Approach to Defending a DUI/DWI Charge

Our DUI defense strategy consists of three main aspects: 1) determination of probable cause, 2) validity of the field sobriety test (FST), and 3) examination of blood, breath, and urine tests.

First, we examine your case to determine whether or not the police had probable cause to stop you in the first place. Police may only stop you if there is reasonable belief that a crime has been committed. This includes traffic violations, such as failure to yield, speeding, and changing lanes without signaling. Most dismissals result from a failure to establish probable cause or unlawful detentions. Therefore, we examine your case in detail to determine if there was sufficient probable cause, or if there was an illegitimate pretext for the stop or detention.

The second aspect of a DUI defense is a thorough examination of the field sobriety test (FST). There are several factors to take into consideration when examining the validity of the FST. For instance, it is necessary to consider factors such as, the time of day, weather, and road conditions. These factors can have a serious impact on the quality, and validity of the field sobriety test. These tests are not conclusive, can be attacked based on the administration and sophistication in which they were performed by the officer, and even the most experienced officer can and does make mistakes.

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has approved only three standardized tests for determining whether there is probable cause to arrest a person for driving under the influence: 1) “The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test”, 2) “The Walk and Turn Test”, and 3) “The One-Leg Stand Test.” All three tests have been highly criticized and can be attacked in court. Moreover the FST’s, standing alone, are not sufficient for a conviction of driving under the influence.

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test: involves observation of the suspect’s pupil as it follows a moving object. It takes into consideration: 1) lack of smooth pursuit, 2) a distinct and sustained nystagmus at maximum deviation, and 3) the onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. If, between the two eyes, four or more clues appear, the suspect likely has a BAC of 0.08 or greater.
  • Walk and Turn Test: In the Walk-and-Turn test, the subject is directed to take nine steps, heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the suspect must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction. The examiner looks for eight indicators of impairment: if the suspect cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions, begins before the instructions are finished, stops while walking to regain balance, does not touch heel-to-toe, steps off the line, uses arms to balance, makes an improper turn, or takes an incorrect number of steps.
  • One-Leg Stand Test: In the One-Leg Stand test, the suspect is instructed to stand with one foot approximately six inches off the ground and count aloud by thousands (One thousand-one, one thousand-two, etc.) until told to put the foot down. The officer times the subject for 30 seconds. The officer looks for four indicators of impairment, including swaying while balancing, using arms to balance, hopping to maintain balance, and putting the foot down.

The third aspect is a determination of the accuracy and validity of the blood, breath, or urine tests. As with the previous aspects of your DUI Defense, there are several factors to consider. The consumption of food, effects of other chemicals in the body, the time difference between the stop and when the test was given, and even gender are all significant factors that can produce a higher BAC then you actually had at the time of driving. These are only a few factors that an experienced DUI attorney will take into account when examining your DUI defense.

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Rice & Rice, Attorneys at Law

3800 Orange Street, Suite 280 Riverside,CA 92501 Phone: 951-683-2297 Fax: 866-702-4011

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