If you’ve been charged with a DUI offense in California, you’re facing severe penalties that could haunt you for a decade or more. You may believe that the prosecution has a rock-solid case and that there’s no reasonable defense you could raise. You might even feel the desire to plead guilty now to speed up the process.
However, many charges that seem difficult to defend against are dismissed thanks to the work of skilled DUI attorneys. Before you plead guilty, consider scheduling a free consultation with one of our experienced DUI attorneys. We’ll evaluate your case and help you understand some of the best ways to fight and beat your DUI charge. All you have to do to get started is to fill out the form on this site or call us at (310) 971-9045.
Fighting your California DUI Charge
After you’ve been arrested under suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, prosecutors must be able to prove two things to a jury:
- You were driving
- You had a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above 0.08%
The prosecutor must be able to prove both these two facts beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to beat the charge, you, or your lawyer, will have to successfully challenge either one or both of those two prongs.
Defense One: Driving Patterns Aren’t A Good Indicator of DUI
Before any test is done to assess your sobriety, an officer is going to have to observe your behavior. Officers will commonly testify that they witnessed you driving in an erratic way that they felt was consistent with the signs of drunk driving. This may involve swerving, braking inappropriately, and failing to yield to traffic signals.
While this may sound convincing to some, your defense lawyer can challenge this observation as unreliable evidence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), random enforcement of traffic violations only detects DWI about 3% of the time. In most cases, a traffic violation isn’t a sign of alcohol-related impairment.
Defense Two: Field Sobriety Tests Are Unreliable
During your trial, the prosecution may rely heavily on how you performed during a field sobriety test. This can seem like powerful evidence about your level of inebriation, but that misses the variety of factors that could contribute to your poor performance. These factors could include:
- Dizziness or nausea
- Improper footwear
- Performance anxiety induced by the officer
- Your natural clumsiness
A DUI defense attorney explaining these factors to a jury can be a powerful tool to instill a sense of reasonable doubt. After all, a reasonable alternative explanation means that the jury should vote not guilty on the charge.
Defense Three: Errors in a Breath Test
If you were subjected to a breathalyzer test following your arrest, you can count on the prosecutor trying to bring that evidence to the court. However, a skilled DUI attorney will likely challenge the breath test results on multiple counts.
Many different factors can cause a breathalyzer to give erroneous readings. You may get an artificially high BAC readout if:
- You recently used a mouthwash
- The breathalyzer needs its regular maintenance
- You maintain certain diets or have a medical condition
If you suffer from GERD, for example, a breathalyzer may erroneously report that you’re under the influence of alcohol. Bringing up these defenses is one of the best ways to fight the charges in your DUI case.
Defense Four: Challenge the Blood Test
Much like the breath tests, blood tests do not always accurately report your true BAC. However, blood tests suffer unique problems not found in breath tests. If your blood is stored improperly or is contaminated due to a laboratory error, your lawyer will seek to have the evidence suppressed, meaning that it is unavailable for the prosecutor at trial.
Defense Five: Rising BAC
Even if there are no errors with the chemical tests that report your BAC, you’ll recall that the prosecution must be able to prove that you were legally intoxicated while driving. However, alcohol does not get immediately absorbed into your bloodstream. It can take up to three hours for your body to fully absorb any alcohol you may have ingested.
If a chemical test shows you at or slightly above the legal limit, your lawyer may use a rising BAC defense. If the chemical test was administered well after you had stopped driving, it is entirely reasonable that you were below the legal limit for the length of your drive. If the prosecution can’t show that you were at or above the legal limit while driving, your case can be dismissed.
Defense Six: Not Driving
Let’s say an officer arrested you for DUI after he or she found you asleep in the driver’s seat of your car. The officer testifies that the engine of your car was warm, and you had the keys in the ignition. He or she suggests that you had to have driven the car for all these factors to fall in to place.
However, your attorney will likely be able to fight this testimony. It can be entirely reasonable for someone to want to sleep off their drinks in their own vehicle. If the officer can’t prove that you actually drove the vehicle while inebriated, you will have another tool in hand to beat your DUI case.
Get a DUI Attorney on Your Side
Fighting and beating the prosecution’s case against you can be difficult, but you don’t have to do it alone. Instead, you should call (310) 971-9045 to meet with a knowledgeable attorney who can manage the complex task of defending you against a California DUI. The call and initial consultation are free, so don’t wait to reach out!