Drunk Driving Defenses
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What Is Drunk Driving?
Drunk driving is also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). In most states, a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) needs to be over a certain limit before they can be charged with drunk driving. In most cases, the BAC limit is 0.08%. Many states have “zero tolerance” laws for minors (under 18 years old), meaning that they can’t have any alcohol in their system while driving.
Penalties for drunk driving can depend on many factors. For example, the court will consider whether it is a repeat DUI offense or whether any persons were seriously injured as a result of the defendant’s drunk driving. For most first time DUI offenses, penalties may include criminal fines, possible time in jail, and temporary suspension of driving privileges (though this may vary by state).
What Are Some Common Drunk Driving Defenses?
Depending on the individual circumstances of each case, the defendant may have a number of drunk driving defenses that they can argue. Some of these include:
- Inadmissible or Faulty Test Results: BAC levels are often determined through the use of equipment such as a breathalyzer. If such devices are proven to be inaccurate or faulty, it can serve as a drunk driving defense. There have been cases where entire police department units were subject to faulty BAC records due to inaccurate equipment
- No “Impairment”: If you weren’t actually impaired or under the influence of alcohol, it may serve as a viable defense
- No Probable Cause: Police need probable cause to stop or arrest a person for drunk driving. Failure to establish probable cause may hinder the prosecution’s case
- Not Driving at the Time: Some states require the police officer to actually witness the driver while driving intoxicated. Thus, if the police officer only observes the person sitting in their parked car, they may not have grounds to make a DUI arrest
- “Rising BAC”: The argument was made that the person’s BAC was not over the limit at the time of driving, but had “risen” in between the time of driving and the actual test (alcohol often takes time to fully enter the system). This defense is difficult to prove, but can be applied where there is a long delay between the stop and the actual testing
In some cases, when arguing for a drunk driving defense, it may become necessary to hire an expert witness who can provide their professional input on the matter. Also, it’s usually necessary to work with a qualified DUI lawyer when appearing in court. Drunk driving defenses can have many legal effects, such as obtaining a reduced sentence, having the charges dropped, or having a felony DUI charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Drunk Driving Defenses?
Claiming a drunk driving defense requires knowledge of both DUI laws and blood alcohol concentration requirements. It’s in your best interest to hire a qualified DUI lawyer if you need assistance with drunk driving charges. DUI laws can vary by state, and some defenses may not be available in different jurisdictions. Working with an experienced defense lawyer can help you obtain a favorable judgment during court hearings.
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Last Modified: 02-26-2015 01:58 PM PST
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