For a person facing charges for allegedly driving under the influence, it can feel as though you have no options for avoiding major, life-changing penalties. Losing your license, facing jail time, owing fines and obtaining a criminal record are all possible penalties for a driver operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
If you are unsure of how to challenge the charges against you, consider some of the key elements of the state’s case against you. There are reasonable, logical arguments against each component of a criminal case, but it takes the skill and expertise of a criminal defense attorney to take on this style of defense. Each case varies from the next, but there are a few general steps to take in fighting a DUI/DWI charge in New York.
Challenging the traffic stop
The first element of a case against a suspected intoxicated driver is the initial traffic stop, so this is the logical first step to consider in a defense. To conduct a traffic stop on suspicion of intoxicated driving, officers typically need probable cause or reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
If an officer sees a person leave a bar’s parking lot, they can’t automatically pull the person over on suspicion of drunken driving. They typically need to observe evidence of criminal behavior or signs of erratic driving as a justification for the stop. Without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, a criminal defense attorney could argue the traffic stop was invalid and thus the evidence stemming from the stop also fails muster.
Challenging various sobriety tests
A field sobriety test is a common element of an intoxicated driving case. While law enforcement officers receive training to administer tests accurately, oftentimes the tests themselves don’t account for extenuating factors that may impact a result. For instance, field sobriety tests frequently test a person’s balance, focus and cognition. A physical or psychological ailment or condition could affect the test results in a completely sober person.
In most DWI/DUI cases, an officer also conducts a chemical test at some point in the arrest process. Blood tests and breathalyzers require a level of skill, expertise and proper conduct to accurately measure a person’s blood alcohol content. Breathalyzers in particular require maintenance and proper calibration for an accurate reading.
If the state fails to meet maintenance or other standards of practice, a test result may fail to accurately report the driver’s BAC. The technology needs to meet established standards in order to hold up in court.
If you are facing charges for intoxicated driving, consider the many potential penalties before you as you consider fighting these charges. There is no surefire way to ensure a case resolves one way or the other, but your future and livelihood are worth the effort of ensuring proper disposal of your case.