A prosecutor represents the Commonwealth of Virginia in a DUI case. They must present evidence to prove a person is guilty of driving under the influence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Constitutional rights violations, inaccurate chemical tests, and unlawful traffic stops are examples of how you can challenge the validity of the evidence against you and get your entire case dismissed.
Below are the most common strategies used to defend against DUI charges.
Prove the Traffic Stop Is Unlawful
Law enforcement must have reasonable suspicion of a crime in progress to pull someone over. However, reasonable suspicion doesn’t necessarily have to involve intoxication. Officers often perform a traffic stop for another reason and notice possible signs of intoxication.
You might be able to get the evidence against you suppressed if the arresting officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop. Evidence might include a field sobriety test, law enforcement’s observation of intoxication, and chemical test results.
Establish an Illegal Search and Seizure
Officers can’t search anything they want, even if they have probable cause to pull someone over. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement must obtain a warrant to perform a search and gather evidence. However, they are allowed to search within the immediate vicinity if they believe your car contains evidence of a crime you committed.
You might be able to get the evidence against you suppressed, meaning the prosecutor can’t present it in court. Filing a motion to suppress is successful only if you can prove the arresting officer didn’t have probable cause to search your vehicle during the traffic stop.
Argue Against the Validity of a Field Sobriety Test
A field sobriety test is a test an officer conducts to determine whether a driver is under the influence of alcohol. Three types of standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) exist. However, they can yield inaccurate results.
These tests depend on an officer’s ability to provide proper instructions and make subjective observations. The results of an SFST depend on law enforcement’s interpretation of the driver’s behavior. Just because an officer determines someone is intoxicated after administering the test doesn’t mean they actually are.
Challenge the Accuracy of a Blood or Breath Test
Officers can administer blood and breath chemical tests to determine intoxication. They are not always accurate. The tests depend on devices law enforcement must administer and maintain correctly.
A breath test device measures blood alcohol concentration (BAC). It must undergo regular maintenance to ensure correct calibration. If the machine malfunctions, the results can show an intoxication level above the legal limit.
Blood tests require collecting, analyzing, and storing blood samples carefully. The slightest error can increase a person’s BAC by 0.01%. That might be the difference between being below the legal limit and at the legal limit of intoxication. Mislabeling the sample with someone else’s or contamination can show drugs or alcohol are in a person’s system even if they never consumed any.
Prove Signs of Impairment Are Due to a Medical Condition
Someone might appear to be under the influence but has a medical condition law enforcement interprets as intoxication. Significant physical exertion, allergies, and other ailments might cause similar signs of impairment, such as:
- Poor balance
- Slurred speed
- Trouble following instructions or concentrating
- Bloodshot eyes
Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer Now
The law office of Bain Sheldon has represented clients in criminal cases in Richmond, VA, since 2006. We know the appropriate legal strategies to defend someone against a DUI charge. You can count on us to fight to get the charge dropped, and your case dismissed.
If you were charged with DUI, call us at 804-282-8625 for a free initial consultation today.