Exploring Your Chances of Getting a DUI Charge Dropped: Factors to Consider
By Space Coast Daily // May 11, 2023
If you are facing a DUI charge, one of the most pressing questions on your mind may be whether there is any chance of getting the charge dropped.
While every case is unique and the outcome will depend on a variety of factors, certain things can increase your chances of having the charge dismissed.
In this article, we will explore the factors that can impact your chances of getting a DUI charge dropped. We will look at things like the strength of the evidence against you, the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and the experience and skill of your defense attorney. By understanding these factors, you can be better informed about your case and the options available to you.
What is DUI?
DUI, or driving under the influence, is a criminal act where an individual operates a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. A driver may be charged with a DUI offense if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is above the legal limit set by the state. DUI is a serious offense that can result in hefty fines, jail time, and license suspension.
Types of DUI Charges
There are different types of DUI charges, including:
Standard DUI: This is the most common type of DUI charge, which involves driving with a BAC level above the legal limit.
Aggravated DUI: This charge may apply in cases where a driver causes bodily harm, property damage, or death while driving under the influence.
Underage DUI: This charge applies to individuals under the legal drinking age who operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system.
Commercial DUI: This charge applies to individuals who operate commercial vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Consequences of DUI Conviction
A DUI conviction can result in serious consequences, including:
- Jail time
- Fines and court fees
- License suspension
- Ignition interlock device requirement
- Community service
- Mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs
- Increased insurance premiums
- Permanent criminal record
How Can a DUI Charge be Dropped?
There are several ways to get a DUI charge dropped, including:
- Lack of probable cause for the traffic stop
- Inaccurate or unreliable BAC testing equipment
- Improper administration of field sobriety tests
- Violations of the driver’s constitutional rights
- Lack of sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
Factors that Affect DUI Charge
Several factors can affect the outcome of a DUI charge, including:
- Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level at the time of the offense
- Prior DUI convictions
- Presence of aggravating factors, such as property damage, injury, or death
- Performance on field sobriety tests
- Cooperation with law enforcement officers.
Factors that Influence DUI Charges
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Level
The level of alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream is a critical factor in determining DUI charges. Most states have set the legal BAC limit at 0.08%. If a driver’s BAC level is higher than the legal limit, they may face DUI charges. Higher BAC levels can result in more severe penalties, such as longer license suspensions, higher fines, and longer jail sentences.
Field Sobriety Test Results
Field sobriety tests are used by law enforcement officers to assess a driver’s physical and cognitive abilities. These tests may include tasks like standing on one leg or walking in a straight line. If a driver fails a field sobriety test, the officer may have probable cause to make an arrest and charge the driver with a DUI offense. However, field sobriety test results can be challenged in court if there is evidence of improper administration or other factors that may have affected the driver’s performance.
Breathalyzer Test Results
Breathalyzer tests are used to measure a driver’s BAC level through their breath. If a driver’s BAC level is above the legal limit, they may face DUI charges. However, breathalyzer test results can also be challenged in court if there is evidence of improper administration or calibration of the device.
Previous DUI Convictions
Previous DUI convictions can have a significant impact on the outcome of a new DUI charge. Individuals who repeatedly commit DUI offenses may face more severe consequences, including lengthier jail terms, increased fines, and prolonged driver’s license suspensions.
In some states, repeat offenders may also face mandatory ignition interlock device requirements or other restrictions on their driving privileges.
Presence of Aggravating Factors
The presence of aggravating factors, such as property damage, injury, or death, can also affect the severity of DUI charges. In cases where a driver causes harm to another person or property, they may face additional charges, such as vehicular manslaughter or reckless driving. Aggravating factors can result in longer jail sentences, higher fines, and other serious consequences.
Strategies to Help Get a DUI Charge Dropped
Hire a DUI Lawyer
One of the most effective strategies to get a DUI charge dropped is to hire an experienced DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer can review the evidence, challenge the prosecution’s case, and negotiate with the prosecutor for a reduced charge or dismissal. A DUI lawyer can also ensure that the driver’s rights are protected and that all legal procedures are followed correctly.
Review the Police Report
Reviewing the police report can provide valuable information that can be used to challenge the prosecution’s case. The police report may contain errors, inconsistencies, or other issues that can be used to undermine the credibility of the arresting officer or the prosecution’s case.
Challenge the Evidence
Challenging the evidence is a common strategy used to get DUI charges dropped. This may involve challenging the results of field sobriety tests, breathalyzer tests, or blood tests. A DUI lawyer may challenge the accuracy of the testing equipment, the qualifications of the testing personnel, or other factors that may have affected the results.
Negotiate a Plea Bargain
Negotiating a plea bargain may be an effective strategy to get a DUI charge dropped. This involves negotiating with the prosecutor for a reduced charge or sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. In some cases, a plea bargain may be the best option to avoid a harsher sentence or a conviction on the original charge. It’s worth noting that plea bargaining is a contentious issue in the legal community, with some arguing that it represents judicial activism, as prosecutors and defense attorneys essentially negotiate the outcome of a case outside the purview of the court. On the other hand, others view plea bargaining as a necessary form of judicial restraint, allowing courts to manage their caseloads and allocate resources more efficiently.
Attend Alcohol Education Programs
Attending alcohol education programs can show the court that the driver is taking responsibility for their actions and is committed to making changes in their behavior.
This may be taken into account when determining the severity of the sentence or whether to drop the charges altogether. Alcohol education programs may also be a requirement for reinstating a driver’s license after a DUI conviction.