobriety, and officer observations may be used in DUI cases. Not all of these types of evidence are accurate, and all have errors. Questions about the evidence may weaken the prosecution’s case. A good defense may also allow you to offer reasonable explanations for your actions or challenge police procedures’ constitutionality.

Let’s examine some common DUI defenses that may apply to your case.

Common DUI Challenges

1. Contesting The Legality Of The Traffic Stop

Contesting the legal basis for a traffic stop can be a good place to start with your defense. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from illegal searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers must have a legal basis, known as probable cause, to execute a traffic stop. If you can show that the police officer did not have probable cause to stop you, then anything that follows is likely to be inadmissible as evidence, making it extremely difficult for the prosecutor to prove their case.

The attorney can review the totality of the circumstances surrounding the stop and often determine whether there was a probable cause that would justify the stop. They can cross-examine the officer’s testimony, subpoena third-party videos, like dashcams or body cameras, or otherwise find fault with any record or report related to the stop, suggesting that the officer had no reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

2. Contesting The Accuracy Of Field Sobriety Tests

It has become standard practice to contest the results of field sobriety tests in challenging (DUI) offenses. Here, law enforcement officers may instruct suspected drivers to perform tasks like standing on one leg, walking a straight line, or using their eyes to track an object. Due to their proneness to various biases and errors, these tests are notoriously inaccurate measures of intoxication.

In fact, officer error is the most common reason to dispute field sobriety tests. Police officers receive training to administer field sobriety tests in a certain way. They may not be administered the way the officers are taught, however. Poor weather or poor road surfaces, as well as background activity and other distractions, can throw off the results of the tests. The officers often don’t explain the tasks well, or provide clear instruction. The drivers can be confused about what they are supposed to be doing.

Another reason to challenge field sobriety tests is that they may be compromised by physical or medical conditions that arrestees may have.

3. Questioning The Reliability Of Breathalyzer Tests

Breathalyzer tests are routinely taken to provide an estimate of a driver’s BAC since they measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath and give a numerical reading. But there are also other variables, like mouthwash or certain medications, operator error, medical conditions, or calibration problems (a.k.a., false positives).

One important strategy is to attack the breathalyzer itself by arguing that breathalyzer results are not reliable. Your lawyer can try to attack the breathalyzer maintenance records, ask to see the operator’s training records, or argue that the breathalyzer results were not accurate for your individual case. If the results become untrustworthy, it weakens the prosecution’s case against you.

4. Disputing Blood Test Results

Contesting blood test results in DUI cases is another common strategy employed by defense attorneys. Blood tests are often considered to be more accurate and reliable than breathalyzer or urine tests, but they are not infallible. There are several factors that can lead to inaccurate blood test results, such as mishandling of the sample, improper storage, or contamination. Additionally, there may be issues with the testing procedure itself, such as errors in calibration or interpretation of the results.

To contest blood test results, defense attorneys may challenge the chain of custody of the blood sample, questioning whether it was properly handled and stored at all times. They may also question the qualifications and training of the laboratory technicians who conducted the analysis. In some cases, experts may be called upon to testify regarding the potential inaccuracies or limitations of the testing method used.

Another avenue for contesting blood test results is to challenge the legality of the blood draw itself. If law enforcement did not have probable cause or a warrant to obtain the blood sample, it may be deemed inadmissible in court. Defense attorneys may argue that the defendant’s rights were violated, leading to an unlawful search and seizure.

5. Presenting Evidence Of Alternative Explanations

In some instances, presenting evidence of alternative explanations for your behavior can constitute a winning defense strategy. Perhaps you have a medical condition or disability that can cause symptoms mimicking intoxication, or you consumed a controlled substance without knowing (or against your will).

When you present compelling evidence that supports your perspective or offers an alternative explanation for your actions, it significantly weakens the prosecution’s claims against you. If you can effectively cast doubt on any aspect of the prosecutor’s case, you will have a better chance of persuading the judge or jury to rule in your favor.

Don’t Put Your Future At Risk—Call MRLS Today!

When you are facing DUI charges, you will need a DUI attorney – not just any legal service provider that knows the law, but an experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of DUI defense! DUI lawyers possess a unique skill set that sets them apart from other attorneys who may only dabble in criminal defense law.

Driving under the influence is a unique situation; what is a successful defense for one may not be successful for another. However, by working with your attorney to evaluate your situation, you can formulate a plan and optimize your chances of avoiding the charges against you, or at least getting them reduced.

Just because you are charged with driving under the influence does not mean your life is over. By putting together a winning defense strategy and getting the support of a qualified attorney, you have a fighting chance to avoid a guilty verdict. Contact Michael Reid Legal Solutions for a free consultation today. Let us review your case and help you craft a winning defense strategy.