Three Common DUI Defenses

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

When it comes to DUI defenses, simply telling the judge that you were not intoxicated will not suffice. In an age of breathalyzers and field sobriety testing, it is rather difficult for defendants to attack a legal finding of intoxication. There is usually a chemical test or a field sobriety test (often caught on a dashboard camera) to rebut any opposing testimony. Therefore, a defendant who intends to fight the charge must craft a defense in such a way that attacks procedure and other legal technicalities.

Improper Seizure

The improper seizure defense is based on federal law (specifically the Fourth Amendment against unlawful search and seizure). Under the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to stop a DUI suspect. Therefore, swerving quickly from lane to lane is enough probable cause to support a lawful seizure for suspicion of DUI. In the alternative, a police officer cannot use the color of your vehicle as the basis of a stop. In this scenario, a defendant will seek to have the stop or seizure thrown out. This is even the case when there is a finding of a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) that was over the legal limit. This is because the basis of the DUI seizure (i.e., the color of the car) is rendered void along with the charge.

Improper Testing Procedure

Improper testing is a DUI defense that is quite unique. It requires knowledge of the scientific, mechanical, and technical aspects of how the BAC testing machine operates. Although a blood test is the most accurate form of testing, the breathalyzer is more economical and easier to administer. There are certain procedures required to produce the most accurate results. Most laypeople are not aware of the technicalities involved in operating the BAC machine. That is why defendants who advance this defense must have technical evidence or testimony to support their claim. At times, the machine can be found to be defective. The court has the authority to throw out a DUI charge that is based on a defective BAC machine. Similarly, a court can throw out a charge if it is found that the machine was improperly calibrated or maintained.

Medical Complications

A medical issue or medication can serve as a reasonable defense against a DUI charge. A medical issue can manifest into slurred speech, reduced motor skills or decreased cognitive functions, which are all common side effects of alcoholic intoxication. Consider the following scenario. A police officer stops a defendant under suspicion of DUI. The defendant refuses a BAC test because she knows that she is not intoxicated. She tells the officer that she has a condition that produces side effects that mirrors alcoholic intoxication. In this case, the defendant may provide medical evidence of her condition to exonerate her from a possible suspended license. Likewise, if a certain medication contains chemicals that tend to read as alcohol on a BAC machine, then proof of the scientific properties of the medication may lead to charges being dropped. The key to this defense is to identify the circumstances that led the officer to inaccurately conclude the presence of alcoholic intoxication.

Your DUI Defense Attorney

Most DUI defendants accept plea deals in exchange for lighter charges and penalties. Are you seeking to fight your DUI charge? Contact Attorney James Robert Ferguson. He is an experienced DUI defense attorney with years of experience formulating winning DUI defense strategies. Call us now for a consultation.

See related blog posts:
Three Factors of Successful DUI Defense
Supreme Court: No DUI Blood Draws Without a Warrant or Consent

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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