Stopping an individual for suspected driving under the influence (DUI) sets in motion a chain of events that can result in fines, license suspension, and jail time. Though police officers are trained in the DUI arrest process, many make mistakes. By exposing these errors, a DUI attorney refutes the credibility of the officer and/or the evidence and is often able to have the DUI charge dismissed.
Mistakes Begin with the Car Stop
The car stop marks the start of the DUI process and is also when some officers make mistakes. Stopping a vehicle requires reasonable suspicion supported by evidence such as an equipment or traffic violation. If the vehicle was stopped for behavior that does not justify one of these violations, an attorney can challenge the stop itself and request dismissal of everything that occurred afterward.
Police officers must administer three standardized field sobriety tests in the proper manner. Each test must be evaluated in a particular way in order to conclude that a driver is impaired or intoxicated. If the police officer does not administer or evaluate these tests properly, results may be invalidated and reasonable doubt may be introduced that leads to dropping the DUI charge.
A breathalyzer is a chemical test that measures blood-alcohol content. Police officers must be trained and certified to use breathalyzer devices and must follow an approved process when administering this testing. If a DUI attorney can prove that the administering officer was not properly trained or certified or the approved method was not followed when using the breathalyzer, test results may be suppressed during a DUI hearing.
Lack of Documentation
Though the police report is powerful evidence in a DUI case, some police officers do not save their field notes used to create this report. When it comes time to testify in court, these officers must rely only on information in the police report. They may not be able to provide specific details that support their written conclusions because they do not remember the incident and have no field notes to refer to after the fact.
Last, but sometimes most importantly, police officers are often unfair or lack objectivity in DUI cases. Their lack of impartiality or uncivil behavior is typically revealed by the videotape of the arrest. Though there is no legal requirement regarding videotaping police procedures, many jurisdictions use this technology and, in the hands of a good DUI attorney, it can work against them.