There can be a lot of stress involved with a DUI charge, considering the severity of the possible consequences – ranging from a suspended license or high fines to even facing jail time. But just because you have been charged with a DUI, it doesn't mean you have no hope of fighting and beating the case. While a DUI can be complex and it may seem the odds are stacked against you, there are other options aside from just pleading guilty.
Hire a Top DUI Lawyer in DuPage County
If you are facing a DUI charge, especially a first-time DUI charge, it is important to act fast and hire a seasoned DUI lawyer who can pull all the necessary strings to get the charges reduced or dropped entirely. There are ways to get out of a DUI, and below are ten common ways a lawyer can help you beat a charge.
1. Challenge the basis for the DUI traffic stop
Even when a traffic stop ultimately results in a DUI arrest, a police officer must have probable cause to stop you while driving. Based on the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, if an officer stops you without probable cause, then the stop is considered illegal. In the case of an illegal stop, any evidence the officer collects – and this includes breathalyzer results and/or blood and urine testing – is considered illegally obtained and therefore inadmissible in court.
2. What Constitutes Probable Cause
The officer must have a legitimate reason for pulling you over and questioning you. In most cases, a legitimate reason can be a traffic violation or erratic driving. However, if you can argue that the officer had no reason for pulling you over then any evidence gathered after you were pulled over can be ruled inadmissible in court. In many cases, losing the evidence from a traffic stop will suck the air right out of the prosecution's arguments in a DUI case.
Challenging the traffic stop in a DUI case is tricky and sometimes difficult. Police can stop people for somewhat minuscule reasons. If your DUI lawyer can successfully argue that there was no basis for a traffic stop, chances are good that your case will get dismissed.
3. Challenge the basis for the DUI arrest
Even if you can't win the argument that the traffic stop itself was not justified, you can argue that there was no basis for the DUI arrest. If there was no basis for the DUI arrest, the evidence taken during the arrest will be deemed inadmissible in court.
Being pulled over is separate from being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. A police offer can pull you over for bad driving or traffic violations and write you a ticket but in order for them to be able to arrest you for a DUI, they must show they had probable cause to believe you were intoxicated. Examples: if the police officer smelled alcohol on you, if you performed poorly on a field sobriety test, or if you appeared otherwise intoxicated.
There are two main ways you can challenge the evidence found during a DUI arrest. You can call into question the integrity of the officer's report, or you can offer alternate reasons as to why you appeared intoxicated.
Question the Integrity of the Arresting Officer's Report
Questioning the integrity or validity of an officer's police report or observations involves trying to discredit the officer's statements regarding the DUI arrest. You need to show that his report is inaccurate. This can be difficult to do, especially in cases where there is no dash camera footage or video recording to back up your claims. However, an experienced DuPage DUI lawyer can recognize a situation where you may be able to discredit an officer's account of the DUI arrest and get the evidence suppressed.
Alternate Reasons as to Why You May Appear Intoxicated During DUI Stop
There are many possible reasons you might appear intoxicated. Perhaps you have health issues or an injury which may have affected your performance on a field sobriety test. You may have just been tired or under a great deal of stress. There are many flaws to the standard DUI roadside testing procedures and a seasoned DUI lawyer will have an arsenal of different factors and reasons they are prepared to argue when disputing the accuracy of your sobriety test or breathalyzer scores (if you chose to take the tests).
4. Failure to Read Miranda Rights During DUI Arrest
In the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals have to be informed of their Fifth Amendment Rights when placed under arrest. The arresting police officer must recite the Miranda Warning, which informs the arrestee of their right to not self-incriminate. The person being arrestedhas the right to remain silent. They also have the right to hire a lawyer, or to be appointed a lawyer if they are unable to hire private counsel.
If a police officer fails to read you your Miranda Warnings at the time of an arrest, anything you say during or after your arrest is inadmissible and unable to be used against you in a court of law.
5. 20 Minute Observation Period Before Breathalyzer Test in Illinois
In the state of Illinois, police officers are required to observe a driver for a period of no less than 20 minutes before administering a DUI breathalyzer test. During that twenty minutes, the driver is supposed to be deprived of all alcohol or foreign substances, and he or she should not vomit. If the driver does take foreign substances or vomit, the 20 minute observation period resets.
