Have you or someone you know been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? What steps have you taken to avoid a DUI conviction? Do you know what legal options are available to you?
When faced with DUI charges, many people immediately lose hope because they feel like they have already lost. Others simply may not know that there are legal options available to help them avoid a DUI conviction. As a result, these people do nothing after being charged with driving under the influence and they end up with a damaging black mark on their permanent records.
It’s understandable to feel anxious or helpless after being arrested for driving under the influence. DUI charges are serious accusations that often result in serious, life-changing punishment. But it’s important to know that you don’t have to sit back and simply plead guilty to your DUI charges. There are several legal options available to fight and avoid a DUI conviction.
Options to Fight a DUI Charge
The consequences of a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction are harsh. You could lose your driver’s license, be forced to pay heavy fines, and even spend time in jail. In the long run, having a DUI offense on your permanent record could raise your insurance rates or even stop you from being able to find a job.
DUI laws vary widely based from state to state, but there are several options available to avoid a DUI conviction if you have been arrested for drunk driving. This article will explain four options available to fight a DUI charge, including arguing that there was no probable cause for the traffic stop, contesting the legality of a DUI checkpoint, arguing that the BAC test results are inaccurate, and making a “rising blood alcohol level” argument.
No Probable Cause for the Traffic Stop
In order for a police officer to pull you over, he or she must have “probable cause” to do so or the evidence against you could be inadmissible in court. Probable cause means that before a police officer can legally pull you over, the officer must first witness something about your driving that was either illegal (such as running a stop sign or failing to use turn signals) or something that gives the officer reason to suspect you are driving drunk (such as swerving while driving). If the officer who arrested you for a DUI did not have probable cause to complete the traffic stop in the first place, the evidence against you could be thrown out.
Contest the Legality of the DUI Checkpoint
DUI checkpoints, also known as sobriety checkpoints, are roadblocks set up by the police in order to catch and arrest drunk drivers. Though the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that DUI checkpoints are constitutional, police must still have probable cause to do more than detain you for a brief period of time at the checkpoint. If a police officer searches your car without probable cause at a checkpoint, any evidence found may be inadmissible in court.
Furthermore, DUI Checkpoints are not legal in all 50 states. Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming all have laws prohibiting DUI checkpoints. And some states place limitations on how and when DUI checkpoints can be used by the police.
Faulty BAC Test Results
Police officers use blood alcohol concentration tests, or BAC tests, to establish that you were driving drunk. BAC tests can be conducted using urine, saliva, hair, breath, or blood. Most commonly, however, breath samples are collected since these are the simplest and the least invasive samples to collect. However, the results from a breathalyzer test are often cited as being inaccurately high due to user error by the police officer administering the test, equipment malfunctions due to improper maintenance or design flaws, or even something as simple as recent mouthwash use by the person being tested. Health issues like acid reflux and heartburn or even a person’s diet can also cause inaccurate breath test results.
Blood tests, which are often completed at the police station or a medical facility, are more accurate than breathalyzer tests. However, even blood tests validity can be questioned if the testers are not qualified to administer the test or analyze the sample, if the equipment malfunctions due to improper maintenance or design flaws, and if the chain of custody for the sample is not properly documented.
If you can call into question the authenticity and accuracy of the BAC results in your case, your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction are increased dramatically.
Make a “Rising Blood Alcohol” Argument
When you drink an alcoholic beverage, it can take up to three hours for the alcohol to be absorbed into your blood. The time it takes for absorption varies from person to persons based on body size and personal metabolisms.
Essentially, the rising blood alcohol defense is the argument that you were first questioned about a DUI shortly after consuming alcohol, but not tested until several hours later. This delayed test gives your body time to absorb the alcohol into your system, thus generating higher BAC test results than if you had been tested right away. But in order to be convicted of a DUI, you must have been over the legal limit at the time of the arrest. It is possible, with a successful argument of rising blood alcohol, for the test results collected hours after the arrest to be thrown out.
In short, if you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI offense, there are several valuable options to avoid a conviction. The four options discussed in this article are only some of the defenses available to you. Contact an experienced attorney in your state to assist you with these and even more options to avoid a DUI conviction.