Despite what you may have been told, there are defenses to a D.U.I. charge and the charges that go along with it. Like any other criminal defendant, you are presumed innocent and have certain rights guaranteed to you by the constitution. A good DUI defense attorney will be familiar with several defense tactics that have been proven to work for his or her clients, to secure an acquittal or justify a lesser sentence. If you have recently been arrested for drinking and driving, it is imperative that you contact an attorney to begin fighting the serious charges against you. An attorney can discuss, examine and review your case and make the best evaluation possible. There are a myriad of circumstances and challenges of evidence to consider. No one can promise you an acquittal, but your chances are enhanced with the aid an attorney who understands the law, the system, the procedures and will fight for you.
Some of the circumstances your attorney will examine include
- Did the police have a valid reason to stop your vehicle? Was it a constitutional stop?
- Was the police officer within his jurisdiction when the traffic stop was made?
- What observations were made at the scene of the traffic stop? (Did he smell the odor of alcohol? Did he note that your eyes were bloodshot and watery?)
- Why were you asked to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and how were they administered?
- If you submitted to a Portable Breath Tester, was it working properly and was the officer operating the machine certified to do so? Was the machine working properly?
- What questions were asked of you and were your Miranda rights given?
- Did the Police have probable cause to arrest?
- Was your car justifiably seized and searched?
A motorist can be stopped for a variety of reasons, including improperly working equipment on your car, erratic driving or if an officer has a reasonable and explainable basis to believe that a traffic law or other law has been violated. The Police may only pull over a driver who is suspected of DUI if there is probable cause. If it can be proven that there was no justifiable reason for the traffic stop, the defense attorney may request a suppression hearing. The judge will then decide if the officer had a legitimate reason for pulling the driver over for a DUI stop. If there was not, the entire DUI case will be thrown out. The police may not:
- Detaining a driver longer than is reasonable to investigate. The constitution does not allow officers to hold you without limit.
- Stopping a vehicle without an articulable suspicion. An officer can not stop you just because he thinks you are suspicious. Stopping a vehicle after legally avoiding a checkpoint. Unless an officer has articulable and reasonable grounds that you violated the vehicle code he cannot make a stop.
- Stopping a vehicle because it stops in the middle of the street or it is driving too slowly. Unless there is a specific traffic ordinance you are violating, such as impeding traffic, it is not lawful for an officer to stop you.
- Weaving within a lane. The statute only requires you to drive as nearly as is practicable within a single lane. Some cases hold that one weave into the shoulder is not enough reason for a stop.
- Stopping a vehicle just to check the driver's license and registration. There must be an actual traffic violation or an articulable suspicion of a crime.
- Stopping a vehicle without being able to identify it as the one actually committing a traffic infraction.
- Stopping a vehicle for no reason at all. It's done all the time.
- Blocking a vehicle's exit without justification. Officers may not restrict a drivers freedom to leave without a reason.
- Stopping at an improper roadblock. There are guidelines that must be followed to validate the stop.
Some of the requirements for the police to administer a Breathalizyer / Blood Test include:
- The officer must have had a reasonable suspicion that you were violating the law.
- The officer must have either had probable cause to arrest you or obtain your consent for roadside tests.
- The officer must have probable cause before he arrests you and before he requires you to take a chemical test.
- The officer must give you your Miranda rights after you are arrested, if he is going to interrogate you.
The prosecution must also prove that the defendant was driving. This may be difficult if, as in the case of accidents, there are no witnesses to you being the driver of the vehicle. Most drivers quickly admit they were driving, although they had the right to remain silent.
Driving under the influence is an area of the law that is complex, scientific, and technical. An attorney who doesn't routinely defend these types of cases will put you at a severe disadvantage when it comes to truly understanding the science and laws that make this type of case so truly unique and entirely possible to defend.
For more information go to DUI Defenses or visit my website at Pittsburgh DUI Attorney
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