There are a wide variety of ways that your DUI defense attorney can fight for you in court. Every case is different of course, each presenting varying circumstances and opportunities to combat the prosecution and their case against you. Let’s consider just a few of the most common.
Any law enforcement officer has the right to stop a motorist who is clearly exhibiting signs of impaired driving, such as weaving between lanes, drastic shifts in speeds, etc. But many studies have shown that as few as about one-third of all stops that were initiated due to observed driving patterns actually indicated driving under the influence. Many times drivers who fumble with their music devices, reach for food or snacks, or program their GPS systems can mimic drunk driving patterns. While driving poorly due to your desire to hear that favorite song or grab another French fry is certainly irresponsible driving, it is certainly not—drunk driving.
Sometimes motorists are stopped for broken tail lights or other minor issues, and during that stop an officer may initiate DUI procedures. But if the stop was unnecessary or found to be based on pretense, then everything that occurred after the stop was initiated could possibly be deemed inadmissible.
When an officer pulls you over, many times he or she will look for reasons to detain you. No matter what caused the officer to pull you over, headlight out, moving violation, equipment violation, etc., he or she will always be observing you for possible drunk driving. Most states have strict zero tolerance for drunk or impaired driving and officers are trained to look for it always.
But police officers are not doctors, and as such they often get it wrong when observing physical states. An officer may be trained to look for bloodshot eyes, red faces, and slurred speech, but a trained medical doctor will tell you that all of the aforementioned could certainly be signs of an illness, a physical state, or due to medications—none of which are in any way related to driving under the influence. Allergies, eye irritation, medications, etc. could be the cause of physical signs that mimic intoxication.
Commonly utilized standardized field sobriety tests are comprised of three kinds of tests. Officers who pull over drivers they suspect may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol often implement these roadside tests to ascertain whether a driver is impaired. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test measures a driver’s involuntary eye movements. The walk and turn test requires the driver to walk, heel to toe, for several steps in one direction, then turn and walk in the opposite direction for several steps. Officers will often initiate the one-leg stand test as well, a test that requires the driver to lift one of their legs off the ground to see if they can maintain their balance.
While these field sobriety tests have been validated by most states, there is certainly room for error when assessing the results. For example, if a driver is wearing heels or boots, if they have a foot injury or leg condition, if they have poor coordination in general, or some other issue, the driver could fail the field sobriety test, even with no alcohol or drugs in their system at all. Additionally, environmental conditions such as slick and rainy roads, uneven pavement or gravel, even heavy traffic—all could lead to failure of a field sobriety test with no alcohol or drugs in their body whatsoever.
That’s just three of the top defenses, but there are many more, such as Inaccurate Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS), Breathalyzer Test Errors, GERD Defense for DUI, Police Conduct that Violates Your Rights, Extenuating Circumstances, and of course— Improper Blood Test Administration or Test Protocol. When you have a skilled DUI attorney on your side, he or she will know how to investigate your case and the events that led to your arrest, and he or she will dig deep to find one or several valid reasons to argue why your charges should be decreased or even better, that your case be dismissed entirely.