DUI Defense: Police Mistakes May Prove Helpful to Your Case
Posted on Aug 23, 2019 in DUI/DWI
As summer winds down, so do many of the fun-filled festivities that typically occur before the children return to school. Still, Labor Day is approaching and every New Orleans DUI lawyer at our firm knows that for some individuals, there is still plenty of partying and drinking left to do. As always, we encourage everyone to stay safe and avoid drinking and driving. However, if you find yourself in a predicament with a police officer who suspects you of driving under the influence, contact our office immediately.
If you are pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence and you fail a breathalyzer test either during the stop or later at a police station, it can be easy to think that prosecutors have an open and shut case against you. But the reality is that such evidence can be thrown out if the police officers make mistakes in stopping you, testing you or arresting you.
Below are some common police mistakes that can be key to a successful defense against DUI charges:
The Police Illegally Stopped You
Police officers can’t pull you over without a lawful reason. That lawful reason can be a traffic violation or driving that creates a reasonable suspicion that you may be impaired. If an officer pulls you over without a lawful reason, your attorney can argue that any evidence obtained after the illegal stop – such as field sobriety or breath test results – were improperly obtained and should be excluded from evidence, and that the charges should be dismissed insofar as they were the direct result of a constitutionally prohibited stop.
Your Arrest Was Illegal
Even if police officers do pull you over for a lawful reason, such as for a traffic violation, that doesn’t mean that they can start asking you about whether you’ve been drinking or testing you for suspicion of drunk driving. Once the officer has completed his or her purpose for the stop, he or she can’t legally continue to detain you unless the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have engaged in additional criminal activity, such as driving under the influence.
If the police stopped you and administered tests without a reasonable suspicion that you were driving under the influence, everything that happens after, including the results of any breath, blood, or chemical test, could be excluded from evidence.
Failure to Properly Administer FSTs
If an officer suspects that you are impaired, he or she may ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FSTs) to evaluate your condition. These tests are highly subjective and if they are administered incorrectly, they can create an impression of impairment even in someone stone cold sober. Your lawyer can challenge the ways the FSTs were conducted and how the officer interpreted the results.
Inaccurate or Incorrect Breath Tests
Breathalyzers and other devices used to test for blood alcohol content, especially those administered during a stop, are famously unreliable and often inaccurate. Even the slightest problem with the maintenance and calibration of the device, the way the test is administered, and other, external factors can taint the reliability of the test and turn a legal 0.07% into an illegal 0.08% BAC.
A skilled New Orleans DUI lawyer can attack this crucial piece of the prosecution’s evidence as being so unreliable it should not be used as evidence because of reasons such as:
- The timing of the test
- Insufficient qualifications and training of the test administrator
- Poor maintenance, calibration, and testing of the equipment
- Failure to follow required test procedures
- Incorrect mixing of testing chemicals
- Device or test sample contamination
- Independent factors that may impact blood alcohol readings such as existing “mouth alcohol,” acid reflux, diet, and breathing patterns.
Failure to Advise of Your Miranda Rights
You’ve seen enough TV shows and movies to know that when police arrest you, they need to advise you that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say can and will be used against you, you have the right to an attorney, and so on. If you have been arrested for DUI, the officer must advise you of your constitutional rights before they begin conducting a “custodial interrogation” and asking you questions. If you make any incriminating admissions or statements under questioning, those statements can be excluded from evidence if the officer failed to advise you of your Miranda rights beforehand.