Charged With DUI? You Have Defense Options.
Depending on the facts of your DUI charges, it’s possible that there is a defense that can be raised. It’s not likely that all defenses will be applicable to your individual case, but our attorneys at Chieppor & Egner LLC will be able to hone your exact defense once the investigation stage is underway. Below you can read about some of the DUI defenses commonly used in fighting a conviction. Learn more about how the court process works for DUI cases.
Violations Of Your Fourth Amendment Rights
The Fourth Amendment guarantees protection against unreasonable warrantless searches and seizures. It protects anything or anywhere in which a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy – such as a vehicle.
Your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated if you believe that a search was performed on you unreasonably. If the court finds that a search has violated the Fourth Amendment, any evidence or information gathered cannot be used against you in a criminal prosecution. Raising this defense does not guarantee you a win, but may affect negotiations in your case.
Lack Of Probable Cause
Probable cause is a reasonable belief based on certain facts that a crime has been committed. Probable cause can often play an important role in a DUI stop. If a police officer pulls someone over for a DUI stop, there must be probable cause for a search to be conducted without a warrant or for an arrest to be made.
The police must have a reason to pull over your vehicle. For example, more than likely, you were observed violating a traffic law. Assuming that you did, the police cannot just start searching your vehicle. There must be probable cause for a search to be conducted. However, if the officer smells alcohol coming from your vehicle or sees an open container, then he/she would have probable cause to begin a DUI investigation.
If probable cause is unable to be proven in court, then any evidence that was collected against you can be suppressed in court.
Inaccurate Police Reports
There can be inaccuracies in a police report. In almost every DUI case, there will be at least one police report created by the law enforcement who conducted the investigation. A police report is vitally important to show what did and did not happen during the stop. For example, the police report may indicate that you had trouble standing up during a field sobriety test. However, the rest of the report does not detail that your balance was fine for the majority of the stop. This tactic can be applied to other movements as well, such as the fact that you did not fall out of your vehicle or you were not fumbling for your wallet. Essentially, this will indicate that the police officer did not provide a detailed enough report, there was evidence for innocence, and he/she was not being completely thorough in the report.
Failure To Comply With Breathalyzer Guidelines
According to the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, in order for breathalyzer test results to be admissible evidence in court, the guidelines below must be followed:
- The device used to administer the breath test must be certified.
- The device must have been properly inspected and adjusted to standards within one year of the administration of the test.
- The device must have been tested for accuracy within one month of the administration of the breath test.
- Whoever is administering the breath test must be properly certified to administer the test using the particular device.
- The person taking the breath test be continually observed for a period of at least 20 minutes, and not eat or drink anything during that time period.
In some cases, breathalyzer test results may not be reliable based on a number of different factors. The actual breathalyzer test consists of measuring the amount of alcohol in an appropriate sample of exhaled air. Due to the fact that there are so many variables that come into play when someone “blows,” the breathalyzer test can be challenged. Everything from the temperature, an individual’s physical activity, to even heartburn can throw off a breathalyzer test.
In January 2013, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that Intoxilyzer 500EN devices manufactured by CMI are inadequate to measure breath samples below .05% and above .15% due to improper calibration methods (Commonwealth v. Schildt). Other breathalyzer machines do not have this problem. This ruling calls into question thousands of statewide DUI convictions. Lancaster County does not generally use these machines, but this factor is one of many to consider in preparing a defense.