Two Ways of Fighting A DUI/DWI Charge in Denton County
There are a number of ways to fight a DUI/DWI charge in court, but this blog will discuss two of them: burden of proof and police mistakes.
Burden of Proof:
If you end up taking your DUI/DWI charge to trial, the jury will be instructed as to which elements the prosecution must have proven in order for you to be convicted. For most driving-substance related crimes, the prosecution must prove that the following: (1) the defendant was intoxicated (2) while operating (3) a motor vehicle (4) in a public place. In every court case, the State has a burden of proof which must be met. For most criminal cases, the State meets its burden of proof by proving each and every one of the required elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
DUI/DWI charges, as well as other driving-substance related crimes, are complex and every element of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Effective and experienced DUI/DWI attorneys, like those at the Peugh Law Firm, will examine each element of the crime charged and ensure that the State proves each and every element beyond a reasonable doubt. The instructions to the jury on this point are very specific and clear; if the State is not able to prove every one of the elements of the crime, the charge can be dismissed, or you will be found not guilty of the crime.
Being charged with a DUI/DWI, does not mean you are guilty of the crime. There are numerous laws, policies, and procedures, that govern the actions of law enforcement and mistakes, errors, or misunderstandings in these policies may help in winning your case. The following are some common law enforcement mistakes in DUI/DWI cases:
Improper Stops: Your DUI/DWI charge cannot be based on an improper stop. The following are common examples of improper stops.
- Tips or anonymous calls: For most DUI/DWI cases, an officer cannot stop you based solely on an anonymous call. The officer must actually observe an actual violation of the law before the stop is legal or the complaining witness must testify at trial.
- Mistake of Law: Even if law enforcement makes a valid traffic stop, a defense to the traffic violation may be that you were mistaken about the law.
- Weaving in Lane: This observation alone is never a proper basis for stopping a vehicle. No car drives completely straight and there are various reasons a driver may drift or weave within a lane.
Improper Arrests: If your DUI/DWI arrest was improper, the charge may be dismissed, or you may be found not guilty at trial. The following are common examples of improper arrests:
- Bad Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs): The roadside tests drivers are subject to during a DUI/DWI stop are a tool used by law enforcement to make an arrest decision. The tests have specific rules and observations in order for the tests to be considered proper. If they are not followed, then any conclusion based on the test would be improper, as the test itself was compromised.
- Weather: Inclement weather can affect driving observations and performance on SFSTs. Failure by law enforcement to consider this factor can affect the credibility of the arrest. For example, administering the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test in the rain can cause the eyes to jerk due to raindrops hitting the eye or light reflecting off the droplets.
- Medical-Physical Conditions: There are numerous physical and medical conditions that can impact a person’s behavior and performance during SFSTs. These issues should be considered and factored into an officer’s arrest decision. If they are not considered, the arrest is improper.
- Illegal Extension of Stop: Once an officer has completed the initial stop, such as speeding or failure to yield, he or she should terminate the contact and allow you to leave unless there is a demonstrable reason to continue the detention. For instance, if you are stopped for speeding, you should receive a ticket and be allowed to leave unless there is a clearly articulated reason to extend the stop.
- Private Property: A DUI/DWI arrest is generally improper if you are on private property. It should be noted, however, that recent case law allows officers to make an arrest within a gated community if he or she is able to enter the community legally.
- Videos that Fail to Support Arrest Report: Law enforcement agencies often use video monitoring. Videos sometimes fail to support the arrest decision or may show facts which differ from those articulated in the police report.
Still have questions? Contact the Peugh Law Firm today to find out how we can help you! Free consultations available.