Receiving a DUI conviction is life-altering. A first-time DUI offense is punishable by:
- 11 months and 29 days of jail time
- One-year license revocation
- Participation in an alcohol treatment program
- $1,500 fine
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (at your expense)
- High-risk insurance, court costs and license reinstatement fees
Additionally, a criminal record may impact the defendant’s career, education and general reputation. But just because the police arrest someone and bring DUI charges does not necessarily guarantee the judge and jury will find the person guilty. Here are some common ways defendants can challenge drunk driving charges.
No probable cause
Everyone has a right to due process and privacy under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This means a police officer needs to have reasonable suspicion of a driver breaking the law to pull someone over. Additionally, a cop needs further probable cause to arrest an individual for drunk driving. If there is no legitimate reason for pulling over and/or arresting a defendant, any evidence may be inadmissible.
Valid explanations for a physical or mental condition
The police officer may suspect drunkenness due to appearance and behavior, including failure to pass a field sobriety test. However, many physical and mental conditions can present similar signs of intoxication. Physical disabilities and fatigue may skew the results of a field sobriety test. Additionally, bloodshot eyes may be a result of allergies.
Improper administration of chemical tests and inaccurate results
A police officer may conduct a chemical test to determine blood alcohol content. If the cop fails to properly administer the test, the results may not be solid evidence. Blood and breath tests are not always reliable.
Some police officers may act inappropriately before, during and after a DUI stop or arrest. Misconduct includes excessive force and falsifying evidence. Any violation of civil rights may result in a dismissal of the charges.