What are the best defenses to a DUI/DWI charge?
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious offense in New Jersey. The penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol range from up to 30 days in jail and loss of your license for three months to 180 days of jail time and suspension of your license for 10 years. While being charged with a DUI is frightening, a charge does not always have to equal a conviction. There are several options when it comes to mounting a strong defense against your DUI/DWI charge. Our Burlington County, New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Sitzler and Sitzler Law Offices offers a look at some of the top defenses to DUI charges below.
Challenge the Stop
One of the first areas to attack a DUI is the stop that started the entire process. To lawfully stop your vehicle, New Jersey police officers must have probable cause. Probable cause can be described as a reasonable suspicion or belief that you are engaged in criminal activity. If the officer that stopped you lacked probable cause, then the stop is illegal and all evidence seized as a result will be deemed “fruits of the poisonous tree.”
There are several instances in which the State will lack probable cause. If, for example, you were stopped as a part of a DWI checkpoint but the State failed to comply with the legal requirements for conducting the DWI checkpoint, then your case would likely be dismissed for lack of valid probable cause. Your attorney will examine your case to ascertain whether you have a viable challenge to probable cause.
Question the Evidence
Your DUI charge will likely rest on evidence obtained in a field sobriety test, blood alcohol test, or blood test. Each of these pieces of evidence can potentially be challenged if the arresting officer did not follow proper protocol when collecting the vital evidence. Field sobriety tests often consist of an eye test and tests to see how well you can walk and balance. The scientific accuracy of each of these tests in determining intoxication depends on the police officer administering the test in accordance with specific standards. By examining the video and notes about the field sobriety test, your attorney may find grounds to raise a challenge.
Breath testing must similarly be conducted in a stringent manner. First, officers must observe a subject for 20 minutes prior to collecting a breathing sample to ensure that nothing is ingested that could impact the test. If the 20-minute observation period was not followed, this could compromise the test. Even further, officers must use a calibrated Alcotest and follow procedures for its proper operation. Any variance from protocol could be grounds for a successful challenge. Your attorney will assist you in looking for the strongest avenue to defend against the DUI charges you face.