Often, I’ll see other DUI attorneys offer advice as to how to ‘beat a DUI’. If you look closely at the suggestions, they aren’t actually offering advice on beating a DUI. They are 1.) Offering standard tips which are common sense if you’ve been drinking (or arrested), or they 2.) Consist of reasons DUI charges are often reduced or dismissed. The latter consist of things entirely out of your control, such as whether the officer followed proper procedures in administering sobriety tests and breathalyzer. It is typically good advice, but don’t buy into the thought that there is any fool proof way to ‘beat a DUI’ – with two exceptions.
Two ways to absolutely ‘beat’ a DUI in Tennessee include:
1. Not drinking (or using other substances which impair your ability to drive); and/or
2. Not driving
The most common reasons DUI charges may be reduced or dismissed is the most important reason you need a DUI lawyer. They are legal issues which are important factors that need to be examined by a DUI lawyer and could greatly affect your DUI case (and, whether or not you receive a DUI conviction). Without a DUI lawyer, most people would be entirely unaware that their constitutional rights have been violated or that the evidence may be flawed and inadmissible in court.
Some of those reasons include:
1. The Reason the Officer Stopped You: Police officer’s generally cannot stop you without some justification. If the officer stopped you without probable cause (or for a traffic violation), all of your statements and any evidence obtained after the stop may be subject to being suppressed. Suppressed means the evidence would not be admissible at trial and the prosecuting DUI attorney (who has the burden to prove a crime was committed) has lost all or portions of key evidence to establish you were driving while intoxicated.
2. Whether the officer followed the appropriate methods in administering the breathalyzer: A breathalyzer is a finicky device that requires calibration and very particular manner in which it is administered. Officers are required to observe you closely for at least 20 minutes prior to administering the breathalyzer to ensure you haven’t burped or done something else which may affect its reading. There are many ‘rules’ which DUI officers must follow while administering the breathalyzer and if those ‘rules’ are broken, the breathalyzer results can be very unreliable.
3. Who administered the breathalyzer? Not just any police officer can administer the breathalyzer test in Tennessee. Those officers must be certified and have specialized training in administering the tests. In Nashville, there are only a handful of DUI officers who have received this training. If an officer who has not received the proper training in administering the test, it would not be admissible in your DUI case.
In short, the primary reason DUI charges are reduced or dismissed are due to problems related to the stop (ie: whether they had probable cause; whether there was a traffic violation) or problems related to the tests administered. Aside from those factors, there are other factors which give certain weight to the strength of a DUI charge in Tennessee. For example,
- Failure to Read You Your Miranda Rights. If, and only if, you made statements to the officer after you were arrested, but prior to them reading you your Miranda Rights, those statements are subject to being suppressed and not admissible at your DUI trial.
- Medical and Health Related Problems. Sometimes the officer’s observations are inaccurate because they are unaware of certain health related problems of the driver. For example, a speech impediment may cause an officer to believe an individual has been drinking. A permanently impaired leg may cause the officer to believe the driver is unstable on his feet due to alcohol consumption. Any health related problem the person facing a DUI charge may have needs to be examined by a DUI lawyer and those critical facts need to be brought to the prosecuting attorney’s attention.
- Credibility of the Police Officer. If a police officer has had any disciplinary action taken against them, it may tend to discredit an officer’s assertion that your speech was slurred, there was an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and that your eyes were watery and bloodshot.
- Bad Weather. The weather conditions surrounding the stop could be very important. If the initial stop was due to the driver swerving and driving 20 mph below the speed limit – and there was 3 inches of ice on the road, the officer’s stop is unreasonable and may lack probable cause. The driver’s behavior was normal given the current conditions. Rain, sleet, wind, and ice all are examples of conditions which may affect how we drive and at the very least should be discussed as to whether this is a factor which could impact your DUI case.
These are just a few issues which need to be examined by a DUI lawyer. There is no ‘way to beat a DUI’, unless you entirely refrain from drinking, drugs and driving. There are however complex legal issues which need to be examined by a DUI lawyer to ensure that your rights are being protected and that the evidence which is being used against you in the DUI case is admissible.