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Can breath test results be found inadmissiable at a DUI trial?

Many drunk driving arrests begin as traffic stops, with a police officer pulling over a car for reasons such as erratic driving or observed violations of one or more traffic laws. In a recent example, however, an alleged drunk driver brought the attention on himself.

Specifically, a 31-year-old man recently crashed into a Fairfax County Police cruiser while driving on Richmond Highway. According to the police officer, the man appeared unsteady after exiting his car. That observation, coupled with smelling alcohol on the man’s breath, prompted the officer to administer a field sobriety test.

The driver did not pass the field sobriety test, as the officer arrested him on the scene for driving under the influence.  The traffic offense of failing to yield the right of way was also included in the arrest charges, along with a refusal charge.

When clients facing a DUI charge reach out to our office, our attorneys begin their legal defense preparations with a review of the traffic stop. Before making a DUI arrest, an officer generally must have probable cause. That standard requires evidence to support a reasonable suspicion of intoxication, such as a driver’s inability to perform field sobriety tests like standing on one leg, walking in a straight line, or other physical and/or mental coordination exercises.

If an officer did not have probable cause for the arrest, an attorney might be able to move the court to rule that any breath test results are inadmissible. Without such evidence, the prosecution likely would be unable to meet its burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt regarding the DUI charge. There may also be options for negotiating with prosecutors for a better outcome.  Check out our criminal defense law firm to learn more about our DUI defense practice.

Source: WJLA, “Va. man crashes into police cruiser in Fairfax Co.; arrested for DWI,” March 7, 2017

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