What Are Some Possible Defenses In A Drunk Driving Case?

Drunk driving charges can seem daunting given the associated penalties, fines, and possibility of losing your license or insurance. Consequently, many people will talk to a DUI attorney about their possible options for fighting or mitigating the charges. A DUI lawyer will usually recommend one of these approaches.

Questioning the Pretext of the Stop

Whenever the cops conduct traffic stops, they must have at least reasonable suspicion of a possible offense. The classic example of reasonable suspicion is that the officer saw the car cross the yellow line in the middle of the road several times. A drunk driving attorney might demand an inspection of the cruiser's dash cam video to see if that story holds up based on the visual evidence. If not, the DUI lawyer might move for the court to dismiss the charges.

Probable Cause

Charging someone with a crime requires the cops to climb a ladder of escalating legal necessity. Just because a cop has reasonable suspicion doesn't mean they can arrest you. They must then establish probable cause. This means there was credible evidence that a crime may have occurred. If the police officer claimed to have seen a beer bottle on the floor of the car, that would be probably cause to then conduct a field sobriety test. A DUI attorney might ask to look at a body cam to show there wasn't a bottle.

Technological Challenges

The police also frequently use various technologies to monitor traffic and determine if drivers are drunk. Radar guns and breathalyzers are the big two. The defense has the right to discovery of maintenance logs, field histories, equipment recalls, and on-the-scene records from these devices. If any of these factors could have adversely affected the readings, a DUI lawyer will bring that to the judge's attention.

Chain of Custody

Sometimes the police seize evidence from vehicles or take blood samples from drivers. When they do this, they have to prove a clean chain of custody from the time of seizure until the item appears in court. If a lab technician mixed up blood samples or another cop lost track of a seized bottle in the evidence locker, a drunk driving lawyer will immediately ask the judge to block their introduction as evidence in court. Prosecutors often drop charges once they lose key pieces of supporting evidence.

Scientific Defenses

Finally, you might introduce a scientific defense. While it may sound outlandish, a person could assert their body produces alcohol that triggers a positive on a test. Similar claims regarding the appearance of drunkenness sometimes are associated with certain pharmaceuticals, too.