Driving drunk is not a light matter. Nearly 750 Floridians died due to car accidents involving alcohol and drugs in 2020 alone.
That’s why prosecutors and police officers take DUIs so seriously. Yet they can be a little too zealous. Many innocent people get arrested and charged with DUIs, often due to aggressive tactics.
If you’re arrested for a DUI, you may feel helpless. But you can fight back once you know how to throw out pieces of evidence.
What is evidence that is never admissible in a trial? How can you contest breathalyzer and field sobriety test results? Can you throw out clips from dashboard cameras?
Answer these questions and you can clear your name of a DUI charge in no time. Here is your quick guide.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree
“Fruit of the poisonous tree” refers to any evidence that is obtained illegally. Even if the evidence is incriminating, a prosecutor cannot bring it up in a trial.
In order to stop you and search your vehicle during a traffic stop, a police officer must have probable cause. They must witness you swerving on the road or looking intoxicated. If they don’t have probable cause, your lawyer can point that out and ask to suppress evidence from the traffic stop.
DUI checkpoints are legal in the state of Florida. But officers must follow several rules, including the “three-minute rule.” If officers detain you for more than three minutes and hold up traffic, your lawyer can argue that the checkpoint itself is unreasonable and inadmissible.
A police officer must have a warrant in order to search you. They cannot pat you down unless they believe they have a weapon on you. Even if the officer discovers alcohol or drugs on you, your lawyer can ask to remove the evidence obtained without a warrant.
If you are arrested for DUI, an officer must read you your rights. Once you invoke your right to silence and ask for an attorney, they must stop asking you questions. If they fail to read your rights or if they do not respect your rights, the DUI evidence can get thrown out.
All evidence that a prosecutor will use in a DUI case must be available to the defense. If prosecutors or police officers fail to hand over the evidence, your lawyer can motion to have the case thrown out.
Hearsay is evidence from a witness who is describing what someone said to them outside of court. A prosecutor may call a witness who testifies that someone told them that you were driving drunk. This is inadmissible, as all witnesses must be present in court for a jury to examine what they said.
There are exceptions to the hearsay rule. If you said something under the stress of the moment, a witness can testify to what you said. But your lawyer can call into question how stressed you were and argue against its relevance.
Faulty Breathalyzer Tests
Many DUI cases hinge on breathalyzer evidence. Though breathalyzers are usually reliable, they are not perfect.
Medications can skew results, and rare medical conditions can lead to false readings. Diabetes can result in the production of ketones, which are waste substances that the liver produces. Ketones can linger in the breath and trigger a high reading on a breathalyzer test.
Officers must follow very specific rules for breathalyzer tests. The test must be given in a “reasonable time” after you are pulled over.
Your blood alcohol content can rise for up to an hour and reach levels above the state limit. If your test was given an hour later, your lawyer can point this out and tell the judge the evidence is invalid.
Your lawyer can also examine the machine itself. A poorly maintained machine may produce false readings. The officers may not have cleaned the machine properly, leaving alcohol residue inside that resulted in a high reading.
Improper Field Sobriety Tests
You can refuse a breathalyzer test, but your license will be suspended. Yet you can refuse all field sobriety tests without any legal penalties.
Even if an officer demands that you perform a test, you can decline to do so. If you perform tests under a threat of violence, your lawyer can tell a judge about that and get the evidence thrown out.
Many field sobriety tests are difficult for sober people to perform. You may have difficulty with your balance or coordination, causing you to fall over during a test. During the test, you may get anxious or confused, causing you to fail.
Incomplete and Inaccurate Evidence
Prosecutors like to use dashboard footage to establish probable cause and show that evidence was obtained legally. They often use a snippet to show a driver swerving or not answering questions coherently.
This evidence is selective. Your lawyer can play the entire tape and show that you were driving fine and answering other questions well.
Your lawyer can also argue that the jury needs to see the entire tape from start to finish. If they cannot, the snippet should be thrown out for being selective.
How to Throw Out DUI Evidence
A DUI arrest may not lead to a conviction. Illegally obtained evidence is always inadmissible. Most forms of hearsay evidence are inadmissible, and any hearsay evidence brought up in court can be challenged.
Breathalyzer tests can be imperfect, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition like diabetes. You can refuse field sobriety tests outright, and you can point out that dashboard footage has been selectively edited.
The best way to fight against DUI evidence is to hire a lawyer. RHINO Lawyers helps DUI defendants throughout Florida. Contact us today.
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