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Drunk Driving Defenses

Posted on November 15, 2021 in DUI

Being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in Arizona can lead to severe penalties, including thousands of dollars in fines and mandatory jail time. The best way to minimize the effects a drunk driving charge has on your life is by hiring a DUI lawyer in Tempe. An attorney can create a defense strategy for you based on the specifics of your case. The following are examples of drunk driving defenses that may be available.

No Crime Was Committed

Your lawyer may be able to refute a drunk driving charge by disputing one or more elements that are necessary to prove the case against you; in essence, by arguing that no crime was committed. In Arizona, the legal definition of driving under the influence is to drive or be an actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicating liquor, drug, vapor-releasing substance or combination thereof, if the driver is impaired to the slightest degree (Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-1381).

You may be able to avoid a drunk driving conviction in Arizona if your attorney can prove that you were not in actual physical control of a vehicle, such as if you were parked and the keys were not in the car, or if you were not under the influence of an impairing substance. Your lawyer may be able to refute the validity of a field sobriety or Breathalyzer test, for example, in an attempt to prove that no crime was committed.

There Is a Valid Reason You Were Driving Drunk

There is also a strategy known as an affirmative defense, in which your lawyer presents evidence that could prevent a criminal conviction even if it is proven that you were driving under the influence. Examples of affirmative defense strategies in a DUI case include:

  • Necessity. You believed it was necessary to operate a motor vehicle despite being intoxicated due to extenuating circumstances, such as needing to drive someone to the hospital.
  • Duress. You were driving under the influence because someone threatened or forced you to do so (you were under duress).
  • Involuntary intoxication. You ingested alcohol or a drug without your knowledge, such as a case involving a date rape drug.
  • Mistake of fact. You had an honest belief that you were not under the influence, such as if a doctor told you that a prescription medication would not impair you.

With an affirmative defense, you may be able to avoid a DUI conviction by proving that there was a valid reason you were behind the wheel while intoxicated. One of these defenses may be an option even if it has already been established that you were driving drunk.

The Officer Violated Your Civil Rights or Is Guilty of Misconduct

A less common defense strategy is alleging police officer misconduct or a civil rights violation during the traffic stop or your arrest. Police officers have legal duties that they must obey when pulling drivers over for suspected drunk driving and making arrests. Evidence that an officer violated any of these duties could lead to the courts throwing out the case based on insufficient evidence. Examples include:

  • No probable cause to make the stop or arrest
  • Illegal search or seizure
  • Improper administration of a field sobriety test
  • Failure to read Miranda rights
  • Unlawful use of force or brutality
  • Entrapment

Discuss your particular case with an attorney to find out if you can build a defense based on police misconduct. If so, your lawyer may be able to help you avoid a DUI conviction. For example, your lawyer could argue to have the courts rule evidence that was submitted by the police inadmissible due to the unlawful nature by which it was attained.

For more information about the drunk driving defense strategies that may be available in your DUI case in Arizona, contact Rosenstein Law Group to request a free consultation with our local criminal defense lawyers.

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