Common Mistakes Police Make During A DUI Investigation
When facing a DUI charge, you may feel intimidated or overwhelmed by having to deal with the ramifications of going to court and pleading your case. It is important to remember that throughout the process, you have rights and are innocent before being proven otherwise. There are laws and processes in place that are intended to keep the justice system balanced so that you won’t be taken advantage of by the state. Your conviction could potentially be dismissed if any of these processes are broken.
Police officers can and have on many occasions made missteps that lead to the dismissal of DUI cases. Knowing what to look out for during this difficult time and having a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer is a great step in getting you a fair and just chance at the best outcome for your case. A good DUI lawyer will help you review and learn about your case, but it’s also essential for you to know what mistakes to look out for as well to help increase your chance for a successful outcome in court. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant mistakes police officers make that could lead to a possible dismissal of a DUI case.
1. Breathalyzer Test Misreading
It is common for defense lawyers to challenge the validity of Breathalyzer results due to the fact that, like any other machine, it can malfunction or be mishandled due to human or technical errors. Software glitches can occur, producing a false reading. If the police department fails to properly calibrate the machine, that can also lead to inaccuracies. Sometimes it can even come down to the police department not putting in batteries that work properly.
There have also been many cases dismissed due to the fact that the breathalyzer test was not conducted correctly. Officers must be trained properly to use the machine and if they are not, it can lead to inaccuracies and false arrests.
2. Invalid Stop
Police need a reason to pull you over. A stop cannot be based on any sort of bias or “hunch” the officer has about the person they are stopping. If you believe that you’ve been stopped unlawfully, then you may be able to get your case dismissed. Some typical examples of what police can rightfully stop you for are: expired tags, a broken taillight, driving erratically or even not wearing a seat belt.
Just remember: police officers always need a justifiable reason to pull you over. If they do not have one, but pull you over anyway, the stop could be deemed invalid and the information the police officer learns after they stopped you can be stricken from the record, thus making their case against you null and likely to be dismissed.
3. Improper Field Sobriety Tests
Field sobriety tests are another common area where officers can fail to follow protocol. Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) were invented alongside the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and include the one-leg-stand, the walk-and-turn, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) eye test.
If the officer isn’t paying enough attention, giving detailed enough instructions, or is not properly trained to administer these tests, any of these factors could potentially lead to a false conviction. Results can be challenged not only from these factors, but if the person accused has a medical condition not accounted for, or there were environmental issues (weather, crowded area full of onlookers, etc.) that contributed to a compromised result.
4. DUI Checkpoint Mistakes
While the police are allowed to make DUI checkpoints, there are strict rules they must adhere to when doing so. Checkpoints must be publicized in advance and located in a safe location for civilians and the officers can only stop random samples of vehicles they cannot profile. If the police detain someone for an extended period of time or try to go after a vehicle that turns around to avoid the checkpoint, they could find themselves getting their case dismissed. Police have been known to break these rules at times and that leads to DUI cases being deemed inadmissible in court.
Facing a DUI charge?
The trauma and stress of having to deal with an unfair trial should not be a burden you have to deal with. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will help prevent a conviction and help keep your record unblemished due to poor training or false tests.
Andrew L. Schwartz is a dedicated litigator and successful trial lawyer that will defend your rights and fight for your freedom. He has the experience necessary to help you every step of the way, including bonds, arraignment, plea negotiations, motions appeals, trials and expungements.
If you or a family member has been changed with a crime and you need a qualified lawyer. Call us at (678) 853-2500 for a free, no-obligation consultation or contact us online now.