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If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, you may feel like the odds are against you. Don’t give up, and don’t give in. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you understand your rights and options for fighting drunk driving charges.

Arrested for a DUI?

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DUI, OUI, And DWI: Defenses That Match The Laws

Laws prohibiting driving while impaired differ from state to state. Some states have one blanket provision that covers operating any vehicle while under the influence of any substance, legal or illegal. Others have individual regulations for other intoxicants like cannabis, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs. The laws go by many different names and acronyms, including DUI (driving under the influence), DWI (driving while intoxicated), OUI (operating under the influence), and more.

All but one state bans driving with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of .08 or more–Utah’s BAC limit is lower, at .05 percent. Otherwise, the laws are very different. Some states have strict mandatory minimum punishments, even for first offenders, while others offer options like ‘diversion programs’ or treatment. In a few states, you can be charged with OWI or OUI for merely being behind the wheel while your BAC is over the limit–even if you’re not driving or engaging in any other dangerous behavior.

Many states have graduated levels of DUI offenses; as such, it may be possible to negotiate a reduction in the charges against you. The best DUI defense strategies are tailored to the applicable laws, so the first step is finding an attorney who fully understands how to fight a DUI wherever you face charges.

How To Beat A DUI (Or Other Criminal Charge)

In any criminal case, the state must prove the charges against you ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ The law protects defendants by holding the state to a consistently high standard. Many safeguards apply to defendants charged with any crime, including DUI. Defense attorneys frequently examine the circumstances of an arrest, including whether the arresting officer followed all formalities and requirements under the law. Some errors or omissions could be grounds to dismiss the case against you entirely.

Examples include:

Defense attorneys have extensive experience spotting these improprieties and know how to argue them effectively. If they are successful, these “technicalities” can lead to a complete dismissal. The sooner you retain an attorney, the faster they can start working to win your case.

Challenging DUI Sobriety Checkpoints

If you were stopped at a roadblock or ‘sobriety checkpoint,’ an attorney may be able to challenge the legality of the stop itself. Typically, law enforcement officers must have reasonable suspicion before stopping a vehicle and probable cause to conduct a search. Nevertheless, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of DUI checkpoints, based on the state’s special interest in preventing drunk driving, if they are narrowly tailored to infringe minimally on drivers’ rights.

To make sure their DUI stops fall within the Court’s limited exception, states have established guidelines for sobriety checkpoints. If you were charged with DUI at a stop that did not comply with state laws, or your state’s rules seem to violate the Supreme Court’s requirements, an attorney could use this to convince a jury to acquit you.

Questioning Breathalyzer Evidence

A skilled DUI defense attorney may be able to undermine the reliability or accuracy of the device or method used to test your BAC. Breathalyzer devices and other breath alcohol tests have a margin of error, and they must be checked regularly to ensure they are working correctly. If the administering officers cannot show the unit has been properly maintained and calibrated, its evidence may be excluded.

Breath analysis devices also use a hard-and-fast ratio to estimate the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood based on the amount of alcohol on their breath. This one-size-fits-all approach may not be correct for a particular individual; actual ratios can vary based on gender, body temperature, red blood cell count, and even what a person has eaten. An attorney may be able to show additional facts that effectively argue against relying on this evidence in your situation, especially if a later blood test showed your BAC was within acceptable levels.

A few rare individuals have a condition called ‘auto-brewery syndrome,’ in which their body ferments ordinary food into ethanol (the intoxicating molecule of alcohol). They can have BAC levels as high as .30 or .40 percent without ever consuming alcohol. While a driver with this condition may not have drunk alcohol and may not even seem impaired, they might still be guilty of ‘per se’ drunk driving offenses. If you are in this situation, an attorney could help prevent you from being unfairly punished.

However, a breath analysis device can interpret certain other medical conditions as high levels of blood alcohol. These include (but are not limited to) diabetes, hypoglycemia, acid reflux, and heart disease. An attorney can help you contest breath analysis test evidence based on such a mistake.

Negotiating Diversionary Options Or Reduction Of Charges

One of the best reasons to get an attorney is that they know about all kinds of DUI defense options that you may not. These may include probation, alcohol diversion programs, community service, and treatment options that could help you avoid a conviction.

If it is legal in your jurisdiction, you may be allowed to plead guilty to “wet reckless” charges rather than a DUI-related offense. Doing so can reduce the long-term impact on your driver’s license, driving record, professional licenses, ability to travel internationally, insurance rates, and more. An attorney can help advocate for this type of consideration.

Protect Your Rights And Your Future

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, a conviction can be devastating. An experienced attorney can help you identify and evaluate the DUI defenses available in your situation. Don’t plead guilty without talking to an attorney.

Legal Disclaimer: This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation and should not be interpreted as creating an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, you should seek the advice of an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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