If you have been arrested for DUI or DWI, it is certainly cause for concern — but not by no means is it cause for despair. By hiring an experienced DUI defense lawyer who knows what to look for to protect your rights, you place yourself in the best position to defend the charges against you. The following is a list of factors that can contribute to a successful outcome in a DUI case. Of course, not everything listed below will be a factor in every case – a seasoned police officer will be extremely careful during a DUI stop to avoid making any mistakes during the investigation and arrest. However, this list provides several examples of what an experienced, aggressive DUI defense lawyer examines in preparing a successful defense against drunk driving charges.
- ILLEGAL STOP OF PERSON OR VEHICLE
An officer cannot initiate a traffic stop unless he has a reasonable and articulable basis to believe that a traffic offense has been committed or a law has been violated. Similarly, an officer cannot detain a driver unless a violation has occurred.
- LACK OF PROBABLE CAUSE TO ARREST
Even following a valid traffic stop, a police officer must have specific and articulable facts to support any arrest for DUI, or arrest may be deemed unlawful and any evidence arising from that arrest may be suppressed at trial.
- ILLEGAL SEARCH
The police are prohibited from searching a driver or an automobile for a minor traffic offense, and may not search a car without the driver’s consent or valid probable cause of crime unrelated to the traffic stop. Any evidence obtained illegally is not admissible in court.
- WEAVING INSIDE THE LANES IS NOT ILLEGAL
Weaving within your lane of travel without crossing any lane markers is not a per se violation of the law, and a vehicle cannot be stopped for that reason alone.
- ANONYMOUS REPORT OF DRUNK DRIVING
Police cannot stop a car simply because an anonymous citizen reported erratic driving. The arresting officer must make independent observations that confirm the anonymous tip.
- STANDARD FIELD SOBRIETY TESTING IS INACCURATE
In healthy individuals, the one-leg stand test is only 65% accurate, and the walk-and-turn test is only 68% accurate in determining if a person is under the influence of alcohol. Persons with injuries, medical conditions, 50 pounds or greater overweight, and 65 years or older cannot be validly judged by these tests.
- FIELD SOBRIETY TEST IMPROPERLY ADMINISTERED
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), if the officer does not administer the Standardized Field Tests pursuant to the established protocol, the reliability of the tests is compromised.
- MEDICAL AND HEALTH PROBLEMS
Medical problems with legs, arms, neck, back and eyes can affect the results of field sobriety tests. Further, other medical conditions can also affect the validity of breath test results.
- BAD WEATHER
Weather reports establishing high winds, low visibility, precipitation and other conditions may provide a valid explanation for otherwise poor driving or poor performance on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
- NON-STANDARDIZED FIELD TESTS PROVIDE LIMITED BASIS FOR ARREST
Neither the Federal Government (NHTSA) nor medical science considers touching your finger to your nose, or saying the alphabet, or counting backwards, as valid sobriety tests.
- IN-SQUAD VIDEOS
More and more often, the suspect’s driving and performance on field tests is being recorded; often contradicting police testimony. In most cases, the driver looks FAR better on the video than the officer has reported in his written arrest report.
- PORTABLE BREATH TEST INADMISSIBLE
Most states prohibit the use of portable breath testing (PBT) results as evidence at trial in a DUI case. The extent of the evidentiary value of a PBT is solely as a probable cause indicator for the officer’s decision to arrest.
- PORTABLE BREATH TEST IMPROPERLY ADMINISTERED
The manufacturers of portable breath testing devices (PBTs) require specific pre-testing protocol – such as an observation / deprivation period – in order for the results to be deemed valid. Even when relied upon for the limited purpose of establishing “Probable Cause” to arrest, a PBT must be administered properly.
- BREATH TEST OPERATOR NOT CERTIFIED
Most states require a Breath Test Operator to be properly trained and licensed to operate a breath testing device.
- BREATH TEST OPERATOR CERTIFICATION EXPIRED
Even if the Breath Test Operator has been properly trained and licensed, if his license has expired without proper renewal, his test results are generally inadmissible until he obtains a current license to operate the machine.
- INTOXILYZER MACHINE MALFUNCTIONS
Most states specify that if there is a malfunction or repair of the breath test instrument within a certain period of time before or after a suspect’s breath test, the results of the suspect’s test are presumed invalid.
- BREATH MACHINE NOT PROPERLY OPERATED
The manufacturers of breath testing devices have specified protocols, which must be followed for a breath result to be valid. Failure to follow these requirements can result in improper readings and inadmissible results.
- FAILURE TO CONDUCT OBSERVATION PERIOD
Most states require that a driver be observed continuously for a minimum period, generally twenty minutes, prior to a breath test in order for the results to be considered valid and admissible.
- FAILURE TO MIRANDIZE
Prosecutors may not use statements of a defendant in custody for a DUI as evidence if the police failed to properly issue Miranda Warnings prior to the interview.
- BOOKING ROOM VIDEOS
Many police stations videotape suspects at the police station, where their speech is clear and their balance is perfect, in spite of police testimony to the contrary.
Watch this video to learn how Paul Cramm defends DUI and DWI defense and to see why you need his representation in your Kansas City Drunk Driving case.