Common DUI Defenses

There are many defenses that can be used in a court of law when fighting a DUI charge. Driving under the influence is defined as operating a motor vehicle, riding a bicycle, operating a boat, operating a plane or riding a horse while being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Driving under the influence is a criminal offense in the United States and offenders can face anywhere from fines and other penalties to an extended period of time in jail. Some offenders, if they are repeat offenders, can lose their license for a specified period of time. DUI lawyers across the country will use different defenses when representing a client of theirs that has been charged with driving under the influence.

Disputing the Arresting Officers Report

When a person is arrested for driving under the influence and charged with the offense, a prosecutor will base his or her case almost solely on the report filed by the arresting officer. The arresting officer’s report will contain observations regarding the way the suspected driver was operating his or her vehicle. Such observations can include very slow speeds, uneven speeds, weaving from one side to the other, crossing the center lane of a highway, running a red light and hesitation when driving through a green light. The defense lawyer for someone charged with driving under the influence will be able to claim that there are perfectly legitimate reasons as to why the driver would be operating his or her vehicle in such a manner. For instance, the defense lawyer could claim that the driver was operating the vehicle with a lack of sleep.

Defending Behavior of the Accused

The arresting officer in a DUI case will also report the behavior of the driver at the time of the traffic stop which can include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, incoherent speech, inappropriate joking, stumbling and pupil enlargement. The defense lawyer for the suspect will argue that the defendant had a lack of sleep, suffers from allergies, wears contact lenses, has been experiencing incredible amounts of stress, is taking medications, recently ate food that doesn’t agree with the driver, nervous for being pulled over by the police and has physical impairments.

Misleading Field Sobriety Tests

Also during a traffic stop, an officer will perform field sobriety tests when he or she suspects that the motorist has been driving under the influence. Field sobriety tests that are performed include walking a straight line, walking backwards, reciting the alphabet forwards or backwards or standing on one leg. Officers will also shine a light into the eyes of the suspect while they shift their eyes back and forth. The officer will look for a jerky, rather than smooth, gaze from the suspect. Defense lawyers will also use the same defenses to field sobriety tests that they use for the other observations mentioned above such as a lack of sleep or medication.

Questionable BAC Metering

In the United States, a motorist is considered to be driving under the influence when their blood alcohol content is .08 or more. Responding officers will perform blood alcohol content tests on motorists that are suspected of driving under the influence before making an arrest. The defense attorney in a DUI case will more than likely subpoena the records of the arresting officer to determine how the test was administered. Another defense of a breath test is to find out whether or not the machine used was also used on other motorists during traffic stops. The defense attorney will argue that if the machine was not used solely for his or her client than the tests can’t be considered independent of all the other tests performed using the same exact machine.