Prosecutors in Florida and around the country usually rely on toxicology evidence to establish intoxication in drunk driving cases, which is why criminal law attorneys often mount defenses based on challenging the validity of blood or breath test results when their clients face DUI charges. However, reading the police report could give rise to other defense strategies. This is because DUI charges may be dismissed even if toxicology evidence is compelling if the police officers involved acted improperly in some way.
Unreasonable search and seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects Florida residents from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the courts have consistently ruled that police officers cannot pull vehicles over without a valid reason. Suspicion alone does not meet this standard. If police reports do not indicate that the vehicle involved was observed committing a traffic violation or another crime, defense attorneys may seek to have drunk driving charges dismissed.
Police officers are required to follow strict protocols when administering breath tests, and records pertaining to blood draws must show a clear chain of custody. When these procedures are not followed, the evidence gathered may not be admissible in court. In some cases, defense attorneys may argue that their client’s blood alcohol concentration was below.08% when their vehicle was pulled over but had risen to a level above this threshold by the time they were tested.
Affirmative DUI defenses
In rare cases, attorneys with DUI defense experience may mount affirmative defenses in drunk driving cases. An affirmative defense accepts the underlying facts but disputes criminal liability. Attorneys may mount an affirmative defense if their clients were under duress, got behind the wheel after drinking to prevent a greater evil or consumed alcohol or some other intoxicating substance unwittingly.