Friday, February 26, 2010

Defenses in a DUI case

After an arrest for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), one of the first things you should be doing is hiring a skilled Seattle DUI Attorney. A DUI conviction comes with harsh penalties, and if you want to avoid having a DUI conviction affect your life for many years, you must have a strong defense while your DUI case is pending. It takes a skilled attorney to come up with a viable defense strategy. Police officers and judges have heard every denial and excuse under the sun, and it just won’t hold a lot of weight in court. Hiring a good Seattle DUI lawyer is essential in order to present a realistic defense in court.

DUI lawyers often challenge the evidence presented in court by the arresting officer. This evidence may include testimony about how you were driving before you were pulled over, including symptoms such as weaving or swerving. Then, you can expect the police officer to testify about the results of field sobriety tests such as walking a straight line, standing on one leg, or the gaze nystagmus test. These subjective observations are one of the main reasons you should not submit to field sobriety tests if asked, but if you already have, a skilled Seattle DUI attorney may be able to fight them and suppress much of the evidence. There are very specific procedures which must be followed in order to administer a field sobriety test; if these rules are not followed precisely, the results are considered invalid and may be thrown out from the case.

It is more difficult for a DUI lawyer to fight the results of a blood or breath test, although it can be done. These tests are used as a more objective standard by which to judge a person’s level of intoxication. It is prohibited to drive anywhere in the country with a BAC of 0.08 or higher. DUI defense lawyers can dispute the validness of this test based on the testing equipment used, as well as the time of the test in relation to the time you were pulled over, as both can affect the results. Many DUI cases are suppressed after it is argued that the device used to test BAC has a weak track record.

In addition to arguing that the machine itself resulted in an improper BAC reading, Seattle DUI defense lawyers may also argue that the breath or blood exam results were incorrect for other reasons. Many DUI lawyers in Washington carefully examine the facts presented within the police discovery and ensure that the arresting officer follow proper procedure prior to conducting the arrest. For example, a Seattle DUI attorney may get a breath test suppressed based on the fact that the officer failed to observe the defendant for at least 15 minutes prior to conducting the breath test at the station, or the defendant may have placed something in his mouth prior to the test, which would result in an invalid reading of the test. Furthermore, burping prior to a breath test may raise the amount of alcohol detected on the breath and the DUI attorney in Washington may file motions to suppress that particular breath test. Some medical conditions can also raise the amount of alcohol detected on the breath and result in the suppression of a breath test.

DUI attorneys can also be expected to bring up arguments about the way other evidence was collected. Police offers must observe and follow proper procedures prior to conducting a DUI arrest. If this proper legal basis is not followed, the evidence collected during the stop may be inadmissible in court.

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