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DUI Defense Law: Understanding Your Legal Rights as a Defendant

If you or a loved one was recently arrested on the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the defense against the charges presented will generally fall any of the three categories:

  • The individual was not actually intoxicated.
  • The defendant’s driving was not impaired.
  • The arresting officer did not follow the legal and proper protocol when arresting the defendant.

An experienced DUI defense lawyer will typically understand that a DUI arrest in the State of California does not have to imply a conviction will follow. With the help and legal support of a qualified attorney, you or your loved one can avoid the implications and penalties that can come with a DUI conviction.

Many defendants who are criminally convicted of a DUI charge can find themselves paying heavy fines, have their driver’s license suspended, and the conviction can sometime affect their job. It is important to note, that DUI charges are filed against a defendant in criminal court, and there is a completely separate administrative proceeding at the California DMV. The criminal proceeding in the California Superior Court is pursued by the County District Attorney in an effort to represent the people of California and enforce and punish defendants criminally. The California DMV, specifically the Driver Safety Offices (DSO) will work to suspend or revoke a driver license regardless of what happens in the criminal court. It is important to also note each of these proceedings require their own defense to avoid their respective penalties.  Fighting a DUI charge can make a great difference in the life of the accused and his or her family; therefore, it is important to fight charges with strong strategies and the help of a qualified and experienced DUI defense attorney.

This article will clarify some of the most successful defense strategies that can help you understand your rights as a defendant. If you have questions with regard to your specific case, seek the legal counsel of an experienced DUI defense attorney.

DUI Defense Tactic 1: Inattentive driving does not automatically imply driving under the influence.

When a person is charged with driving under the influence, one of the primary accusations that will be made is that the defendant was driving in a manner that was consistent with a person under the influence of an impairing substance.

Driving under such a manner will usually entail a person who was either weaving in and out of lanes as well as driving over or under the speed limits. With the help of a skilled DUI defense attorney, a defendant can challenge this claim by asking the arresting officer to state the ways that demonstrate that the defendant did drive in a safe and proper manner. Depending on the circumstances and the evidence collected or preserved, this may be hard for the officer to provide.

DUI Defense Tactic 2: Physical symptoms that seem to be intoxication do not automatically imply driving under the influence.

A defendant who has been charged with intoxication will usually be accused of appearing to be intoxicated. Under these terms, the defendant’s physical appearance will be questioned. During a hearing, the arresting officer will typically state some of the common observations:

  • The defendant has red or watery eyes.
  • The defendant had a flushed face.
  • The defendant possessed a strong odor of alcohol.

Experienced DUI defense attorneys can make the argument that can help explain away those observations such as stating the following:

  • The accused has allergies.
  • The accused was fatigued.
  • The accused has an eye irritation.

Challenging the officer’s objective observations will cast doubt onto the charges, which could be highly beneficial for the accused. For as many reasons as a defendant appears to be intoxicated, there are that many legitimate reasons to explain those observations that are not alcohol related.

DUI Defense Tactic 3: Field sobriety tests are not 100% accurate.

Before a person is arrested for the suspicion of driving under the influence, the arresting officer will usually test the person in effort to determine if he or she is intoxicated. While these tests are very common, they are not 100% accurate and an experienced attorney will challenge this. There are many reasons that commonly make these tests wrong. If the prosecution is going to enter these results into evidence against you, you have the right to question them. Further there are requirements of law enforcement during these test and them not complying could also open up additional supporting evidence for a defense. To combat a breath test attorneys can look at whether or not the officer complied with requirements of Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations. Further, experienced attorney would know to subpoena records to determine if the machine was maintained properly and checked for accuracy on regular basis. Lastly, routinely consulting with forensic toxicologists for their expert opinion and testimony regarding the breath test at issue and how it can be defeated can lend more support to the overall defense.

Understand Your Rights as a Defendant and Seek Legal Support

Unfortunately, many DUI defendants fail to recognize that if they have been charged with driving under the influence, they still have the opportunity to contest the charges. If you or someone you know has been recently charged with the suspicion of driving under the influence, contact the immediate support of a skilled attorney who can champion on your behalf.

The attorneys at Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP., have extensive experience in dealing with DUI defense cases. They work closely with their clients in effort of making sure that their client’s rights are upheld. If you have been charged with a DUI, seek legal support as soon as possible.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.