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Las Vegas DUI Defense Lawyer | Clark County Defenses to DUI Attorney

Legal Defenses to DUI

After being charged with a drunk driving offense, a person may feel like there are no options. Drivers may think they do not stand a chance. It is important to know no matter the charge, there could be possible defenses against it.

In Nevada, there are several ways a person could fight DUI charges. Sometimes the evidence is questionable. Other times, the entire traffic stop was not valid. Although no two (add word) cases are the same, examining the facts of your particular case is critical to determine what defense could be used.

Defenses to DUI Charges in Nevada

If you have been charged with a DUI or another drunk driving related offense, you do not have to settle for a conviction. There may be possible defenses in your case that could have your charges reduced or dropped. Call Las Vegas DUI defense lawyer Jeffrey Jaeger of The Law Offices of Jeffrey Jaeger.

A skilled criminal defense lawyer understands how the prosecution works and what it takes to challenge the evidence against his or her client. Jeffrey Jaeger has an extensive understanding of evidence used in criminal cases and when it should be considered inadmissible. He is the co-author Westlaw’s Courtroom Handbook of Nevada Evidence, a guide used by Nevada lawyers and judges.

Call (702) 816-3888 to schedule a free consultation with Jeffrey Jaeger and learn more about your options. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Jaeger represents clients throughout Las Vegas and the surrounding areas in Clark County, including North Las Vegas and Henderson.

Overview of Defenses to Drunk Driving Charges

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Actual Physical Control

A person could be charged with a DUI in Nevada if he or she is under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle. The term "actual physical control" is vague and sometimes can be challenged.

Actual physical control means being in some sort of control of the vehicle or having the ability to be in control of the vehicle. A person sometimes could be charged with a DUI if he or she was intoxicated and lying in the backseat with the keys. Although the person was not driving, it could be argued he or she had control of the vehicle.

According to the ruling in Rogers v. State, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled a person could be in actual physical control of a vehicle if he or she has existing or present bodily restraint, directing influence, domination, or regulation of the vehicle.

It also outlined the following as factors to consider when determining if a person has actual physical control of a vehicle:

  • Where and in what position the person is found in the vehicle
  • Whether the vehicle's engine is running or not
  • Whether the occupant is awake or asleep
  • If the person is apprehended at night, whether the vehicle's lights are on
  • The location of the vehicle's keys
  • Whether the person was trying to move the vehicle or moved the vehicle
  • Whether the property on which the vehicle is located is public or private
  • Whether the person must, of necessity, have driven to the location where apprehended

An experienced DUI defense attorney could challenge the accusation that a driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle. Proving this element of control is essential to a DUI case. If the prosecution cannot prove the person had control of the vehicle, the charges could be reduced or even dropped dismissed.

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Reasonable Suspicion

Law enforcement officers can stop drivers when they have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, including driving under the influence. Officers would be able to stop and detain the person for a brief investigation about whether or not the suspected crime has been committed.

Reasonable suspicion that driving under the influence occurred or is occurring could include:

  • Swerving into other lanes
  • Crossing the center line
  • Running a red light
  • Making an illegal turn
  • Driving slowly or erratically
  • Excessive braking or stopping irregularly
  • Other traffic violations

If an officer suspects a driver is intoxicated by alcohol, a controlled substance, or a combination of substances, he or she could ask the driver to submit to a chemical test. This most likely would be a breath test. Failing the chemical test or a field sobriety test could establish probable cause for an arrest.

For DUI stops, reasonable suspicion is critical. If an officer stops a driver and makes an arrest for driving under the influence, he or she must prove there was a reason for the stop. If reasonable suspicion cannot be proved, the stop and any evidence obtained would not be valid.

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Accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests and Chemical Tests

Officers likely would ask a DUI suspect to participate in field sobriety tests when they are stopped. However, these voluntary tests are known to be inaccurate and problematic. Test results could indicate probable cause, but the results could be challenged.  

Only three of the field sobriety tests have been standardized in connection with DUI stops. This includes the horizontal gaze nystagmus, the one-leg stand, and the walk and turn. The way a person responds to these tests could be affected by several factors other than impairment, such as feeling nervous, being distracted, or even a physical issue.

Additionally, these tests may not be entirely accurate because of the way they are executed. The officers administering these evaluations may do them incorrectly or perform them in a way that is not approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

Breathalyzer test results also are known to be inaccurate, although challenging these could be more difficult. Issues with the device, as well as medical issues with the driver who submitted to the test, could lead to skewed results.  For instance, gas, acid reflux, and even burping could affect the alcohol concentration the device registers.

Other chemical tests results, including those from blood and urine samples, could be contaminated as well. The way the sample is taken and stored could affect the outcome. All of these results could be questioned after a DUI charge.

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Improper Police Actions

When an officer arrests a person for a DUI in Nevada, there are steps that must be followed. For instance, reasonable suspicion must be established for the driver to be stopped. Before a person could be arrested, probable cause must be established.

Once a person is in police custody, he or she must be informed of their rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the police do not have to provide Miranda warnings during roadside questioning. However, once you have been arrested, they must be read.

If the arresting officer does not provide Miranda warnings to a person accused of drunk or drugged driving, certain evidence may be excluded in the case. Additionally, this could apply if the rights are misread or recited incorrectly.

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Finding A DUI Defense Lawyer in Clark County

A DUI conviction could change the rest of your life. If you have been accused of drunk driving or a related offense, fighting the charges is pertinent to your future. Call (702) 816-3888 to schedule a free consultation with Jeffrey Jaeger, Las Vegas DUI defense attorney. Your case will be handled with the utmost importance.