Common Mistakes Police Make that May Help Your DUI Case

Categories: Criminal Defense

Glasses of beers and car keys.

Even if you have been arrested for a DUI and you were over the limit, that doesn’t mean your case is over. You still have a chance to reduce your charges or even have the charges dismissed. Law enforcement makes mistakes, and when they do on a DUI case, it can help you get a favorable outcome. Whether it is lacking probable cause to stop you in the first place or an uncalibrated machine, knowing these mistakes could make a big difference in court.

The Most Common Mistakes Police Make When Making a DUI Arrest Everyone Should Know

You or a loved one was arrested for a DUI, and while you think you don’t have a case, you should not give up. A DUI conviction, even as a first-time offense, will impact you the rest of your life. Not only will you possibly go to jail, but you will have court fines, alcohol classes, a driver’s license suspension, and you could even lose your job. The long-term consequences of pleading guilty or being found guilty are not worth it. Instead, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.

An attorney will review the facts of your case, looking for opportunities to hold police accountable for their mistakes – which may benefit you when it comes to sentencing.

The Officer Did Not Have Probable Cause to Stop and Test You in the First Place

To stop you for a potential DUI, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence. That means that they are not just stopping you because of the type of car you drive, where you are driving, or because they are just selecting cars at random. Instead, they must prove they had a legal basis for the stop.

For example, you were swerving in and out of lanes or driving too slow for the posted speed limit. This would prompt an officer to stop you and do a field sobriety test to see if you were under the influence.

Say you were driving without any of these issues, and you were obeying the speed limit, too. In this case, the officer would have a hard time proving that he had reasonable suspicion to stop you in the first place – which may result in a dismissal of all evidence obtained after that, including blood or urine samples. Once that evidence is gone, it will be hard for the prosecution to prove you were guilty of a DUI.

Law Enforcement Was in an Unmarked Police Vehicle

Officers do drive unmarked police vehicles, but they are not meant to conduct traffic stops. The only time an officer can use his unmarked vehicle to make a traffic stop is if there is a serious risk for public safety – which is rarely the case in a routine DUI stop.

The Field Sobriety Test Was Conducted Incorrectly

There are three types of field sobriety tests law enforcement can use, and these were created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). An officer must administer them properly, because a failure to do so may cause even a sober person to fail. Furthermore, a failure of the test itself does not mean a person was intoxicated; therefore, officers should follow up with more concrete testing, such as a breathalyzer.

Using the Chemical Breath Test Incorrectly or Using Outdated/Uncalibrated Equipment

Law enforcement uses a chemical breath test, known as the “breathalyzer,” to determine a person’s blood alcohol concentration. These units must be calibrated regularly, and law enforcement departments must supply all maintenance and replacement records when prompted by the defense. If the officer uses an old model or one that has not been serviced properly, then the results might be dismissed, especially if it has had a history of false reads.

Furthermore, the officer administering the test must be trained and certified to do so. Otherwise, the breathalyzer results could be dismissed even if the unit itself was functioning properly.

Failure to Document the Arrest

Officers may conduct all of the steps before your arrest correctly, only to forget or leave out details from their field notes. Without any field notes or documentation, it is hard for law enforcement to prove they had a valid stop and even harder for the state to convict you of a DUI.

Violating Your Rights as an American Citizen

No one, even if they are under suspicion for breaking the law, can have their civil rights violated. Whether law enforcement refuses to let you contact an attorney or they do an unlawful search and seizure, all of these violations could result in your case being dismissed.

Sometimes, you do not even realize that your rights have been violated, which is why it is critical for you to preserve your right to remain silent and contact an attorney immediately after your DUI arrest. An attorney knows the law, knows your rights, and knows those common mistakes made by law enforcement. Most importantly, it is their job to get the best possible outcome in your case – whether that is a reduction in charges, better sentencing, or a dismissal entirely.

Do You Really Need an Attorney?

Even if you know law enforcement made a mistake, arguing it in court is not as easy as saying a mistake was made. Instead, you must provide tangible evidence to the court showing how law enforcement made a mistake that deprived you of your rights. To do that, you need to understand the law, criminal procedure, and the arrest process.

After a DUI arrest, you cannot risk your freedom by trying to represent yourself. Whether this is your first DUI or a subsequent one, the best thing you can do is contact a criminal defense attorney who has experience trying DUI cases. An attorney knows local law enforcement, and they know how to protect your rights.

If you or a loved one is currently facing a DUI charge, contact attorney Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C. immediately. You can schedule a free, confidential case evaluation by calling their office directly or filling out an online contact form.

Mark Rubinstein

Attorney Mark S. Rubinstein has been practicing law for more than 30 years, including 25 years in Colorado. He founded Mark S. Rubinstein, P.C., in Carbondale after working for law firms in Denver and earlier in his career in San Diego. He focuses his practice in the areas of criminal defense and personal injury representation, and he is well known throughout western Colorado as an effective and unwavering advocate for his clients.