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DUI Defenses in Will County, IL

Learn about the most common ways to fight a DUI or DWI charge

The penalties you may face if you are convicted of DUI (driving under the influence) are likely to be severe. If you are looking to fight against a DUI charge, it is important to understand the potential defense strategies that you may be able to use. By crafting a solid defense against these charges, you may be able to convince a prosecutor to reduce or dismiss the charges, avoid having your driver's license suspended, or receive a "not guilty" verdict.

The prosecution must demonstrate that your case meets the requirements to convict you of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are two elements of this offense: 1) you were driving or in control of a vehicle at the time of the alleged offense, and 2) you were unable to operate a vehicle safely because you had consumed alcohol, legal or illegal drugs, or a combination of multiple substances.

You may be able to use a variety of defense strategies to prove one of these two elements wrong. This will prevent the prosecution from convicting you of DUI. In some cases, it may also be possible to prevent the prosecution from introducing evidence at trial, which will reduce their ability to prove their case against you.

The defenses available to DUI defendants can vary depending on where the arrest occurred. Here are some common DUI defense strategies that may be available:

Defenses Related to "Driving"

If you were not actually driving a vehicle at the time of the alleged DUI offense, you cannot be convicted of intoxicated driving. Most DUI cases start with a driver getting pulled over, so there usually is not much argument over whether you were actually driving. However, if a police officer did not actually observe you driving—for example, if the officer approached your idle car while you were behind the wheel in a parking lot—they may have had no basis for arresting you.

Defenses Related to the Arrest

If the police officer did not have a reason to stop your vehicle and/or arrest you — or if the officer did not follow proper procedures when performing an arrest — any evidence that was gathered by the officer may be considered "inadmissible" and, therefore, kept out of a court case against you. This could leave the prosecution with no real case (for example, because roadside breathalyzer results and the arresting officer's testimony could not be used as evidence), and the DUI or DWI charges against you could be dropped.

No Probable Cause to Arrest

If an officer did not have probable cause to pull you over, detain you, or perform an arrest for drunk driving, then you may be able to prevent evidence obtained during your arrest from being used by a prosecutor. For example, if you believe the officer pulled you over because of your race — and not because you committed any traffic violations or showed any signs of intoxication — you may be able to challenge the arrest.

No Miranda Warnings

If you are arrested, a police officer must provide you with Miranda warnings as part of the process. These are the warnings you hear on TV — that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say may be used against you, and that you have the right to be represented by an attorney. If the officer did not provide Miranda warnings or recited them incorrectly, you may be able to exclude certain evidence at trial.

Challenging the Officer's Testimony Regarding Your Behavior

Often, a significant part of the evidence against you in a DUI case will consist of the arresting officer's observations and impressions as to whether or not you were drunk. For example, the officer may testify about the way you were driving (uneven speeds, weaving, crossing the center line, running a red light, or hesitation going through a green light), how you looked and acted once your vehicle was stopped (bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, stumbling), or how you performed on field sobriety tests — like walking in a straight line or reciting the alphabet backwards. If you can provide a reason why the officer's observations may have been wrong, you may be able to defeat the prosecution's case against you.

Introduce Witnesses Who Saw Things Differently

If other people observed your actions and behavior around the time of the traffic stop or arrest, you can introduce them as witnesses in your DUI or DWI case. For example, a witness may testify that:

  • You did not drink anything before you got in the car.
  • You appeared to be sober.
  • You ran a red light because you were distracted by conversation, not because you were drunk.

Offer Valid Explanations for Your Appearance and Behavior

You may be able to counter the officer's conclusion that you were drunk by offering explanations for how you looked or the way you acted. For example:

  • You did not perform well on field sobriety tests because of physical impairments.
  • Your eyes were bloodshot because of lack of sleep, allergies, or wearing contacts.
  • Your speech was slurred because of lack of sleep or medications you take.
  • You did not perform well on field sobriety tests because the instructions were confusing.

Defenses Related to Breath, Blood, Urine, and Saliva Tests

In most states, the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 percent. Anyone who is tested with a BAC above this limit may be charged with DUI. For underage drivers who cannot legally drink alcohol, any amount of alcohol in a person's system may result in DUI charges. After a person is arrested, they will be asked to submit to one or more chemical tests that will measure their blood alcohol content. These tests may be performed on a sample of the person's breath, urine, or blood. The results of chemical tests are likely to be one of the most significant aspects of the prosecution's DUI case against you. If you can successfully challenge the accuracy of chemical tests, the results of these tests may be deemed inadmissible at trial.

Chemical tests may be challenged based on the following factors:

  • Failure to provide necessary warnings or information. If you refuse to submit to chemical testing after being arrested, your driver's license will be subject to an automatic suspension. If arresting officers failed to inform you about this consequence, it may be possible to have the results of a chemical test excluded in court or in a hearing addressing the suspension of your license.
  • Administration of the chemical test. There are certain requirements for how chemical BAC tests must performed. Machines used for testing must also be properly calibrated, and maintenance must be performed regularly. If you can prove that the officers failed to comply with these requirements, that the machine was faulty, or that the technician was not competent, you may be able to get the test results thrown out.
  • Inaccurate test results. There are many factors that can affect the results of chemical BAC tests. Some issues that were not related to alcohol or drug use could cause the results to be inaccurate. However, the accuracy of BAC test results can usually only be challenged by a person who has a technical knowledge of these procedures and legal experience defending against DUI charges. The testimony of a forensic chemist or other expert may be needed in these situations. Examples of conditions that might change the results of the test include:
    • Consumption of food or medication. Most breath testing machines will register any number of chemical compounds in human breath as alcohol, including some types of food and non-impairing drugs or medications. Eating food or taking drugs within certain periods prior to the test may result in a false reading.
    • Delays in the absorption of alcohol. Alcohol will not be fully absorbed into the body until somewhere between 45 minutes and three hours after it was consumed. This means that if you "have one for the road," you may not be legally impaired while driving. That is, a chemical test performed two hours after drinking may show a higher BAC than a test performed 15 minutes after drinking. Since BAC may increase between when you were driving and when police officers performed a chemical test, you may be charged with DUI even if you were not over the legal limit at the time you were driving.

Contact Our Joliet DUI Defense Lawyer

To raise effective defenses against DUI charges, you need a lawyer who understands Illinois law and who knows how to challenge the elements of the prosecution's case against you. At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C., we can help you take the necessary steps to defend against a DUI conviction, and we will fight to protect your rights and make sure you will be able to avoid severe penalties. Contact our firm at 815-740-4025 to arrange a free consultation today.

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