“I’m Innocent!” Common DUI Defenses

Posted by James Ferguson | Nov 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

A DUI defendant seeking to advance a DUI defense has a few available options. The crime of DUI is usually a straightforward case with relative ease in discerning guilt. Defendants who advance defenses fall in two categories - those who are culpable, but due to a constitutional defect, evidence must be thrown out, or those who are not culpable because an element of the DUI crime is not present. As a whole, defendants have very few types of defenses from which to draw. For example, those arguing lack of required facts will argue that they were not driving. They may also argue that their blood alcohol does not meet the requisite level to deem their state “intoxicated.” On the other hand, those advancing evidentiary claims will argue that an unlawful stop, arrest, or search was committed.

Fact-Related Defenses
Under Mississippi law, it is unlawful for a person to drive or operate a vehicle within the state if the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor (or any other substance that will impair the person's ability to operate a motor vehicle) or has a blood alcohol concentration that is outside of the legal limit. Those are the elements of a DUI crime in Mississippi. Prosecutors must prove these elements before a court can find a defendant guilty. One defense strategy frequently used is to negate the fact that one or more of the elements of the crime existed. For example, a DUI defendant will argue that he or she was merely sitting behind the wheel with the keys outside of the ignition at the time of arrest. If proven as truth, this new fact may negate an opposing fact that the defendant was driving. Furthermore, the defendant can deny the officer's observations during a field sobriety test. The defendant can also argue that his or her blood alcohol level was not a result of alcohol consumption or that the Breathalyzer was defective.

Constitutional Violations
Constitutional violation arguments are frequently advanced as a means of throwing out the underlying traffic stop, search, or arrest for DUI. These defenses are powerful because a successful argument can lead a court to dismiss a charge in totality. If a defendant can prove that a police officer did not have reasonable suspicion or that the officer had any kind of racial animus in making the stop, then the underlying stop is likely defective. All the same, it is quite difficult to prove lack of reasonable suspicion because it is an easy standard to meet and it is also very subjective. Another similar defense is to argue a defective search. In this scenario, the search of a vehicle may have led to evidence of drinking which may have led to the DUI charge. Therefore, if the defendant can prove that the officer did not have the constitutional right (or the standard required) to arise suspicion to search the vehicle, then the search leading to the charge may be thrown out. When evidence is thrown out and no other evidence exists to obtain a conviction, the DUI charge is usually dismissed.

Your DUI Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney with years of experience defending DUI cases. Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime. If you have been charged with DUI, you need an experienced attorney. Attorney Ferguson understands that the stakes are high and the importance of putting the charge behind you. Call us now for a consultation.

See related blog posts:
I Have Not Been Drinking - I Can Juggle!
Are Sobriety Checkpoints Legal in Mississippi?

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.

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