Three Stages of DUI Defense
STAGE 1: Probable Cause
Thanks to your constitutional rights as a U.S. citizen, for a police officer to detain you, the officer must have probable cause. To have probable cause, the officer must witness a criminal act or have a reasonable belief that a criminal act was committed or is may be about to be committed. When it comes to pulling someone over for a DUI, probable cause can be something as simple as simple as not signaling when changing lanes.
If an police officer detains you without reasonable probable cause, the evidence obtained as a result of that stop can be deemed “fruit of the poisonous tree” and can be suppressed from the beginning point of the infraction. This means that if the officer pulls you over or detains you without probable cause, ALL of the evidence obtained can be considered inadmissible.
STAGE 2: Sufficiency of Evidence
In most cases, the evidence for a DUI will include a driving pattern, the police officer’s testimony regarding the Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFTs), and a breath or blood test.
In most instances, the driving pattern will have been videotaped by the video camera mounted in the police officer’s car. Because a videotape usually exists, this kind of evidence can be helpful or damning to your case. If it the tape does not show an obvious inability to operate the vehicle safely (which in most cases it does not) then it becomes a point to argue.
The tape will also be used to evaluate the officer and your performance during the SFTs. If the tests are administered improperly, their value as evidence for the prosecution is greatly diminished. The tape will demonstrate whether or not the officer properly administered the tests. The officer’s testimony at the drivers license hearing also becomes evidence regarding the performance of these tests.
Finally, any evidence that questions the credibility of the various blood and breath tests continues to grow. These tests must not only be administered correctly, but they must be administered with equipment that is regularly calibrated and that has undergone interval testing.
STAGE 3: Proving Guilt
The final stage of DUI defense is when the prosecutor must prove your guilt because you are always innocent until proven guilty. In order to prove you are guilty of driving under the influence, the prosecutor must show that:
(1) you were operating or in physical control of the vehicle, and
(2) you are under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or a combination thereof that renders you incapable of safely operating a vehicle, or
(3) you have sufficient alcohol in your body that a chemical test shows that you have a blood or breath concentration of .08 grams or greater at the time of the test.
If you refuse to submit to a blood or breath test, the state may impose a civil penalty separate from the criminal penalty. This penalty will result in the suspension of your drivers license for up to 18 months whether or not you are convicted of DUI.
The information provided on this page is intended as information ONLY. This information in no way provides an adequate substitute for legal representation by a trained attorney.
To request a free consultation or hire a competent attorney to assist you in the defense of your DUI case, call us at 801-255-5555 or email us today.