There are a number of different defenses that can be utilized by a skillful DUI defense attorney to cast reasonable doubt on any DUI investigation. Each DUI case is unique, call William Young for a free consultation and to discuss any defenses you may have.
Breath and Blood Testing
There are frequent problems with the tests used in measuring a person's BAC. Breath test machines must be properly maintained with regular accuracy checks and calibration. Failure to do so will result in the breath test machines giving inaccurate test results. Proper records must be kept if the test results are to be used against you.
Similarly, proper blood draw procedures must be followed if a blood test is given and the blood vial must be handled properly during the period prior to the testing or the BAC result will not be accurate. Blood is often shipped from location to location, leaving a lot of room for mishandling and contamination. Proper handling procedures, documenting chain of custody and preventing contamination, must be followed if the test results are to be used against you.
A skillful DUI defense attorney will know how to cast reasonable doubt on the accuracy of the blood or breath test results.
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are used by law enforcement officers to provide probable cause to initiate a breath or blood test. FST's are usually requested by the officer based upon some observed symptoms that the driver may have been drinking or using drugs.
There are three FSTs that officers commonly utilize during a DUI investigation: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk-and-Turn (WAT), and the One-Leg Stand (OLS). These are the only three field sobriety tests endorsed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administrations (NHTSA), thus they are referred to as "Standardized" Field Sobriety Tests.
Although considered standardized, these tests have been widely criticized as designed to fail. There are many factors that can affect a driver's performance on the FST's: age, injury, or disease, an uneven surface, poor footwear, eye conditions or diseases that affects their ability to follow the object, etc. Any of these factors could lead an officer to improperly conclude that you are impaired.
An experienced DUI attorney will be able to show how difficult these tests are to pass, even sober, and what factors the officer failed to take into account when administering the tests.
The Supreme Court has mandated that in order for a police officer to pull a motorist over for a suspected DUI, the officer must have reasonable suspicion of illegal conduct. However, there is a great deal of disagreement about what constitutes reasonable suspicion that the driver has been drinking. The strength of "reasonable suspicion" varies from case to case but it may be a critical portion of your defense.
Why Were You Stopped?
In order to stop a vehicle, the law dictates that an officer must have “articulable and reasonable suspicion” that the driver is engaging in illegal activity. An officer may not pull a driver over just to check for license and registration; the officer must observe the driver engaging in behavior that indicates that the driver is breaking the law.
In DUI stops, officers can not pull you over just because you were leaving the area of a bar or because it is late at night. This may be their true motivation for a stop but they must rely on some driving behavior. Weaving within the lane over a substantial distance or weaving across lanes are both grounds for reasonable suspicion of DUI. Other reasons include driving too slowly, speeding, failure to signal, car equipment violations, and squealing tires. It is important to note that any of these observed behaviors can be disputed in court.
Many times I have found that the reason for the stop is a loose excuse at best. Driving too slowly can be caused by weather or traffic, weaving within the lane can be explained by ice on the road, there are even times where the listed reason for the stop is flat out false.
What is a Pretext Stop?
A DUI investigation may be performed for many reasons. For instance, during the traffic stop, if the officer sees an open container of alcohol or if the driver exhibits behavior that gives the officer probable cause that he or she has been drinking (slurred speech, glassy eyes, odor of alcohol on their breath, confusion, etc), then the officer may conduct a DUI investigation.
A pretext stop is a stop that was made for the sole purpose of conducting a DUI investigation. The officer does not care about the traffic violation, they are searching for a reason to conduct a DUI investigation. By following nearly anyone for a long enough period of time an officer is likely to find a driving violation of some sort.
Odor Of Alcohol, Slurred Speech, Bloodshot/Watery/Red Eyes.
These are the three most common indicators listed by officers as reasonable suspicion to believe a driver may be intoxicated, and to begin a DUI investigation. However, these are flawed indicators and may not actual indicate intoxication.
Odor Of Alcohol
The presence of alcohol on a motorist's breath is among the first indications a police officer has that the driver may have been drinking. Officers use this clue to help make the initial determination that the driver is intoxicated and as a basis for beginning a DUI investigation. The odor of alcohol will be noted in the officer's arrest report, serving as evidence in the State's case against the driver.
Odor of Alcohol is Subjective.
Although the odor of alcohol is commonly cited by police officers in arrest reports, it is, in fact, a subjective observation that may not stand up in court. There is tremendous room for human error in detecting the odor of alcohol, as no equipment is used to measure the odor that an officer claims to have smelled at the time of the arrest— it is simply his or her perception of the scent that is noted in the arrest report. Even an experienced officer can not determine someones BAC by the odor of alcohol.
Officers often cite a driver's “slurred” or “incoherent” speech as a contributing factor in making a DUI arrest. This entry in an arrest report will be used by the State in building a case against you. The presence of slurred speech alone is not grounds for a DUI arrest.
Causes of Slurred Speech
Although alcohol and drug use can cause speech to be slurred, other factors can affect a person's speech pattern. Stress can greatly impact an individual's speech. Certainly, being pulled over and questioned on suspicion of DUI is a stressful event and could result in speech that seems slurred. Fatigue can also impact a cadence of speech, making a person's speech sound slurred. A person may simply have a slow rate of speech or speak with an accent. When a DUI investigation involves an accident, a head injury, shock, or adrenaline can also cause slurred speech.
A skillful DUI defense attorney will know how to cast reasonable doubt on the arresting officer's claim that a driver's speech was slurred at the time of his or her arrest.
In cross-examining the officer, the attorney will establish that the officer had never heard the defendant speak before the time of the arrest. Doing so establishes that the officer had nothing to compare the driver's speech pattern to—whether his or her speech was differed at the time of the arrest from any other occasion.
Cross examination will also include the defense attorney reviewing other portions of the arrest report, including the many questions the arresting officer asked the driver. Reviewing these questions serves to establish that the officer was able to understand and accurately record the driver's answers. This may prove that the speech was not a slurred as the officer would like the jury to believe.
Officers often cite a driver's bloodshot, watery or red eyes as one of their first clues that a driver was intoxicated. Although alcohol consumption may cause an individual's eyes to redden or tear up, unrelated factors may have the same effect.
Causes of Bloodshot, Watery, or Red Eyes
Allergies, exposure to the sun, pollution or smoke and even fatigue can contribute to a person having bloodshot, watery or teary eyes. Some people have eyes that are naturally red or bloodshot. Unless the officer has met the driver before and knows what he or she looks like both sober and intoxicated, any statement about the driver's appearance being indicative of intoxication is just conjecture.
Officer's often have bias towards seeing indications of a crime when they just simply are not there. They want to see them and so they do. They want red eyes to indicate intoxication so they don't allow for any other possibility.
An experienced DUI defense attorney will work to expose any police bias in regard to your appearance at the time of the arrest.
Hire A Lawyer That Will Fight For You!
If you are charged with a DUI in Idaho, you need a lawyer that will fight to protect your rights. Call me today for a free consultation!