You made a mistake. Late night drinking. Late night driving. Flashing police lights. Field sobriety tests. Handcuffs. It is a bit of a blur for you. One thing is for sure, you are now facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges. While getting arrested for a DUI can be a traumatic experience, having to go to court to face the charges against you can be just as scary.
No one wants a DUI conviction on their record. So you may be wondering how to get your DUI dismissed. Whether you believe you were sober enough to drive, the officer made a mistake, or the chemical test instrument’s result (commonly known by the brand name “Breathalyzer”) was inaccurate, beating a DUI is possible under certain circumstances.
What follows is a discussion of several ways your attorney may be able to help you get your DUI charge dismissed. Remember, every case is different and there are no guarantees, but here are a few common reasons for a dismissal.
Was the Traffic Stop Valid?
A police officer must have reasonable suspicion a crime, even a minor traffic violation, has been committed to lawfully pull you over for a traffic stop. Reasonable suspicion can be anything from speeding, weaving, and erratic driving, to the officer observing a mechanical violation on your vehicle such as a broken taillight. If the officer doesn’t have the basis for reasonable suspicion, any evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful traffic stop can be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment. This includes the results of any chemical tests and field sobriety tests you may take, and even your words to the police officer.
For example, if you are driving near a well-known college bar that hosts a weekly beer bust, but not committing any traffic violations, the officer doesn’t have a valid reason to stop you and anything that happens as a result likely won’t be allowed into evidence, even objective signs of intoxication such as your slurred speech, red eyes, or unsteady gait under the “exclusionary rule.” Your attorney will know how to challenge your case by bringing a pretrial motion to exclude the unlawfully obtained evidence before your trial begins.
Challenging the Field Sobriety Tests
Another way to possible get a DUI dismissal is to challenge the validity of the field sobriety tests (FSTs). Many officers use three main tests to help determine if a motorist is too impaired to drive: horizontal gaze nystagamus (HGN), the walk and turn test (WAT), and the one-leg stand (OLS). Despite their relative accuracy in helping to detect drivers under the influence, these tests are subject to human error. A few ways your attorney may be able to challenge the tests include the following:
- Were the tests given in poorly lit conditions or on uneven pavement?
- Was the driver wearing improper shoes such as high heels or sandals?
- Did the officer fail to properly explain the test instructions?
When it comes to the HGN test, there are also several explanations for involuntary eye movement other than alcohol, such as a medical condition or certain medications which can mimic involuntary eye movement similar to those present during alcohol impairment. Your attorney may be able to challenge the accuracy of these tests before or during trial on cross-examination of the officer.
Chemical Test Results
Whether you took a blood, breath, or urine test, you may be able to challenge the accuracy of your results. One of the key areas your attorney may be able to contest is whether the Breathalyzer was properly maintained and calibrated. With regard to a blood draw, was the paramedic trained and was the draw administered properly? Your lawyer may also be able to question if the blood sample was contaminated or stored improperly, thus leading to an inaccurate result.
These are just a few of the possible ways that your blood or breath alcohol results (BAC) can be either thrown out (and your DUI case dismissed) or at least called into question, thereby weakening the prosecution’s case against you.
You Weren’t Driving
While this defense is less technical and more fact-specific, there are situations where the prosecution may not be able to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you were the driver. We typically see this argument made when the police arrive at the scene of a solo vehicle accident and no one saw who was driving and there are passengers in the car. It also helps if the defendant did not make any admissions of driving and the car isn’t registered to him or her. This defense can also be viable if law enforcement finds an intoxicated person in a parked vehicle.
Again, the question becomes “who was driving,” but can extend beyond to “when was the person driving?” Was he or she under the influence at the time of driving or can the time of driving not be determined? The burden is on the prosecutor to prove you were the driver and were intoxicated at the time of driving.
Get Legal Help With a DUI Dismissal
Can you get your DUI dismissed? A skilled attorney with experience in DUIs will be able to advise you on that possibility. While results are never guaranteed, a legal professional can evaluate your case and look for constitutional violations or errors by the officer. Consider speaking with an experienced, local DUI attorney today.