The outcomes of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated can be very serious and affect your lifestyle and reputation badly. Thus, if you have been charged with these offenses, you should take care to understand the ramifications and the different defenses that you may have at your disposal. If you can mount a defense that is viable, you might be able to get the charges dropped or reduced, prevent your driving license from being suspended or even get a post-trial acquittal.
In a DWI or a DUI case, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that the person being charged was driving a vehicle. It is also necessary for them to establish that the driver was under the influence at that time due to consumption of alcohol, drugs or both to such an extent that his ability to safely drive was significantly affected due to this. If any of these elements can be proved wrong by the defense it will prevent successful prosecution. It may also be possible for the defendant to prevent the introduction of evidence at the trial by the prosecution thus limiting its ability to make the charge stick.
For you to be convicted of a DWI or a DUI offense, you need to have been actually driving a vehicle. Since most cases lead from drivers being pulled over by the police this may not be an issue, however, there could be cases where the officer may not have actually seen you driving and thus the case may be debated for dismissal. Typically, you may have been approached and charged in a parking lot when behind the wheel.
If in the first place, the police had no legal reason to stop and arrest you, or if the proper procedures were not followed, any evidence presented by the police may be deemed inadmissible. When the breath test result and the policeman’s testimony can’t be used, it will generally lead to the dropping of the charges. Such inadmissibility of evidence may be possible if you can prove that you were stopped because of racial profiling and not because of your erratic driving or appearance of being drunk. Certain evidence may also be excluded if the required Miranda warning was not provided or incorrectly recited, says Jim Butler, a leading DUI attorney.
Central to the DWI charge will be the police officer’s observations and opinion of whether you were under the influence at the time you were stopped. This may consist of your alleged erratic driving behavior, how you appeared and acted in front of the officer, and your performance in the field sobriety tests. If you can successfully counter the observations by the police, you may be able to weaken their case to an extent where the charges may have to be dropped. A valid reason for your not performing well in the field sobriety tests could be physical impairments or due to confusing instructions. Similarly, lack of sleep, contact lenses, and allergies may have caused your eyes to be bloodshot, and slurred talk due to medications or lack of sleep.
Witnesses with a Different View
It may be possible for you to successfully challenge a DWI charge if you can introduce witnesses who can testify that you did not consume any alcohol before driving or that you seemed to be sober. A witness may also claim that the running of the red light that led to you being stopped was on account of you being distracted by something else and not due to alcohol consumption.
The blood-alcohol content (BAC) as determined by breath, blood, saliva, and urine tests is the fundamental evidence on which the case of the prosecution rests. If the accuracy of the tests or the test protocol can be challenged successfully, it can lead to the dismissal of the charges. In quite a few states your driving license will be automatically suspended if you refuse a chemical test. If the police officer fails to inform you of this consequence when arresting you, the license suspension can be revoked.
Similarly, the laws of some states require that the driver is offered a choice of tests and if this is not done, the results may not be admissible. The administration of the tests has a strict protocol and the machines too need to be properly maintained and calibrated. If the test protocols were not followed, the machine was defective or the tests were not administered by a competent person, it may be possible for the results to be considered inadmissible. Consumption of medicine or food may also interfere with the test results.
An effective DUI defense will largely depend on how well your attorney is able to analyze the technicalities of the charges and build a case for refuting them. Since a DWI or a DUI charge is a very serious offense, you should hire the best attorney that you can find who has substantial experience in this field.
Megan Davidson is a DUI lawyer who has been extremely successful in contesting drink-driving charges. Megan has worked for more than five years with Jim Butler, a leading DWI attorney, and now has her independent practice.
Image Credit: princessjack