There are several potential defenses which can be raised in a DUI/DWI case and every case is different and unique. Below is a partial list of possible constitutional challenges and sufficiency of evidence defenses which we investigate in every DUI/DWI case:
1. No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop
In order for the police to conduct a proper traffic stop the police officer must have "reasonable suspicion" that the person stopped committed a crime, is about to commit a crime, or committed a traffic offense. The police officer must have an objective and legitimate reason for making the traffic stop. If the police officer does not have "reasonable suspicion" for making the traffic stop then the case will be dismissed.
2. No Probable Cause for an Arrest
Prior to the police officer actually affecting an arrest, there must be "probable cause" that the person committed a crime. "Probable Cause" is a higher standard than "reasonable suspicion". The police officer must have "probable cause" that the person is under the influence of alcohol prior to making an arrest. Improperly administered Field Sobriety Tests, mistaken observations, and hasty decision making by the police officer may invalidate the arrest. If "probable cause" does not exist for the arrest then the case will be dismissed.
3. Denial of Right to Counsel
If you are arrested, the police must allow you the opportunity to consult with an attorney, if requested. If the police deny your right to an attorney then the charges may be dismissed.
4. Miranda Violation
If the police fail to adequately advise you of all of your Miranda rights, or if the Miranda rights were not given at the appropriate time, then any statements made will be suppressed.
5. Denial of Right to Obtain Exculpatory Evidence
Every person accused of a crime has the constitutional right to independently obtain favorable evidence. For instance, if arrested for DUI/DWI you have the right to obtain an independent blood test. If the police deny you a "fair chance" to obtain exculpatory evidence, then your case will be dismissed.
1. You Were Not Driving
The State must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person was actually driving a motor vehicle. In some cases, the police officer does not actually witness the accused driving nor are there any witnesses to prove "driving".
2. You Were Not in Actual Physical Control
If the State cannot prove "driving", beyond a reasonable doubt, they may try to prove "actual physical control". That is, the person, although not driving, still posed a threat by the exercise of present or imminent control over a vehicle. However, a person is not in "actual physical control" if they voluntarily pull off the roadway and attempt to "sleep it off". A person who is alcohol impaired and is using their vehicle as a "stationary shelter" is not in "actual physical control" and, accordingly, is not guilty of DUI/DWI.
3. You Were Not Alcohol Impaired
It is not unlawful to consume alcohol and to, thereafter, operate a motor vehicle. If a police officer stops you after you have been drinking he will be predisposed into believing you are impaired by alcohol and the officer's observations will be tainted. All of the officer's subsequent observations will be biased towards "signs and symptoms" of alcohol impairment. However, there are numerous legitimate reasons and explanations for the officer's observations. For instance, people are often very nervous when dealing with the police and may often be tired during nighttime stops. The police officer's observations and opinions can be questioned as well as the circumstances and reliability of the Field Sobriety Tests.
4. Inaccuracy of the Intoxilyzer
In jurisdictions where the intoxilyer (breath testing device) is utilized, challenges to the accuracy of the intoxilyzer can be raised. The officer must be certified to administer the intoxilyzer and must precisely follow an operational checklist before administering the test. Further, the intoxilyzer must be able to function within a certain "confidence limit" and must be properly calibrated. The calibration of the intoxilyzer must be checked within strict guidelines set by the Arizona Department of Health Services. If the intoxilyzer was not administered properly or any of the maintenance checks are not within the set limits, then the results of the test will not be admissible in Court. Further, there are several biological factors and "variables" which can affect the reliability of the test results.
5. Inaccuracy of the Blood Test
In jurisdictions where blood is drawn to determine a person's blood alcohol level, several issues regarding the accuracy of this process can be raised. The person who drew the blood must be certified to do so. The blood vials must have been properly stored prior to its use. The blood vials must not be used beyond the expiration date. The blood vials must be preserved for the defense to retest. Further, the police must follow strict constitutional mandates regarding blood draws.
These are the more common challenges and defenses which can be raised in a DUI/DWI case. Billy K. Sipe, Jr. is an expert in investigating and finding issues in DUI/DWI cases. If there is any issue or problem he will find it!
Contact the Law Office of Billy K. Sipe, Jr. for a FREE consultation with an experienced and aggressive DUI/DWI defense attorney.