When you are charged with a DUI in California, there are multiple ways to defend yourself and fight the charges with an experienced DUI defense attorney. The primary categories that these defenses will fall into are the defenses that you were not actually intoxicated, that you were not really impaired, and that the proper procedures were not followed at the time of your arrest. It is important to understand the available legal defenses because a DUI charge can have a tremendous impact on your life. You may have to pay high fines and/or lose your license.
There is a Difference Between Driving Badly and Driving Drunk
It is important to know that you can be driving irresponsibly without being drunk. It’s certainly not something to be proud of, but it is a valid defense in a California DUI case. This is particularly applicable if the police allege that you were intoxicated because you were speeding or driving erratically. You may have been doing so for some other reason, besides intoxication. For example, you may have been in a hurry, or you may have been under stress.
You Can Have the General Symptoms of Intoxication Without Being Intoxicated
The symptoms of intoxication do not necessarily indicate intoxication because they can also come from a variety of other issues and conditions. For instance, you might have red and watery eyes and even a flushed face because you have allergies or have been crying. You might have slurred speech because of another condition or because you are tired. Even the smell of alcohol on your breath can be argued against, because a single drink would cause that smell without causing you to be drunk. You could even have the smell of alcohol from a non-alcoholic drink.
A Field Sobriety Test is Not an Accurate or Reliable Indication of Intoxication
In many cases, people will be arrested for a DUI based on a field sobriety test. This involves a number tests to measure your coordination. Yet, it may be difficult for you to balance on one leg, for example, because you have poor balance. It may have nothing to do with drinking. You might find it hard to complete these tests because you’re nervous, because your clothing doesn’t allow for a full range of motion, or even because you’re tired. It could even be an issue with the lack of experience and training on the part of the arresting officer in administering and judging the results of the field sobriety test. Overall, such tests are not that reliable.
A False BAC Result Can Occur Because of ‘Mouth Alcohol’ and Improper Testing
You may think that the blood alcohol tests are inarguable. In reality, it is entirely possible to get a falsely high result from these tests because of alcohol in your mouth, including mouth wash and certain medications. For this reason, the arresting officer is supposed to observe you for 15 minutes before they can even administer the test. This is to ensure that you don’t put anything in your mouth and even that you don’t burp, as even this could create a false reading.
For this reason, if the officer did not observe you for fifteen minutes before administering the test, you can argue this in your defense. There is no way to know what other factors may have impacted your BAC reading if the proper procedure is not followed, making it easy to argue that the entire investigation has been compromised, and the results are not reliable.
In the same way, your DUI defense attorney can make arguments in your favor based on any non-compliance with the regulations associated with testing your breath and blood for alcohol. The tests must be calibrated, well maintained, and administered correctly with the appropriate procedures, including the 15 minute observation period.
Other Conditions Could Also Lead to False BAC Results
Another point that many people are not aware of is that there are plenty of other conditions that could cause a false BAC result. You may have a medical condition like diabetes or hypoglycemia that could lead to false results in a BAC test. Even a high protein diet or a low carb diet could impact the results. Fasting (not eating for a period of time) is another common factor.
Then, there is the issue of Ketosis, which involves the ketones that are produced by your liver when your body burns fat. Ketones are similar in their chemical structure to isopropyl alcohol. While the tests are supposed to identify ethyl alcohol (from drinks with alcohol), they do not always distinguish between the two. Further, ketosis even causes symptoms that are much like the symptoms associated with impairment from drinking, such as coordination issues and confusion. It can even cause your breath to smell like alcohol.
Police Misconduct Could Lead to a False DUI Charge
As we’ve pointed out, police are supposed to follow certain procedures when they investigate a situation where they suspect that you are driving under the influence. Any failure to adhere to these important procedures could be used in your defense. All of these procedures are intended to protect you from police misconduct, and they include the requirement of probable cause to be pulled over in the first place and the requirement of reading Miranda rights before interrogating you about whether or not you are intoxicated.
If the proper procedures are not followed, then the investigation is compromised, police misconduct could result in a false DUI charge, and your California DUI attorney could argue to have all of the evidence inappropriately collected thrown out, and could even have your charges dropped. This is accomplished in a pre-trial hearing in which your attorney will argue these points to defend you against an unfair arrest that shouldn’t go to trial at all.
Call 1-800-HURT-NOW for a Free Consultation
If you have been charged with a DUI, you are not without options. Call 1-800-HURT-NOW to get a free consultation with a skilled California DUI defense attorney and learn more about how we can help you fight your charges and defend your good name.