“I wasn’t drunk” is not an effective argument for fighting a DUI charge. Of course, it’s a defense attorney’s job to do the arguing for someone arrested for a drunk driving. And if it’s possible to challenge a DUI charge, your lawyer is obligated to find a way.
Here are a few common—and lesser-known—methods they might employ if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation:
Cover the basics
Forget being clever. The best defense may be right under your nose.
“Look at the specific statute for the charge. Many states have different categories of DUI, such as a DUI charge when there is no breathalyzer test, a DUI charge when there is a breathalyzer test, a DUI for controlled substances, a DUI for ‘combined influence,’ which requires presence of both alcohol and another controlled substance,” says Caleb Ballew, associate attorney with Martinson & Beason PC in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Each of these statutes contains their own set of defenses, shifting burdens, and other nuances that attorneys tend to forget.”
Claim invalid stop
A police officer needs a valid reason for stopping a driver. Though it is within an officer’s right to check drivers for signs of drinking—slurred speech, the smell of alcohol, unsteady gait—if the reason for your being pulled over is weak, meaning the police did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop you, charges could be dismissed.
Invoke user error
Field sobriety tests leave a lot to be desired when it comes to actually assessing your intoxication level. Asking someone to stand on one leg or do the walk-and-turn successfully—often in a rushed or unorganized manner—will result in the officer’s subjective opinion. But balancing on one foot is a challenge for teetotalers on a good day.
Improper administration of field sobriety tests, accompanied by outside factors that could affect the motorist’s ability to perform (such as having a cold or a disability), can be successfully argued. An invalid arrest due to inadequate investigation procedures is also a viable argument.
Prove inaccurate testing
Motorists who are pulled over by an officer can (politely) refuse to take a preliminary breath test, which uses a handheld device that can be inaccurately calibrated. However, a breath test will be administered at the police station as well, and there is no getting out of that—but this machine’s results can be inaccurate, too, even when the test is properly administered.
Either way, a skilled defense attorney can argue that the test results are unreliable or inadmissible. However the facts of your case line up, be sure to get the best help you can get; a DUI on your record is not something you want, so be sure and take advantage of the legal assistance to which all Americans are entitled.