DUI cases are not typical because they have a large number of scientific and legal issues that most cases do not have. In a typical DUI case, the prosecution’s case includes testimony from law enforcement, civilian , scientific expert witnesses and involves scientific evidence of blood or breath testing. This means DUI cases are complex. This also means DUI cases have numerous ways they can be defended; the more complex the case the more possibility for finding a winning defense. The arguments that can be discovered from the evidence and from the witness testimony are the building blocks of a successful DUI defense.
DUI cases need to be aggressively fought by competent DUI lawyers: The consequences of a DUI case involve DMV license suspensions, Criminal Court proceedings including a permanent criminal record, jail time, mandatory fines, alcohol classes and breathalyzer installation on a person’s car. Click here to learn more about DUI defenses: DUI/DWI defenses.
The most commonly used DUI defenses:
Rising Blood Alcohol Level Defense:
The most common DUI defense is known as the “rising blood alcohol level” defense. The prosecution in a DUI cases has to prove the driver’s blood alcohol level was above 0.08% at the time of driving. The “rising blood alcohol level” defense works like this: A person’s blood alcohol level is zero (0.00%) when they take their first drink. The alcohol in the drink goes into the person’s stomach, not into their blood. The alcohol is slowly absorbed from the stomach over time, into the person’s blood. In cases where the rising blood alcohol level can be used, the person’s blood alcohol level goes from below the legal limit (0.08%) to above the legal limit after they are already stopped by police and submit a blood or breath test.
The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver’s blood alcohol level was in fact above 0.08% at the time of driving, because it is not a crime to have a blood alcohol level above 0.08% at a police station or jail later on.
The rising blood alcohol level defense is useful where the person’s blood alcohol level is close to, but over the legal limit (for example in cases where the breath or blood test show 0.08%-0.12% alcohol levels).
Attacking the accuracy of the blood or breath tests:
A closely related defense to the rising blood alcohol level defense is attacking the science and accuracy of the blood or breath testing used. This is especially useful where the person’s BAC is measured between 0.12-0.15% and a rising blood alcohol level defense would be difficult to argue. The blood and breath tests used by police would seem, at first blush, to be highly accurate and sensitive. But it is this sensitivity that is their greatest weakness: the tests have to be carried out EXACTLY as prescribed in order to show the person’s blood alcohol level to the degree of accuracy needed for a criminal prosecution.
Other Defenses that win DUI cases:
The defenses discussed so far relate to the scientific evidence in a DUI case. There are other defenses, such as attacking police probable cause (or lack thereof), attacking police procedures, impeaching eye-witness testimony and other defenses that DUI lawyers can find when doing a thorough case review.