Getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is a frightening experience for the average person. More so than most crimes, the average DUI defendant does not have a criminal record and has likely never violated the law before, unless you count traffic violations. Consequently, most DUI defendants must navigate an unfamiliar judicial system while also worrying about the outcome of their case – and outcome that could have serious negative ramifications. Every DUI arrest involved a unique set of facts and circumstances which is why you should consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney for answers to specific questions. In the meantime, however, learning some basics regarding DUI defense may help you to feel less overwhelmed.
Remember That You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty
The most important thing you need to learn and remember about your situation is that you are innocent until proven guilty in our judicial system. Despite what the arresting officer and/or the prosecuting attorney may have said to you, a conviction is not a foregone conclusion. The State has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if you failed the chemical test, or performed horrible on the field sobriety tests, you may still have a viable defense that could prevent a conviction.
What DUI Defense Might I Have Available to Me?
You will likely be surprised to learn that there are actually several commonly used defenses to a DUI charge. Whether or not any of those defenses will work in your specific case is something only an experienced DUI defense attorney can answer; however, a brief explanation of some of those defenses should provide you with the hope that one may work for you.
- Challenging the Stop. This is an area of much confusion. Although it may seem as though an officer can stop you without having a valid reason (because they do sometimes do so), the law says that a law enforcement officer must have a legally sufficient reason for conducting a traffic stop. That reason could be as flimsy as an inoperable tail light, but there must be a legally sufficient reason. If the officer did not have sufficient reason, the entire stop may be declared illegal and any evidence obtained during the stop could be declared inadmissible at trial.
- Challenging the Chemical Test Results. During the stop that led to your arrest, the officer likely asked you to submit to a chemical test to check for the presence of alcohol in your system. Contrary to popular belief, breath test machines are not 100 percent accurate nor are they infallible. Test results could be inaccurate for many reasons, including:
- Lack of training on the part of the officer that conducted the test
- Failing to properly calibrate and/or maintain the machine
- Not waiting for the required observation period
- Medical conditions you might have
- The “Rising Alcohol Level (RAL)” Defense. If you consumed alcohol just prior to operating your vehicle, the alcohol in your system may still have been rising, causing you to test with a higher blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than you actually had when you were operating your vehicle. This is known as the “Rising Alcohol Level (RAL)” defense. The RAL defense is predicated on the manner in which alcohol is absorbed in your bloodstream. When you consume alcohol, it takes time for that alcohol to make its way through your body and into your bloodstream. A number of variables will influence the rate at which alcohol is absorbed by your body, including your sex, weight, the last time you ate, and any medical conditions you may have. Typically, however, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes for alcohol to be fully absorbed into your bloodstream. As that alcohol is being absorbed by your body, your BAC level will slowly rise. The timing of your chemical test, therefore, can be a critical piece of the puzzle in determining whether you were, in fact, driving under the influence.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney at Petersen Law Office
If you are currently facing DUI charges in Nebraska, take the time to consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. Contact the Omaha DUI defense attorneys at Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer.