The defense against charges of drunk driving begins well before trial, and includes gathering information through informal and formal means. What the defense attorney learns during pretrial preparation becomes important in determining what approaches to use when defending his client once the trial begins. This post covers some of the different strategies that your defense attorney may use on your behalf if you have been accused of a drunk driving offense.
Challenges to field sobriety tests usually take one of two forms: questioning whether the officer properly instructed the defendant before administering the test, and raising doubts about whether the officer properly administered the test itself. If the officer’s instructions can be made to seem ambiguous or confusing, or if the jury believes that the officer rushed through the tests or otherwise did not administer them fairly or consistently, this opens an avenue for reasonable doubt that can lead to an acquittal in a criminal prosecution.
Were there any problems with the police investigation and observations? It can benefit the defense to call upon and reinforce the jury’s preconceptions and personal experiences related to drinking and driving by offering alternative explanations to what the police officer’s observations were. Many people have drank alcohol before driving without believing that they were impaired at that time; others may have their own ideas about how difficult it can be to perform field sobriety tests, even when sober.
A defense attorney may also attempt to show that some behaviors that the officer relied upon as the basis of reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop have more innocent possible explanations. There can be reasons other than alcohol for why a driver may be weaving in his lane, or driving slowly, or making sharp or wide turns, some of which the jurors may be familiar with.
The upshot of these and other trial defense techniques is to provide enough questions for the jury to ponder about the officer’s conduct, the investigation, the methodology used to determine that the defendant was intoxicated and the technology used so that the at least some of the jurors will harbor doubts about whether the prosecution has in fact proved its case. An experienced Florida drunk driving defense attorney will be able to offer many such opportunities for doubts to arise.