If you were charged with a DUI this Thanksgiving, you’re not definitely not alone.
Since Thanksgiving is such a busy weekend for travel and parties, police ramp up efforts every year, heavily patrolling streets and highways for drunk drivers. This year, officers in Evanston and Morton Grove monitored seat belt use and enforced sober driving. The Illinois State Police increased patrols Wednesday through Sunday on interstates and major highways to look for drivers who were speeding, distracted, not wearing seatbelts or inebriated.
Why? Because Thanksgiving is known to be a holiday with numerous fatalities related to alcohol. In a 2014 report, over 26 percent of fatal Thanksgiving weekend crashes in Illinois were related to alcohol. People drink on the day of the meal itself. They drink when meeting up with friends and family members over the weekend that follows the holiday. Perhaps worst of all, they drink on Blackout Wednesday.
This relatively new “holiday” has been gaining in popularity in recent years as a night of partying and binge drinking before the big meal. It is particularly popular around colleges and with people coming home after having not seen friends for long periods.
So cops take to the roads in force. In November 2016, police in Riverside arrested two men on charges of drunk driving. They were each driving at least 20 mph over the speed limit, drifting between lanes, and driving with an open container in the vehicle. Both men failed their field sobriety tests. The police chief stated that the men had been celebrating Thanksgiving with others and drove home while intoxicated, continuing to drink while they drove.
If you were arrested over the holiday, don’t make the mistake of thinking that sentencing is inevitable. Many defenses may work in your situation, and an experienced Chicago DUI attorney can explain which defenses are likely to help you the most. Here are several possible strategies that might help you to reduce or eliminate your penalties.
Defenses Involving Police Mistakes
The police don’t always perform their duties according to the law, and you may be able to avoid charges if you can prove that they didn’t do their job correctly. Stop potential mistakes include:
You were stopped for no valid reason. The officer did not have probable cause but stopped you anyway.
The field test is inaccurate. An officer must properly administer a field test or the results can be discarded. Also, certain individuals may be unable to perform tests accurately whether sober or intoxicated. Those who are elderly, significantly overweight, or injured, for example, may not be able to successfully navigate the one-leg stand test.
The officer did not follow breathalyzer protocol. A breath test operator is required to hold a current, valid license. If this is not the case, you may have a good defense.
The officer did not read your rights. If you were not read your Miranda rights at the time of arrest, the officer’s testimony may be left out of the evidence report.
Defenses Involving Testing Equipment
The equipment that police use to test for drunk driving is notoriously inaccurate. Here are some ways it can fail.
The breathalyzer test was inaccurate. This may be due to several factors, like improper calibration or administration, interference from other chemicals like mouthwash or medications, or bodily functions like burping or vomiting. Many factors can throw off a breathalyzer’s ability to make an accurate report.
The blood test was compromised. If the blood was stored improperly or tainted in transit, the test results can be dismissed.
Defenses Involving Evidence
The police may produce evidence to try to convict you, but that doesn’t mean the evidence supports the case against you, as in these examples.
You became intoxicated without knowledge. At a party, someone poured vodka into the punch, but you didn’t know it contained alcohol when you drank it.
Your prescription medication hadn’t worn off. You thought you were safe to drive, but the medicine was still lingering in your system.
Your blood alcohol test was inaccurate. At the traffic stop, your blood alcohol concentration was legal, but as your body absorbed more alcohol, the level rose above legal limits when you were given a breath test.
A dental device caused false results. Alcohol may have gotten trapped under your bridgework or dentures, which caused an elevated breath test result.
Defenses Involving Assent
Perhaps you are willing to admit that you were intoxicated, but the circumstances contributed to the situation, as in these cases.
Drunk driving was necessitated. For example, you were the only one available to drive a critically ill relative to the hospital – even though you were intoxicated.
You operated under duress. Someone forced you to drive under a severe threat if you didn’t comply.
Which type of defense is most likely to help will depend upon the specifics of your situation. A knowledgeable attorney can build a solid defense for your drunk driving charges. Get in touch for a free consultation today.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.