No one wants a DUI conviction on their record. So you may be wondering how to get your DUI dismissed. Whether you believe you were sober enough to drive, the officer made a mistake, or the chemical test instrument’s result (commonly known by the brand name “Breathalyzer”) was inaccurate, beating a DUI is possible under certain circumstances. What follows is a discussion of several ways your attorney may be able to help you get your DUI charge dismissed. Remember, every case is different and there are no guarantees, but here are a few common reasons for a dismissal. A police officer must have reasonable suspicion a crime, even a minor traffic violation, has been committed to lawfully pull you over for a traffic stop. Reasonable suspicion can be anything from speeding, weaving, and erratic driving, to the officer observing a mechanical violation on your vehicle such as a broken taillight. If the officer doesn’t have the basis for reasonable suspicion, any evidence obtained as a result of the unlawful traffic stop can be suppressed under the Fourth Amendment. This includes the results of any chemical tests and field sobriety tests you may take, and even your words to the police officer.
Challenging the Field Sobriety Tests
Another way to possible get a DUI dismissal is to challenge the validity of the field sobriety tests (FSTs). Many officers use three main tests to help determine if a motorist is too impaired to drive: horizontal gaze nystagamus (HGN), the walk and turn test (WAT), and the one-leg stand (OLS). Despite their relative accuracy in helping to detect drivers under the influence, these tests are subject to human error. A few ways your attorney may be able to challenge the tests include the following:
• Were the tests given in poorly lit conditions or on uneven pavement?
• Was the driver wearing improper shoes such as high heels or sandals?
• Did the officer fail to properly explain the test instructions?
When it comes to the HGN test, there are also several explanations for involuntary eye movement other than alcohol, such as a medical condition or certain medications which can mimic involuntary eye movement similar to those present during alcohol impairment. Your attorney may be able to challenge the accuracy of these tests before or during trial on cross-examination of the officer.
Chemical Test Results
Whether you took a blood, breath, or urine test, you may be able to challenge the accuracy of your results. One of the key areas your attorney may be able to contest is whether the Breathalyzer was properly maintained and calibrated. With regard to a blood draw, was the paramedic trained and was the draw administered properly? Your lawyer may also be able to question if the blood sample was contaminated or stored improperly, thus leading to an inaccurate result. These are just a few of the possible ways that your blood or breath alcohol results (BAC) can be either thrown out (and your DUI case dismissed) or at least called into question, thereby weakening the prosecution’s case against you.
Reasons DUI Criminal Charges May Be Dismissed Before Trial
Driving under the influence (DUI) charges can be dismissed before the actual trial begins. Sometimes, the prosecution may dismiss the case on their own because of known defects in their case. Usually, DUI cases are dismissed because of persuasive criminal defense lawyer arguments and motions. Defendants should regularly plead not guilty to DUI charges because often the police failed to follow proper procedure, the district attorney doesn’t have the evidence needed to prove a conviction, or the prosecution knows there’s a reasonable likelihood of acquittal if the case does go to trial. The prosecutor is the main person who drops or dismisses the charge. Judges can authorize dismissals too. The end result for the client is that he/she is free to continue their life without worrying about a criminal record or a court case. Each criminal case is different. DUI cases generally depend on the police following proper procedures and on the results of any chemical tests.
DUI charges should be dropped:
• If the police did not have proper grounds to stop your vehicle. The police can stop you if they reasonably believe you have committed a traffic violation such as speeding or running through a red light. They can also stop you if they see that your driving poses a danger to others such as weaving in and out of lanes. If you were following the laws and driving with the flow of traffic then normally the police don’t have the right to stop you.
• Illegal searches and seizures. Police cannot search your vehicle for signs of alcohol containers or evidence of drinking unless they have probable cause or unless they obtain a warrant. Most offices don’t obtain warrants in DUI arrests so whether they had probable cause to search the vehicle is a critical issue. Illegal searches and seizures violate the Fourth Amendment.
• Illegal field sobriety tests. There are specific field sobriety tests officers should give and specific ways they should give them. If the tests are invalid, the arrest may be invalid
• Illegal chemical tests. While drivers generally consent to blood or breath tests, officers still need to explain what rights a suspect has. Testing machines must be inspected regularly. The chain of custody of the test and test results can’t be broken before trial.
• Failing to advise you of your right to speak with a lawyer. Defendants are entitled to be told they can speak with an attorney after they’ve been arrested.
• A stop or search was unconstitutional or illegal for other reasons. For example, roadside sobriety checkpoints are supposed to alert drivers to where the roadblocks will be ahead of time.
The prosecution may be willing to consider negotiating a plea bargain if they know their case is weak such as negotiating with the defense attorney to plead to a traffic violation which isn’t as severe as a DUI. DUI convictions can result in Jail Time, finesse and penalties, increased insurance premiums, possible license suspension, and other consequences. There are often defenses that can help convince the prosecution to dismiss the case or the judge or jury to find you not guilty.
