Every year, millions of Americans get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol — according to survey data, nearly 18% of the population reported having driven while intoxicated at one time or another. And every year, hundreds of thousands are charged with a criminal offense for doing so.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a common traffic crime, but it is one that can be met with serious penalties. And when an individual is pulled over and found to be over the legal blood alcohol limit of .08 the case can seem open and shut.
The legal system requires that those charged with a crime enter a guilty or a not-guilty plea, and a guilty plea can, in some cases, reduce the punishment for the offense. But does it always make sense to enter a guilty plea in DUI cases, or is it sometimes worthwhile to fight the charges?
Below, we outline three reasons why fighting DUI charges may be in your interest.
1. A Conviction Can Have Serious Repercussions
When it comes to DUI charges, even a first offense with no prior record can lead to an automatic license suspension, fines, or jail time, substantially impacting your ability to maintain employment.
Being convicted of a DUI offense will also leave you with a permanent criminal record that can haunt you for years to come, making it harder to find work, travel, and volunteer.
Fighting charges won’t guarantee that you win your case, but it is worth consulting with experienced criminal defense attorneys to explore your options.
2. The Charges May Be Due to Error
Police officers rely on equipment such as breathalyzers to determine your blood alcohol level. Like any other sensitive tool, this equipment doesn’t always work as it is supposed to and can lead to false results.
With the help of a criminal lawyer specializing in DUI charges who is dedicated to winning the toughest cases will try to determine whether the equipment was malfunctioning by asking questions like:
- Was the device used legally approved?
- Was the device properly maintained and used as directed by the manufacturer?
- When did the police administer the test?
If you believe you’ve been charged unjustly, it may be due to faulty equipment.
3. Your Rights May Have Been Violated
In a democratic society, the police cannot simply arrest anyone they want to: there is a process that must be followed, and law enforcement officers are legally required to respect the civil rights of the people they interact with.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. When police fail to abide by the law when making an arrest or administering a breathalyzer, the defense can argue that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated and that the case must be thrown out of court.
No one wants to find themselves convicted of a serious crime like impaired driving, and before deciding whether to plead guilty or not guilty, it is essential to get legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. Not only will it help you defend your civil rights, it may also lead to a complete exoneration. At the very least, it will give you a chance to present your side of the story.