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Building a Defense For 1st Time DC DUI Charges

If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence for the first time in DC, it is important you build the strongest defense possible in order to minimize the future impact of your charge. A Washington, DC DUI lawyer is available to look at the facts of your case and develop the strongest possible defense for your set of circumstances.

Below, an attorney discusses some common ways defenses can be built for DUI charges in DC. To learn more call or discuss the specifics of your case, call today and schedule a consultation.

How Are Defenses For a First Time DUI Charge Built?

In order for a prosecutor to be able to prove someone guilty for driving under the influence, they need to establish two things.

  • The first thing that a prosecutor  needs to prove is operation of the vehicle. That doesn’t necessarily mean that a person was driving the car, it just means that they had some kind of physical control over the vehicle. At the very least, this usually amounts to someone sitting in the front driver seat with the keys in the ignition.
  • The second thing that a prosecutor has to prove is that the driver was impaired by alcohol, drugs, medication (including prescription medication), or some combination of those three. That’s where we always begin when we try to build a defense against driving under the influence charges.

We take a look at the facts as written in the police reports and try to see where the prosecutor’s strongest pieces of evidence are and where the weakest pieces of evidence are. We try to figure out where the holes are in the government’s case, and whether they have a problem with being able to prove that a person was in physical control of the vehicle.

As an example, were the keys out of the ignition? Was the person asleep in the passenger side of the vehicle? Was the person not even in the position to be able to put the car into motion because the car was broken down, out of gas, or otherwise not functional? We can take a look at those facts to try and build the defense against the operation side of a DUI.

On the impairment side, we always want to take a look at what kind of evidence the police believe they were able to gather that they think suggests that a person was under the influence of some intoxicating substance. Some of the questions we ask are:

  • Did the officers conduct field sobriety tests?
  • What were the field sobriety tests?
  • Do they have other evidence besides field sobriety tests that could prove of intoxication?
  • Do they claim to have heard slurred speech from the driver?
  • Do they claim that the driver was having a difficult time standing up straight while outside of the car?
  • Were there any driving mannerisms that would suggest impairment, such as weaving across lane lines, traffic accidents, not responding to traffic lights, or not responding to stop signs?
  • What kind of driving patterns did the person exhibit?

Next, we take a look at whether the person provided a breath test or some other kind of chemical test because in D.C. there is a per se law that says that a person is presumed to be intoxicated if he or she has blood alcohol content of .08 or higher. That means that even if a person passed every single field sobriety test and showed no other visible signs of intoxication, if that person’s blood alcohol content was a .08 or higher, that person is nonetheless presumed to be intoxicated.

We will take a look at whether or not the prosecutor has alcohol-test evidence that they can use against a person. In the event that they do, we try to see if we can develop any challenges to the reliability or credibility of that blood alcohol or urine alcohol test.  That means that we need to file discovery requests. We need to make sure that we get as much documentation as we can and make all of our requests for as much documentation that can shed some light on what kind of challenges we may have available to us for any of the evidence that the prosecutor might be presenting.

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