All states make driving while under the influence of alcohol illegal to improve road safety. Drunk driving charges come with stiff penalties, but a driver in Wilmington, Delaware, can fight the charges.
Common affirmative defenses to DUI
An affirmative defense means a set of facts presented by the defendant to justify why they committed the crime. An example of an affirmative defense is the driver had to drive out of necessity to prevent a bigger problem. For example, if a friend becomes ill and there were no other drivers, criminal defense could argue the driver had no other options.
Another affirmative defense is a mistake of fact, such as the driver believing the medication effects had worn off. Involuntary intoxication could occur if the defendant accidentally drank alcohol, such as from spike punch.
Common DUI defenses
To make an arrest, the officer needs to gather evidence of DUI for probable cause, which comes from observations and testing. A criminal defense lawyer could challenge the officer’s observations and bring in witnesses who saw what happened. An officer also needs reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over to check them, such as erratic driving.
Field sobriety tests are often challenging for sober people, especially if they have a health condition. The officer must conduct the test properly and ask certain questions, such as if the driver has contacts, before proceeding.
Many officers test the driver with breathalyzers, but several health conditions and some foods can influence the results. The defense team may subpoena records for the device in question to determine if it has been calibrated. If the device hasn’t been checked for accuracy, it could give false positives.
DUI comes with some stiff penalties, and a driver can get charged below the legal limit of .08. First offenders may get probation instead of jail, depending on the circumstances, with a plea deal.