If you’re facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, you probably know that it is a serious situation, and you could be facing substantial penalties if the case does not end in your favor. The fallout of losing your case goes beyond having your license suspended. You face multiple fines, re-education programs, higher insurance rates, and possible jail time. With all the consequences you could face, it’s something you want to avoid having on your record.
Even if you’re facing a DUI charge, there’s no need to feel hopeless. There are various strategies to help you with your DUI defense. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you fight against a conviction and all the penalties it entails. But, with the right strategies in place, your defense can work in your favor. Here are the top defense strategies for a California DUI case.
Erratic Driving Does Not Equal DUI
Your driving pattern is one of the first things a prosecutor will focus on during a California DUI case. Routinely, the arresting officer will testify that you were driving in a way that is “consistent with” a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This could include allegations of speeding or weaving in your lane.
There are various ways your DUI lawyer can rebut this evidence. During cross-examination, they will have the officer testify about the ways you were driving correctly and safely. Additionally, the attorney will have the officer testify that:
- Sober people commit most traffic violations, and
- A driving pattern is not a reliable predictor of driving under the influence.
This defense helps provide a story that jurors can connect with, and people drive erratically for several reasons that have nothing to do with drunk driving. For example, they might be eating, changing the radio station, or being distracted by passengers.
A DUI breath test doesn’t directly measure the amount of alcohol in your blood. Instead, it detects the amount of alcohol on your breath. It then converts that amount to come up with an estimation of the amount of alcohol in your blood. Other errors occur with a breathalyzer that negates its accuracy:
- Malfunctioning instrument
- Improper handling
- If you have medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other dietary-triggered conditions
- Radiofrequency interference or other environmental factors
These factors can result in an inaccurate blood alcohol content (BAC). Therefore, having an understanding of these issues is the basis of a successful DUI defense strategy.
15 Minute Observation Period
The arresting officer is required to observe you for a full 15 minutes before performing a breathalyzer. They should observe you without allowing you to eat, drink, or smoke to ensure that nothing interferes with an assumed accurate breathalyzer test. However, the question of whether or not the observation took place is a common defense strategy.
Many officers don’t observe you without distraction. Most times, they’re doing paperwork, talking on their radio, or setting up the breath test machine. Causing doubt about whether the officer failed to observe you properly brings doubt about the breath results and possibly even the entire DUI investigation.
Similar Symptoms Of DUI Are Not An Indicator
Another way your DUI lawyer can fight your charges is by challenging the use of physical symptoms of intoxication to prove you were under the influence. Your physical appearance is one of the leading indicators the prosecution will use to prove that you were under the influence. The arresting officer may testify that you:
- Had red, watering eyes
- Spoke in slurred speech
- Had a flushed face
- Had the odor of alcohol on your breath or in your vehicle
- Were walking with an unsteady gait
However, these can be explained away as there are many reasons for having these symptoms other than drinking. For example, you may have allergies, had a cold, eye irritation, or just been tired.
Improper Field Sobriety Test
When an officer detects possible signs of intoxication, they might request a field sobriety test. These tests are meant to measure your concentration, ability to follow instructions, and check your balance. For example, you may be asked to recite the alphabet, count, follow a flashlight with your eyes, or various other seemingly simple tasks.
Field sobriety tests are used with the intention of using the results as evidence against you. However, this doesn’t take into account other factors that cause the failure of the test. For example, injury, wearing boots or heels, and fatigue can all cause poor performance. In addition, if English isn’t your first language, there may be difficulty understanding the instructions and can also impact the ability to perform the test correctly. Because there is potential for inaccurate test results, California law allows drivers to refuse field sobriety tests.
Find An Experienced DUI Attorney
When you face criminal charges, it’s hard not to focus on what you have to lose. But you have control over your defense – and we’ll do everything in our power to protect your rights. Whether you face a DUI, assault charge, or something else entirely, we put our decades of combined courtroom experience to work for you. We have successfully defended many clients in San Jose and central California over the years. We can defend you, too.
At Hann Law Firm, we take a personal approach to everything we do. From our first consultation, we’ll listen to your needs and concerns. Listening to our clients is at the heart of our success in the courtroom. When you work with us, we’ll address your specific challenges, prepare diligently for the best possible outcome, and create a personalized approach to help achieve your goals. Contact us today for a free consultation and put us to work for you!