An Ypsilanti drunk driving attorney can utilize several defense strategies to challenge a criminal charge for drunk driving. Read on to learn more about how to challenge a drunk driving charge in Washtenaw County.
Challenge the Initial Traffic Stop
Challenging a drunk driving traffic stop is a common defense asserted by defense attorneys. It involves the claim that the arresting officer lacked the required level of reasonable suspicion to stop and investigate you for drunk driving.
This means that a police officer must have a “reasonable and articulate basis” to believe that you are in the process of violating, or recently violated a traffic law. You must first violate a law of the road or otherwise drive in such a manner that the officer reasonably suspects you may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in order for the police officer to lawfully pull you over. Basically, the officer must be able to articulate that you committed a civil infraction such as speeding, failing to signal a turn or drove in a way that isn’t necessarily illegal but shows impairment. For instance, it is not illegal to weave within lane lines but that combined with other things like driving under the speed limit (also not illegal) could be a sign of impaired driving.
If the traffic stop is found to be in fact unreasonable, any evidence obtained as a result of the traffic stop will be ruled inadmissible in court. With a lack of evidence that you committed a crime or drove in a manner demonstrating possible impairment, the judge will have to dismiss the charges against you.
Challenge the Field Sobriety Tests
Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, a police officer is not allowed to search or seize your person (arrest you) without first establishing probable cause. Probable cause can be established by the officer obtaining evidence that you are about to commit a crime, in the process of committing a crime, or have committed a crime. If the arresting officer does not have probable cause, then your attorney can challenge the unlawful arrest.
Police officers generally establish probable cause to arrest a person during a drunk driving traffic stop if such person fails the field sobriety tests and/or preliminary breath test. If you pass the field sobriety tests (meaning there is no evidence to indicate intoxication) or the officer failed to administer the tests correctly but the police officer still arrests you, your attorney can challenge the arrest as being unlawful.
Challenge Blood Alcohol Content Test
Once a police officer establishes probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving, you will be taken to the police station for further investigation. At the police station, you will be required to take a blood alcohol test. This will consist of taking a blood, urine, or breath test. Officers typically first ask you to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take the breathalyzer, the officer will obtain a warrant for a blood test. If your test results indicate that your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is above the .08 legal limit, then you will be charged and booked for drunk driving.
If you were not properly advised of your chemical test rights under the implied consent law or the test was administered incorrectly, your defense attorney can challenge the results in order to have the evidence suppressed. Where the blood alcohol content evidence is suppressed, the prosecutor may reduce the charge or you may be more likely to obtain an acquittal at trial.
Challenge the Testimonial Evidence of the Arresting Officer
Most drunk driving cases center around the testimony of the arresting officer. Your DUI attorney will cross-examine the arresting officer in order to challenge the accuracy of his or her observations during the initial traffic stop, in addition to the administration of your field sobriety tests.
The evidentiary challenges presented above present just a few of the defenses your drunk driving attorney may assert on your behalf. If you have been arrested for a drunk driving offense in Ann Arbor, contact Ann Arbor criminal defense attorney Stacey Washington for legal advice. Stacey Washington has helped many clients mitigate any long-term consequences of DUIs.