Common Mistakes Police Make During a DUI Arrest
Some people overestimate their ability to drive after having a few drinks. This mistake can lead to a DUI arrest. But police officers make mistakes too. Our justice system is based on the idea that we are innocent until proven guilty, and when the police officers make a mistake in your DUI arrest, you may not be getting the justice you deserve.
There are laws, guidelines and rules in place in order to ensure the justice system is balanced and you won't be taken advantage of by the state. When law enforcement officers don't follow the rules, then your Atlanta DUI lawyer can use that to your advantage to make sure you don't pay the price for someone else's mistake. You may not know when the officer makes a mistake or takes a shortcut, but you DUI lawyer will investigate your case and cross-examine the police officer in your case to find holes in the prosecutor's case.
Most Common Mistakes
There are rules to follow before a DUI traffic stop, during a traffic stop, and after a DUI arrest. Before your car is stopped, the police need a reason to pull you over. If they don't have a reason, the stop may be unlawful, and the evidence gathered may be suppressed. The valid reason can be for something as minor as an expired license tag, or a broken tail light, but they still need a reason to justify pulling you over. They have to be able to articulate just what it was that warranted a traffic stop.
Another area where the police can make mistakes is during a sobriety checkpoint. During these roadblocks, the police can briefly stop random cars for the purpose of determining whether the driver is under the influence. Also called DUI checkpoints, they have been challenged for their constitutionality, and while the Supreme Court found them valid, there are a number of guidelines law enforcement departments are supposed to follow, to make sure they are constitutional.
However, sometimes the police may not be following the guidelines, and may not be stopping a random sample of cars. They may also be detaining people too long, or go after a driver just because they turned around to avoid the checkpoint. If the police aren't following the rules, then that may be a way to challenge your arrest.
After stopping a car, the police may try and get the driver to perform field sobriety tests. This is another common area where cops can fail to follow the rules. The standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) were developed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are not always accurate, but the NHTSA has developed specific regulations to try and make these test usable to police officers. However, when the tests are not conducted properly, their results can be challenged.
A horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) eye test is one of the SFSTs, where the police look for an involuntary movement of the eye as a sign of apparent alcohol impairment. But if the police aren't properly watching the driver's eyes, or miscalculate the angle, the results may be flawed. Additionally, if they don't take into account other possible causes including medications and other medical issues, they may be only noting a false positive result, which doesn't indicate alcohol impairment.
The one-leg-stand test and the walk-and-turn test are two other common field sobriety tests. If the police don't give the proper instructions, don't properly observe or evaluate the results, then the value of these tests is greatly compromised. Again, officers may fail to take into consideration other environmental factors or medical conditions that could affect these test results, and falsely note alcohol impairment.
After an arrest, there are still procedures to follow. One area where mistakes are made is in testing the driver's blood or breath after an arrest. Blood and breath chemical tests are useful to the prosecutors in DUI cases. They purport to indicate the blood alcohol content of a driver. However, when the proper procedures aren't followed, these results can be thrown out of court.
Police officers can fail to adequately clean or calibrate chemical testing machines and devices, which can give a false BAC. Police officers are also supposed to observe drivers for a given amount of time to make sure they don't do something that could falsely raise the level of a blood or breath test, like chewing gum or burping. However, some officers may fail to properly observe the suspect, which could render the chemical results inaccurate.
Police officers make mistakes, and it is up to your DUI lawyer to find those mistakes. DUI lawyers who exclusively handle DUI cases are kept up to date on the latest law, information, techniques and technology involving drunk driving cases. With the same training as some police officers in how to conduct field sobriety tests, they know when and how the police make mistakes that can unfairly make you look guilty.
Finding the Right DUI Lawyer
As an Atlanta DUI lawyer with more than 19 years of experience exclusively representing clients charged with a DUI, I will do an in-depth investigation into exactly what happened during your DUI arrest. Remember that a DUI arrest does not have to lead to a conviction. I have successfully represented all kinds of Georgia drivers facing a DUI. Call me today so you can keep your license to drive, and keep your record clean.