Strategies Employed by Skilled Attorneys
Whether it’s your first time getting a DUI or your third, it’s never the easiest experience. In the moment, all of the unknowns can be incredibly overwhelming, often stirring up feelings of fear and anxiety. A DUI charge can result in losing your license for a period of time, potentially not being able to work, and sometimes not being able to find employment.
Despite how intimidating it might seem, there are some strong DUI defenses that skilled lawyers often use to help support your case. Let’s take a look at some of the common DUI defenses and how they might help you in court.
Seeking to overturn a prior DUI conviction
If your current DUI charge is your second offense—meaning you’ve already been convicted of DUI within the last 10 years—the penalties you face will reflect that. Second offenses typically result in increased fines and jail time, community service, longer license suspension of up to two years, and up to four years with an ignition interlock device in the vehicle after your license is restored.
In some situations it’s possible to have your previous DUI conviction overturned so that your current charge becomes a first offense. Your DUI defense attorney would need to file a post-conviction petition based on ineffective assistance of prior counsel or newly discovered evidence. Overturning a prior conviction would mean facing less harsh penalties such as lower fines, less jail time, and a three-month license suspension.
Arguing that police lacked probable cause to pull you over or arrest you
The police need a legitimate reason to pull a vehicle over in the first place. If they lacked probable cause, it’s possible that everything that takes place after the vehicle is stopped could be thrown out, leading to your case being dismissed.
At DUI checkpoints, law enforcement officers are required to use an objective method to determine which vehicles to stop rather than subjectively choosing them at their own discretion. If you were stopped at an improperly conducted DUI checkpoint, it’s possible that your case could get dismissed.
Additionally, if you were pulled over, there must be probable cause that you were driving under the influence in order for the officers to make an arrest. Without enough evidence to support that you were impaired behind the wheel, the court could conclude that the police lacked probable cause to convict you of DUI.
Challenging the validity of field sobriety testing
Field sobriety testing is typically something an officer will administer before a breath test. Understanding which field sobriety tests are valid in your state is important. In New Jersey, these are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, and the one-leg stand test.
There are many factors that could hinder your ability to perform these tests with complete accuracy. Some health conditions, for instance, can have an impact on your ability to stand on one leg. Having a cold or being congested can play a role in your balance, as it negatively affects the inner ear. If you suffer from vertigo, have diabetes, vision issues, or take certain medications, it may have an effect on your ability to balance or follow a light with your eyes.
Arguing that there was a violation of Miranda rights
When someone is arrested, the officer is legally required to read them their Miranda rights, stating in part that they have the right to remain silent until they have an attorney present. If these rights weren’t read to you when you were arrested and you divulged information because you thought you had to, your statements could be thrown out in court.
Challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer testing
Breathalyzer machines need to be regularly maintained in order to function properly. If you’re issued two breath tests that give incredibly different results, there could be an issue with the machine. Without a third test providing a result somewhere in the middle, it may be difficult to say whether or not the test was accurate.
Employing defense strategies against your DUI
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in New Jersey, having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference in how you defend yourself in court. Reach out to someone you can trust to help get the support you need to make your case.