After a DUI arrest, it’s easy to feel like a conviction is inevitable. Everything the police say and do during your investigation and arrest is designed to get you to admit that you are under the influence of alcohol and ultimately plead guilty to the offense. If you “blew,” these feelings of hopelessness can be intensified, as it’s hard to see how you defend against seemingly objective evidence indicating that you were drunk.
Even a first-time DUI conviction can lead to serious legal and collateral consequences. Some of the more serious include:
- Community service
- Mandatory drug and alcohol counseling and testing
- Jail time
- The loss of a job
- A criminal conviction on your permanent record
If you’re facing drunk driving charges, it’s critical to remember that not every DUI arrest leads to a conviction, and there are often substantive and procedural defenses that defendants can raise that can result in the charges against them being dropped or an acquittal at trial. It can be extremely difficult to know when these defenses apply, however, without significant legal skill and training. As a result, if you have been accused of DUI in the Maryland and D.C. area, it’s absolutely critical that you speak to an attorney about your options as soon as you can. Failing to do so could result in a completely avoidable DUI conviction.
Here are some of the most common defenses that can be raised in Maryland and Washington D.C. DUI Cases.
Challenging the Initial Traffic Stop
The police are not allowed to stop you whenever they want or for impermissible reasons such as your race or the car you drive. In order for a traffic stop to be valid, the police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being or has recently been committed. In addition, the suspicion must be based on specific and articulable facts rather than a mere “hunch.” If the police pulled you over without reasonable suspicion, any evidence that they gathered during the stop can potentially be suppressed, meaning that it cannot be used against you in court. Without access to evidence from the traffic stop, the prosecution will likely be forced to drop the case against you entirely.
While the police are not usually allowed to stop you without a legitimate reason, the Supreme Court has carved out an exception to the reasonable suspicion requirement when it comes to DUI checkpoints. That said, these checkpoints must follow certain rules in order to be valid, and if they do not, it can be
possible to suppress any evidence that law enforcement gathered during them.
Identifying illegal traffic stops and checkpoints is a complicated legal matter, so you should always have your case reviewed by an attorney after a DUI arrest.
Introducing Evidence that Provides Alternative Reasons for “Signs of Intoxication”
If you read enough police reports regarding DUI arrests, they all start to sound the same. This is because the police are all trained to look for certain signs of intoxication when they make contact with a driver. These include glassy or bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, incoherent speech, impaired motor skills, and poor balance. While these are all certainly well-known signs of alcohol intoxication, they can also be caused by other, perfectly legal causes. For example, a person that has had a stroke or a mild brain injury may have slurred speech and impaired motor skills. Likewise, allergies can cause glassy or bloodshot eyes. In some cases, diabetes can cause a person’s breath to smell in a way that can easily be mistaken for alcohol!
An experienced attorney can determine if any of the “signs of intoxication” observed by the arresting officer or officers could have alternate explanations. If so, it may be possible to establish doubt about whether you were intoxicated and obtain an acquittal at trial or even have the charges against you dropped.
Challenging the Results of Breathalyzer Testing
In many DUI cases, breathalyzer results are the centerpiece of the prosecution’s case. They characterize the results as an objective and accurate measure of a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of their arrest. In reality, however, the accuracy of breathalyzer testing has been called into question by
numerous scientific studies and courts, and there are often ways to challenge their results.
For example, if a breathalyzer device is improperly calibrated, it can return inaccurate results. For this reason, if there is any evidence that it was not calibrated before use or that the officer that administered the test lacked sufficient training to do so, it may be possible to get the results thrown out of court.
There may be ways to challenge breathalyzer results even if the police did everything right during your arrest. For instance, if you have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), it can cause alcohol from your stomach to go back into your mouth, resulting in higher-than-accurate breathalyzer results. For this reason, if you have GERD or a similar condition, it may be possible to cast doubt on the accuracy of any results that the prosecution is trying to use as evidence of your intoxication.
No Defenses Available? DUI Defense Lawyer May Be Able to Help You Avoid a Conviction
In some cases, there may not be any legal defense available in a DUI case. It’s important to understand that even if you find yourself in this situation, a lawyer may still be able to help. Both D.C. and Maryland offer certain DUI offenders an opportunity to participate in a diversionary program which, if completed successfully, will allow the offender to avoid a conviction. Getting into these programs is not automatic, however, and the assistance of an attorney can significantly increase the chances that you will be able to participate in one.
Call Falodun & Associates Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for drunk driving, it’s important that you retain an attorney to defend your rights as soon as possible. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to help you avoid a conviction and keep your criminal record clear. To schedule a free case evaluation with attorney Wole O. Falodun, call our office today at 301-28-7737 or contact us online.