DUI or DWI Punishments and Penalties
As with any criminal charge, a person charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If guilt is established (often through the defendant’s own plea or after a jury trial), the penalty will depend on state law, as well as on any aggravating circumstances (such as the presence of an open bottle of liquor in the car) and the defendant’s cooperation with the police.
In all states, first-offense DUI or DWI is classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail. That jail time may be increased under certain circumstances. For example, some states mandate more severe punishments for DUI or DUI offenders whose blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest was particularly high for example, .15% or .20%, very high considering the legal limit of .08%. Many states also require minimum jail sentences of at least several days on a first offense. Subsequent offenses often result in jail sentences of several months to a year. For a DUI or DWI that’s been classified as a felony either because the driver killed or injured someone or because it’s the driver’s third or fourth DUI jail sentences of several years are not uncommon. Again, this depends on state law, the facts of the case, and the discretion of the judge at trial.
In addition to jail sentences, courts can and do impose high fines for DUI or DWI. These range from $500 to as much as $2,000.
Driver’s License Problems
A DUI or DWI offender stands a good chance of having his or her license suspended for a substantial period of time (either by court order or mandate of the state motor vehicles department). For example, many states suspend a first offender’s license for 90 days; a second offender’s license for one year; and a third offender’s license for three years. Refusal to take a blood, breath, or urine test can result in a license suspension regardless of the finding of guilt, in addition to other penalties in many states. However, sometimes it’s possible to obtain a “hardship license” to drive to and from places like work and school during a suspension. Some states take further steps to make sure the person (particularly a repeat offender) doesn’t get back on the road. The state may confiscate the car or cancel its registration, either temporarily or permanently. Or the state may require an ignition interlock device (IID) to be attached to the DUI or DWI offender’s car. This device requires the driver to blow into a small handheld alcohol sensor unit attached to the dashboard. A number of states’ court sentences may include alternative sentencing, such as alcohol teaching and prevention programs, treatment for alcohol abuse, assessment of a person for possible alcohol or drug dependency or addiction, and community service or victim restitution. The judge may recommend these steps instead of jail time or paying fines, most likely for a first offender. Or the judge may combine them with other penalties. In Utah, for example, minors convicted of a DUI must perform community service, in addition to any other penalties. A minor who is arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs won’t get any breaks from punishment in fact; being young is likely to make matters worse. The legal drinking age is 21 in most states, so drinking before that age is a separate crime. In addition, some states penalize underage drivers based on lower BAC levels than the standard .08% for adults, typically .02%. The state may impose adult sentences on minors, and underage DUI offenders are likely to have their licenses suspended for one year. In addition to legal penalties, the driver’s insurance company may cancel the insurance policy or drastically increase the rates because of the hit to the person’s driving record. And a drunk driving charge stays on a person’s driving record for many years. Plus, if the driver’s license is suspended, the insurance company is likely to cancel the insurance policy. Certain jobs may be closed to those who’ve been convicted of DUI or DWI, such as driving a school bus, delivery van, or any other vehicle as part of their employment. Finally, the driver may face a separate civil lawsuit if accident victims decide to sue for property damages or bodily injuries.
What to Do After a DUI Arrest
If you have been arrested for DUI, especially if it is your first DUI, it can be a very frightening and confusing time. Whether you had only a single drink or not, the results of a DUI arrest can be the same and you should fight DUI if possible. However, taking the correct steps immediately after your arrest is vital to your protection and the outcome of your trial.
Step 1: Take the chemical test after the arrest.
This is required by most states and is punishable under the law if refused. The chemical test is designed to show a variety of information, most notably your current blood alcohol level. From this level, the officers can deduce the level of alcohol in your blood at the time of arrest. If you have refused field sobriety tests, then you have little to fear from this and much to lose by refusing. Take the test.
Step 2: Contact a DUI attorney.
Never use a general attorney for DWI court cases. DUI laws are complex and require an in-depth understanding of the legal system in a very specific regard. While other attorneys may be able to represent you in court, only a specialized DUI attorney can hope to gain you a favorable outcome in your DWI defense.
Step 3: Locate a bail bondsman.
Posting bail is often required after an arrest. While most individuals may be released without bail, some cases require the aid of a bondsman. These individuals will require a fee, up front. Once the fee is paid, they will post bail for you. While this can be expensive, it is less so than paying your entire bail to the court. A bail bondsman guarantees that you will be at your hearings. If you do not appear during all hearings, the bondsman will likely come looking for you.
Step 4: Request a DMV hearing.
After your time of arrest, you have a limited number of days (usually 10) including weekends and holidays, to make a formal request for a DMV hearing. This hearing will determine whether you are allowed to keep your driver’s license. If you or your attorney does not request a DMV hearing, your license will be automatically suspended.
Step 5: Prepare for your arraignment.
The arraignment is the portion of your trial during which you enter your plea. Do not plead guilty. It is possible to fight DUI charges and win the case. However, you must ensure that you have experienced, expert DUI counsel on your side to do this. A plea of not guilty will give you a jury trial, during which it is possible to show that you were not driving drunk, or challenge the merits of the case in another manner.
Provo Utah DUI Lawyer
When you need legal help to fight against a DUI charge in Provo Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506