Three Common DUI Defenses:
There are many DUI defenses, but the three most common DUI defenses in Prince William County include:
- Attacking the constitutionality of the traffic stop (reasonable suspicion),
- Attacking the constitutionality of the arrest (probable cause),
- Attacking the evidence as a whole (reasonable doubt)
Was my DUI stop legal?
If the police want to pull you over in your car or top and question you as part of an investigation, then the police need some evidence that you are breaking a law.
Typically, DUIs begin with a person being pulled over for violating some traffic law: Speed, running a red light, illegal lane change, ect. But sometimes there is not violation but only suspicion.
For example, a driver may be weaving within their lane, or driving 15 -20 miles per hour under the speed limit.
What ever the reason, the police officer must have a reasonable excuse for pulling someone over, and they must be able to articulate that reason.
So, if an officer pulls someone over because they are driving 3 mph under the speed limit, it is not reasonable to assume that they are drunk driving. Or if an officer says a person was driving erratically, but the officer cannot explain how they were driving erratically, then the officer’s excuse is not articulate enough.
For a traffic stop to be legal the officer must have a reasonable and articulate reason for stopping the driver before the officer actually stops the car.
If an officer stops a driver with enough evidence, then this usually will result in all charges being dismissed.
Was my DUI arrest legal?
An officer cannot arrest a person for DUI without evidence that they are drunk driving. Arresting someone requires less evidence than convicting them and more evidence than it does to pull them over. The amount of evidence needed to arrests someone is described as “probable cause”.
Police officers must have probable cause to arrest someone before the actually make the arrest.
In most DUI cases, the officers get probable cause from the breath test on the side of the road (the Preliminary Breath Test or PBT). The field sobriety test (walking the line, standing on one leg, touching your nose) are also where officers tried to find probable cause. However, driving behavior, statements made by the driver, the driver’s behavior and appearance on the side of the road, and other evidence can also serve to provide an officer with probable cause.
If an officer arrests a person for DUI/DWI without probable cause, the DUI/DWI and even a refusal charge will usually be dismissed.
Can they Prove DUI Beyond a Reasonable Doubt?
Under Virginia DUI laws an adult is guilty of DUI under Va. Code 18.2-266 if they are operating a vehicle while they are intoxicated OR if the are operating a vehicle while having a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher even if they are still sober.
The prosecution must prove that a driver was .08 or higher or that the driver was intoxicated while operating the vehicle. And the prosecution was eliminate all reasonable possibilities of innocents.
The prosecutions most powerful weapon in a DUI case is the breath test results at the police station. However, the prosecution can only use those results if they can prove that the defendant was operating their vehicle within 3 hours of the time that they were arrested.
There are several ways that DUI attorneys try to establish a reasonable possibility of innocence:
1) Exclude the breath test from evidence and attack the field sobriety tests.
2) Argue that the driver’s was under a .08 when they were operating the car but over a .08 after they were arrested.
3) Attack the accuracy or admissibility of the breath test machine’s results
4) Argue that the prosecution can’t prove that the driver was arrested within 3 hours of operating the vehicle.
Get a Free Consultation to find out what defenses you might have to your Prince William County DUI. (703) 383-9222
There are many possible defenses to DUI, DWI or Refusal and this webpage is only discussing three of them. However, anyone charged with a crime in Prince William County, Manassas, Manassas Park, Woodbridge, Haymarket, Dumfries, ect. call call and get a free consultation with attorney Luke Nichols.
During your consultation Mr. Nichols will be happy to answer your questions, discuss your case and explain to you what defenses you may have.