DUI Defense Strategies

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Can DUI Cases Be Successfully Defended ?

For many who are arrested and charged for DUI in California it feels like you are being falsely accused. Many people we speak to us about their DUI case report sincerely that they did not feel intoxicated.

What you should do if you are being charged with a DUI?
What are your options if you feel like you are not guilty of the charges?
What are your options if you do think you are guilty?
Can DUI charges be effectively defended against?

The simply answer to this question is “YES.” Below is some information on DUI Defense strategies.

Three Main DUI Defense Strategies

There are Three primary ways to defend against DUI charges. These are:

1. Suppression of the Evidence

2. Disprove an Element of the Offense or Establish Reasonable Doubt as to one of the elements.

3.Establlish a Legal Defenses

#1 Suppression of Evidence

One of the ways that DUI cases can be defended against are through suppression motions. Under the United State Constitution certain rights such as the right against unreasonable search and seizure (4th Amendment) and the right against self-incrimination (5th Amendment) apply directly to many DUI cases. In many instances, law enforcement violate these important constitutional rights during the course of a DUI investigation and arrest. The remedy for such a violation is that the judge will suppress, exclude, or throw out the evidence that the police obtained as a result of this constitutional violation. Therefore, by having evidence that was critical to the prosecution’s case against you, thrown out, you can sometimes avoid a DUI conviction. This gets into some very technical and ever evolving aspects of the law. If one of the following applies to you, you may have a valid “suppression issue:

1. If you think you were stopped or arrested without probable cause.
2. If the police officer never saw you drive.
3. If you believe your confessions are being used against you.
4. If you refused a blood test, and the police forced a blood draw without your consent, without first obtaining a warrant.

If one of the four scenarios listed above applies to you then please contact us immediately for a FREE case evaluation at (916) 277-8299.

#2 Disproving an Element of the Offense or Establishing Reasonable Doubt

The district attorney in a DUI case carries the burden of proving each element of the crime Essentially the District Attorney must establish that you were:

1. Driving a Motor Vehicle
2. Driving While Simultaneously impaired by Alcohol or Drugs, or both.

If you can disprove one of these elements, or if you can successfully raise reasonable doubt as to the reality of one of these elements then the district attorney will have failed to make his case and you should avoid a conviction.

Given this, there a few ways to defend against a DUI charge including:

1. Establish that you were not driving, or establish reasonable doubt as to whether you were driving.

2. Establish that you were not under the influence, or impaired, or establish reasonable doubt as to whether you are impaired.

3. Establish that impairment and driving did not coincide, or raise doubt that you were simultaneously driving while impaired.

No Drive Defense

The type of defense listed under number one above is what is commonly referred to by DUI Attorneys as the “No Drive Defense.”  Anytime a DUI investigation begins with a situation in which the police officer did not see you driving, or actually pull you over (for example you are found sleeping in your parked car)  then the facts should be analyzed to determine whether or not it can be proved that you were ever driving the vehicle. If the district attorney cannot prove that you were driving the vehicle then they cannot make their case against you for a DUI conviction.

Not Legally Impaired

Number 2 above describes cases in which your defense is that you were not actually under the influence. A person is considered “under the influence” when as a result of drinking alcohol or taking some type of drug, or a combination of the two, his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that he or she no longer has the ability to drive the vehicle with caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under similar circumstances.

In order to make a case that you were not under the influence you normally will need an expert to come to your trial to testify as to the physiological impact that might be expected given the results of your chemical test. So for example an expert may come and testify that the amount of marijuana or alcohol, or whatever, that was found in your blood was too little to render you legally impaired, or unable to drive wight he caution of a sober person under the same circumstances.

Driving and Impairment Did Not Occur Simultaneously

In some circumstances the district attorney may be able to establish driving, and he or she may also be able to establish impairment, but the district attorney may not be able to establish that these happened at the same time. Two common examples include the following: 1. In a case where the police find someone sleeping in their car and the person is intoxicated, even if the district attorney can prove that they drove at some point, and prove that they are intoxicated, the district attorney may have a hard time demonstrating that these events coincided. This is especially true if no time of driving can be established.  Likewise, if alcohol was present in the car, it will be hard for the district attorney to prove that you did not drink while parked (possibly criminal but not a DUI)  2. There may be situations in which a persons BAC can be shown to have been rising at such rate that when the time of drinking, and driving, and the rate of the metabolization of the alcohol was such that an expert could show that it is not reasonable to believe that impairment existed at the time of driving, but only after the fact.

However, the law assists District Attorneys in making their case that you were impaired with Vehicle Code Section 23152(b) which triggers a legal inference for the jury that if you were given a chemical test within 3 hours of driving and the result of that indicates that your BAC was 0.08 or higher then the jury can (not required, but legally justified, if they so chose to draw the conclusion) legally infer that you were under the influence at the time you were driving.

#3. Legal Defenses

Duress or Necessity

I will not go into too much detail here as to the legal defenses that might exist in a DUI case as they are actually relatively rare in their application. But legal defenses such as duress or necessity would be valid defenses to a DUI. For example If you were robbed and then forced at gun point to drive, while you were intoxicated, the defense of duress would apply. Alternatively if you chose to drive a vehicle while you were already intoxicated for some greater purpose, such as to save someone’e life by driving them to a hospital, then the defense of necessity would apply.

Mistake of Fact

An act committed by reason of a mistake of fact which disproves criminal inert is not a crime. Thus if a person is not guilty of a crime if he or she commits an act under and honest and reasonable belief in the existence of certain facts, which if true would make the act lawful. Thus it is possible for someone to have a reasonable, but mistaken, belief that their BAC was well below 0.08 and and for this to act a valid legal defense.

Double Jeopardy

Also, double jeopardy principles would be a valid defense if someone was previously prosecuted for a DUI and was later charged again based on the same occurrence.

Conclusion: There are Many Ways to Defend Against DUI Charges. Call for a Free Case Evaluation

If you are being charged with a DUI you need representation. Call our office at (916) 277-8299.  We defend individuals charged with DUI in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado, Sutter, Yuba, Butte, San Joaquin, and Solano Counties.

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