Defeating a DUI ticket is one of the trickiest – if doable at all – challenges any driver can have. The positive result is never guaranteed and there is always a lot of psychological pressure during the process. DUI is a serious violation and is even considered to be a felony in many States. However being knowledgeable and prepared to fight a DUI always helps to improve your chances and minimize the potential loss.
Below discussed tips and tricks provide you with a general guidance and professional advices shared by many practicing DUI lawyers with real experience of defending DUI/DWI cases in the court.
DUI Preventive Measures
The measures in this group advise you how to avoid a DUI/DWI tickets from happening in the first place.
1. Prevent Rather Than Fight
This million dollar advice simply states “Don’t Drink and Drive”. Always consider avoiding drinking and driving if it’s possible. It is much easier to prevent an undesirable event than get yourself out of trouble when an incident has already happened.
So, the first DUI advice – to avoid DUI “Don’t Drink and Drive” in the first place. Consider using a designated driver, or take a cab or consider using the special “drunk” drivers support services which exist in many places. For example, some automobile associations provide free towing service for its members on official State Holidays, Super Bowl Day and some other “strategic” events.
2. Drinking but Still Driving
You said “Don’t drink and drive”? Well, easier said than done. We all know that there are numerous situations when you must drive after consuming some alcohol. And it is perfectly legal by the way in all States – illegal is only impaired driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit (usually 0.08). But how much is too much?
Generally one alcoholic drink (glass of wine, one beer or one shot of whisky) safely metabolizes in the human body for about 30 min – 1 hour. The real number – your number – will depend on your gender, age, your metabolism rate, weight (amount of blood in your body), previous food intake, number of drinks you have had and the time elapsed after your last drink.
Note also, that contrary to popular belief, coffee, tea, a cold shower, fresh air or physical exercise cannot help you to get sober sooner. So, plan accordingly and leave enough time to sober out.
So, the second DUI advice – know your number if you drink before your drive. Best of all, to avoid any mistakes use a personal breathalyzer. There is a plethora of individual breathalyzers available in the market and ranging from $10 to several hundred dollars depending on functionality and accuracy they provide. Purchase the one you can afford and test your breath before you can start driving. This simple fix will save you from much of trouble related to DUI.
DUI Retaliation Measures
The measures in this group are meant to help you to fight possible DUI consequences when you already got stopped by a police officer.
3. When You Are Over the Limit
You were drinking and driving that night, then stopped by police and you were not sure if you got busted or not. What is next? Once you get stopped by law enforcement with suspicion of DUI two things would happen:
1. You will be requested a roadside sobriety exercise like spelling the alphabet starting from a specific letter forwards or counting backwards from some start number or moving exercises like finger-to-nose touching or walking straight line to test your balance etc.
If you passed the express test then everything may happily end right here. Congrats!
2. If you failed the roadside express test then you will be arrested and taken to jail. A full-scale intoxication analysis will be administered to you including your breath, blood or urine analysis.
You might ask what would be the best retaliation strategy for either scenario above. The main logic behind your strategy in both scenarios is basically the same – more you cooperate with traffic police the more evidence you can leave to him. Pull yourself together, stay reserved and don’t do any silly things to hurt your chances.
For the first scenario – if there is ANY chance that you can fail the roadside test then without any doubt you should politely refuse the test and ask to talk to your lawyer first. Note that roadside tests are not mandatory and there are no administrative consequences for refusing the roadside test. Most likely you will be detained and placed into the jail for 8 hours but you will manage to maintain your greatest asset – a presumption of innocence. It would be much more difficult to save your case in front of a jury if you failed the road side test for any reason. Another possible advantage for you here is winning time – negotiation with the police at the traffic stop, then driving to the police station, then doing paperwork there can take some time (sometimes hours) so you will get an additional chance and time to sober out if needed.
For the second scenario – the strategy is the same: if there is ANY chance that you can fail the breath-, blood- or urine- test then politely but firmly refuse the test until you can speak with your lawyer.
This will give you additional time to sober out and to postpone the test. However this case is generally more difficult to defend because of the so-called “Implied Consent Law” acting in many States. According to that law you give the law enforcement authorities your explicit consent for the BAC Tests at the time of issuing a driving license to you. This consent limits your chances for escape later. Nevertheless politely insist to speak with your lawyer and discuss your next step with him. This way you will significantly increase your chances to survive your DUI.
The optimal defense strategy your lawyer would design to defend you in the court heavily depends on specific details of your DUI/DWI case as well as on other important for law factors.
Note, for example, that there are not one but two categories of charges for drinking and driving.
