What you need to know about DUI
There are generally 3 major steps in a DWI situation. The first step is the “Stop”. Second you have the “Arrest”, and finally the “Breath test”.
1. The STOP: A DUI charge usually begins with you getting “pulled over” by the police. The officer may have been following you. You may have stopped at a Sobriety checkpoint. In order to “Stop” you, the officer needs what the law calls “reasonable suspicion”. Reasonable suspicion requires the officer to demonstrate specific facts justifying why you were stopped in the first place. Basically, an officer cannot stop you based on a gut feeling. He can’t stop you just because he saw you leave a bar. The officer generally justifies the “stop” by referencing some type of traffic violation. The following are 2 examples of justifications for a “stop”
a) Exceeding the Speed Limit: Officers will cite a stop because you drove passed the legal speed limit. The key question that a good DUI lawyer recognizes “how was this speed violation determined”. For example, if the officer used “pacing”, (officer drives behind vehicle and accelerates until the gap between his car and yours no longer widen) officer error can occur. The officer may determine the target vehicle’s speed when accelerating to catch up to the target vehicle. The officer may also incorrectly “pace” by being parallel to the target vehicle instead of behind. Furthermore, (Particularly at night) the target vehicle may accelerate due to the close proximity of a car directly behind it. These are some examples of how a good DUI attorney can defend your case if the justification for the “stop” was speeding. There are numerous other examples that a competent DUI lawyer will investigate while handling your case.
b) Weaving: Weaving involves the car driving back and forth in the travel lane. Although weaving may be enough for reasonable suspicion, closer analysis by an attorney may disprove it. We all know that driving perfectly straight within your lane is impossible due to the imperfections of the road, bends and turns, even an older car may slightly drift due to the loose steering. These are the type issues that a good DUI attorney will raise.
- 2. The ARREST: After the stop, officers require probable cause to make an arrest. In practical terms, it means that more likely than not, an offense has occurred. The officer’s observations prior to the arrest are usually the basis for probable cause. Generally, the officer will report the odor or alcohol, bloodshot eyes, or slurred speech. These observations are weak indicators. A good DUI attorney will exploit this and discredit the officer’s basis for probable cause. Let’s take a look at something that an officer may report.
a) The Smell of Alcohol: Alcohol actually has weak smell. It is the flavor within the alcoholic beverage that emits the strongest odor. A can of beer will emit a stronger odor than a few shot of vodka. Using the “Smell of Alcohol” as a basis for probable cause is weak at best.
b) Bloodshot eyes: The arresting officer may report bloodshot eyes as an indicator of probable cause. Although alcohol has been known to cause bloodshot eyes. There are many other factors. Some people get bloodshot eyes from looking at the computer screen all day at work. Others have bloodshot eyes due to allergies. As you can see, this explanation for probable cause is pretty much useless.
c) Slurred Speech: Police report indicating slurred speech assumes that the officer knows how you talk on other occasions. A good attorney will argue that slurred speech is not necessarily an indication of impairment.
- 3. BREATH TEST: This is usually the strongest argument the State can make against a DUI suspect. A good DUI lawyer knows that these tests can be flawed.
a) Breathalyzer Test: A breathalyzer takes a sample of breath and uses a formula to determine the Blood Alcohol Content. A breathalyzer is flawed for many reasons. A breathalyzer machine assumes that every person is “average”. Meaning, that a 5 feet person is the same as a 6 feet person. This is an important flaw because the machine assumes that each person has as much alcohol in 1 milliliter of blood as they do 2100 milliliters of air. In essence, if you have a lower lung capacity (whether by health conditions or naturally), your results can be completely inaccurate. In addition, a Missouri officer is required to instruct the suspect to “blow” into the breathalyzer until the officer tells you to stop. Improper instruction to blow can result in a flawed result.
A good DUI attorney knows what to ask and locates any errors in the State’s case against his client. Check out our other articles on how to choose and attorney and what to look for in your attorney.
If you have more questions, you can contact us!