Available 24/7 Free Consultation

5 DUI Arrest Mistakes Police Make

Request Your Free Consultation
5 DUI Arrest Mistakes Police Make

An arrest for driving under the influence (DUI) can leave you frightened and confused. Police officers are human, however, and it may help you to know that they can make mistakes, throwing doubt on the legitimacy of your arrest, your potential charges, and the outcome of your case.

These common errors may arise before, during, and after a DUI arrest. These mistakes can influence how you proceed with your case.

Police officers make common DUI arrest mistakes, such as not following procedures, misinterpreting field sobriety test results, or incorrectly administering Breathalyzer tests. 

Learning about these possible errors can help you understand your legal rights. If you face DUI charges and suspect the police made a mistake, the potential consequences could profoundly influence your DUI case. 

Knowledge is power, and understanding what can go wrong will help you protect your rights.

A DUI defense lawyer can identify law and procedure violations, recognize police mistakes, represent you throughout the process, and challenge the resulting charges or evidence.

The Timeline of a DUI Arrest

DUI arrest typically begins when a law enforcement officer pulls over a motorist for suspicious driving behavior or a traffic violation. The officer may suspect intoxication due to the motorist’s driving pattern, the smell of alcohol, or visible signs of impairment while communicating with or observing the individual.

A suspicious police officer may choose to conduct field sobriety and Breathalyzer tests to determine if the driver is intoxicated. If the results suggest the driver is under the influence of a substance, the police officer will make an arrest.

Assert your legal rights during a DUI arrest. That includes your right to decline a field sobriety test. While this may raise the officer’s suspicions further, you do not need to incriminate yourself. (Many state laws require an individual’s automatic arrest after refusal to cooperate in this situation.) You also have the right to call an attorney.

If the police violate these basic rights during your arrest, these mistakes could change the outcome of your case.

The Constitution grants you protection, and violations of your legal rights are grounds for defense. Identifying these rights violations and understanding their influence on your DUI case, however, requires a DUI lawyer.

During the chaos and confusion of a DUI arrest, you may not notice if, how, or when the officer violates your rights. Choosing an experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate your case and the events leading up to and following an arrest to determine whether the officer’s actions caused any legal issues.

Common Mistakes the Police Make During DUI Arrests

Police officers can make errors at various points during a DUI arrest. Many of these mistakes stem from inadequate or improper training, failure to follow proper arrest procedures, misinterpretation of field sobriety test results, or the improper administration of Breathalyzer tests.

A lawyer’s detailed knowledge of these common mistakes will allow them to recognize potential grounds for defense.

Inadequate or Improper Training

Inadequate or improper law enforcement training can lead to unintended errors in DUI arrests. Proper training ensures that officers handle situations appropriately, accurately identify signs of intoxication, and reliably and legally administer sobriety and Breathalyzer tests. 

Insufficient training can result in mistakes that may jeopardize the arrest’s validity. If you believe police made errors during your DUI arrest, you may challenge the charges against you.

Improper training can lead to significant errors, such as the failure to recognize signs of impairment or the incorrect administration and interpretation of test results. Such mistakes can lead to inaccurate conclusions and, ultimately, unjust arrests.

An inadequately trained officer, for example, may mistakenly identify a person’s medical condition or physical disability as a sign of intoxication. Insufficient training may cause an officer to administer a field sobriety or Breathalyzer test incorrectly, leading to unreliable or inaccurate results.

These errors can have dire consequences, leading to false arrests and charges. Recognizing these potential frailties in a DUI case can help you build a strong and effective defense.

Call a DUI attorney immediately after your DUI arrest. They will scrutinize your case and its circumstances, examining the officer’s actions for potential signs of inadequate training.

Failure to Follow Proper Arrest Procedures

There is a legal framework for DUI arrests that officers must adhere to. This structure ensures they uphold the law, respect an individual’s rights, and maintain evidence integrity.

Failure to abide by these procedures can lead to legal ramifications, potentially undermining the arrest process. If you are the subject of an improper arrest, you may challenge the charges and evidence resulting from that arrest.

Before an arrest can take place, a police officer should have reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence of a substance and perform a traffic stop. After assessing the situation, the officer may decide to conduct a field sobriety or Breathalyzer test if their observations give them reason to believe the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Once they decide to make an arrest, the officer must read the suspect’s Miranda rights. If the driver refuses the Breathalyzer or fails the test, the officer should issue a notice of intention to suspend the driver’s license. The arresting officer must follow these steps precisely, as any deviation may lead to legal issues that you can use in your defense.

