If you have been accused of a DUI, it may seem like there is no way to avoid a conviction. Most states are waging a crusade against drunk driving, which means innocent people may be accused in order to pursue an agenda, however much it is needed. Fortunately, there are legitimate and effective ways to avoid a conviction, and in the light of recent Supreme Court rulings, the law is on your side more than you would think. In Missouri vs. McNeely the Court ruled that police must obtain a search warrant before getting a blood sample from a suspected drunk driver. This gives suspects a much firmer leg to stand on. With a federal precedent having been set, and with the help of an experienced attorney, here are 10 ways a DUI conviction may be avoided:
- Challenge the stop if an officer pulls you over simply because he saw you leaving a bar or because you’re in a crime-ridden neighborhood. Legally, an officer can only pull you over if you commit a traffic offense. Weaving back and forth in your own lane is not a legally valid reason for a stop.
- Question whether the breathalyzer test was accurate. A California judge set a legal precedent for this in March 2013 when he announced that his office was reviewing thousands of drunk driving cases due to suspected breathalyzer inaccuracies.
- Claim involuntary intoxication. If your drink was spiked, you may have a good defense in court.
- Claim mistake of fact. For example, a person who only had one drink but was taking a medication that increased the effects of alcohol would most likely have a valid defense.
- Claim you drove out of necessity. For example, if you got behind the wheel to seek immediate medical attention for someone else, you may have a defense or at least a significant mitigating factor working in your favor.
- Claim entrapment. On some occasions, police officers have forced people to drive while intoxicated involuntarily so that they could then charge them with a DUI.
- Challenge the field sobriety test. This is one of the most frequent defenses, since a variety of factors could make someone fail these tests. For example, cold symptoms, balance problems, and sleepiness could give the appearance of being intoxicated when this is not actually the case.
- Claim rising BAC levels. Often a defendant may have gotten behind the wheel thinking they were able to drive. However, between the stop made by an officer and the breathalyzer test, the blood alcohol content may have risen above the legal limit.
- Claim that non-standard field sobriety testswas used.
- Strike a plea bargain. Perhaps you and your attorney agree that none of the above defenses will work. If you think your conviction is almost certain, the court may agree to a plea bargain in which you plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge, a reduced sentence, or the conviction being removed from your record.
No matter what defense strategies you use, take heart in knowing that there are plenty of cases in which similar arguments have worked in the past. And with the case of Missouri vs. McNeely, the tide may be turning for those wrongfully convicted of driving under the influence.