More and more, states are cracking down on driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. While that’s a good thing in and of itself, some officers are often over-zealous in their attempts to keep drunk drivers off the streets. This results in DUI charges that are inaccurate – perhaps you had a single drink and are fine to drive, but the officer insists that you take a sobriety test. You refuse, as is your right under the law, and suddenly you’re in jail facing criminal charges. Can you get DUI charges dropped? Can they be reduced?
The short answer here is, yes, DUI charges can be dropped. However, you’re unlikely to see that happen without expert legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney. Trying to fight a charge of DUI on your own is unlikely to turn out well. An experienced attorney can investigate the situation and determine if there are grounds for the charges to be dropped or reduced.
Why Fight to Have Your Charges Dropped?
Why should you fight to have a DUI charge dropped? There are plenty of reasons. These are serious charges that can affect every area of your life. If you are found guilty of DUI, you will face a host of other challenges, including:
- Your auto insurance will go up, or even be canceled. You may have to pay very high rates for insurance, or you may not find any available at all.
- You will have a DUI on your criminal record, which can be seen by future potential employers.
- You will face fines and possible jail time, as well as community service, and possibly be required to attend DUI school and/or have an ignition interlock device installed in your car.
- You may find it more difficult to keep your current job or to be hired for a new one, particularly if these positions involve driving.
- You may lose your license for a specific period. If this is not your first offense, there’s the chance that your license may be revoked completely.
Common Reasons for DUI Charges to Be Dropped
In most instances, a successful DUI case is one that goes perfectly “by the book”. The arresting officer must follow the rules laid out almost to the letter. Errors, mistakes, and omissions at any point can be used to have DUI charges dropped. Some of the most common reasons for this to happen include the following:
- No Grounds to Stop Your Vehicle: A DUI arrest must be made after your vehicle was stopped for a legitimate reason. For instance, the officer must believe that you committed a traffic violation – speeding, failing to maintain your lane, reckless driving, running a stop sign or red light, for instance. If there was no such infraction, then there are usually no grounds to stop you. This could void the charges against you.
- Unconstitutional/Illegal Stop or Search: If a stop or search of your vehicle was unconstitutional or illegal for some reason, you may be able to have your charges dropped. For instance, you are supposed to be alerted to the location of roadblocks and sobriety checkpoints prior to arriving at one.
- Illegal Search/Seizure: Without probable cause or a search warrant, an officer is not allowed to search your vehicle for signs of alcohol or anything else. This includes inspecting the interior of the car with a flashlight from outside the vehicle while having you pulled over. It’s rare to have a warrant during a traffic stop, so most DUI charges are predicated on the officer having probable cause. If the police cannot prove probable cause, it’s possible to have your charges dropped.
- Illegal Field Sobriety Tests: Field sobriety tests must be administered in specific ways, and only a few tests are allowed under the law. If the office administers unapproved tests or administers approved tests in incorrect ways, you may have grounds for dismissal.
- Improperly Administered/Illegal Chemical Tests: The only way to ascertain whether you were driving under the influence or not is to test your blood, breath, or urine. The officer must advise you of your rights prior to administering a test, and the test must be conducted properly. Machines used for testing should be calibrated and inspected on a regular basis to ensure complete accuracy, and there cannot be a break in the chain of custody involving test results leading up to the trial. If there are errors or breakdowns at any point in these areas, it may be possible to have your charges dropped.
What If the Charges Cannot Be Dropped?
In some instances, a charge of DUI cannot be dropped. If the arrest was conducted perfectly by the book, and there are no technicalities to dispute, having the charge expunged may be impossible. However, that does not mean that you are out of options. An experienced criminal law attorney may be able to have the charges reduced.
Going from a charge of DUI to a charge of wet reckless or reckless driving can offer a host of benefits. These include less chance of jail time, lower fines, and losing your license is much less likely, as well. It also does not affect your employability or auto insurance the same way as a DUI charge.
What Should You Do?
If you are facing a DUI charge, it is vital that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. With a skilled lawyer fighting for your rights, you have a better chance of a successful outcome. However, time is of the essence here. It’s vital that you contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to begin building your defense.