If you believe the conventional wisdom, when you are stopped by the police and placed under arrest for driving under the influence, you have already been found guilty. You are not guilty, and the state has a heavier burden of proof than you might imagine.
Take a look at the State of New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission web page showing the mandatory fines and penalties. Of course a DUI conviction is a serious offense and it does carry heavy penalties — fines, loss of driving privileges, the expense and hassle of an ignition interlock device as well as community service and jail time.
First offenders might be inclined to go with the flow, especially if their blood alcohol concentration registers on the Breathalyzer less than the 0.10% level. Taking the three-month suspension, paying the fine and doing the community service might be the quick way to put this behind you.
On the other hand, maybe when you were stopped you didn’t feel your driving was impaired. Perhaps you felt that the arresting officer neither behaved professionally nor administered the blood alcohol concentration test in a totally competent manner. Perhaps his report of your behavior during the incident seemed a tad exaggerated.
And why were you stopped in the first place? You weren’t driving erratically, and you don’t believe the officer had true probable cause to stop you.
Actually, you can fight and defeat a DUI charge, and your rights are the same as anyone accused of any other offense. Here’s a brief list of ways, with the help of a competent attorney, you can beat a DUI charge and protect your right to drive:
1. Your stop was illegal. You cannot be pulled over unless the officer has a reasonable basis to believe you have violated a law. Weaving inside marked lanes is not illegal so long as you don’t cross the marked lines.
2. The weather was inclement. Bad weather conditions with high winds and low visibility, ice, rain, etc., can be reasons for poor driving performance.
3. You ingested a substance that interfered with the test results. There are plenty of over-the-counter products like cough drops, asthma inhalers, fingernail polish, etc., that can taint blood alcohol results.
4. You have medical and health problems or other conditions that can adversely affect the accuracy of the field sobriety test.
5. The officer failed to administer the Breathalyzer test properly. The arresting officer may have failed to follow the manufacturer’s protocols and procedures.
6. The New Jersey Breathalyzer device is the AlcoTest 7110 MK III. It is only a machine and it is subject to operator error or manufacturer defects.
7. Videos at the scene or in the police station booking room reflect your clear speech, alertness and apparent sobriety. The video records could well contradict the arresting officer’s testimony.
The foregoing barely scratches the surface of the vast variety of defenses against a DUI charge. Again, under the law you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Don’t let the fact that you were stopped and that the officer told you that you failed the field sobriety test intimidate you. You have the right to a competent DUI defense, and you need look no further than Michael DeBlis.