A driver who is stopped at a DUI checkpoint should know that these types of DUI arrests are the most closely scrutinized types of stops under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. An experienced DUI lawyer can demand the prosecutor provide information not just about whether the stop of your vehicle was reasonable, but about whether the stop of every vehicle was reasonable. An experienced DUI lawyer can request discovery about every officer that participated in the roadblock, the checkpoint policies and guidelines that must be established before the stop, and the supervisor that created all of the predetermined procedures to be used in the checkpoint.
A checkpoint must comply with specific written guidelines which delineate how the vehicles will be selected, the appropriate procedures for any additional detention of the vehicle, and the manner in which vehicles will be disposed of, which means that the officers in the field have very little discretion. The checkpoint must be utilized in a way that will minimize the intrusion and the length of the stop. Finally, the roadblock must be “significantly more effective” than less intrusive means of preventing crime. Any variation from the written guidelines or procedures established for the checkpoint may form a basis for your DUI lawyer to challenge the checkpoint as unconstitutional.
If the checkpoint is found to be unconstitutional, an experienced DUI attorney can suppress all evidence against you including observations of you and your driving, field sobriety testing, and any refusal to submit to chemical testing (breath, blood, or urine). The suppression of the evidence obtained after a driver’s stop may be sufficient to have some or all of the charges against you dismissed. Because checkpoints do not require officers to have probable cause when they stop a vehicle, a judge will expect very careful checkpoint guidelines that allow little room for an officer to exercise arbitrary discretion. A driver who is arrested for DUI at a checkpoint typically has more options available in terms of defenses to the charges so the driver should consult with an experienced DUI lawyer promptly after arrest.
When you are faced with DUI charges, you will face some serious legal issues where you will need the assistance of a Dui Defense Attorney. It is crucial that you have legal representation if you are facing a DUI charge. Don’t face this situation without an aggressive attorney fighting for your rights every step of the way
Challenging Field Sobriety and Breathalyzer Tests in Court
The so-called “walk and turn” field sobriety test requires taking nine steps heel to toe, making a very specific three-part turn, then nine steps back. The driver is told to keep his hands at his side and not use them for balance. The instruction not to use one’s arms for balance is very unnatural. If the driver uses his arms for balance as is natural or does not follow the officer’s lengthy instructions precisely, the officer will offer this as “evidence of impairment.” The DUI defense lawyer will point out that people do not normally walk this way so it is ludicrous to consider the failure to perform the exercise as evidence that the driver’s normal activities are impaired. Since most of the field sobriety tests involve this type of unnatural exercise, the DUI lawyer will try to get the officer to admit that these exercises are unnatural exercises.
Another example of the officer interpreting innocent behavior as “evidence of impairment” would include pulling a driver over for going too slow. The officer will testify that based on his training and experience driving too slowly is evidence of impairment. The officer will try to point out that anything that is less than perfect driving is evidence of impairment. A good DUI defense lawyer will point out all of the things the driver did correctly. The defense lawyer will walk the officer step by step through all of the things the driver did correctly. The goal is to get the jury to draw the conclusion that although the driver did a couple of minor things wrong most of his driving was perfectly normal.
Once the officer has determined that the driver has failed the field sobriety tests, the officer will handcuff the driver and drive him to the jail to take a breathalyzer test. The prosecutor will not present evidence that the breathalyzer machine is scientifically reliable, and the DUI defense attorney will point this out. The defense attorney will also argue that taking the driver’s blood would be a more reliable way to test blood alcohol levels. He will explain that a breathalyzer test was used instead only because it is cheaper.
If the driver refuses to submit to the breathalyzer test, the officer will say it indicates consciousness of guilt. However, a DUI defense lawyer will walk the officer through the questions he asked the driver before the breathalyzer test. Police officers never tell the driver anything about the reliability of the machine or how it works. The DUI lawyer will explain to the jury that it is perfectly normal not to want to breathe into this mysterious machine if the driver has even had a sip of alcohol. The defense lawyer will show the jury that it is perfectly reasonable for someone who has already been arrested to not want to trust a machine that he does not understand.
These are just some of the ways a qualified DUI defense lawyer may challenge field sobriety and breathalyzer tests in court. This shows how a good DUI lawyer can make a difference in one’s DUI criminal case.