The state of Texas recorded 71,959 DUI arrests in 2019.
Not only can a DUI charge lead to a lengthy battle in court, but it can also hurt your prospects for employment and even cost you your current job.
But if you’ve been charged with a DUI, it’s not time to panic. Here are some of the smartest ways to get your DUI dismissed or downgraded to a lesser charge.
Strategies to Get Your DUI Dismissed
A study of DUI dismissal rates across the U.S. suggested that about 1.5% of DUI charges were dismissed.
While those may not seem like great odds, keep in mind that statistics surrounding DUI cases vary greatly — if they’re even collected at all. Some counties analyzed in the study reported DUI conviction rates as low as 63% and as high as 95%.
The takeaway? Don’t give up. Many first-time DUI offenders have never had any previous experience with the criminal justice system. The right defense attorney can help build you a strong case and save your reputation.
Was the Traffic Stop Valid?
To pull you over, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion that you were breaking the law — even if for a minor traffic violation. Reasonable suspicion can be anything from speeding, swerving, and running red lights to not using your turn signal.
Without this reasonable suspicion, any evidence that the officer collects during the traffic stop can be suppressed in court.
DUI checkpoints are another way to contest your traffic stop. These checkpoints usually take place on busy public roads during the evenings on weekends and holidays.
Generally, the police are required to provide advanced public notice of the checkpoint. While they may not disclose the exact location of the checkpoint, they should specify the general area.
Police have to adhere to strict guidelines when conducting these checkpoints. Some will stop every car; others might use a pre-approved method of stopping cars at random.
If you get stopped at a checkpoint, it’s your responsibility to be respectful and provide your license, insurance, and registration if asked.
However, you do not have to answer any other questions from the police, such as where you’re coming from, where you’re going, or how many drinks you’ve had. You can politely decline to answer these questions until you have an attorney present.
While checkpoints may seem difficult to challenge in court, the defense lies in how strictly the police adhered to the pre-determined guidelines in stopping you.
Were the Field Sobriety Reliable?
There are three types of field sobriety tests that police use when they suspect someone is driving under the influence. And all three can be subjective, based on the officers’ internal bias of a DUI arrest.
The one-legged stand requires a person to balance on one leg for at least 30 seconds while the other remains at least six inches off the ground.
The walk-and-turn test is the one you’ve probably seen on TV. Typically using the lines painted on the road, an officer will ask you to walk in a straight line, heel-to-toe, and then turn around and walk back in the same manner.
The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test is when an officer shines a bright light into your eyes to see whether the eye darts to the side in response, a common side effect of drinking.
All three of these tests can be prone to external factors, and many would argue that they couldn’t even pass them while sober. Maybe you have a balancing issue. Maybe the roads were too slick to walk straight on. Maybe you have an eye condition.
Either way, failing one of these tests is the gateway to being asked to take a Breathalyzer or blood test, which brings us to the next point.
If you refused to take a breathalyzer test, the penalties can be as serious as if you took the test and failed.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no defense for it.
It is not a crime to refuse a breath test if you have a valid medical excuse. While there’s no universally accepted reason for refusing a breathalyzer, this is where it’s important to have a defense attorney review your arrest details and circumstances.
Moreover, your attorney may find that your refusal charge was invalid for several reasons, such as:
- The instructions from the officer were not clear
- The breathalyzer was not working properly or not maintained according to rules
- The officer did not give you enough reasonable chances to take the test
- The officer did not tell you it was your last chance to take the test
Disputing Test Results
Believe it or not, failing a breathalyzer or blood test isn’t the end of the road. There are many ways to raise questions about the validity of both tests.
With blood tests, you want to know whether the test results were contaminated, mishandled, or improperly refrigerated. If the BAC level on the test was false, could it be because of other test-related issues?
With breathalyzer tests, you can dispute the results if the test was not calibrated or not up to standards. You might also use the rising BAC defense, which — if done correctly — can demonstrate that you weren’t truly at the legal limit at the time of your traffic stop.
For example, if you had one last drink right before getting into your car and getting pulled over, your breathalyzer test will show a higher level of alcohol on your breath, even though the alcohol in your stomach hasn’t fully absorbed into your system.
Based on the time of your last drink, the amount of alcohol you had before that, and the reliability of the test, you may have a strong case for the rising BAC defense.
Leave It to the Professionals
In general, the best ways to fight a DUI charge are by suppressing test results or evidence that violated your rights, or by casting doubt on the assertion that you were truly over the legal limit at the time of your traffic stop.
If you’ve been charged with a DUI — especially if it’s your first criminal charge — you want the right defense attorney on your side. Contact us today and take the first step toward getting your DUI dismissed.