4 of the Best Ways to Contest a DUI or OWI Charge

Facing a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) charge can have significant legal, professional, and personal repercussions. However, being charged doesn't always lead to a conviction, especially when you know how to navigate the complexities of DUI/OWI law. With the right strategy and understanding of legal defenses, it's possible to contest these charges effectively. 

  • Question the Traffic Stop

First up, let's talk about the reason you were pulled over. For a traffic stop to be legit, the officer needs a solid reason—something like swerving between lanes or running a red light. This is what they call "reasonable suspicion." 

If the officer pulled you over for no good reason, then anything they discovered after—like signs of intoxication—might not hold up in court. It's like if a teacher accused you of cheating without actually seeing you peek at your neighbor's quiz. 

Without a valid reason for the stop, the whole case could get shaky.

  • Dive Into the Details of the Sobriety Tests

Next, we've got the sobriety tests. These are the tests you do on the side of the road or the breathalyzer test that measures how much alcohol is in your breath. But here's the thing: these tests aren't foolproof. 

Maybe the breathalyzer wasn't calibrated right, or the officer didn't follow the proper procedure when administering the field sobriety tests. If the equipment was faulty or the tests weren't done by the book, you have a pretty strong defense. 

“Police officers must follow strict rules and standards to calibrate the breathalyzer and blood tests, and there are many ways to challenge the validity of the outcome,” says SBBL Law. “We routinely obtain case dismissals based on successful challenges to the field sobriety tests, breathalyzer results, and blood alcohol content tests.”

This is why analyzing the details of the sobriety tests used is always the second step (after questioning the validity of the stop). In many cases, one of these two steps will give you the leverage needed to contest a charge.

  • Look at How the Arrest Was Handled

The way the officer handled the arrest matters, too. There are rules in place to make sure everything is done fairly. For example, the officer has to read you your rights. If they skipped this step or didn't follow other required procedures, it could affect your case. 

How evidence is collected and handled is another critical piece of the puzzle. This includes everything from notes and reports the officer makes about your behavior and performance on sobriety tests to any breathalyzer or blood test results. Mistakes in this area, like errors in paperwork or mishandling of test samples, can significantly impact your case. 

Addressing how your arrest was handled isn't about finding loopholes or getting off on a technicality. It's about ensuring your rights were respected and that the law was applied correctly. By scrutinizing this part of your case, you and your lawyer can uncover any missteps or oversights that could make a difference in the outcome of your charge.

  • Consider Other Explanations

There might be other reasons why you seemed intoxicated, and it’s worth exploring these. For example, some medical conditions can mimic the signs of intoxication. Conditions like diabetes, hypoglycemia, or neurological disorders can cause symptoms such as slurred speech, unsteady walking, or disorientation, which might be mistaken for being under the influence. It's important to consider whether a medical condition like this could have been a contributing factor. 

Dietary factors can also impact breathalyzer results. For instance, low-carb or ketogenic diets can lead to a condition called ketosis, where the body produces ketones. Ketones can be converted into isopropyl alcohol and exhaled, potentially causing false positives on breathalyzer tests. 

And sometimes it’s not even about you – it has more to do with external factors. Poor lighting, uneven surfaces, or inclement weather can affect your performance on physical tests. Could these elements have had an impact? It’s worth considering with your attorney. 

Protect Your Rights and Interests

It’s easy to assume that you’re going to be convicted of a DUI or OWI once you’ve been charged. However, most people don’t realize how much goes into these cases. By hiring a competent and experienced attorney who understands the ins and outs of these situations, you can give yourself the best chance to get the charges reduced or dropped, so that you can continue living your life as normally as possible.

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