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DUI / DWI Defense

DUI defense is both an art and a science. Attorneys handling these complex cases must be well-versed in human physiology, chemistry, electronics and (to a limited degree) the field of psychometrics [for addressing field sobriety testing matters].

Take breath analyzers. In America, 5 primary devices made by four different manufacturers are in use in the 50 states plus the District of Columbia.   All operate off either infrared spectroscopy or by means of a fuel cell, or both methods of detection/analysis.

There are at least 50 ways to challenge evidence from these machines. DUI/DWI defense attorneys must understand the internal workings of any breath testing device used in your case in order to be able to cross-examine the state's witnesses effectively on the breath machine’s alleged accuracy.

In DUI matters, the "opinion" evidence [about the driver’s alleged ‘impairment’] gathered by police officers typically consists of field or roadside sobriety tests and observations of the way the driver acted, smelled, spoke or walked shortly after being stopped or confronted by the officer. These agility exercises are supposed to indicate that the person suspected of drunk driving was actually impaired or in some way "a less safe driver."  Some appellate courts (e.g., Georgia’s) have allowed convictions to be sustained upon the highly questionable field sobriety evaluations, even when the officer is untrained in proper administration of field evaluations, or is trained, but does them contrary to training or sometimes when every “clue” of possible impairment is equally or more likely to have been caused by some health or medical condition of the driver, not alcohol or drug use.

Recent scientific and scholarly studies have shown that field sobriety tests are not given uniformly or in strict compliance with the “standardized” training that is essential to have any reliability at all.  No scientific basis exists for claiming they are valid indicators of ‘impairment’ versus just being too difficult for many people to master as they stand on the shoulder of a busy highway.  Most officers either require the wrong tests or improperly instruct the suspect on how to perform the tests. An experienced DUI defense attorney can sometimes obtain a pre-trial ruling that the so-called ‘field tests’ and their alleged indication of impairment must be excluded from evidence (or not be characterized as ‘tests’ in front of the jury) due to lack of a true scientific foundation or because the officer gave faulty instructions or failed to demonstrate the way he/she wanted the tests to be performed, or because the officer failed to ask the required screening questions to “qualify” the driver as being a proper test subject.

These are just a few examples of the level of intensive, specialized training and knowledge required in DUI matters. The DWI defense lawyer should leave no stone unturned. These cases require detailed investigation. DUI criminal defense attorneys who do not investigate thoroughly and defend the client aggressively do the client a disservice and expose themselves to possible liability for malpractice. In addition, these poorly-trained lawyers harm the legal profession by failing to fully represent the client in a serious criminal matter that can have devastating, lifelong consequences.

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