DUI Defense Strategies: Protecting Your Rights and Minimizing Penalties

California law defines driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) as operating a motor vehicle when your blood alcohol content (0.08) is at least 0.08%. DUI is one of the most common criminal charges in California, and the penalties you can get for a DUI conviction vary according to a variety of factors. You are much more likely to get jail time if you cause an accident while driving drunk, if you have a previous DUI conviction on your record, or if your BAC is more than twice the legal limit. The consequences of DUI are likewise more severe if there is a child in the car with you at the time of your arrest or if your driver’s license is already under suspension. To get acquitted of DUI charges or to get the charges dismissed, you do not have to prove with 100% certainty that you did not drink and drive. Instead, you must only show that the prosecution cannot clearly prove that you were driving drunk or that the only way they can prove it is to break the law. A Whittier criminal law attorney can help create a DUI defense strategy if you are being accused of drunk driving.

DUI Defense Strategies

The Officer Did Not Have a Valid Reason to Suspect That You Were Driving Drunk

When you drive a car in California, you are implicitly promising to drive sober. Police have the right to pull you over if you break a traffic law, whether the root cause of your traffic violation was drunkenness, cell phone distractions, or simply lack of driving experience. Once the officer has stopped you, they can only perform sobriety tests, including but not limited to breath tests, if they reasonably suspect that you are under the influence of alcohol. In their police reports, officers may cite reasons such as slurred speech, a smell of alcohol, or open beer cans in the car.  If the officer does not give a valid and specific reason, you may be able to argue that the officer pulled you over for no reason or as a matter of racial profiling. This DUI defense is especially compelling if records indicate that other members of the public have complained about this particular officer or police department profiling them.

Inaccurate Breathalyzer Results or Field Sobriety Tests

Failing a field sobriety test does not clearly prove that you are drunk. The tests are unscientific and are designed to make you fail. It is hard to walk an imaginary tightrope unless you are young and in excellent health, and how well you can recite the alphabet backward depends on how much you have practiced. If you have a young child who thinks that singing the ZYXs is funny, then you will ace this test, but reciting the alphabet backward when you have never done it before is difficult, especially if English is not your first language and especially when a police officer is staring at you, ready to read the Miranda warnings.

Even field tests that involve chemistry are not a slam dunk for the prosecution. Case law shows that those field tests with the powder that changes color have mistaken perfectly legal substances such as Tylenol and laundry detergent for cocaine. Likewise, a breathalyzer may give you a false positive if the officer did not properly calibrate the device or if you recently rinsed your mouth with Listerine or another alcohol-containing mouthwash.

The Police Violated Your Rights by Obtaining a Blood Sample

Police cannot administer a breath test without your consent, but they can take a blood sample if they have a warrant to do so. You can suppress the blood test evidence, meaning that you can prevent the prosecution from presenting it at your trial, if you can argue that the police did not have a warrant and you did not give consent or that the warrant was issued unlawfully. You can also suppress the blood test evidence if the officer injured you in the course of performing the blood test.

Every DUI case is unique. A DUI defense lawyer can help you choose the best defenses to use to avoid getting a DUI conviction on your record.

Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum About DUI Defense Cases

A criminal defense attorney can help you fight your charges if you are being accused of drunk driving. Contact the Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates APLC in Whittier, California, to set up a consultation.

A Whittier DUI defense lawyer can help you use defenses related to breathalyzer tests and unjustified traffic stops.