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What Defenses Tend to Prevail in DUI Trials for Defendants Arrested After Holiday or New Year Celebrations?



The best way for a defendant facing DUI charges to absolve oneself of the charges is to aggressively fight them through litigation. A defense against DUI must be zealous, thorough, and well-prepared. There are several major defense strategies and tactics that might be applicable to a case and worthwhile to investigate, if not apply.

Start With Attack of Arresting Officer's Observations and Conduct

The best place to start a DUI defense is by pointing the blame finger at the arresting officer. Focus on the cop's observations and conduct during the traffic stop that led to the DUI charges. Police are held to high standards and must be careful and meticulous in carrying out procedures. This is especially true when they undertake a DUI investigation. The defendant has constitutional and other legal rights (procedural and substantive) that must be protected and respected. If the police do not act appropriately and properly during investigation, it could mean the DUI charges must be dropped against the defendant in their entirety.

Why Was the Vehicle at Issue Stopped?

The investigation then turns to why the police stopped the vehicle in question in the first place. There has to be a valid rationale for the stop to justify detaining the driver in police custody. Acceptable bases for stopping a vehicle for a police traffic stop include:

  • swerving in and out of traffic lanes
  • running through a stop sign
  • running through a red light
  • sudden and abrupt stopping
  • sudden and abrupt starting

If a police officer does not have a valid justification for making the traffic stop, it is very possible the remainder of the case will be thrown out of court, and no charges can be successfully waged against the DUI defendant. After all, drivers have constitutional rights under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments that prohibit unlawful searches and seizures. If these happen during a DUI investigation, charges may fail.

Focus on the Officer's Observations During Field Sobriety Tests

The next area of concentration is with the arresting officer's observations when he or she conducted any field sobriety tests at the traffic stop. The sobriety tests can range from walking, turning, following an object with eye movement while looking into a flashlight beam, and standing on a single leg to balance. Medications, health conditions, inclement weather, wet roads, and other environmental and external factors can impact such tests and contribute to their failure, improperly. It will likely be very difficult for a defendant driver to convince an arresting officer of the presence of any such conditions at the scene of the traffic stop.

Do Not Forget Other Evidence

Eye witnesses to the traffic stop and DUI arrest can be helpful. One source of such accounts is vehicle passengers or pedestrians not in the vehicle at issue. The police officers in some locales have video surveillance devices that may have favorable footage of the DUI arrest for defendant.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, it is prudent to consult with a criminal defense, traffic, or DUI defense attorney as soon as possible about possible defenses.