What Are Some Defenses in a DUI Case?


Potential defenses in any given drunk driving case are almost limitless due to the complexities of the offense. Roughly speaking however, the majority can be broken down into the following areas. One, lack of driving or actual physical control. Intoxication is not enough. The prosecution must also prove that the defendant was driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or more. This may be difficult if, in the case of accidents, there are no witnesses to his or her being the driver of the vehicle. Number two, lack of reasonable or articulable suspicion to stop or probable cause to arrest. Evidence will be suppressed if the officer did not have legal cause to stop, detain and arrest the individual. Sobriety roadblocks present particularly complex issues in this regard. Number three, Miranda, incriminating statements may be suppressed if warnings were not given at the appropriate time. Number four, deficient implied consent warnings. If the officer did not advise the defendant of the consequences of refusing to take a chemical test or gave the prescribed instructions incorrectly, this may result or may affect the admissibility of the test results as well as the license suspension imposed by the Motor Vehicle Department. The subjective nature of the offense or erroneous nature of the evidence, most crimes involve tangible evidence, a quantity of illegal drugs, a body, a gun, knife, etc. An alleged violation of the DUI statute in Pennsylvania almost exclusively relies on the subjective and unverifiable impressions of the arresting officer. The arresting officer’s observations and opinions as to impairment can be questioned. The circumstances and procedures of the field sobriety tests can also be questioned. There’s strong tendency of the police officer to reinforce his arrest decision with, “facts,” conveniently corroborative of the decision can be attacked. Also DUI arrest translate into thousands of overtime dollars for the involved officers. This fact is relevant as to motive on the part of the officer to err on the side of arrest in close cases and should be brought to the jury’s attention. Furthermore, an alleged violation of the DUI statute in Pennsylvania, having an unlawful BAC also relies on test results that are highly questionable. A breath test has one compelling and erroneous assumption and that is that all test subjects are average.