How can you defend a DUI?

Have you been charged with driving under the influence (DUI)? Find out what options you have to defend your case.

If you are convicted of driving under the influence you can face serious consequences, such as a fine, suspension of your licence, higher insurance premiums, and even jail time. You’ll also have a criminal record which can impact your career opportunities and immigration status. 

However, there are a considerable number of things that can happen between being charged with DUI and being convicted, which can impact the outcome and therefore the consequences. This is why it is important to secure expert legal help, such as a DUI Las Vegas lawyer as soon as you are arrested.

In this article we will look at some of your options when defending a DUI, so you can build a case and protect your rights. 

You can challenge the traffic stop

Usually, an arrest for DUI will take place after being stopped in your vehicle by a police officer. That officer must have a valid reason for the stop, such as observing you commit a traffic violation, or suspecting you are impaired. 

If they did not legally stop you, or their justification was too flimsy, a defense attorney can request any evidence obtained during the stop be suppressed.

You can question the field sobriety test

Sometimes officers will conduct field sobriety tests to ascertain whether you are under the influence or not, after stopping you. These can include asking you to walk and turn, or stand on one leg. 

However, field sobriety tests are notoriously subjective. And fatigue, nervousness and medical conditions can all impact your performance. As a result, the results can possibly be challenged by your attorney. 

You can challenge breathalyzer or blood test results

A common test used for DUI cases is measuring your blood alcohol concentration using a breathalyzer or blood test. However, these tests aren’t always accurate either. There can be problems with calibration, maintenance, and administration that can influence the results, and render them inaccurate. 

Your attorney may decide to challenge the reliability of the procedures followed, and therefore the results. 

You can make a case for probable cause 

As we have ascertained, in order for a DUI arrest to be legal the law enforcement officer(s) must have probable cause for stopping you.

If there was not irrefutable evidence that your driving was impaired, or you believe the officer was biased, your attorney can argue that they lacked probable cause, and therefore the arrest should not have happened. 

You can establish a rising BAC

Even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was above the legal limit when you were tested, you can potentially make a case that it was not when you were driving. 

This is because it takes time (around 30 to 45 minutes on average) for your BAC to rise to the maximum level after your last drink. So, if you consumed alcohol shortly before driving, you may have been under the limit when you were stopped, but your BAC could have risen by the time tests were conducted. This is known as a rising BAC defense. 

You may have medical issues that impacted your breathalyzer results

It is known that some medical conditions, including heartburn, acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), can lead to false positives with breathalyzer tests. Your defense attorney will ask you if you have any issues that may help with your case. 

You can attempt to prove necessity

In some extremely rare situations, you can try to argue that you had to drive due to an emergency, such as a medical incident. This is known as a ‘choice of evils’ defense in which driving while under the influence was the lesser of two evils. 

This is a tough defense to establish, and you would need to demonstrate that you were trying to prevent significant harm to yourself or someone else, and there was no other alternative but for you to drive. You would also have to show that your actions did not create a greater danger or contribute to the emergency, and that you believed this option was absolutely necessary. 

You can negotiate a plea bargain 

And finally, your DUI defense attorney may recommend that it is in your best interests to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution. This can help to reduce any charges or penalties, but you will need to plead guilty.