Two recent cases outside Florida show that a charge of DUI in Miami can be beaten with an aggressive defense strategy.
In Philadelphia, a lawmaker who was arrested in April and charged with DUI had evidence suppressed after a judge ruled that the police officers' credibility was called into question. The state is appealing the ruling.
In a California case, a man's DUI charge was dropped after it was shown that police officers who may the initial stop didn't have probable cause to do so.
Miami DUI defense lawyers have seen many cases where police officers have little evidence to prove the charges and yet they make an arrest anyway. Prosecutors push cases through and they can only be stopped with the experience and knowledge of an attorney.
In both these cases, justice was done. As the holidays get closer, police will be stepping up their patrols, doing DUI checkpoints where they seek to spot drivers who may be intoxicated. This will lead to many arrests, many of them that may have less than credible proof that a crime has been committed.
In any DUI case, many things should be challenged by the defense. This includes field sobriety testing -- the walk-and-stand, the one-leg stand and following a light from side to side. Many officers lack the training to perform these tests and determine when they are failed.
Breath testing is another area that must be explored. In Florida, the only breathalyzer used is the Intoxilyzer 8000 and it has come under attack by lawyers statewide because of known problems with its calibration and the results it spits out. Many cases in the Sarasota area have been tossed because of bad results.
A third area is the initial traffic stop. Police must have probable cause to make a traffic stop. This can include if the driver is speed, swerving, improperly changed lanes, ran a red light or stop sign or other traffic infractions. Without a good reason to stop a car, a police officer's case may fall apart.
That's what happened in Santa Barbara, California recently. A defendant, a local newspaper reporter, was pulled over after he stayed at a green light for three to five seconds. The officer pulled beside the car and flashed his flashlight inside the car and the man looked at him, looked down and then drove off. The officer followed and made the stop.
After taking a breath test that read 0.09, he was charged with DUI. But a judge recently dismissed the case after it was proven that in other states, DUI cases have been dropped when a person stayed at a green light for up to 60 seconds.
What adds to the intrigue of this story, as reported by the Santa Barbara Independent, is that the journalist had written several in-depth articles about his arresting officer, including how she has a past criminal record, her finances, marriage and police work. Officials said the reporter's articles had nothing to do with the dismissal.
In Pennsylvania, ethical questions surround a judge who recently suppressed evidence against a lawmaker. At issue was the fact that the defendant said she had one chocolate martini on the April night she was arrested for allegedly driving the wrong way down a street in Philadelphia.
She said officers made up the story of her driving the wrong way in order to stop her. A judge ruled that any evidence against her should be dismissed after finding the police officers not credible. Interestingly, a breath test result showing she had a 0.16 blood-alcohol level -- twice the state's limit -- wasn't admitted because the district attorney there began reviewing cases in May involving breath test machines that was shown to be improperly calibrated.
But the state has appealed the ruling after it was found that the judge and lawmaker -- who each have well over 1,500 friends on Facebook -- are friends on the social media site. They are claiming that it is improper for the judge to rule on her case.
Miami Criminal Defense Attorney A. Antonio Tomas offers a free consultation to individuals dealing with criminal charges, including domestic violence, drug charges and DUI in Miami-Dade. Call 305-648-1040.
Judge, defendant Facebook friends; Pa. seeks reversal, by Troy Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer
Judge Throws Out Lance DUI Case, by Chris Meagher, Santa Barbara Independent