First charge category is a well-known DUI (Driving Under Influence) which addresses driver’s erratic driving at the time of incident rather than anything else. DUI means that you are under the influence but not necessarily over the limit. This charge category is very subjective and basically relies on judgment of the police officer who was observing the scene and who conducts the roadside express test.
Second charge category, more commonly known as DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) focuses on charges for having BAC (Blood Alcohol Level) above the legal limit. It defines the critical BAC levels for different age groups, driver categories and conditions. For example critical BAC levels for underage drivers (younger than 21 years of age), commercial drivers and normal drivers are set to be 0.02, 0.04 and 0.08 respectively. Note, that 0.02 actually means absolutely no drinking, i.e. Zero Tolerance for drivers under 21.
Note that there is a distinct group of drivers who are tolerant (resistant) to the alcohol consumption and who can be well intoxicated without being impaired. According to the DWI law these particular drivers still can be found guilty in high BAC level (0.08 law) but not guilty in driving under the influence!
Conversely, a drinking newbie with low tolerance to alcohol may be impaired way below the 0.08 level and hence found not guilty for DWI but guilty for DUI. If you are guilty of either offense, or both offenses, the punishment is the same.
Note also, that DWI law doesn’t address driving under drug “intoxication” as for drugged drivers BAC is usually perfectly normal. To the same token DWI excludes all drivers who have a medical condition and who take legal, prescribed to them drugs which can make them drowsy, dizzy, disoriented or can impair their ability to drive safely in any other way.
It is easy to understand now that successful defense strategy for either charge category would be completely different and would drastically depend on many subtle details of your particular case.
To give you a basic understanding of what defense tactics an experienced traffic lawyer can apply in your particular case let’s list some of them in a random order:
1. Can the police officer prove that it was you who was driving the car?
In the case if you are not the only passenger in the car this is not that obvious.
2. Where the car keys were found at the time of the traffic stop – in your hands or in the car?
3. Was the Miranda Rights pamphlet read to you at the time of arrest?
4. Were the BAC measurement tools used for your intoxication report the officially approved ones and not the tools discontinued by the law in your State? If not – the intoxication report is not admissible to court and cannot be used against you.
5. Was the breathalyzer tool used to measure your BAC properly tested and calibrated as required by law (at least twice a months as required by many manufacturers)? If not – your case is dismissed.
6. Was the breath test administered correctly – must be 15 min of continues testing. If it was less than 15 min – the measurement data are considered to be unreliable and cannot be used to convict you.
7. Can your breath test be surely attributed to the exhaled air from your lungs and is not affected by your mouth alcohol which usually has much higher concentration?
8. If it was a blood test was the equipment properly cleaned to avoid contamination from previous driver tests. This would require a cross- examination of law enforcement officer.
9. If it was a urine test were there two urine samples taken? If it was one sample – your DUI case can be dismissed.
10. Have you had a drink without having any intent to drive and then were forced to drive by emergency?
11. Have you had a single drink right before the driving? Short timed drinks would unlikely affect your BAC number – so if it was high in the police station sometime two hours after your detention then was it really so high at the time of traffic stop?
Things Which Never Work
Theoretically many traffic violations can be “diplomatically” resolved at the time of the traffic stop if you manage to get mercy from the traffic authority that stopped you. This becomes legally possible as official law grants police officers an exclusive right to forgive a traffic violation if he decides so.
For example, you are a safe driver, or it is your first traffic violation, or you drive out of your state of residency or simply because there is something what makes the police officer sympathetic to you.
With DUI/DWI violations it is different – this type of traffic offences is specifically excluded from the list of forgivable traffic violations. Have no delusion – your DUI/DWI never can be forgiven by a police officer. More over – police officers are officially obliged by law to capture DUI/DWI violations bringing impaired drivers to justice regardless of their social status, rank, celebrity level, wealth or anything else. So never try to beg out your DUI/DWI violation – this would make your chances for further defense only harsher.
DUI/DWI is a serious violation of civil and traffic law and in many States is considered to be a felony. Leaving your DUI/DWI case as is, without any defense can be very costly for you. Driving license revocation, substantial financial fine, jail time, impounding of your car, loss of auto insurability especially if it is not your first DUI/DWI violation – this is a brief list of penalties which can be applied to you in this case.
Never try to handle your DUI/DWI case by yourself. Defending the DUI/DWI case in court is a complex and very delicate process which requires full-time support of a professional lawyer specializing on DUI/DWI cases. Hire a lawyer and enjoy your case happily dismissed – you will be glad you did it.