When charged with a DWI/DUI offense, one has many options available. Possible courses of action include pleading guilty, plea bargaining or fighting charges. When evidence like a breath or blood test exists, many people think they have no choice but to plead guilty. However, this is not the case. Many defenses exist that those in Minnesota could utilize, and an attorney could help one find the proper strategy. This is a look at some possible defenses when charged with DWI.
These are some common defenses used in drunk driving cases. For these arguments, an attorney typically finds fault with evidence or an officer’s behavior.
Improper Stop – In the case of this defense, an officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. Other defenses might involve whether an officer had probable cause to make an arrest.
There are proper procedures that law enforcement must follow to respect citizen’s rights and ensure any evidence is gathered properly. An attorney may question the administration of field sobriety tests, Breathalyzers or blood tests. With breath testing, an attorney might ensure that the officer knows how to use a device and that the device was maintained and calibrated properly.
Field tests like the horizontal gaze nystagmus can be given incorrectly. One could also wonder if blood was taken correctly or if the correct chain of custody with these tests was used. If a test was tampered with or mishandled, it may be invalid.
A defense may involve not only the administration but the accuracy of field sobriety tests, breath tests and blood tests. If someone didn’t have the proper training to give a test, the results may be inaccurate. Other factors can also influence breath testing like if someone vomited before the test occurred.
For DWI charges, many of these affirmative defenses are usually pretty rare. Noting these defenses still illustrates the broad range of possibilities available when mounting a defense against charges.
Duress – Say someone points a gun to your head and orders you to drive even though you’re drunk. This is an example of duress. A duress defense may sound outlandish, but there are instances when an inebriated person is forced to drive against their will.
Necessity – For this defense, one must essentially show that they were driving drunk for a good reason. The crime of drunk driving is outweighed by some greater evil that one was trying to avoid. For example, one might be driving drunk to escape an imminent and serious threat in the form of a dangerous person or force of nature.
Involuntary Intoxication – When consuming alcohol or drugs without one’s knowledge, this defense is appropriate when charged with a DUI. This may occur if someone spikes the punch at a party if the liquor was not detectable. This could also apply if one is roofied.
Entrapment – If an officer coaxes a person to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, this could be entrapment. However, an essential part of this defense is also that the person would not drive drunk under normal circumstances.
Mistake of Fact – Consider this an “honest mistake” approach. This defense asserts one had a reason to think they were no longer impaired and honestly believed they weren’t when operating a vehicle. Maybe someone had multiple drinks at lunch but truly thought they were sober at dinner time.
These are a few examples of defenses that could be used in a DWI case. When consulting an attorney, they may begin preparing for trial using one of these defenses while also negotiating with a prosecutor. When successfully challenging a testing method or an officer’s conduct, this could lead to lesser charges or a dismissal. For more information, contact us today.