If you are a first-time or repeat offender recently charged with driving while under the influence, your first concern may be whether hiring a DWI lawyer is necessary. Fines for first-time and repeat offenders vary greatly and can climb into the thousands. You may also be facing potential jail time and a suspended license, which are two serious consequences that could cause you to lose your job and ultimately impact your financial livelihood. If guilt is established either by a jury trial or your own plea, the penalty you receive depends on the specific state law in which the incident occurred. Some states require mandatory jail time, even for a first offense. Here are six defenses your attorney may consider after evaluating your specific case.
1. Illegitimate Stop
One of the most commonly used defenses in drunk driving cases, your DWI lawyer could claim an illegitimate stop after evaluating the circumstances surrounding why the police officer pulled you over in the first place. If the officer did not have probable cause to make the initial stop, you may have a valid defense. Probable cause could include a traffic violation, an easily viewable defect in your car’s safety equipment, or some type of driving movement that could indicate that you are driving while intoxicated.
2. Error in Field Sobriety Test
If your arrest was based on an invalid field sobriety test, your attorney could claim that your charges should be dropped. The test could have been improperly administered or the results used to arrest you could have been completely inaccurate. For example, the test called horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) is often challenged for its inaccuracy in detecting eye movements that can be associated with being under the influence.
3. Inaccuracy of the Portable Breathalyzer Test
If your arrest was made after the administration of an inaccurate portable breathalyzer test, you could have a valid defense. Your legal counsel might question whether the officer at the scene was trained to use the portable breathalyzer, whether the device had been subject to routine maintenance or calibration, or if there were intervening factors such as vomiting before the test was given.
4. Inaccuracy of a Standard Breathalyzer Test
If a standard breathalyzer test was used to determine your level of intoxication, you could still have a possible challenge to your arrest. This defense bears similarity to the portable test but refers to the devices that are used when you are in police custody after your arrest.
5. Improper Police Actions
A broad category of options, this one can include whether the police officer who arrested you violated any of your civil rights. For example, if there is testimony or evidence that the officer faked the report or acted inappropriately at any time during your traffic stop and subsequent arrest.
6. Illegitimate Handling of Chain of Custody of the Blood Test
Another option could be if your blood test was not given properly, or if the test was mishandled or tampered with during the chain of custody. In order for your blood sample to be used as evidence, the prosecution must show that proper chain of custody standards were maintained.
While state DWI laws differ across the US, an experienced DWI lawyer will evaluate the technicalities of your case and help you achieve the fairest result.