When it comes to dealing with a drunk driving charge, attorneys are often asked about the possible DWI defense strategies that can be used. While it may not always seem possible to beat a DUI in Minnesota, there are a number of issues that may potentially exist, and that criminal defense lawyers should carefully review in any DUI case.
Is there enough evidence to prove that a defendant was operating a motor vehicle at a relevant or specific time?
In this situation, relevant time refers to the exact time that the defendant was believed to be under the influence of alcohol, or simply put, the time in which the defendant had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 percent. Of course, majority of all DWI arrests result from a traffic stop in which the defendant was behind the wheel. In these cases, prosecution will have no problems establishing such element.
There are instances, however, where the officer never actually sees the defendant operating the motor vehicle physically. When this occurs, the defense attorney may need to review all circumstantial evidence provided to see if there is proof of the defendant’s driving conduct or being in actual control of the vehicle at the relevant time.
Did articulable reasonable suspicion support the traffic stop or initial seizure of a DWI suspect?
Before stopping a driver in his or her vehicle, an officer must first have reasonable suspicion to believe that a driver has committed a traffic violation, or that criminal activity is afoot prior to a vehicle being stopped.
If, however, the court determines that the officer did not have reasonable articulable suspicion to support the traffic stop, then all evidence gathered after the traffic stop is considered to be potentially inadmissible.
Did the officer have probable cause to arrest a driver suspected to be driving under the influence of alcohol?
After a traffic stop, an officer needs probable cause in order to place a driver in further detention and make him or her subject to chemical testing at the police station. In order to establish probable cause of DWI, the officer typically asks the driver the perform a variety of field sobriety tests, such as the HGN or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, and standing on one leg for up to 30 seconds. The officer generally also requests the driver to submit to a preliminary breath test at the scene of the traffic stop.
Prior to being asked to submit to a blood, urine, or breath test, was a driver’s right to counsel vindicated?
In the state of Minnesota, officers are required to read the Minnesota Implied Consent Advisory to all drivers prior to chemical testing. According to this advisory, drivers should first be asked if they wish to contact an attorney to seek advice on testing.
If a driver opts to speak to an attorney, then the officer must provide the driver with access to a telephone and give him or her a reasonable amount of time to get in touch with an attorney. This reasonable amount of time depends on various factors, such as the time of the day the traffic stop occurred, and the amount of diligence shown by the driver in his or her attempt to get in touch with an attorney.
If a driver requests for a second test independent of the state’s chemical test, did the police officer give the driver access to a telephone in order to make arrangements for this test?
If a driver is in custody after his or her submission to the state’s chemical test, and informs the police officer that he or she would like to have another urine or blood test done, then the officer should provide the driver access to a telephone in order to make arrangements for the administration of the test.
Did the police officer use reliable testing methods in order to determine a driver’s BAC?
At present, Minnesota utilizes the Datamaster DMT and Intoxilyzer 5000EN for breath tests. Criminal defense lawyers should carefully and thoroughly review every testing method used, and determine whether or not these methods meet the standards required in order to ensure reliability.
While these six potential issues or DWI defenses may not be comprehensive, they serve as an ideal starting point for any criminal defense attorney reviewing a client’s police records and other forms of discovery.
Consult a DWI Attorney in Minneapolis
As discussed, there are a variety of potential defenses an experienced Minneapolis DWI Lawyer can potentially raise on your case. Some of these defenses may be time sensitive, therefore do not waste any time contacting an attorney after you’ve been arrested. Douglas T. Kans and his team have been successfully defending the rights of those accused of alcohol related driving offenses for over 18 years. Call us today for a free consultation.