In the event the 20 minute DUI breathalyzer observation period is not properly carried out, the results of any following tests can be considered invalid and inadmissible in court. If you are charged with DUI but your arresting officer did not wait a full 20 minutes where you were deprived of all foreign substances, then a DUI lawyer may be able to win a motion to suppress your DUI breathalyzer test results.
6. Improper Administration of a Field Sobriety Test
There are very specific instructions that must be carefully followed when administering a DUI field sobriety test in Illinois. In most cases, a police officer will use the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST), which is officially approved by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Illinois DUI Field Sobriety Tests have 3 Parts:
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus,
- the walk-and-turn, and
- the one-leg stand
Together, the three tests are intended to be a fairly accurate assessment of a driver's mobility, coordination and attention. The results of a SFST are said to be accurate more often than not. However, medical conditions or injuries can significantly influence how a person performs on an SFST regardless of sobriety, so field sobriety tests are more easily challenged than a breath test in court.
7. Improper Administration of a Breathalyzer Test
Like a field sobriety test, there are many rules and procedures which must be followed when a police officer administers a DUI breathalyzer test in Illinois. The equipment he uses has to be approved and maintained to specification. If a breathalyzer malfunctions, it will give inaccurate results. Even if a perfectly functioning breathalyzer is improperly calibrated, it can read a completely different score than what your Blood Alcohol Concentration actually is.
If there is a possibility that the breathalyzer test administered to you was given incorrectly, or a chance that the results are skewed, an experienced DUI lawyer can challenge the results of the test. If they find enough to back up your claim they can get the results of your breathalyzer test suppressed in court.
8. DUI Video Evidence
In many cases, there is video footage of your DUI traffic stop and arrest. Additionally, there may even be video of you while at the police station. The footage taken during and after your DUI arrest can be helpful to your defense. If the footage shows you behaving in a manner in which you appear sober, then you can create doubt about your being intoxicated.
Even more helpful is when the dash camera or arrest footage shows anything which contradicts the police officer's report. If you can use video footage to challenge the credibility or behavior of your arresting officer, you can open a door to challenge the legality of your DUI stop and arrest.
9. Outside Witnesses in your DUI Case
If you can introduce witnesses who can testify to your sobriety, they may be able to create enough doubt in your case to beat the DUI charge. Maybe you can find people who can testify that you did not drink prior to operating a motor vehicle. Or, maybe you have witnesses to your arrest who watched the entire DUI stop and arrest and can attest to you appearing sober. Alternatively, they can also be helpful if the situation involved police misconduct or did not follow proper rules and procedures.
In general, whether you are challenging the legality of your arrest, improper test administration, or your arresting officer's failure to mirandize, having witnesses or footage to back up your argument will make the entire process easier. It is harder to deny what someone else can attest to, and nearly impossible to contradict something that is shown on camera.
10. Police Misconduct in a DUI Arrest
Police misconduct is a broad term, but one that may be able to help beat your DUI case. If you were treated improperly by police officers – if they used inappropriate or illegal behavior when arresting or holding you – you can make a case for police misconduct.
Illegal or inappropriate behavior can include a broad range of behaviors, from racial profiling to sexual harassment to brutality. In any of the above cases or more, if you can successfully make a case for police misconduct during your arrest or detainment, it is very possible your DUI case can get dropped if the misconduct is considered serious enough.
An experienced defense lawyer will know how to recognize a situation where you can claim police misconduct.
Contact our Top-Rated DUI Lawyers in DuPage County, Illinois
Have you been charged with DUI in DuPage County, Illinois? Any of the issues mentioned in this article may be a factor in your case.
Dolci & Weiland Partners, Dominick Dolci and Patrick Weiland have been recognized as two of the Top 100 DUI lawyers in the state of Illinois by The National Advocacy for DUI Defense (NAFDD) in 2016. We are experienced lawyers who will fight to get you the best possible results in your DuPage County DUI case.
Contact us today to speak with a DUI lawyer for a free consultation.