Unlike many other criminal offenses, the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) is frequently perpetrated by an otherwise law-abiding citizen. Although we all know by now that drunk driving is both illegal and dangerous, it is easy to suffer a lapse in judgment (particularly after consuming a cocktail or two) and wind up arrested and charged with DUI. If you find yourself charged with DUI, you are probably worried about the outcome of your case and how it might impact your future. The good news is that a conviction is not a foregone conclusion. On the contrary, a Nebraska DUI lawyer explains the top three DUI defenses, one of which might help you avoid a conviction.
Challenging the Stop
Contrary to what many people think, a law enforcement officer cannot just drive around and randomly pull over vehicles in the hope that one of them will have a driver who is drunk or who is transporting drugs and/or evidence of a crime. On the contrary, an officer must have a reason to conduct the initial traffic stop. That reason may amount to what is referred to as a “pretextual stop,” but there must be a reason. A pretextual stop is one in which the officer uses a “pretext” for the initial stop and then turns that stop into a DUI and/or drug investigation. A common example of a pretext is a license plate light that is out or failing to signal a lane change. Both of these violations offer the officer a “pretext” on which to conduct a traffic stop. Once the motorist is stopped, the officer looks for reasons to prolong the stop; however, prolonging the stop and/or conducting a search of the vehicle is only legal if the officer has probable cause at that point. If the officer did not have sufficient reason for the initial stop, the entire stop may be declared illegal and any evidence obtained during the stop could be declared inadmissible at trial.
Challenging the Chemical Test Results
After a law enforcement officer has made the decision to arrest a motorist, the officer usually asks the motorist to submit to a chemical test to check for the presence of alcohol in his/her system. Although the police and prosecuting attorney would like us all to believe that breath test machine results are 100 percent accurate and infallible, the reality is that challenging those results is often your best defense when charged with DUI. The results of a breath test could be inaccurate for many reasons, including:
- Lack of training on the part of the officer that conducted the test
- Failing to properly calibrate and/or maintain the machine
- Not waiting for the required observation period
- Medical conditions you might have
Rising Alcohol Defense
The Rising Alcohol Level (RAL) defense is predicated on the manner in which alcohol is absorbed in your bloodstream. When you consume alcohol, it takes time for that alcohol to make its way through your body and into your bloodstream. A number of variables will influence the rate at which alcohol is absorbed by your body, including your sex, weight, the last time you ate, and any medical conditions you may have. Typically, however, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes for alcohol to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream. As alcohol is being absorbed by your body, your BAC level will slowly rise. The timing of your chemical test, therefore, can be a critical piece of the puzzle in determining whether you were, in fact, driving under the influence. The RAL defense argues that if you consumed alcohol shortly before getting behind the wheel, your BAC was still relatively low at the time you were actually operating the vehicle; however, by the time you made it to the station and took the breath test, that level had risen to over the legal limit.
Contact a Nebraska DUI Lawyer at Petersen Law Office
If you have been charged with driving under the influence in the State of Nebraska, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Nebraska DUI lawyer immediately about the specific facts and circumstances of your case. Contact an Omaha DUI attorney at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer.