Possible Defenses to a DUI Charge

by kdhewatt on September 26, 2012

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(US criminal law) Driving under the influence is a serious crime. There are few defenses to a charge of driving under the influence, and anyone accused of driving under the influence should contact a local attorney to discuss his or her options. Most allegations of driving under the influence include officer testimony regarding specific behaviors demonstrated by the defendant, roadside sobriety test results, and blood or breathalyzer tests.

Officer Testimony
Attacking the officer’s perceptions will be difficult, but it will be part of any trial. Officers are trained to detect behaviors and mannerisms consistent with intoxication, and that training is usually sound. Disproving the officers’ statements will be challenging. It may be possible to attribute some of the specific observations to specific causes. Fatigue or allergies can cause bloodshot eyes, individuals may speak with a lisp, and people can be generally clumsy.Fortunately, proving a charge for driving while intoxicated usually requires additional evidence beyond officer testimony.Road Side Sobriety Test ResultSobriety tests require strong skills of dexterity and coordination. Under the ordinary stresses of a traffic stop, failing these tests is probable, even for sober individuals. Sobriety tests are rife with opportunities to err, and they exist to give the officer probable cause to arrest individuals for driving under the influence.

Refusal to take a field sobriety test will often lead to an arrest, as officers typically only ask motorists to reinforce what they already believe. However, according to our DUI attorney in Montgomery County Pennsylvania, it may also prevent the officer from having probable cause to file charges or obtain a conviction.

Blood and Breath Tests

Defective equipment or alcohol absorption patterns can affect the results. Improperly calibrated or defective machinery can produce incorrect readings, but this is rarely an issue. More frequently, attorneys allege that the results are misleading due to the nature of alcohol. This may be the best defense against a charge of driving under the influence.

  • Decreasing Intoxication:  Breathalyzers detect the concentration of alcohol in the test subject’s mouth. Within a short time, individuals who consume alcohol will have elevated quantities of alcohol in their mouths. This can occur even if the alcohol has not been absorbed into the bloodstream. If the breathalyzer is given shortly after an individual consumes alcohol, the breathalyzer will mistakenly indicate that the individual possesses a high blood alcohol content. The individual may not be intoxicated at the time that he or she is driving.
  • Increasing Intoxication:  Increasing intoxication can also be an issue. The presence of food, water, or other items in an individual’s stomach can affect the absorption of alcohol. As the alcohol is absorbed, the individual’s blood alcohol content will rise. Drivers with low concentrations of alcohol while driving can produce higher results after a lengthy traffic stop or ride to the police station. Many attorneys will argue that their clients were not intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle and that the alcohol was absorbed after the motorist was stopped.

Fighting a charge of driving under the influence may be possible. Officers may incorrectly assess a suspect’s mannerisms, those individuals may be unable to complete the field sobriety tests, and rising or declining intoxication can provoke misleading results from equipment. It is imperative that anyone charged with driving under the influence retain an attorney.


Katie Hewatt is a legal researcher and contributing author for the Law Offices of Steven Kellis, a DUI attorney in Montgomery County Pennsylvania, who has 20 years of jury trial experience and is a former DUI prosecutor. Attorney Kellis has been practicing law since 1992 and has devoted his practice 100% to DUI and criminal litigation. Attorney Kellis personally handles every case and has defended countless DUI cases with success.




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