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DC DUI Defense Strategies

In Washington, DC, you will be arrested for driving under the influence when your blood alcohol content (BAC) measures 0.08 percent or higher. Lower BAC levels can also result in your arrest if your BAC measures .05 percent or more. In addition, you can be charged with DUI if your BAC measures below 0.05 percent and there is additional evidence of you being impaired by alcohol and/or drugs, such as weaving on the road or being unable to stand or walk steadily when confronted by an officer. As a DUI lawyer in DC can explain, although it may seem as though you have been charged and convicted when you are arrested, prosecutors must still prove two basic elements for a DUI conviction to occur:

  1. You were in operational control of the vehicle.
  2. You were under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of operation.

That is why it is vitally important that you contact a dedicated DC DUI attorney as soon as possible. The earlier you retain counsel, the earlier they can begin to build and assert a defense based on the facts of your case.

Typically, most DC DUI defense strategies will focus on your driving, your arrest, and your behavior as well as the officer’s behavior.

DC DUI Defense Strategies

There are several common DC DUI defense strategies that can be employed in most cases. For instance, one strategy may be to produce evidence that you were mistakenly identified as the driver of the stopped vehicle even though you were actually just a passenger. This can sometimes happen when police rely on civilian witnesses to tell them who they saw driving a car that contained multiple occupants.

Another defense strategy is to challenge the portion of the DC code that refers to having “physical control” of the vehicle. It’s possible that the police officer didn’t actually see you driving, or in physical control, of the vehicle. You could have sat in the driver’s seat briefly, perhaps in a parking lot, without ever putting the keys in the ignition.

Another common strategy is to argue that improper police actions led to a wrongful arrest. A skilled DUI defense lawyer will know how to unearth testimony and evidence that discredit the officer and negate your charge, including:

  • Any violations of your civil or legal rights.
  • And inaccuracies or falsifying information on a DUI report.

DC DUI Defense Strategies Focusing on Arrests

Your DC DUI lawyer will likely employ this strategy when there appears to be no legal justification for your traffic stop or arrest. If your attorney can prove that the arresting officer failed to follow proper procedure, he or she may get the charge reduced or dismissed. For example, your lawyer may be able to argue that you were illegally stopped by the police. An officer must have some reasonable suspicion that you were committing some crime or traffic violation prior to stopping you. For example, the officer observed you driving erratically or you failed to stop at a stop sign. Without such suspicion, you can’t be stopped, and any evidence the police obtained as a result of that stop might be thrown out.

DC DUI Defense Strategies and Behavior

How you were acting prior to, during, and after the traffic stop is vital to your case. It’s often the foundation of the prosecutor’s case against you. One defense strategy involves challenging the arresting officer’s observations. During pre-trial and trial hearings, the prosecutor will ask the arresting officer questions, such as:

  • How you were driving (crossing the center line, not stopping at a stop light, etc.).
  • How you acted or looked once you exited your vehicle (stumbling, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, etc.).
  • How you performed during the field sobriety test (were you able to recite the alphabet, walk in a straight line, etc.).

As part of your DC DUI defense strategies, your attorney may challenge the arresting officer’s testimony and will focus on what the officer actually saw and whether there was enough evidence of probable cause to initiate the contact or stop.

In addition, your DC DUI lawyer will also seek to introduce evidence to explain your behavior, such as:

  • You had a physical impairment, such as a disability or serious weight problem, which prevented you from performing the field sobriety test.
  • Your alleged “drunken” appearance was actually due to a medical condition, lack of sleep, or wearing contacts.
  • Your alleged slurred speech was due to other factors, such as medical conditions or lack of sleep.
  • You were improperly instructed on how to complete standardized field sobriety tests.

If there were witnesses to the traffic stop and arrest, your attorney may also seek to question those individuals. Of course, if there were no witnesses to your DUI arrest, the following won’t apply to your DC DUI defense strategies. However, your witness or witnesses may honestly testify that you:

  • Behaved as though you were sober.
  • Didn’t consume any alcohol prior to getting into the vehicle.
  • Committed a traffic violation, like missing a traffic signal or swerving across lanes of traffic, because you were distracted by passengers or a ringing cell phone, not because you were driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

The Role of a DC DUI Lawyer

DC DUI defense strategies are specifically related to what happened before, during, and after your traffic stop. Therefore, any of the previous strategies may be employed by your attorney, or perhaps another strategy will be used by your lawyer to fight your DUI charge. It is important that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the full range of strategies that may be employed in the event of a DUI charge. Shawn Sukumar has extensive experience defending against DUI charges, and is well-versed in the options that exist for a strong defense. Call his Washington, DC law office today to schedule a free consultation.

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