Have you found yourself subject to a drunk driving charge and want to do everything you can to prevent that charge from turning into a conviction? To protect your rights and achieve your desired outcome, you’ll likely need an experienced lawyer to protect you and help develop an effective defense strategy. Here, criminal defense attorney Rahul Balaram discusses three commonly used defenses in the United States against drunk driving charges.
- Improper Stop by Police Enforcement
Police must have “probable cause” to stop or pull over any private citizen within the United States. It is written in the U.S. constitution that police cannot stop or pull over an individual without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Essentially, a police officer cannot pull someone over based on a gut feeling or an idea that someone may be driving under the influence.
What this means for a DUI charge is that for an officer to have validity in stopping someone, they must have proof that you did something to warrant a stop. If you are driving home following the speed limit, keeping in your lane, and obeying traffic laws, a police officer should have no valid reason to pull you over. Unless there is a mechanical malfunction with your vehicle, such as a taillight that has burnt out, there may be no grounds to stop you. If it can be proved that law enforcement had no “probable cause” to pull you over, then any evidence obtained after may have no legs to stand on in court.
- Discrepancies with Field Sobriety Test Protocol
All field sobriety tests (FSTs) have specific protocols to prevent any distortion or misrepresentation of information collected. If a police officer acts in any way towards a suspect that causes intimidation, is disrespectful, or is construed as inappropriate, evidence collected can be thrown out in a court of law.
Additionally, evidence collected through a field sobriety test must be part of a larger scale of evidence collected. Observations alone cannot constitute grounds for an arrest or prove intoxication. The test is only as valid as the conditions under which it is conducted. For example, the results of a standard heel-toe test may be called into question if the test took place in harsh weather, or if the defendant was wearing shoes that inhibit movement, like high heels.
- Medical Conditions
Often, certain medical conditions can be misconstrued as signs of drunkenness. Neurological issues or even common fatigue can result in slurred speech or inability to complete thoughts. Allergies or sinus issues can result in watery eyes, or if an individual has spent their night crying, they may falsely appear inebriated.
Sometimes conditions can even result in faulty testing. Individuals who have diabetes may experience ketosis, a cycle in which the body ferments glucose in the bloodstream and commonly gives off an odor very similar to alcohol. There have been many cases in which ketosis can cause a sober individual to test impaired on a breathalyzer analysis.
About Rahul Balaram
Rahul Balaram is an experienced and dedicated attorney that has represented hundreds of clients. Mr. Balaram takes pride in ensuring his clients are aware of every aspect of their case and that their interests are presented with dignity, compassion, and competence. Rahul opened the Balaram Law Office in Santa Rosa and is widely known for his excellent trial skills, his unrelenting work on behalf of his clients, and the outstanding results that his clients receive.