Skip to Content

10 Defenses to a DUI Charge


Driving under alcohol or drugs can lead to serious legal consequences. If you're arrested for DUI, you could face fines, imprisonment, license suspension, and a criminal record that can haunt you for years. However, not all DUI charges result in conviction. There are several defenses that a skilled DUI lawyer can use to challenge the prosecution's case and protect your rights.

1. Lack of Probable Cause

One of the most common defenses to a DUI charge is a lack of probable cause. This means that the police officer who stopped you had no valid reason to suspect that you were driving under the influence. For example, if the officer pulled you over for a broken taillight but later claimed that you were swerving on the road, you could argue that the stop was unlawful and that any evidence obtained should be suppressed.

2. Improper Stop or Arrest

Even if the officer had probable cause to stop you, they must follow specific procedures when conducting the stop and arrest. If the officer violated your rights during the arrest or failed to read you your Miranda rights, any evidence obtained after the violation may be inadmissible in court.

3. Lack of Chemical Test Results

A chemical test is often used to confirm if a driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, these tests are not always accurate and can produce false positives. If you can prove that the test results were unreliable, you may be able to challenge the prosecution's case.

4. Medical Conditions or Side Effects

Certain medical conditions or medications can produce symptoms that mimic the effects of impairment. For example, diabetes, vertigo, or sleep apnea can cause dizziness, confusion, and fatigue, which may be mistaken for drunkenness. If you have a valid medical condition or were taking medication as prescribed, you may be able to argue that you were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

5. Rising Blood Alcohol Content

Alcohol takes time to absorb in the body, and its concentration can peak hours after consumption. If you were stopped shortly after drinking, your BAC may have been lower than the legal limit but higher later when you were tested. Your lawyer can use this fact to argue that you were not drunk while driving but became so afterward.

6. Field Sobriety Test Inaccuracy

Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) are physical or cognitive tests that police use to evaluate a driver's sobriety. However, these tests are not always reliable and can produce false positives. For example, if you have a mobility issue, poor balance, or cognitive impairment, you may fail an FST even if you're sober.

7. Unreliable Police Witness Testimony

Police officers are human and can make mistakes or exaggerate their observations during a DUI arrest. If you can show that the officer's testimony was misleading, incomplete, or inaccurate, you may be able to cast doubt on the prosecution's case.

8. Faulty Breathalyzer Test Equipment

Breathalyzer tests are among the most common methods to detect alcohol in a driver's breath. However, these machines can produce false readings if incorrectly calibrated or maintained. Your lawyer can request records of the device's accuracy checks and maintenance history to determine if the breath test results are reliable.

9. Improper Handling of Blood Samples

If your BAC was obtained through a blood test, the prosecution must show that the sample was handled properly to prevent contamination, mislabeling, or tampering. Any deviation from the standard procedures could affect the accuracy of the results.

10. No Actual Physical Control

Even if you were in the driver's seat of a parked car and had the keys in your possession, you may not be guilty of DUI if you were not driving or intending to drive. Proving that you had no intention or ability to operate the vehicle can be a powerful defense to a DUI charge.

Coastal Virginia DUI Defense Attorneys

In conclusion, understanding the ten defenses to a DUI charge can be instrumental in fighting against the charges. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, it is essential to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system. Tillotson & Martin, LLC is here to help. Contact us today at (757) 568-7978 to learn more about our DUI defense services.