What Are Some Possible Defenses That Can Be Used In My DUI Case?
Some possible defenses that can be used in a DUI case include the validity and reliability of the field sobriety tests. According to the Washington State Supreme Court, field sobriety tests are always used to determine sobriety. Many individuals, including some judges and prosecutors, believe that the purpose of the field sobriety test is to measure driving impairment. This is based on the belief that a field sobriety test is designed to determine whether a person has the attention skills necessary to drive, but it’s actually whether there’s any sign of impairment. A problem with field sobriety tests is that they have to be administered in the prescribed standardized manner – which is used to assess a suspect’s performance – and unless the standardized criteria are employed, the validity of the tests can be compromised. Three field sobriety tests are commonly used by law enforcement.
The three tests include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk and turn, and the one-leg stand. The tests are administered systematically and are evaluated according to measured responses. Each test is comprised of an instructional component and a performance component. It’s critical that all instructions from the law enforcement officer are accurate, and that all of the instructions are complete because if they’re not, any meaning assigned to an individual’s performance becomes problematic. The horizontal gaze nystagmus test may raise the issue that a person can have nystagmus from several factors that have nothing to do with alcohol or drug consumption. There are hundreds of causes of nystagmus. In other words, a person who hasn’t consumed any alcohol could fail a horizontal gaze nystagmus test administered by a police officer.
The walk and turn test should be conducted on a reasonably dry, non-slippery, hard surface. There should also be sufficient room for the subjects to complete nine heel footsteps. Unfortunately, when you’re pulled over for a DUI, the site conditions sometimes do not allow you to have a fair test. Usually, you’re on the side of the road, and it’s wet – this can present potential issues with a walk and turn test. If the person who gets pulled over is older, this can also present problems. An older person may have some type of injury that can make it challenging for them to complete a walk and turn test successfully. People over sixty-five or those with back, leg, or inner ear problems would have difficulty performing the walk and turn or standing on one leg. Physical issues that somebody may have can compromise the validity of the test administered by a law enforcement officer.
Does Refusing A Breathalyzer Test Help Or Hurt My DUI Case In Washington?
Depending on the circumstance, refusing a breathalyzer test may either help or hurt your DUI case in Washington. Technically, you can’t be charged with a DUI if the city or state can’t establish that you were affected by alcohol merely through some observations made by the law enforcement officer. However, even if they don’t have a blood alcohol content (BAC), they can still proceed by alleging that your performance and ability to drive was affected by consuming alcohol. This is a tougher case for the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If you take a DUI to trial without having a BAC level, it makes it a lot more problematic for the state to prove their case.
In Washington, if you refuse to blow at the police station, law enforcement will often get a warrant for your blood, and they get your blood alcohol level that way. The warrant grants law enforcement to draw your blood. However, if there’s no BAC and no warrant, then it will be difficult for the state to prove that an individual was driving under the influence.
How Can You Challenge Breath Or Blood Test Evidence In A DUI Case?
It is possible to challenge breath or blood test evidence in a DUI case. Generally, in any case, where procedures were not correctly followed, the validity of the breath test is at issue, and that’s laid out under RCW 46.61506 Subsection 3. In those cases, a motion to suppress the breath results is appropriate. The motion to suppress would be heard at a motion hearing on grounds for suppression. At the motions hearing, the information pertaining to the test performed by the officer with the trigger breath test machine would be reviewed. Any potential issues surrounding the machine can warrant a motion to suppress.
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