Former Prosecutors Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
Many people who have been charged with Driving While Under the Influence (DWUI) wonder if there are legitimate defenses to a DWUI charge.
The answer is emphatically yes.
There are many different defenses to a DWUI charge. The defenses that are best for you will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. And while obtaining information from a website is a good first step, there’s no substitute for talking to an experienced DWUI defense attorney who can analyze your circumstances, identify the defenses that apply to your case, and defend you in court.
At Just Criminal law, our experienced DWUI defense team will evaluate the circumstances that led to your arrest, how the officer came to believe that you were drinking and driving, and whether your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test results are accurate.
Once we understand the facts of your case and have developed our legal defense strategy, we will file motions to suppress evidence, represent you at pre-trial hearings, and, if necessary, defend you at trial.
Our team has extensive experience handling DUI charges, and we know how to win. Our founder, attorney Christina L. Williams, is a former prosecutor. She knows how the prosecution prepares a DWUI case, how to minimize the chances of a conviction, and how to win at trial.
The defenses available in a DWUI case differ from those presented in most other criminal cases. Defending against a DWUI charge often involves developing and implementing strategies to exclude evidence and showing that the evidence that is presented does not amount to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
In any criminal case, including a DWUI charge, the suspect has the right to counsel. This right is critical in DWUI cases where time is of the essence to obtain evidence of alleged intoxication. If a DWUI suspect is denied the right to speak to an attorney, the case can be dismissed for a violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.
DWUI cases present technical questions of evidence and science. The crux of the matter is whether there was alcohol present in your blood to the extent that it impaired your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
The most common way of testing a suspect’s BAC is using a breath test. While these tests are convenient for law enforcement officers, they can be inaccurate. The test results can change due to differences in human physiology, the amount of time that passed since you last consumed alcohol, variances in body temperature, and the presence of substances in the suspect’s mouth when the test was administered.
Whenever a police officer comes into contact with a suspect, that initial contact must be lawful. The police officer must have seen you violate a law, such as by failing to use a turn signal, driving erratically, swerving outside of your lane, or failing to come to a complete stop. The legal term for this is probable cause.
If the police did not have probable cause to believe you violated a law, evidence obtained after the initial stop cannot be considered.
The police officer must also have probable cause to believe you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Common signs of intoxication include an odor of alcohol or other drugs, bloodshot or glassy eyes, general confusion, loss of balance or coordination, slurred speech, or problems with fine motor skills.
Police officers often ask people suspected of DWUI to perform Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs). These “tests” are intended to provide the prosecution with evidence to show that you were under the influence.
FSTs often include some combination of walking a straight line, reciting the alphabet, the horizontal nystagmus gaze test, the walk and turn test, or having you stand on one leg.
The police officer will give you instructions. If you have difficulty completing the task, the officer will note that you were unable to complete the test as explained and use this fact as evidence of your alleged intoxication.
An experienced DWUI defense attorney can challenge the manner and circumstances under which the tests were administered. A successful challenge to the results of your performance on the FSTs means that they will be excluded from consideration, and the prosecutor will have a more difficult time securing a conviction and will be more likely to agree to a plea for a lesser offense.
An obvious but often overlooked element of a DWUI charge is that the driver must be in physical control of a motor vehicle. If the driver lacked the ability to operate the vehicle, they cannot be convicted of a DWUI. For example, the fact that the suspect did not have access to the keys or was simply using the vehicle as a shelter before regaining their sobriety can be used to show that the driver was not in actual physical control of the vehicle.
If you have been charged with a DWUI, don’t go it alone. The criminal defense team at Just Criminal Law is here to help. We invite you to learn why clients choose us, to get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and to contact us today to schedule your personalized case review and strategy session.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.