Failure to follow these procedures can lead to severe consequences. If officers do not adhere to the correct protocol, for example, the court may throw out evidence they gather during the arrest, such as field sobriety and Breathalyzer test results. Without this critical evidence, the court may dismiss all charges against you. 

If an officer fails to read your Miranda rights, they might not admit your statements as evidence, possibly leading to a dismissal or reduction of charges against you.

Misinterpretation of Field Sobriety Test Results

Police often determine driver impairment through field sobriety tests. The officer’s interpretation and other factors can influence the result’s accuracy.

Field sobriety tests typically consist of three assessments: the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand. These tests look for impairment in balance, attention, and eye movement, which can indicate alcohol or drugs in the person’s system. A wide range of factors can influence the test’s effectiveness.

An officer’s bias, inadequate training, or even the suspect’s health and physical condition can lead to misinterpretation of field sobriety test results. A suspect may struggle with the one-leg stand, for example, due to a physical disability, not intoxication. Weather, footwear, and road conditions can also affect the accuracy of these tests.

Such misinterpretations can lead to false arrests and undeserved charges. An attorney who questions the field sobriety test results may undermine the prosecution’s entire case. Hire an attorney who can evaluate the test’s administration and challenge its accuracy in your defense against a DUI charge.

Improper Administration of Breathalyzer Tests

A Breathalyzer test measures an individual’s blood alcohol content. The results are critical evidence in DUI cases, but they are also vulnerable to various errors.

A Breathalyzer test works by measuring the amount of alcohol in a person’s breath, which then provides an estimate of their blood alcohol concentration. A police officer must correctly calibrate and administer the device to get an accurate reading.

Errors can occur due to inaccurate calibration, improper handling, or officer misuse. It is also necessary for the police officer to observe the suspect for a period before administering the test, as results can differ depending on whether the individual recently consumed alcohol, vomited, or belched.

Breathalyzer results are often crucial evidence when filing DUI charges against an individual, and mistakes can significantly influence the case against you. If an attorney proves the Breathalyzer results are unreliable, it can lead to the dismissal of DUI charges. Having a defense attorney who knows how to identify and challenge these errors is essential when facing a DUI-related charge.

The Consequences of Police Mistakes in DUI Arrests

Mistakes during DUI arrests can have profound implications on the case’s outcome and the individual’s life. If a DUI defense lawyer identifies and uncovers these errors, it can lead to suppression of evidence, dismissal of charges, or a more favorable plea bargain. It can entirely change the case’s outcome.

For the person facing DUI charges, police mistakes can mean the difference between a clean record and a criminal conviction. A criminal record can have far-reaching consequences for future employment, opportunities, driving privileges, and immigration status. Even if a defense lawyer eventually uncovers mistakes, the trauma of the arrest and the stigma of a DUI charge remain.

Hire a Lawyer Immediately Following a DUI Arrest

Having a lawyer representing you from the moment of your arrest can make a huge difference to the outcome of your DUI case. A knowledgeable DUI attorney can look for and identify errors, challenge their legality, and fight to protect your rights.

Experienced DUI defense lawyers know how frequently these mistakes occur and want to protect their clients’ rights from improper and erroneous law enforcement actions. Without a lawyer’s guidance, you may not know whether a police officer made mistakes during your arrest, and you could find yourself facing stiff penalties, including fines and jail time.

How to Challenge a DUI Arrest Based on Police Mistakes

Joesph C patituce
Joesph C. Patituce, DUI Defense Attorney

To challenge a DUI arrest, you must understand the legal process, the necessary evidence, and potential outcomes. The process typically begins with a pre-trial hearing, where your attorney can indicate police mistakes and present motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges.

Your lawyer might cross-examine the arresting officer or present expert testimony. Relevant evidence can include video footage of the arrest from police body cameras or dashcams, medical records, Breathalyzer calibration records, or eyewitness testimony.

If you successfully challenge your DUI arrest, the outcome could be key evidence suppression, charge dismissal, or a more favorable plea deal. By working with an experienced DUI defense attorney, you can navigate legal complexities and work toward the best possible outcome for your case.

Police officers make mistakes, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can leverage those errors to your advantage.