Everyone who likes to drink and drives a car should be aware of the most common defenses for DUI charges. Even if you don’t feel impaired – or if your test was a fluke – you may find yourself unexpectedly facing criminal charges. A working knowledge of common DUI strategies can help you know your rights, and will also help you determine when the officer who pulled you over may be trying to get you to incriminate yourself – even if you did nothing wrong.
1) Miranda Rights
Anyone who’s ever watched a cop show knows the beginning of their Miranda Rights. But despite the fact that the rights are well known, the officer who arrests you for DUI still has to inform you of your rights before interrogating you – as Los Angeles DUI Attorney points out. If they don’t – or they only tell you a part of the warning – then you have the makings of a defense that could get your case dismissed from court. It will certainly allow your lawyer to get some of the evidence dismissed, which will help your case immensely.
Remember that you have a right to legal counsel when you’ve been arrested, even if the police don’t finish reading you your Miranda Rights. The police are there to try and make the case that you broke the law. You don’t have to cooperate with them, even if they try and coerce you.
2) Improper Stop
It’s important to remember, when an officer pulls you over, they need to have Probable Cause. This means that they can’t just start pulling people over randomly and administering DUI tests – they have to have a reason to pull you over, and another reason to ask you to take the field sobriety test.
The original cause of the stop doesn’t really matter to the DUI test – you could be pulled over for running a stop sign, for example. If the officer then suspects that you’re over the legal limit, they can ask you to do a sobriety test. But they cannot do it without probable cause.
3) Existing Medical Condition
This defense doesn’t apply to everyone – but if you have an existing medical condition that can give the appearance of being intoxicated, then your lawyer will use a medical condition defense. Some of these conditions include diabetes, which can make the person seem erratic; acid reflux – which can cause a higher reading on a breathalyzer test; or some motor injuries that would cause a person to perform poorly on a field sobriety test.
If you have a medical condition that you think could have affected your sobriety test results, be sure to mention it your attorney.
4) Mouth Alcohol
Certain medical conditions and dental fixtures can cause a breathalyzer test to read a higher blood alcohol content than is really accurate. Things that can contribute to residual mouth alcohol – dental bridges or crowns, acid reflux, dentures, and other things can get alcohol caught beneath them when you drink it. Likewise, if you just consumed an alcoholic beverage (within the last 15 minutes) you may read higher than is accurate as well.
Police officers are supposed to ensure that 15 minutes have passed before administering a breathalyzer on someone they’ve pulled over to minimized the impact of residual mouth alcohol, but this doesn’t always happen.