Category: Criminal Defense

5 Ways to Beat a DUI Charge

Have you been in the unfortunate situation of being pulled over by a police officer when you have had one too many drinks before getting behind the wheel? There are many ways to legally beat a DUI charge–because police officers make mistakes, there are many ways to challenge the accuracy of how they determined you were driving under the influence.  A good lawyer can evaluate the likelihood that the evidence the state might hold against you will be found inadmissible because of human error, or rather, an officer’s ability to accurately enforce the law in accordance with your rights. As well, some of the “scientific” ways that the police use to determine a person’s blood alcohol level may not give accurate results.

If you have lost all hope, know that there are ways to beat a DUI charge.

Lack of Probable Cause and Inadmissible Evidence

If you were pulled over while minding your own business, and then arrested for driving under the influence, there is a chance that there was a lack of probable cause.  Many DUI charges come from being pulled over by common things that many of us do — but NOT because the arresting officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over and test you for drunk driving.  These things include but are not limited to: driving above or below the speed limit; weaving or drifting from your lane; following too closely; having a head or tail light out; not turning on your turn indicator; or making an illegal turn or stop.  If a stop that resulted in a DUI arrest was not legal, evidence collected during the investigation is not admissible.  With no evidence, your case is likely to be dismissed.

Inefficacy of Field Sobriety Tests

If you were given a field sobriety test that resulted in a DUI arrest, there is a good chance that you can reduce the amount of evidence that can be used against you.  For most people, doing things such as saying the alphabet backwards, closing our eyes while trying to touch our nose, or standing on one foot, are hard or impossible for us to do regardless of whether you’ve been drinking.  You can question the efficacy of a field sobriety test.  While this may not get your case dismissed, it may reduce the amount of evidence against you, and cause credibility issues for the prosecution.

Challenge BAC Results from a Breathalyzer Test

Breathalyzers often deliver readings that do not reflect actual amounts of consumed alcohol.  There are many reasons for this.  Improper calibration of the equipment and equipment failure, or user error, are common reasons for breathalyzer inaccuracy.  Breathalyzers cannot typically differentiate between different kinds of alcohol.  For example, mouthwash and certain foods can be detected as alcohol.  As well, there are many medical conditions such as GERD and acid reflux, or ketosis (which can be the result of a low-carb diet) that can cause a breathalyzer test to be inaccurate.

Miranda Rights

If you’ve been taken into custody, you must be informed of your Miranda rights that are protected by the law.  An arresting officer is supposed to tell you that you are not required to make incriminating statements, that what you say can be used against you, and that you have a right to an attorney.  Law enforcement is legally obligated in most states to inform a detained person of these rights prior to questioning.  If a police officer fails to Mirandize a driver, the evidence collected in a DUI investigation can be ruled inadmissible.

Not All DUI Checkpoints are the Same

DUI checkpoints are controversial for many reasons.  Many cases contesting their constitutionality have been tried in order to determine whether checkpoints infringe on Fourth Amendment rights.  The way law enforcement is supposed to set up and operate roadblocks is very prescribed.  If these protocols were not implemented when you were stopped, it may be possible to prove that you were stopped illegally.  Some requirements for DUI checkpoints include:

  • Choosing who will be stopped must be done in accordance with a uniform procedure.  For example, if every third car is supposed to be pulled over, they must do this throughout the entire duration of their road block.
  • Safety of drivers must be upheld.  This includes adequate lighting, and clear and advance notice of the upcoming roadblock.
  • A person’s constitutional privacy rights must be maintained throughout the entirety of a stop.

If you are dealing with a DUI arrest, there are many ways that the law can protect you and your rights.  A compassionate and experienced DUI attorney can help to ensure that your rights are upheld. Feel free to call our office today for a free consultation!

Marijuana DUI Laws in Arizona, The Active Metabolite

111In the State of Arizona, under Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 28-1381, it is illegal to operate a vehicle or be in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis, or having cannabis metabolites in your system. The problem with having cannabis metabolites in your system is that they can be present in your body for much longer than that which cannabis can have any effect in the body. The amount of time that your body retains traces of cannabis metabolites depends on a myriad of factors. Unfortunately, there are no accurate answers to exactly how long. It has been reported that cannabis metabolites have been detected up to a month after use and sometimes even longer.

Let’s say you go on a Skiing trip to Colorado and decide to partake in local festivities where cannabis is being consumed. Cannabis being legal in Colorado, you would have every right to not pass on the grass and decide that now is a perfect time to let your inner hippie fly. You have your fun and return home to Arizona. A week or two later you are involved in a car accident that may or may not be your fault. If it is decided that blood will be drawn (under implied consent you must say yes) to see if you are under the influence of any drugs, you could end up spending time in jail and have fines of at least $1,250. Additional penalties may include required participation in a drug treatment program, license suspension, community service, probation for up to five years, or being ordered to attach an ignition interlock device to the driver’s vehicle. Id. §§ 28-1381 (I)-(J) – all because you decided to legally ingest a relatively harmless drug on your own leisure time in a state where marijuana is entirely legal and accepted for recreational use. This may sound absurd, but this is the current law. If there happened to be a child under the age of 15 in the car, you would be facing much harsher penalties.

Having a medical marijuana card in Arizona doesn’t necessarily make you immune to any of the laws stated in Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 28-1381. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) states that licensed medical marijuana users cannot be prosecuted for marijuana use if they stay within the parameters of the statute. These parameters state that medical marijuana card holders may not be prosecuted for driving with cannabis metabolites in their system if “prescribed” by a medical practitioner. The problem is that medical marijuana cannot be prescribed, it can only be “recommended” by a licensed physician. This discrepancy is ultimately up to the decisions of the court to decide the outcome of the case. The defendant must prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the level of metabolites was at a level that no longer caused impairment. However, there is no commonly accepted threshold for identifying how much metabolites causes impairment. The burden is on you and your representation to prove that you were not impaired.

There is no question that driving while under the influence of marijuana is unsafe and irresponsible. However, the marijuana DUI laws need to reflect an evidence-based reasoning behind the prosecution of medical and non-medical users alike. The current system for determining active metabolites is flawed and needs to be rewritten in a way that upholds justice and impartiality.


Getting Legal Help

If you find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a marijuana-related offence, you may be entitled to an affirmative defense if the amount of THC in your system is insufficient to cause impairment.  Without this defense, you face the likelihood of jail time, large fines, and other consequences that can be detrimental to your well-being and family’s welfare.  That is why it is important you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced criminal and DUI defense attorney who can help you understand how your case will be handled by the prosecutor and judges and whether this affirmative defense is available to you.  Jess Lorona of Lorona Mead, PLC is an Arizona criminal and DUI defense attorney with over 33 years of experience to help you in your time of need. Call Jess Lorona today for a free consultation. 602-385-6825.