DUI Defenses in Indiana DUI/OVWI Criminal Cases
Many people believe that if someone is arrested for DUI or OVWI, that’s the end of the case. They think that if a person is caught driving and their blood or breath tests over the legal limit, there is nothing that can be done. However, the reality is that there are many things an attorney can look for to defend a client against DUI or OVWI charges.
Three Events of a DUI or OVWI Case
In most DUI cases, there are three parts to the prosecutor’s case. These are the three events that a good defense lawyer will look at to find possible DUI defenses or issues in the state’s case.
- THE DUI STOP – The first event is the stop. The driving. In order to convict someone of DUI or OVWI, the state must prove that the person operated a vehicle. This usually comes about because a police officer will state that they observed a traffic infraction, such as speeding or not using a turn signal, or the officer may claim they observed dangerous driving, such as swerving or crossing the center line. Alternatively, the officer may be called to the scene of an accident or encounter a driver with a broken down vehicle. In any event, the state must prove that the person charged was operating, and the that the stop or police encounter was legal. This is the first area that a defense lawyer will look for holes in the state’s case. Was the stop a legal one? Did anyone actually observe the client driving? You should be prepared to review every detail of the initial stop or encounter with the police when you meet with your lawyer.
- THE FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS – The next event to discuss with your lawyer is the field sobriety test. There are many tests that an officer may use at the scene, but the main ones are the Nine-Step Walk and Turn, the One-Leg Stand and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test. These tests must be performed by an officer who has completed certain training courses, and they must be performed in a certain way, especially the HGN test. Your lawyer will need to know every detail you can remember about these tests in order to know if they were performed correctly. The attorney may also choose to depose (or question) the officer in a formal setting to get more details about how the tests were performed and whether the officer followed proper protocol. If the tests were not performed correctly, a court may exclude evidence of the tests or results. Alternatively, if a client passed the tests, that may be used as evidence to prove that the person was not intoxicated at the time of driving the car.
- THE CHEMICAL TEST – The final event is the chemical test. This may be a breathalyzer or a blood draw. In order to offer a chemical test, the officer must read the Implied Consent Law and the officer must have cause to believe the person is intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance. Additionally, the tests must be performed in very specific ways following very strict protocols. If these rules are not followed, the tests may be excluded. This is where a detailed statement from the client and a formal deposition of the officer will be useful for the attorney to find any errors in how these tests were performed.
As you can see, a DUI or OVWI case is much more than just being stopped and arrested. A DUI or OVWI investigation from the stop to arrest can take hours, and a lot can happen during that time. It is important for a defense attorney to review every detail of the stop, investigation and testing to determine if there are any DUI defenses or holes in the state’s case.
Will My DUI or OVWI Case Go To Trial?
Just because you and your attorney may find possible DUI defenses in your case or even just a small issue in the case, that does not necessarily mean that your case will go to trial. Ultimately, the decision to proceed to trial is the client’s, however, it is one that should be made with your lawyer. Not every issue will lead to an acquittal, and there are many ways a mistake by the police can help the case be resolved, either through a trial, or through plea negotiations. Some cases should go to trial, while others are best resolved through an agreement. If there are problems with the state’s case, that may lead to reduced charges or a reduced probation period. Every case is different and there are many factors that determine how a case is resolved. These issues should be discussed with your attorney throughout the case.
Indianapolis DUI and OVWI Attorney
At Chambers Law Office, we represent clients in OVWI and DUI cases throughout central Indiana, including in Marion County, Hamilton, Hancock, Boone, Shelby and Johnson Counties. As a former Marion County deputy prosecutor, Julie Chambers has years of experience in the criminal courts, on both sides of the aisle. If you have questions about an OVWI case or possible DUI defenses, contact Chambers Law Office today to speak with a lawyer at 317-450-2971.