Common Defenses to DUI Charges
A DUI conviction in South Carolina can come with serious penalties. You could have to serve time in jail, pay a fine and will likely lose your license if you are found guilty of drunk driving. Having a strong defense is key to getting charges reduced or dismissed or receiving a lessened sentence. Here are several common ways people can defend themselves against DUI charges:
- Necessity or Duress
There may be situations in which driving while intoxicated was unavoidable. For example, there could be an incident in which you have to get behind the wheel in order to avoid a greater evil, such as serious injury or death. Someone could threaten you to drive by holding a gun to your head. There have also been cases in which drivers operate a vehicle to flee a dangerous situation, such as domestic violence.
- Improperly Administered Sobriety Tests
There are strict guidelines that law enforcement officers must follow when administering either field sobriety or chemical testing. Straying from these regulations could result in a dropped charge. For example, there is a horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which demands that an officer use a driver’s eye movements to determine sobriety. This test often comes under scrutiny for poor administration. Further, people who take a breath test could choose from a number of ways to criticize the accuracy of the results. A poorly calibrated machine or an officer who does not know how to use it could prove to be valuable evidence for a defendant challenging a DUI charge.
- Inaccurate Test Results
There are several reasons that a sobriety test could produce inaccurate results. For example, certain medications could cause a driver to have slurred speech. Physical impairments, such as a handicap, could affect the way someone performs on the balancing field sobriety test. Further, breath tests can often mistake other substances, such as bread, for alcohol. People with conditions such as diabetes could also test positive for alcohol while sober because of the increased levels of acetone in their bodies.
- An Illegal Stop
In South Carolina, law enforcement officers cannot pull over vehicles at will; they must have a reason to believe that the driver has broken a law. This is known as probable cause. If a defendant can prove that an officer did not have probable cause for the stop, he or she may be able to get the case dismissed. No matter what the circumstances of your DUI arrest are, it is important to work with an attorney to develop a solid defense. At Nosal & Jeter, LLP we are adept at navigating the legal system and finding ways to protect our clients’ freedom.