DUI stands for “driving under the influence” and refers to operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. A first-offense DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor and carries penalties like fines, probation, DUI classes, license suspension, and even potential jail time in some cases.

Now, could a first-time DUI charge actually be dismissed and cleared from your record? While challenging, the answer is yes, it is possible under certain circumstances. Dismissing a DUI takes having an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side, looking closely at the details of your arrest, and being strategic in building your case.

When Can a First DUI Potentially Be Dismissed?

Let’s walk through some of the main ways an attorney can get a first offense DUI charge dismissed.

Was There a Lack of Probable Cause for the Initial Traffic Stop?

For any traffic stop leading to a DUI to hold up, the officer needs to have sufficient legal justification to pull you over in the first place. The standard is having “probable cause” or a “reasonable suspicion” that a crime or traffic violation occurred.

Some other common scenarios that may indicate a lack of probable cause include:

  • Getting stopped at a DUI checkpoint or saturation patrol without any traffic violations. These types of stops cannot be made randomly just to check for impaired drivers without specific articulable facts.
  • Being stopped for a minor equipment issue like a broken taillight if there was no impaired driving observed.
  • Being detained after an accident but the evidence indicates you were not at fault and not impaired.
  • Getting stopped based on an anonymous tip call without any corroborating evidence of erratic driving.

The key is examining whether the officer strictly followed the probable cause rules or took shortcuts. Any ambiguity or lack of specific facts enabling the stop can be exploited by an experienced attorney to challenge the validity of the subsequent arrest.

Were There Issues with the Field Sobriety Testing?

Once pulled over, officers will typically have the driver perform standard field sobriety tests like the walk-and-turn test and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. However, these tests are not as definitive as some may believe.

The officer’s administration of the tests can often be sloppy or outright faulty. Your defense attorney will look closely for any small errors that could call the results into question.

Some specific issues with field sobriety tests in the past include:

  • Improper instructions were given to the driver that deviated from official protocols.
  • Allowing the driver insufficient space or uneven terrain to perform the walk-and-turn and one-leg stand tests properly.
  • Errors in demonstrating and explaining the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
  • Asking the driver inappropriate questions during the testing distracted them.
  • Not giving the driver adequate opportunity to practice the tests before judging their performance.
  • Interpreting minor natural swaying or minor mistakes as automatic test failures.

By thoroughly scrutinizing the officer’s procedures and scoring for any influences that could invalidate the results, you can often successfully challenge the field sobriety evidence.

Were There Problems with the Chemical BAC Testing?

Chemical testing for blood alcohol content through breathalyzers, blood draws, or urinalysis often forms the core evidence in a DUI case. However, the handling of these samples is highly regulated, and any deviations from protocol can be grounds for dismissal.

Some other issues you can scrutinize with chemical BAC tests include:

  • Whether the testing device was properly calibrated and the operator certified to use it.
  • If the driver was observed for the full mandatory observation period prior to testing.
  • Potential contamination of blood samples during collection and handling.
  • Chain of custody documentation for samples that may have gaps or ambiguities.
  • Not following refrigeration protocols for blood samples during transportation and storage.
  • Incorrect justification for warrantless blood draws in certain cases.

Leveraging these kinds of technicalities can result in BAC evidence being deemed unreliable and inadmissible. And without those results, the DUI case often falls apart.

Were Miranda Rights Not Given Properly?

Any questioning of a driver during a DUI investigation is supposed to be preceded by reading the Miranda rights. If officers fail to give the Miranda warning in a timely manner, incriminating statements made by the driver can potentially be excluded.

We’ve had cases dismissed where a client was extensively questioned before being read their rights. This ruined the case since those un-Mirandized statements got thrown out.

Some common Miranda issues attorneys look for that may warrant suppression include:

  • Not being informed of your rights immediately upon being taken into custody for suspicion of DUI.
  • Confusing Miranda language was used by the officer.
  • Continued questioning after invoking your right to remain silent.
  • Badgering a driver to respond to questions after they have declined to answer without an attorney.
  • Using any pre-Miranda statements at trial that should have been inadmissible.

Again, expertly leveraging these kinds of procedural flaws can dismantle the prosecution’s arguments and strengthen the case for dismissal.

What Strategies Can Lead to Dismissal?

If any of the above issues are present, an attorney has several avenues to pursue a dismissal:

File Motions to Suppress Evidence

A motion to suppress legally challenges the validity of evidence collection and seeks to exclude it from the case. An experienced DUI attorney will scour the arrest details to identify openings for motions.

Some examples are motions to suppress the initial traffic stop, field sobriety tests, or chemical BAC test results if protocols were not followed properly. Getting key evidence thrown out this way can demolish the prosecutor’s case.

The goal with suppression motions is to literally exclude as much of the supposed incriminating evidence as possible to weaken the case. Common motions lawyers utilize beyond those already mentioned include:

  • Motion to suppress observations of the officer if there is no probable cause for the stop.
  • Motion to exclude dashboard camera footage if there are gaps or irregularities.
  • Motion to suppress incriminating statements made without proper Miranda rights.

Mastering exactly when and how to deploy these motions is an art form in DUI defense.

Negotiate with the Prosecutor

Prosecutors know a weak case on their hands when they see one. An attorney may be able to negotiate plea deals to lesser charges or even arrange for a complete dismissal.

No prosecutor wants to lose at trial, so they may choose to drop a shaky DUI charge rather than go to court with insufficient evidence. But it takes targeted persuasion and case-building skills to convince them.

Some of the plea bargain outcomes we’ve been able to negotiate for clients in the past include:

  • Reducing DUI charges to simple reckless driving with no jail time.
  • Pleading to wet reckless charges with lighter penalties.
  • Exchanging a DUI dismissal agreement for a guilty plea to a non-alcohol-related traffic violation.
  • Getting alleged felony DUI charges lowered to first-offense misdemeanors.

These kinds of favorable resolutions keep the devastating DUI off your record while still closing the case.

Take It to Trial

For very strong cases, going to trial may offer the best chance at dismissal. At trial, the burden is on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Skillfully highlighting all the weaknesses in the evidence and raising doubt is the path to acquittal.

And even if the case is not fully dismissed, forcing weaknesses to be aired at trial puts pressure on the prosecution to reduce charges or penalties.

Some factors a lawyer considers when recommending taking a case all the way to trial include:

  • Solid grounds to completely exclude key evidence based on technicalities.
  • Video evidence that plainly contradicts the officers’ accounts.
  • Credibility concerns the arresting officers based on past misconduct.
  • Known flaws in the specific chemical testing methods used.
  • Mitigating circumstances about the questionable roadside behavior.

Don’t Go It Alone, Seek Experienced Legal Help

There are simply too many technicalities and variables for the average driver to know how to build a winning case. Having an expert DUI defense lawyer is critical.

At The Nieves Law Firm, dismissed cases are a specialty. With years of experience, the legal team knows how to defend clients’ rights at every stage. Individuals should not leave their fate to chance.

Schedule a case evaluation at https://thenieveslawfirm.com/ to discuss your case confidentially. An early consultation could make all the difference in protecting driving privileges, finances, and your criminal record.