If you are arrested for DUI or DWI, you can face serious repercussions. Here, Maryland attorney, Jeffrey Scholnick discusses common DUI/DWI defenses that may help to reduce your charges.
Defenses Related to “Driving”
In any DUI/DWI case, there are two main points that a prosecutor must prove to be true. First, they must show that you were operating the motor vehicle at the time it was pulled over; and second, that you were ‘under the influence’ at this time. When a prosecutor can prove these two factors, they have generally given enough evidence to show that your ability to drive safely was affected by alcohol, and that you should not have been behind the wheel.
In most cases, an officer pulling someone over does not leave much room for debate on whether or not the person in the driver’s seat was driving the vehicle. However, in rare cases, an officer could have approached someone in an idling car in a parking lot and arrested them for DUI/DWI. In this situation, the issue is debatable based on the evidence and may be arguable in court.
Another defense option closely reviews the actual arrest. If the arresting officer does not have legal justification as to why you were pulled over, any evidence taken from the traffic stop or the arrest could be ruled ‘inadmissible’ and therefore, not used against you in court. The officer must have probable cause to stop your vehicle for drunk driving. If you feel that you were stopped for reasons relating to your race or ethnicity, rather than your ability to drive safely, you may have a reason to challenge the arrest.
By law, an officer must read you your Miranda rights during an arrest. These are the rights, often heard on TV during an arrest, that inform you of your rights against self-incrimination. If the arresting officer fails to inform you of these rights or recites them improperly, you may be able to omit certain evidence at your trial.
Another option that you may have for defending your DUI/DWI charges involves challenging the officer’s observations as to whether or not you were drunk. An arresting officer in a DUI case will usually specify a few main factors of the incident that led them to believe that someone was drunk driving. This includes the way the person was driving, how they looked when they were pulled over, and any performance during a field sobriety test. If you can prove that the officer’s testimony of the encounter is not exactly accurate, you have a greater chance at reducing the resultant charges. Introducing a witness that has refuting observations to the officer’s may help to provide an explanation for your actions, or provide evidence that you were wrongfully pulled over.
You may also offer your own explanation or justification of any peculiar behavior. Providing testimony regarding physical impairments, medications, lack of sleep, etc., may help to explain your actions on the date that you were arrested for drunk driving.
Blood Alcohol Content
A blood alcohol content of .08% makes you guilty of a DUI in all states. In order to determine this, officers may conduct one of several tests that attempt to prove that there was excess alcohol in your system at the time of the arrest. These tests include breathalyzer tests, blood samples, urine samples, and saliva tests. By successfully challenging the accuracy of a test, the test may be ruled inadmissible in court. You may also challenge aspects of these tests, such as the administration of the test, consumption of food or medication that may have led to false readings, or the time of the test relative to when you were drinking.
An attorney familiar with DUI/DWI cases is instrumental in protecting your rights. An attorney should ask questions at the initial interview about all of the issues raised in this article. For more information on your defense options in a DUI/DWI case, contact experienced attorney Jeffrey Scholnick.