A charge of driving under the influence, or “DUI,” can result in serious, life-changing penalties. You need the help of a Tacoma DUI attorney who knows how DUI cases in Washington work. We have represented DUI defendants in Washington state for years, and have relied upon a wide array of defenses in order to challenge the state’s evidence, the legal basis for the DUI charge, and even the legal basis for the arrest or traffic stop itself. The circumstances of your particular case determine the type of defense we would use, so the information you provide to us is critical. Here are but a few of the ways we have successfully challenged DUI prosecutions:
Traffic Stop Was Unlawful
Most DUI cases begin with a traffic stop by a police officer. The officer must have had a reasonable suspicion that an offense had occurred, such as speeding or running a red light, for the stop to be lawful. Depending on the facts of your case, possible arguments include:
- There was no radar or laser evidence of speeding, and no evidence that the officer kept pace with the vehicle to confirm speed.
- Officer could not have directly seen the vehicle run a red light or cross a center line.
- A violation such as a cracked windshield or rearview mirror was not sufficient cause for a stop.
- Cell phone use not was not in violation of local law.
DUI Arrest Was Unlawful
An officer must have probable cause to believe a driver is (1) driving (2) while intoxicated in order to make an arrest. Depending on the facts of your case, possible arguments include:
- If the officer could not have had probable cause for either of these elements, the arrest was unlawful.
- Bloodshot eyes, by themselves, are not sufficient evidence of impairment, nor is the odor of alcohol.
- Field sobriety tests are subject to challenge because they do not prove level of impairment, and often do not take factors like injuries or disabilities into account.
Breath Testing Was Inaccurate or Unreliable
A breath test, or “breathalyzer,” which checks blood alcohol content (BAC), is subject to challenge for reliability due to the circumstances of the test or the condition of the equipment. Depending on the facts of your case, possible defenses include:
- A medical condition, such as diabetes, or the presence of foreign objects like orthodontics or chewing gum in the mouth, could render the test unreliable.
- Certain chemical exposures, like acetone or gasoline, can trigger a positive result for alcohol.
- A suspect may “refuse” a test due to a physical condition like asthma, making the refusal inadmissible.
- The officer did not change the mouthpiece between tests.
- The officer did not perform maintenance or run diagnostics on the testing device, or the device was demonstrably malfunctioning.
Blood Testing Was Inaccurate or Unreliable
If law enforcement officials tried to determine your level of sobriety through a blood test, they could have used faulty methods that make your sample inadmissible. Depending on the facts of your case, possible defenses include:
- Improper blood draw: the technician failed to clean the injection area, failed to use proper equipment, or failed to use the correct amount of anticoagulants in the blood vial.
- Improper storage: blood samples were not refrigerated properly, leading to spoliation.
- Unreliable analysis: the technician did not draw a large enough sample, the testing equipment was improperly maintained, or the test itself was performed inadequately.
Blood Testing Was Unlawful
Because of its invasive nature, blood testing generally requires separate statutory authorization, a warrant, or the suspect’s informed consent. If a test was not authorized by statute or warrant, or if the officer failed to give required disclosures to the suspect before obtaining consent, the test could be ruled unlawful.
If you have been charged with an alleged DUI offense, you need the assistance of an attorney with knowledge of Washington’s criminal laws and experience in its court system. Washington criminal defense attorney Timothy L. Healy has represented defendants charged with alleged DUI in Tacoma, Pierce County, and elsewhere in Washington state for more than fifteen years. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093.