There are many defenses to DUI that our office has successfully raised. Every case has different facts and even minor details can affect the outcome of a case, whether it be at trial or at a motion to suppress the evidence against you. For example, some people think they can talk their way out of a DUI. Don’t!
- Always be respectful and answer only those questions pertaining to your health and personal information.
- Do not give any information about your prescription medications, because even legal prescriptions could cause you to be charged with DUI.
- Do not volunteer any other information and once you are read your Miranda rights, tell the officer you do not wish to answer questions and ask for an attorney.
- Don't drive home because you only live three, four minutes away. Many clients believe they'll be Ok, but when stopped they realize that they should have chose other options and listened to their friends when they tell you that you're a sloppy mess.
Some examples of defenses include lack of proof of actual driving. Were you sleeping it off? If so, it’s possible the officers must leave you alone (so long as you let them know you are OK). Were you legally parked in a parking lot? In those cases, the officers are limited in their rights to ask you to step out of the vehicle, or opening the door without your permission.
Also, don't be fooled by some defenses that don't work, such as "pennies in your mouth," "rinsing with mouthwash," "driving to sober up," "drink lots of coffee," "chew gum or mints," among many, many other urban myths. They are just that: myths, and not only do they not only help they can often make it appear that you are more intoxicated than you actually are.
Speaking of police officers, some officers (such as some in the Tampa Police Department, for example) recently have been involved in scandals which questioned not only their reliability as witnesses, but the legitimacy of your DUI arrest. Even more recently, several officers from the St. Petersburg police and Pinellas County Sheriff's Office have been fired or suspended due to the excessive force used during DUI arrests and traffic stops. My office keeps abreast of these “bad” officers or even questionable officers, whether it be by deposition, research, or Internal Affairs issues that these officers have on their record, and which, in turn can be used against them in Court. Despite, "bad" police departments and police officers, it doesn't mean your case will be dropped. In fact, Police Departments have been sued over outrageous police conduct, for example, blowing a 0.00 with negative urine, yet the State Attorney's office often still feels the need to prosecute. This is especially important to have an attorney on your side to stop these overzealous prosecutions of innocent accused civilians.
Did you blow into the Intoxilyzer machine? If you did and you have what appears to be high levels of blood/breath alcohol content (BAC) that are not commensurate with what you believe to be your actual level of intoxication, or lack thereof, then the machine may be not working properly. The machines can be affected by Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) from cell phones or police radios, ambient temperature, cigarette smoke, or even dirt. Furthermore, those that work with chemicals, such as some paints, thinners, or contact cement, have sometimes given positive results even though had nothing to drink. This all means that in some cases, the breath test results can be thrown out.
One other note is in regards to what were you driving at the time the police charged one with a DUI? Many people think that you can only get one in a car, which is incorrect. However, the DUI statute defines a vehicle as practically anything that moves within your control. This means you can get a DUI for driving a bicycle, a golf cart, a lawn mower, and even recently a Segway. With that said, the police often charge a person in situations where they shouldn't and when not in a motor vehicle, I have been able to use various defenses to DUI to get lesser charges, or convince a jury that the case should be thrown out.
I have fought many of these issues and used them to get better deals or dismissals. The above examples are just a few of many to raise and can only be explored by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.