Given the extensive social pressure on elected officials to clamp down on driving under the influence (DUI), most prosecutors within the state pursue these offenses aggressively. Thankfully, it is possible to fight a DUI. By relying on the experience of a dedicated defense attorney, you could obtain the favorable outcome you are looking for. A McDonough DUI lawyer could review your charges and determine which defense strategy best suits your case.

Proving Intoxication in a DUI Case

For a DUI conviction, the state must establish that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle on a public road while under the influence of a drug or alcohol. In general, there are two approaches available for the prosecutor to prove intoxication. Most of the time, the prosecution relies on the results of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. These breath, blood, or urine samples show the concentration of alcohol in a driver’s blood. Any result of .08 or greater is evidence of intoxication.

Alternatively, it is possible for the state to obtain a conviction even when the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test. The state can use other evidence to establish that the defendant was intoxicated. This could include eyewitness testimony that the driver appeared intoxicated, failed field sobriety tests, or an admission of drinking. An attorney in McDonough could skillfully disprove the prosecution’s case by creating a strong defense.

Blood and/or Breath Testing

Once arrested, the officer will ask a potential offender to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath, or urine. It is important to note that individuals have an absolute right to refuse that testing. If a person submits, then they will be prosecuted for a separate charge of DUI per se if their blood alcohol concentration is over the legal limit of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of blood. If the jury believes those results to be accurate, then this person will be convicted of DUI regardless of how they appear to have been affected by the alcohol in their system (the less safe charge). Breath testing and blood testing are by far the most common forms of testing but neither test is perfect. There are deficiencies with the testing protocol and of course human error can always affect the validity of the results. Our attorney has completed the same training protocol as the officers so he knows when they make mistakes. Those mistakes are the difference between guilty and not guilty.

Viable Defense Strategies for Drinking and Driving Charges

There are different types of DUI and the prosecution will certainly charge you in every way possible. Every DUI case has a less safe aspect in that the prosecutor will allege that your ability to drive was impaired by the alcohol and/or drugs in your system such that you were rendered a less safe driver than you otherwise would have been. This is a subjective standard in that the prosecution must definitively prove that your driving was somehow worse than it would have been at any other time.

Officers are trained to include standard observations like an odor of alcohol or marijuana and bloodshot eyes etc. These observations provide the basis of their request to have you exit your vehicle. The officer will then request that you perform field sobriety tests. The truth is that these tests are inherently flawed and the law enforcement studies which allegedly validated these tests prove that they are not perfect. This means that in their own studies, some subjects who were not impaired still “failed” the tests and were arrested despite having no drugs or alcohol in their system.

A McDonough attorney could have many potential defenses to rely on in any DUI case. While there is no silver bullet approach that works in every situation, there are two significant approaches to defending against allegations of driving under the influence. The first strategy involves attacking the traffic stop. The second involves challenging the accuracy or admissibility of any chemical tests.

Challenging the Stop

One direct way to defeat a DUI charge is to establish that the traffic stop was illegal. Law enforcement does not have free reign to pull over drivers or search their vehicles. To initiate a traffic stop, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that a traffic offense or other crime is in progress.

If the defense attorney can show that the police stopped the defendant without reasonable suspicion, they could pursue a motion to exclude any evidence collected during or after the stop. This is possible through a legal doctrine known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Anything from an admission of drinking to a breathalyzer test result could be excluded if the court determines the stop was illegal.

Challenging a Chemical Test

Another strategy used in many DUI defenses is arguing to exclude the results of the chemical test. Often, the results of a blood or breath test are the strongest evidence the state has to rely on. If the jury believes the test result is reliable and accurate, then the jury must convict the accused for being over the legal limit of .08.

However, there are a number of ways to have the test thrown out. If the police fail to follow procedure when collecting the sample or sending it to the lab, it could result in a compromised specimen. The same is true in cases where the lab makes a mistake during testing. If a McDonough attorney can show that a blood sample collected in DUI case was mishandled, they could have the result of that test thrown out at trial.

Administrative v. Criminal Proceedings and Their Consequences

The administrative hearing only deals with whether a defendant will have the ability to drive between the time of the arrest and the final disposition of their criminal charges. This hearing is held before an administrative law judge from the Office of State Administrative Hearings (“OSAH”). Unfortunately, the officer only has to present sufficient evidence to justify the arrest, establish that the defendant was given the option of taking the State’s chemical test, and whether they actually consented to take said test or refused. The length and severity of the potential license suspension depends on whether the denfendant consented to the State’s chemical test and whether they have been charged with DUI in the last five years.

The administrative hearing differs greatly from the actual criminal trial. At the criminal trial, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was impaired by drugs or alcohol when they were driving. Additionally, the alleged offender is allowed to present a defense by attacking the officer’s investigation, the accuracy of the blood or breath test, and the testimony of any witnesses who were with them before and/or during the arrest.

If someone is convicted or pleads guilty to the criminal offense, they are also looking at mandatory minimum criminal punishments such as jail time, probation, community service, fines, counseling, DUI school and numerous other special conditions. These mandatory minimums increase exponentially based on the defendant’s criminal history and specifically how many DUIs they have been convicted of in the last ten years. Finally, there are collateral considerations such as significant increases in insurance premiums and potential employment consequences.

Only 30 days to save your license

After an arrest for driving under the influence (“DUI”), a person must take action within thirty days to protect their driver’s license.  They have two options.  If they choose to fight the suspension, they can request an administrative hearing.  If an accused individual wants to guarantee they get to keep their ability to drive for work, school, and medical appointments, then they can install an Ignition Interlock device on their vehicle and waive their right to an administrative hearing.  The proper course of action depends on the specifics of the DUI case so it is critical to consult with our lawyers in McDonough quickly.  If no action is taken, then the alleged offender’s license is automatically suspended.

Talk to a McDonough DUI Attorney Right Away

Before you plead guilty to a DUI charge, it is important to understand these cases can be defensible. The police make mistakes and even make arrests knowing that a skilled defense attorney can beat the charges. If you are ready to build a winning defense in your drunk driving case, an experienced attorney could help. Contact a McDonough DUI lawyer immediately to get started.

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Carl Chapman