Like most people, you dread looking in the rearview mirror and seeing flashing lights right behind you. At best, it means a time consuming inconvenience. At worst, it can mean a trip to jail if you are driving under the influence. If you recently experienced the worst case scenario, and are now facing charges for driving under the influence, or DUI, you may be tempted to just admit your guilt and accept the first plea agreement you are offered. There are a number of reasons why you should retain an experienced Nebraska DUI defense attorney to represent you instead of doing that. You may be wondering “How does a DUI lawyer defend me if I’m guilty though?” Understanding a little more about the criminal justice system, and about a typical DUI prosecution, may help answer that question.
The State’s Burden
Understanding how a Dui lawyer can defend you when you are actually guilty begins with a better understanding of the State’s burden in any criminal prosecution. The American criminal justice system is founded on the principal that an accused is innocent until proven guilty. This is a concept that almost everyone is familiar with, yet most people do not fully understand. It means that the State of Nebraska, through the prosecuting attorney, has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt if you are accused of driving under the influence. You, as a defendant, are not required to do anything. You do not have to prove your innocence. In fact, you do not even have to put on a defense if you choose not to do so. The entire burden lies with the State in a criminal prosecution. Therefore, one of the first things a DUI lawyer will do for you is explain this concept and evaluate the State’s case against you to determine if it appears the State can meet its burden. If the State’s case against you is weak, you attorney may file a motion to dismiss the case or may simply decide that the best defense strategy is to take the case to trial and focus on the fact that the State has not met its burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The important point to understand is that one of your DUI lawyer’s primary duties is to make sure that the State does not convict you unless they are able to meet their burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Common Defense Strategies
If the State of Nebraska appears to potentially have a decent case against you, your DUI lawyer may then choose to employ an actual defense strategy beyond simply pointing out the lack of evidence. When a defendant was actually drinking and driving, some of the most common of those strategies include:
- Challenging the original stop – contrary to what most people believe, a law enforcement officer is required to have a valid reason to conduct a traffic stop. If no valid reason existed, the stop may be illegal. If the stop was illegal, any and all evidence obtained during the stop is inadmissible at trial, meaning the State will have little, or no, evidence against you.
- Challenging the test results – if you took a breath test, your attorney may try to challenge the test results by proving the machine was faulty or improperly calibrated, or proving the operator was not properly trained to administer the test. If the test results are inadmissible, the State’s case against you may be very weak.
- Rising alcohol defense – this defense focuses on the manner in which your body metabolizes alcohol. If you drank right before driving, and did not submit to a breath test until an hour after being stopped, your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) may have actually been much lower while you were driving than what is was when you took the breath test.
The bottom line is that your DUI lawyer’s job is to protect you, defend you, and make sure the prosecuting attorney does his/her job – not to determine if you are guilty or not.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.