DUI is one of the most commonly litigated criminal offenses. Although all DUI cases involve generally the same elements (i.e., driving a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs), there are many different types of challenges to the prosecution’s case, including:
1. Traffic stop/4th Amendment – Any evidence gathered after an illegal traffic stop must be suppressed by the Court, making it extremely difficult for the prosecution to proceed to trial. An officer must have a “reasonable and articulable basis” to believe that a traffic code or other law is being – or has been – violated to make a legal traffic stop.
2. Officer’s suspicion of alcohol or drug influence – although they are not medical care professionals, DUI police are often highly trained to detect the influence of alcohol or drugs within the subjects they contact. At trial, the prosecutor will paint these officers as experts. Nevertheless, there are often innocent alternative reasons for the common observations that police correlate to alcohol or drug use. Bloodshot and watery eyes – for one example – can be a symptom of recent crying, allergies, eye disorders, and so forth.
3. Field Sobriety Tests – FSTs are tests conducted after a traffic stop specifically designed to simultaneously test the “divided attention” between physical and mental tasks that is required to be a safe, responsible driver. These tests are supposed to be easy for a sober person to complete, however, there are many reasons that a sober person might appear impaired during FSTs, such as:
- Medical Condition
- Invalid tests
- Officer error
4. Chemical Testing – Chemical tests include breath, urine, and blood samples provided by the Defendant and analyzed by law enforcement labratories. Challenges to these tests often require Defendant to retain his or her own expert to either re-test the samples or to review the testing procedure of the government’s scientists. Common challenges to DUI chemical tests include:
- calibration of machines
- techniques utilized by machine operators
- improper procedures by machine operators
- outdated equipment
- blood sample contamination
- poor labratory procedures
- presence of medications
5. Roadblocks/DUI checkpoints – Declared illegal in Michigan.
6. Failure to notify or uphold Defendant’s rights – including Miranda warnings, right to Counsel, right to independent testing, Implied Consent warnings (i.e., that a driver in Michigan implicitly agrees to chemical testing when suspected of DUI).
7. Racial or other profiling.
NOTE that this is not an exhaustive list, nor is each argument appropriate in every DUI case. Only an experienced DUI attorney can look at your case and determine what defenses might apply. Contact the Law Office of Michael B. Brown for a free consultation regarding your case today!