Defenses Available in a DUI Case
An effective Miami DUI defense attorney will begin your defense by analyzing all phases of your arrest. The training manuals used by the police are an effective tool and provide a wealth of information that can be used to defend a DUI case. The training manual states that there are, in most cases, three phases before a person can be arrested for a DUI in Miami. The first phase is observing the vehicle in motion, followed by personal contact with the driver and finally a pre-arrest screening, which usually includes the field sobriety exercises. Sometimes either one or more of these phases may be missing. For example, arriving to the scene of a car crash and the driver is badly injured. Or arriving to a parked car with a driver asleep behind the wheel. Or a driver refusing to perform field sobriety exercises.
In all three phases there are defenses available and arguments to be made to knock down the prosecution's case. For example, in the first phase, there are 24 driving clues:
NHTSA's 24 Visual Cues Of Impaired Driving:
- Weaving Within The Same Lane
- Weaving Across Lane Lines
- Straddling A Lane Line
- Turning With A Wide Radius
- Almost Striking A Vehicle Or Other Object
- Problems Stopping Correctly
- Accelerating Or Decelerating For No Apparent Reason
- Varying Speed
- Going Ten Or More Mph Below The Speed Limit
- Driving On Wrong Side Of Road Or Wrong Way Down One Way Road
- Slow To Respond To Traffic Signals, E.G. Traffic Light Change
- Slow Or Failure To Respond To Officer’S Signals
- Stopping In Lane For No Apparent Reason
- Driving At Nights Without Headlights On
- Failure To Signal Or Improper Signaling
- Following Too Closely
- Improper Lane Change/ Unsafe Lane Change
- Improper Or Illegal Turn
- Driving On Other Than The Designated Roadway
- Stopping Inappropriately In Response To Officer
- Inappropriate Or Unusual Behavior
- Appearing Impaired
Not all driver's exhibit all 24 clues so an effective defense during trial is to highlight all the clues the driver did not exhibit. In fact in many DUI cases it is not uncommon to see maybe only one or two clues. That gives us 22 or 23 clues that the driver did not exhibit. The jury hears this and they say, "Wait a second this guy wasn't driving that bad." But we are not done yet.
During the traffic stop there are additional clues:
- an attempt to flee
- no response
- slow response
- an abrupt swerve
- sudden stop
- striking the curb or another object.
During the personal contact phase (phase two) there are additional clues:
- Difficulty with motor vehicle controls
- Difficulty exiting the vehicle
- Fumbling with driver’s license or registration
- Repeating questions or comments
- Swaying, unsteady, or balance problems
- Leaning on the vehicle or other object
- Slurred speech
- Slow to respond to officer/officer must repeat
- Provides incorrect information, changes answers
- Odor of alcoholic beverage from the driver
Again most drivers won't exhibit all 10 clues so we point out during trial all the clues the officer did not observe. Little by little you minimize and destroy the prosecution's case and you're doing it by using the officer's own training against him not creating an argument that can't be backed up.
Finally, in the pre-arrest screening, which is the third and final phase, we can effectively defend it by attacking the validity of the field sobriety exercises and the lack of reliability they have. In addition to pointing out how the tests were improperly administered by the officer.
SEARCH AND SEIZURE ISSUES
One major component of any DUI case is to determine if the traffic stop was legal. Often times the officer will pull you over for a traffic violation or equipment failure. An effective MIami DUI defense attorney will stay up to date on the current case law that comes out on a weekly basis. I receive emails every week on appellate rulings in DUI cases and you will see many of these cases written about in my blog. Admittedly, most DUI arrests are made with a valid stop because police can easily observe a traffic violation or equipment failure. However, it is important that your Miami DUI defense attorney understand the current laws on traffic stops and any stop that is not legal must be argued via a Motion to Suppress. If the motion is granted all evidence gathered after the stop is suppressed including field sobriety exercises, statements by the defendant, and any breath, blood or urine testing done. Many cases have been won with effective motions.
This is just an overview of defenses in a DUI case. The point is that there are many defenses and arguments that can be made. But unless your Miami DUI defense attorney is truly dedicated to this area of law, these defenses will never be used and you may end up with a DUI conviction. If you have a heart condition you go see a cardiologist not a general family doctor. Same should be with a DUI case. Go see an attorney that concentrates his practice in DUI defense.
If you are facing a DUI in Miami please contact me directly so that I may answer any questions you have and provide you with a free case evaluation. My practice focuses on DUI defense in Miami. Let’s talk about your case and what defenses it might have.