Keeping Evidence Out of Court Can Keep You Out Of Jail
Few weapons in a DUI defense attorney’s arsenal are more powerful than a motion to suppress evidence. If an El Paso County judge grants a motion to suppress, it can deprive prosecutors of some or all of the evidence they need to prove you guilty of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt.
This evidence may be breathalyzer results, open containers they found in a car, or statements a defendant made to a Colorado Springs police officer. When prosecutors lose the ability to present such critical evidence to a judge or jury, they often dismiss the case and drop the charges rather than move forward with a now-weak case.
Police Mistakes Are Often The Basis For a Motion To Suppress
During criminal trials, judges or juries can only consider evidence that is admissible in court. Before and during the trial, the judge may make rulings about the admissibility of specific pieces of evidence that prosecutors want to use to prove their case or that a defendant wants to present to support an acquittal.
DUI defense lawyers often seek to suppress evidence based on mistakes police made when stopping, testing, or arresting you. Here are five police mistakes that can lead to a motion to suppress and be critical to a successful defense against DUI charges:
Colorado Springs Police Stopped You Illegally
Police officers can’t pull you over without a lawful reason. That lawful reason can be a traffic violation or driving that creates a reasonable suspicion that you may be impaired. If an officer pulls you over unlawfully, your attorney can move to suppress any evidence obtained after the illegal stop, such as field sobriety or breath test results. They can argue that the judge should dismiss the charges since they were the direct result of a constitutionally prohibited stop.
Your Arrest Was Illegal
Even if the police pull you over for a lawful reason, such as for a traffic violation, that doesn’t mean they can start asking you whether you’ve been drinking or test you for suspicion of drunk driving. Once the officer has completed their original purpose for the stop, they can’t legally continue to detain you unless the officer has a reasonable suspicion of your participation in additional criminal activity, such as driving under the influence.
Suppose police stopped you and administered tests without a reasonable suspicion that you were driving while ability impaired or while under the influence. In that case, your attorney can argue that everything that happened afterward, including the results of any breath, blood, or chemical test, should be excluded as evidence.
Related: Can Police Lie During Interrogation in Colorado?
Failure to Properly Administer Field Sobriety Tests
If a Colorado Springs police officer suspects you of DUI, they may request that you submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs) to evaluate your condition. These tests are highly subjective. If the officer administers them incorrectly, the test can create an impression of impairment, even in a stone-cold sober person. Your defense attorney can move to suppress the test results based on how the officer conducted the FST and how the results were interpreted.
Inaccurate or Incorrect Breath Testing
Breathalyzers and other devices police may use to test for blood alcohol content, especially those administered during a stop, are famously unreliable and often inaccurate. Even the slightest issue with the maintenance and calibration of the device, the way the test is given, and other external factors can taint the reliability of the test and turn a legal 0.07% BAC into an illegal 0.08% BAC.
A skilled Colorado Springs DUI attorney may file a motion to suppress this crucial piece of the prosecution’s evidence as being so unreliable it should not be used as evidence because of reasons such as:
- The timing of the test
- Insufficient qualifications and training of the test administrator
- Poor maintenance, calibration, and testing of the equipment
- Failure to follow required test procedures
- Incorrect mixing of testing chemicals
- Device or test sample contamination
- Independent factors that may impact blood alcohol readings, such as existing “mouth alcohol,” acid reflux, diet, and breathing patterns.
Failure to Advise You of Your Miranda Rights
You’ve likely seen enough TV episodes and movies to know that when the police arrest you, they need to advise you of your “right to remain silent, that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, you have the right to an attorney,” and so on.
When arresting someone for DUI, the officer must advise them of their constitutional rights before they begin conducting a “custodial interrogation” and asking questions. If the officer fails to advise an individual of those Miranda rights before they begin questioning, anything the accused says during that interrogation is inadmissible in the Colorado courts.
A Tenacious Defense Attorney Knows When To Raise A Motion To Suppress Evidence
The best criminal defense attorneys know when a motion to suppress evidence should be raised for your defense and are skilled and experienced advocates for you. As former prosecutors, they will look for every possible weakness in the prosecution’s case to put their clients in the best possible position to obtain an acquittal, dismissal, or reduction of the charges.
If you face DUI charges in Colorado Springs, the criminal defense lawyers at James Newby Law stand ready to advocate for your rights. Schedule your free, confidential consultation today.