Ohio has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. As a result, the conviction rate here is high and the penalties are harsh. Montgomery County has some of the most aggressive law enforcement agencies in the state. In some jurisdictions, half of all probationers were convicted of DUI.
The good news is that an effective defense usually applies in a DUI case. These defenses make it easier to successfully resolve these cases. This successful resolution could be a complete dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a favorable plea bargain arrangement. All of these outcomes eliminate or at least reduce, the harsh direct and indirect consequences of a DUI.
Intoxication, or the lack thereof, is frequently the only issue in a DUI case. Prosecutors can use direct or circumstantial evidence to establish this point.
Chemical tests, mostly breath tests, provide direct evidence. Despite all its bells and whistles, the Breathalyzer is essentially an updated version of the 1930s Drunk-O-Meter. Like its predecessor, the Breathalyzer measures breath alcohol level and uses this figure to estimate the BAC level. The breath sample collection process is flawed, and so is the conversion process.
Blood tests are more reliable than breath tests. Officers must have search warrants to extract blood samples from defendants, however, so very few DUIs involve blood tests.
Lack of Probable Cause
Probable cause is a lower standard of evidence than beyond a reasonable doubt. Typically, if a defendant does poorly on one or more field sobriety tests, such as walking a straight line, that is sufficient.
Nevertheless, the lack of probable cause is often an issue. For example, some hurried officers skip the field tests and immediately demand chemical samples. At this point, there is typically little or no evidence of intoxication. Other times, officers focus on minor technicalities and claim that the defendant “failed” the test. In this context, the judge decides whether or not there was sufficient probable cause.
The standard of evidence for pulling over a motorist is even lower. Officers must only have reasonable suspicion, which is basically an evidence-based hunch. Additionally, the stop could be for a traffic violation. It might have nothing to do with DUI.
The invalid stop defense often comes up at DUI roadblocks. Checkpoints must meet a number of legal requirements in terms of their setup and operation. If they fall short in any area, they are invalid.
Part of the aforementioned aggressive Ohio law includes a broad definition of “driving.” In the Buckeye State, driving is basically synonymous with operating. If the defendant was in the driver’s seat, had the keys, and the vehicle was driveable, DUI charges normally hold up in court. That is usually true even if the defendant was passed out behind the wheel.
However, the state has the burden of proof on each of these points. The first two (in the driver’s seat and had the keys) are normally straightforward. But unless the officer ordered the defendant to move the vehicle, there is usually no evidence on the third point.
Not a Public Place
Large apartment complex and shopping mall parking lots often include named streets and traffic control devices. Nevertheless, these locations are not public places. DUI is only illegal if the driver was on a public street or highway.
Team Up with a Savvy Lawyer
DUI charges do not always hold up in court. For a free consultation with an experienced Dayton criminal defense lawyer, contact the Comunale Law Office. We routinely handle matters in Montgomery County and nearby jurisdictions.