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DUI/DWI Defense

The penalties for receiving a DUI are gradually becoming very harsh in many states. Drinking and driving has been recognized as a big problem, and states are attempting to limit the scope of the problem by passing laws to punish DUI offenders and to discourage them from driving under the influence. Obviously, it’s best to avoid drinking and driving in the first place. If you have been accused of a DUI, it’s important to avoid a DUI conviction – they can have very serious consequences.

How to Proceed if You’re Stopped for a DUI
If you are pulled over and you have been drinking, pull over safely to the side of the road. Be polite to the police officer. If the police officer asks you questions, it’s fine to say you would like to speak with an attorney. You may also wish to explain that you had one or two drinks, which would not typically cause intoxication, in order to explain a beer or alcohol smell.

The police officer may wish to administer field sobriety tests. These include standing on one leg, walking heel to toe, stating the alphabet, and following a penlight with your eyes, among others. You are not legally required to submit to field sobriety tests. They are very subjective and doing so could result in the police officer obtaining additional evidence that could be used against you.

The police may also choose to ask you to take a chemical test. Under the laws in most states, a person who is operating a motor vehicle within the state gives consent to a chemical or breath test to determine blood alcohol content. If you refuse to submit to the chemical test, your license will typically be revoked, even if you are found not guilty of the DUI charge. You do not have the right to consult with an attorney before being arrested.

The Legal Process Once You’re Charged with a DUI

There are two separate legal actions involved with a DUI. One is the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. The second is any potential criminal charges.

Once you are arrested for driving under the influence, a police officer will confiscate your driver’s license and will complete a license suspension or revocation form and forward that to the DMV. The DMV will then conduct a review where it examines the officers report, the suspension or revocation order, and test results. The DMV then decides whether to uphold the driver’s license suspension or revocation. In most states, you have the right to request a hearing to protest the suspension or revocation.  At the end of the suspension or revocation period, you can get your license back by paying a fee to the DMV and providing proof of financial responsibility.

The second part of the DUI is the criminal case. This is where a court determines if you are guilty of a criminal act – driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The criminal case can proceed in a variety of ways, including a guilty plea, a plea bargain, getting the charges dismissed, and proceeding to trial. If you are acquitted in the criminal trial, the license suspension or revocation will be reversed by the DMV.

DUI Defenses

An experienced DUI attorney can probably find a variety of valid defenses for an individual charged with DUI, even if a defendant’s blood alcohol content level was over the legal limit.

The police officer who pulled you over must have a legal reason to do so. If not, the original stop could be challenged and the evidence against you thrown out. Was there a reason to detain you for DUI? If not, the case could be challenged.

The field sobriety tests are extremely subjective. Were they performed in accordance with federal guidelines? Many police officers are not experienced in administering the tests properly. Were the proper tests performed?

If you took a chemical test, and you were found to have a blood alcohol content of over .08%, you may assume you do not have a valid defense. However, was the test properly administered? Was the equipment functioning properly at the time of the test? Was the evidence handled in accordance with correct evidentiary procedures?  Do you have a medical condition that could affect a breath test? In addition, if you are stopped for a DUI soon after drinking and are given a chemical test 30 minutes or an hour later, your blood alcohol level would be higher than it was when you were originally stopped. This is called a “rising blood alcohol defense”.

Find an Experienced Attorney

If you have been charged with DUI, you may assume that you should plead guilty, pay a fine, and face a driver’s license suspension. However, DUIs can negatively affect your life for years. If you have been charged with a DUI, find a very skilled, experienced attorney to represent you against the charges. You may have legal options you haven’t considered.

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