The Most Common And Effective Defenses Against DUI


It’s never easy when you get a DUI. But it’s especially difficult in Arizona. Since Arizona has some of the most unforgiving DUI penalties in the United States, it’s crucial to have a competent DUI attorney who is familiar with effective defenses to help you fight your case. Some defenses work better than others, even if they can only reduce the penalties you face. Every case is different, but there are certain avenues that every dedicated attorney should follow when defending their client in a DUI case.

Lack Of Reasonable Suspicion

Officers are not allowed to conduct a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion of criminal, civil traffic, or criminal traffic violation. Reasonable suspicion means that the officer is able to clearly articulate a lawful reason for the stop. If, for instance, you weren’t driving recklessly or erratically or failing to follow the speed limit, the officer may have no legal justification for conducting the traffic stop. Other lawful reasons for stopping you are if you’ve been identified as having an active warrant for your arrest, if the license tags are expired, if the license plate has been suspended, if you have a taillight out, or if your license plate light is not sufficiently bright.

If the officer who conducted the stop cannot provide a reasonable legal reason for stopping you, the evidence they collected during that stop can be ruled illegal pursuant to 4th amendment search and seizure law. That means that it cannot be used against you in court.

Failing To Follow Protocol

Field sobriety tests involve strict and specific protocols. If the test was improperly administered, its findings may be deemed inadmissible. Field sobriety tests alone generally cannot be used to build the entirety of a DUI case – they usually need to be presented in conjunction with other observations. If the tests were conducted the wrong way and not used in conjunction with other scientifically accepted DUI testing methods, the state may have a weak DUI case against you.

Mishandling Of Blood Samples

Once placed under arrest by police, they may ask you to provide a blood sample in accordance with Arizona law. After arrest, blood will be drawn to check alcohol concentration. The person who draws your blood for the sample must be a phlebotomist who is specifically licensed to take blood alcohol testing samples – it can’t be any run of the mill police officer.

Once the blood is taken, samples need to be tested and stored according to particular guidelines because your blood is considered evidence. If the chain of custody is disturbed, the sample isn’t stored according to the law, or the phlebotomist isn’t certified, your blood sample cannot be used as evidence.

Improper Reading And Explanation Of Rights

TV shows and movies have stretched the truth about the scope and import of your Miranda Rights.  But in some situations, the case against you can be damaged by the improper reading or explanation of these rights–specifically, related to your understanding of your rights to legal representation and to remain silent.

If you were never informed of your right to decline to answer incriminating questions without legal representation present or persistently questioned despite your insistence on having a lawyer present, this is constitutional misconduct by police. If you made incriminating statements prior to your right to counsel being explained to you, those statements can’t be used against you in certain circumstances.

If you’ve requested a lawyer and a prosecutor attempts to talk to you before you’ve secured that lawyer or without your lawyer present, this may be prosecutorial misconduct. If a prosecutor wants to use something you said against you, and if they collected that information while ignoring your choice to exercise your right to a lawyer, your statement maybe inadmissible as evidence.

This defense only works if you haven’t waived your rights. Waiver means that you decided to willingly speak or answer questions without a lawyer. Waiving your rights means anything you’ve said is admissible in court whether or not you had a lawyer at the table with you. Incriminating statements under these circumstances will usually be considered a confession.

Failure To Maintain Testing Tools

Police are only allowed to use certain approved models of breath and blood testing machines, and those machines need to be regularly maintained and calibrated. If your arresting officer was using an older model, an unapproved model, or a model that wasn’t properly calibrated, the results of that test can be called into question. Even if you blew above the legal limit, there’s no way to prove that it wasn’t a false positive if the officer wasn’t using the right equipment in the proper state of repair. Broken or inaccurate BAC testing machines might cause the results to appear higher than they actually are.

The Presence Of Certain Medical Conditions

If you didn’t fail a breathalyzer and were arrested for DUI anyway, this punches large holes in the case against you. The damage against your case is incredibly significant if you live with a medical condition that may have affected your driving. Some neurological conditions, including involuntary muscle movements or even severe migraines, might cause your driving to appear erratic or complicate a field sobriety test.

Getting The Representation You Need

At Doug Taylor Law, we understand how damaging the consequences of a DUI can be. We’re experts in defending DUI cases in the Tucson/Pima County area. Contact us now for a free consultation, and if you’re calling for a friend who was recently arrested, make sure they don’t speak to anyone without us.