Drunk driving charges can threaten to derail your future. Merely being accused of OUI can be enough to damage your reputation, affect your relationships with your loved ones, and impact your employment, but a criminal conviction can do far worse damage. If you’re convicted of OUI, you may find yourself behind bars with your license suspended or revoked for years to come and your housing, job, and education jeopardized.
We don’t say this to try to frighten you. Instead, we want you to know what’s at stake so that you can realize the importance of building a strong criminal defense. After all, even if the evidence against you seems insurmountable, there may be criminal defense strategies available to help you fight back against aggressive prosecutors and avoid the harsh penalties that are threatened against you.
Five ways to defend yourself in a drunk driving case
Although you might have many defense options available to you, here are five of the most common and perhaps strongest defense options that you can explore in your case:
- Illegal traffic stop: Before you’re pulled over for any reason, the police are supposed to have reasonable suspicion that you committed a crime or an infraction. If they lack that justification, the traffic stop is illegal and any evidence that is gained after that point is tainted by that illegality. This means that the evidence being used against you in your drunk driving case might be thrown out, which can devastate the prosecution’s position.
- Breathalyzer test inaccuracy: Any equipment that is used to test your blood alcohol content should be properly maintained and calibrated. In fact, the prosecution will probably be required to produce documentation demonstrating such. Far too often, though, law enforcement mishandles these devices, which can leave you on the receiving end of an inaccurate and damaging test result.
- Invalid field sobriety test results: The police and the prosecution often rely on the results of field sobriety tests in order to make an arrest and file OUI charges. But in reality, these tests are often inaccurate. The police may fail to give proper instructions, their observations may be inappropriate, or you might have a legal justification for acting the way that you did. Under these circumstances, you can decrease the strength of the field sobriety test results that are being used against you.
- The 15-minute observation period wasn’t provided: Before law enforcement can conduct a breath test, they’re required to wait 15 minutes to observe your behavior. The police often fail to abide by this requirement.
- Test results were within the margin of error: Even a validly conducted breath test that shows that your blood alcohol content was above the legal limit isn’t necessarily indicative your being intoxicated. This is because breath tests have a margin of error. Therefore, if your test was on the cusp, you may be able to successfully argue that you presented no other signs of intoxication and that the police should not fully rely on the test considering the that margin of error.
Crafting the strategy that is right for you
As we mentioned, there may be other criminal defense options available to you, but these five are pretty common and can be powerful. But you need to craft the legal defense strategy that is best for you and your set of circumstances. If you’d like to learn more about what that is and how to aggressively fight back against the prosecution, now may be the time for you to discuss your circumstances with an attorney who is highly experienced in this area of the law.