Many people who are caught driving under the influence (DUI) may be tempted to simply plead guilty, especially for a first-time offense. While this may seem like the easiest course of action, it is important for people to understand that even a first offense can have significant legal and collateral consequences. As a result, anyone who is facing a Colorado DUI case should present the most zealous defense possible. In order to obtain a criminal conviction, the state must establish the truth each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the highest legal standard available in the American justice system. In DUI cases, the element most at issue is whether a driver was, in fact, intoxicated at the time that he or she was driving. There are many ways that an attorney may be able to cast doubt on a prosecutor’s assertion that a driver was intoxicated. Some of the most commonly used defenses are detailed below.
Challenging the reason for the initial stop – Generally speaking, a law enforcement officer must have reasonable suspicion that a driver is engaged in criminal activity in order to lawfully stop a vehicle. Reasonable suspicion that a driver may be under the influence of alcohol could be established by observing a driver weaving, driving erratically, speeding, or slowing down for no reason. Additionally, if an officer makes an otherwise reasonable stop, such as a stop based on expired license plate tags, he or she may investigate further if the officer subsequently determines that a driver may be impaired. If there is no legitimate reason for a traffic stop, however, all of the evidence gathered after the stop could potentially be excluded from court.
Discrediting breathalyzer evidence – Many people are under the false impression that breathalyzer evidence is incontrovertible. This is certainly not the case, and at least one state has temporarily suspended breathalyzer testing in the past due to device inaccuracy. In addition to simple device error, breathalyzers may also provide inaccurate blood alcohol concentration (BAC) measurements due to the presence of other compounds in the mouth that can skew readings. Furthermore, breathalyzers must be properly calibrated in order to provide accurate measurements of a person’s BAC, and officers often fail to properly calibrate their devices prior to going out on patrol.
Introducing evidence that signs of intoxication were due to another cause – In many cases, a law enforcement officer initially develops the impression that a person is intoxicated due to simple observations about the way the look, speak, and act. In some cases, a person may seem intoxicated when in fact he or she is completely sober. Conditions that affect a person’s speech, motor skills, ability to walk, or eye movements could all be taken as signs that a person is intoxicated. In addition, certain medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux, can make the results of breathalyzer testing unreliable.
Contact an experienced Colorado DUI attorney today to schedule a free consultation
Anyone who is facing a Colorado DUI case should discuss their options with a Colorado criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call the Tiftickjian Law Firm today at (303) 384-5280.