Common Problems with DUI Evidence

If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you are probably very concerned about an uncertain future. A night out for a few drinks can now have a deleterious effect on your life. You could be facing jail, fines, a criminal record, and the loss of your driver’s license. There is, however, hope. DUI cases can be difficult to prosecute and a top-tier DUI attorney may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed. 

DUI Defense Strategies

Fortunately for you, there are many different ways to attack a DUI case. The burden of proof is on the state, which means that if they falter in any way, they can lose the entire case. Everything that the officer does from prior to the initial stop to your transfer to the county jail must be done in accordance with statutory and case law. While we’ve written this with regard to Florida laws, DUI cases throughout the United States are similar. 

Before the Stop

Officers must document any probable cause that they’ve developed prior to making contact. That could mean observing your driving pattern or a tip from another driver. Officers cannot stop you just on a hunch. If they fail to document their observations, the stop may be invalid. 

Reasons to Stop a Suspected Drunk Driver

Police officers can stop you for the following reasons:

  • A traffic violation
  • A pattern consistent with DUI
  • Involvement in a crash
  • Probable cause of involvement in another crime
  • A lawfully authorized DUI checkpoint
  • A tip from a civilian

If an officer stops you illegally, the entire case should be dismissed. Any further evidence collected is “fruit from the poisoned tree.”

Physical Observations

The arresting officers must document your physical state at the time of the stop. This includes indicators of intoxication like bloodshot eyes, odor of an alcoholic beverage, unsteady stance, slurred speech, red skin, puffiness, and lack of fine motor skills. 

If the officer doesn’t document these in the probable cause affidavit, it’s a significant flaw in the collection of evidence. 

Roadside Exercises

In the state of Florida, there are three field sobriety exercises, but they follow the NHTSA guidelines. They are:

  • The Walk-and-Turn
  • The One-Leg Stand
  • The Finger-to-Nose

Officers may also administer horizontal-gaze nystagmus (HGN), which measures the smooth pursuit of your eyes. All exercises are voluntary and should be administered in a well-lit, even surface, free of debris.

Officers should demonstrate the exercises before requiring the subject to complete them. If the officer fails to video the exercises, the defense can use that to cast doubts about the performance. Roadside exercises without video is very problematic for the prosecution. 

Implied Consent

If you’ve been arrested, the officer should inform you of the charge and read the implied consent reminder, which is meant to remind you that you’ve already agreed to a breath or urine test as a condition of getting your license. You can refuse, but your license will automatically be suspended. If you refuse, you’ll receive a temporary license. Your attorney can represent you in your DUI hearing, which is an administrative proceeding to determine whether or not your license suspension will stand. 

If the officer fails to read the implied consent warning, your breath or urine test could be considered coerced, and therefore, inadmissible. 

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Tom Brown
Tom Brown is an automotive market enthusiast living in the United States. He holds a diverse background in automotive marketing and enjoys utilizing that to produce insights into the inner workings of the industry.