Overcoming Legal Challenges of DUI Cases

Driving under the influence (DUI) matters involve various legal challenges that can alter the course of a case. These challenges often center around the validity of the blood alcohol content (BAC) tests, the legality of the traffic stop by law enforcement, the procedures followed during the arrest, and the timing and administration of chemical tests. Each element can present hurdles for the defense and opportunities for the prosecution. Still, a lawyer can develop strategies to overcome these challenges and seek a favorable outcome.

At Lokken & Putnam, P.C., we understand the complexities of DUI defense and the anxiety accompanying these charges. If you or someone you know is facing charges in Salt Lake City, contact us at (801) 829-9783.

The Timing of BAC Testing

The timing of chemical testing for blood alcohol content (BAC) is a pivotal factor in DUI cases, often serving as a challenge and an opportunity for defense attorneys. Prosecutors typically assert that there was no undue delay in administering BAC tests, suggesting that the results are a true reflection of the accused's impairment. This assertion aims to strengthen the case against the defendant by linking the test results directly to the time of driving.

However, the defense can counter this argument using the "rising blood alcohol" defense. This legal strategy is based on the premise that blood alcohol levels continue to rise even after an individual has stopped drinking and could peak after they have ceased driving. This physiological phenomenon occurs because alcohol takes time to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which means that an individual's BAC could have been lower while driving than at the time of testing.

Accuracy of Chemical Test Results

Chemical testing for blood alcohol content is a cornerstone of prosecuting DUI cases, as the results could indicate that the driver had an unlawful BAC. Still, it also presents numerous opportunities for defense due to the potential for inaccuracies. The primary chemical testing methods include breath, blood, and urine tests, each with specific procedures and vulnerabilities.

Defense strategies for challenging the results of chemical tests are diverse and can be highly effective. One common approach is to question the calibration and maintenance of the testing device, particularly with breathalyzers, which require regular calibration to ensure accurate readings. Legal challenges may also focus on the test administration—whether law enforcement officials strictly followed protocol.

Addressing Issues with the Traffic Stop

Traffic stops are critical in DUI cases, setting the stage for all subsequent legal proceedings. Law enforcement officers must reasonably suspect that a law has been violated to make a stop. The suspicion must be based on specific and articulable facts rather than mere hunches.

However, the reasons cited for traffic stops in DUI cases can be varied and sometimes subjective. An officer might testify that they observed erratic driving, failure to adhere to traffic signals, or other irregularities that they believed justified a stop. While these reasons may seem justified at face value, they open several avenues for legal challenges.

Firstly, the defense can question the validity of the initial stop by scrutinizing the officer's rationale. Additionally, the circumstances surrounding the traffic stop can significantly impact the DUI case. Factors such as the time of day, the location of the stop, and the conduct of the officer and the accused during the stop can influence the case's outcome.

Looking at Arrest Procedures

A lawful arrest in a DUI case hinges on probable cause. This legal standard requires that the arresting officer has sufficient evidence to believe that the person has committed a crime—in this case, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Evidence that may establish probable cause includes the driver's performance on field sobriety tests, observable signs of impairment such as slurred speech or bloodshot eyes, and the results of chemical tests.

Despite the straightforward nature of this requirement, the arrest process in DUI cases is fraught with potential legal challenges that can profoundly affect the outcome of the case. One common area for defense attorneys to explore is whether the officer's statements and observations genuinely provided enough basis for probable cause. If it can be shown that the observations were subjective or misinterpreted, the basis for the arrest—and thus the charges—could be called into question.

Other procedural errors, such as improper handling of evidence or inappropriate conduct by arresting officers, can also jeopardize the admissibility of critical evidence.

Building Your Defense with Legal Help

Navigating a DUI case involves confronting numerous legal challenges, from questioning the validity of traffic stops and chemical tests to contesting the procedures followed during an arrest. Each stage allows a defense attorney to scrutinize the evidence and procedures law enforcement uses. Experienced lawyers are skilled in identifying procedural errors, interpreting complex chemical test results, and understanding the nuances of probable cause in DUI arrests. Their insights allow them to craft a defense strategy to challenge the prosecution's case and protect the rights of the accused.

Contact Lokken & Putnam, P.C. at (801) 829-9783 to schedule a meeting to discuss your Salt Lake City case.